Documentation: Something we can learn from Chinese History!

Blog forum at The China Daily-English

Blog forum at The China Daily-English

It has been more than 2 years, since I am following events in China to satisfy my curiosity of knowing this country. Daily, while reading The China Daily gave me something to understand, learn and compare about China. Apart from that, studying glorious past of China (more than 2000 years old civilization) gave me a lot of understanding about Chinese society.

Apart from several innovations, classical literature as well as different theories of religion in China, there was one thing which strikes me very much. It is the art of ‘documentation’, which has been carried throughout ancient China and still practiced widely. It is only the documentation through which, I was able to see the history behind the development of China. I found it slightly different from my country, where documentation is somewhat neglected and not encouraged to express your own thoughts.

Talking about ancient China, reading those old poems (translated in English) provides a clue about thinking in the society. What is more interesting that this art was not limited to scholars, even normal people expressed themselves through poetry, expression and their view about the world. There was a time, when China was not as connected to world as it is now and thoughts of the people about the world, sky , earth and weather pattern shows the in-bound curiosity of any human being.

Battles for throne and changing dynasties did not alter this process of documentation, although accuracy of historical records can be debated. Interesting to know more about Salt & Iron debate, classification of people in those days based on their work and taxation system as invented in early China, all were possible due to great documentation done by people in those days. As reflected by Sima Qian (hope I am right to spell the name), who accepted the humiliation in King’s court just to finish his scholarly work, which has been later read for centuries by others.

No offense to any other countries or culture, but I think we can thank ancient Chinese civilization for developing the art of documentation (if we give credit of invention of paper to China also), promoting and preserving it so that others can benefit from it.

Can we learn something from it? Considering our over-dependency on technical gadgets in even expressing ourselves and our true feelings? What do you think?

(Documentation: Something to learn from Chinese history, first appeared in The China Daily Blog, 11-12-2014)

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