chapter  20
17 Pages

Leisure in Traditional Chinese Culture

WithMa Huidi, Liu Er

The extensiveness and profundity of Chinese culture are shown in the philosophical ideas, the spiritual outlook, life aesthetics, and political institutions of China. The profound meanings of leisure in traditional Chinese culture can also be seen through an etymological study of the Chinese word for the concept, xiuxian. The character xiu means quietude, in which one can undertake self-cultivation and reach high and noble goals, and xian means rectitude, or right speech and action. In many documents from traditional China, the highest state of leisure is associated with the individual’s self-cultivation and elegant taste attained by entering the path through one’s mind. The lifestyles and values related to leisure among the common people in traditional China were greatly affected by Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist ideas, which moulded the life aesthetics of the Chinese with an emphasis on combining diligence with intelligence, ingenuity with dexterity, and human nature with moral sense.