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Chinese Way of Greeting - Traditional and Modern


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#1 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 11:11 PM

I think a thread should be devoted to discuss about the various ways of chinese greetings. In today's modern society, certain traditional greeting (such as bowing/kowtoy) have been abandoned, while some traditional greeting such as the Chinese Martial Arts (Wushu) Greeting of Fist-Wrapping are still preserved.

China was a land of Rites, and for this reason, social etiquettes in the past had been rather elaborate with various greetings symbolizing different meaning and purpose.

1. Hand-shake Greeting

This is probably the most common way of greeting for chinese.

This means that when two persons meet, they will shake hand with one another (usually using the right hand). When they say good bye to each other, they also shake hand. Hand-shaking is not just a chinese practice, it is common in almost every other culture. Hand-shaking is considered a polite way of making a relationship closer. Hand-shaking has actually become the most common way of greeting among the world.
A simple handshake would suffice, possibly combined with a slight bow. Strong handshakes are not really the norm and many an American or European has commented on the limpness of the Chinese handshake.

The exact years of its origin are unknown, but historians had pin-pointed that it probably have begun during pre-historic times (sometime when the tools and fires were invented). At that time, people were hunters and warriors and their right hands were usually carrying weapons. When they meet stranger, in order to symbolize that they have no hostile intent, they would put down their weapons/gadget on their right hand and then extend their hand and let the stranger touch their palm, in order to prove that they had no weapons. This practice later evolved into the common hand-shaking etiquette.


Gift Giving Etiquette

Source: http://www.kwintesse...s-hongkong.html


Gift giving is part and parcel of in chinese business or between friends. It helps establish and maintain relationships. Gifts are always exchanged between business associates at Christmas and Chinese New Year. A common gift is known as Ang Bao. This is when a gift of money is given in a red envelope to children and non-governmental staff. New bills are given in even numbers and amounts.

Gifts that are advised to avoid giving are clocks, books, blankets, anything unwrapped or wrapped in blue and green hats. When gifts are received do not open in the presence of the giver. When giving and accepting gifts use both hands. Gifts should be reciprocated.


2. Traditional Hand/Fist-Wrapping of Chinese (known as "Gong Shou 拱手" )

I am not too sure whether the translation of "Gong Shou 拱手" to "hand/fist-wrapping" is correct, so correct me if I'm wrong. But Gong Shou has the general meaning of "submissive". It generally means "give in to someone".

Gong Shou is a common traditional practice of greeting among the chinese, notably during the traditional chinese festival such as Chinese New Year, marriage ceremony, between neighbours, friends, colleagues etc. It is polite way of representing respect, blessing and wishes. It is also practised when saying goodbye.To practise such greeting, the common way is to stand up with your upper body fully upright, extend your two elbows, then wrap your two hands/fists together as one in front of your chest (usually the left fist will be clenched, while the right palm will wrap the left fist). After wrapping the fist together, just shake the together up/down many times. (You will probably see this common practice in chinese kungfu movie or historical drama series).

Gong Shou is usually accompanied by traditional chinese greeting words such as "Gong Xi Gong Xi 恭喜,恭喜" (Congratulations! Congratulations! ),"Jiu Yang Jiu Yang 久仰、久仰" (Long Time No See),"Qing Duo Duo Guan Zhao 请多多关照" (Please take good care) ,"Jie Ri Guai Le 节日快乐" (Happy Festival) ,"Hou Hui You Qi 后会有期" (see you later and in the future).


3. Martial Arts Greeting of Hand/Fist-Wrapping (known as "Bao Quan 抱拳" )

This is a common etiquette in Chinese Martial Arts. The etiquette is known "Bao Quan Li 抱拳礼" (literally translated as "Fist Wrapping Rite". You will see this in Chinese Kungfu movie or in chinese martial arts sparring.

The common practice is as follow:

Stand Upright with the body straight. Clench your right fist. Straighten your left palm to have 4 fingers in plane, and your left thumb slightly bend. Wrap your two hands together (the left palm over the right clenched fist). Placed the two hands in front of your chest, but making sure that your two eldows do not come up.

