China is one of the few countries where history of several millennia is combined with advanced cultural and technological solutions. Once upon a time, porcelain, paper, explosives, artillery guns, the secret of silk fabric and many other inventions that changed the course of history or its external attribution were brought from here to our lands.
During this time, China has changed many names, among which, in addition to the current one, two stand out - the Middle State and the Celestial Empire. If everything is clear with the first: the Chinese believed that the whole world revolves around China as a navel, were convinced that it is in the center of the civilized world, then why the Celestial Empire is no longer so obvious.
Origin of the Celestial Empire
History teaches us that this term (天下 - tian xia - TIEN XIA) was directly and very tightly tied to the spiritual principles of the people of China, and reverence and respect for ancestors have become an important component of the culture of China, which has survived to this day.
The creed for the Chinese is the sky; the most important representative of heaven in this country was considered the emperor, who was revered on a par with the gods and enjoyed tremendous respect among the people of the country. Therefore, the second part appeared - 天下, Tien, which in translation from the Han dialect means bottom, foot. Together, these two hieroglyphs make up the Celestial Empire. For the first time, the concept in its current form and meaning began to be used during the Shan dynasty, when China first became a single state. Then it was believed that the heavens are the place where the spirits of the ancestors dwell; over time, from the location of the pantheon and bestiary, Heaven became an independent and supreme deity, an object for universal veneration and worship. The emperor came to be considered the Heavenly Son, who made offerings to ancestors and conducted important religious rites on behalf of the entire Chinese people.
In those blessed times in China, it was believed that Heaven was nothing more than a circle covering the square earth; it so happened that in the center of the square, exactly under the part covered by Heaven, were the Han possessions - China. Everything that went beyond the emperor's power were the lands of barbarians, who at best were Chinese tributaries, and at worst raided the outskirts of the empire. Neither the first nor the second deserved patronage, and therefore were deprived of the Sky above their heads.
Somewhere in the depths of China, the entrance to Heaven was hidden. Of course, its exact location is a secret secret hidden in the darkness of centuries and even millennia.
Why is China called the Celestial Empire?
Anyone who studies Chinese as a foreign language knows for certain that in Chinese the name of the country is indicated by two characters sounding like "Zhong Guo", which in literal translation is nothing more than a middle state. This name, along with the sacred and political subtext, has a practical, everyday one. From all sides, the country is surrounded by obstacles that in the last millennium, or even the day before last, were considered insurmountable for a person. Wherever the Chinese went – to the northern steppes, the southern impenetrable jungle, the western mountains to the heavens, not to mention the four seas washing the coast – a dead end awaited him, in front of which at best it was necessary to retreat, and at worst – to lay down his head.
A little bit of color
There are several other popular options. For example, syhai is quite logical, especially given the fact that sy in Chinese is the numeral four, and hai is nothing more than the sea.
No less interesting is the origin of the toponym China, "china" , because no self-designation is like this "china"! A popular version says that in the territory where the autonomous province of "Inner Mongolia" is now located, there used to be a Liao principality. The people who lived here called themselves Khitans – or Kitai.
Neighbors, including the Mongols, adapted this self-name to their needs – and began to call China a territory, not just people. And in English China came from Latin.