Beijing – Most people use the term “Chinese” to refer to the people of China, as well as cultural features related to the country. “Chinese” is used to describe the tasty delicacies and even the language, but who exactly are people referring to as “Chinese” when they talk about the people of China? Most likely, those are members of the ethnic majority, the Han Chinese, who comprise 92% of the Chinese population.
Among the numerous ethnic groups in China, who are the Han Chinese people? To answer the question, one has to understand that the Han Chinese has come a long way from the provinces of China through generations. They are now settled in various countries. Meanwhile, their communities in their homeland have continued to thrive. All this makes them one of the largest (if not the largest) ethnic groups in the world.
Getting Closer to the Heart of the Han Chinese
The Han Chinese can be found in every part of China. According to researchers, the Han people as an ethnic group began 3,000 years ago in Central China. The majority of their cultural communities are located in the lower and middle areas of the Yellow River, the Pearl River, and the Yangtze River. Others also live in the Songliao Plain. These diverse locations also helped develop the ethnic group’s distinct way of life.
The Huaxia are said to be the ancestors of the Han Chinese. They are one of the first people in the country who developed agriculture and society. The Han people are said to be the original rulers and influencers during the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. This is also the time referred to as the Golden Age of China because of flourishing developments in the arts and sciences. Moreover, this age distinctly brought life back to Chinese literature and philosophy, as well as the country’s tasty cuisine. These advancements lasted throughout the Han Dynasty, which lasted for nearly 400 years.
The Han Culture Then and Now
It is not surprising to think that with the large population of the Han Chinese ethnic group, the people have had a huge impact on the country’s language and culture. For example, the Han language, which is a character-based language with a variety of dialects, has had a remarkable influence on communication all over the country. Moreover, the Han language linked the different local groups during the old days.
The original language that the communities used was called Hanyu, which gradually developed into the earliest version of Mandarin. This spread throughout the country as the most common dialect and is now considered as the standard dialect of the government of China.
Aside from the language, the contributions to various fields of the Han people continue to receive recognition. Even in the present time, there are notable individuals of Han descent who have become Nobel Prize recipients, such as Chen-Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee.
Image from Les Origines De La Beaute, http://www.lesoriginesdelabeaute.com/