There are philosophical martial arts meaning about this practice: The left palm (with 4 fingers) symbolizes Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Art, which are also called the "4 nurturing elements", symbolizing the spirit of Martial arts. The left thumb is slightly bent to mean that one should not be arrogant or always attempt to be no.1 . The right fist symbolizes rigorous practice. Since the right fist is clenched, it means a form of 'attack' but with the left palm wrapping it, it means "discipline" and 'restraint/control in order not to abuse the martial practice".

Another explanation is that the left hand symbolizes the "5 lakes 五湖" while the right fist clenched symbolzies "4 sea 四海"). When the left hand is placed onto the right hand, it means that "people in the 5 lakes and 4 seas are all brothers" (五湖四海皆兄弟). It's a practice to respect and prevent fightings among the different martial groups in the past.

4. Bowing (also known as "Ketou 磕头" or Kowtow)

Bowing was a form of ancient chinese practice when a commoner or an official greet an emperor. It was also practised when a commoner greet an official (such as magistrate or someone in the chinese bureaucracy). The common practice was to kneel down on the floor, and then bow with heads touching the ground and two hands landing on the floor.

Such practice was largely abandoned after Chinese imperialism ended in 1911. Today, chinese rarely bow, although it can be quite common 'knock the head' as a form of slight bowing in greeting.

Kowtoy (bowing) is only practised today in Chinese religious ceremony/rituals such as ancestor worship, daoist ceremony, buddhist paying homage to the Buddha etc. The 90 degree bowing is however practised in Japanese culture.

If you have other ways of greetings for chinese, please contribute and put down your views.

Any comments are appreciated.

What do you think? Do you actually shake hand most of the time? :icon15:
Posted ImagePosted Image

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#2 shawn

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 08:36 AM

In Warring states, there's another kind of greetings. Ministers would have both hands' fingers stretched out and then fingers of left hand covering over half of right hand fingers (up to the middle joints area). Both thumbs would face upwards. The the minister would bow to the emperor. Was this early part of chinese way of greeting?
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#3 Mok

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:03 AM

Lin Da Ge greets me with a gong shou everytime we meet. ;) I find that I like this form of greeting very much, and it should be revived amongst us modern Chinese. It is not "uncool" and certainly not old-fashioned.

Personally, I would prefer to greet people with a gong shou, but only if I feel that they would understand the meaning of the gong shou.
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#4 WuXiaHer0

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 08:48 AM

3. Martial Arts Greeting of Hand/Fist-Wrapping (known as "Bao Quan 抱拳" )

This is a common etiquette in Chinese Martial Arts. The etiquette is known "Bao Quan Li 抱拳礼" (literally translated as "Fist Wrapping Rite". You will see this in Chinese Kungfu movie or in chinese martial arts sparring.

The common practice is as follow:

Stand Upright with the body straight. Clench your right fist. Straighten your left palm to have 4 fingers in plane, and your left thumb slightly bend. Wrap your two hands together (the left palm over the right clenched fist). Placed the two hands in front of your chest, but making sure that your two eldows do not come up.

There are philosophical martial arts meaning about this practice: The left palm (with 4 fingers) symbolizes Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Art, which are also called the "4 nurturing elements", symbolizing the spirit of Martial arts. The left thumb is slightly bent to mean that one should not be arrogant or always attempt to be no.1 . The right fist symbolizes rigorous practice. Since the right fist is clenched, it means a form of 'attack' but with the left palm wrapping it, it means "discipline" and 'restraint/control in order not to abuse the martial practice".

Another explanation is that the left hand symbolizes the "5 lakes 五湖" while the right fist clenched symbolzies "4 sea 四海"). When the left hand is placed onto the right hand, it means that "people in the 5 lakes and 4 seas are all brothers" (五湖四海皆兄弟). It's a practice to respect and prevent fightings among the different martial groups in the past.


Hmm,I learn Wushu and in my case,we don't wrap our right fist.We leave our left fingers extended with the palm touching the right fist.

Posted Image

However,I've seen Wushu exponents from mainland China did it the other way,the right on the left fist.
Any ideas?

Posted Image

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#5 汉人

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 12:39 PM

Hmm,I learn Wushu and in my case,we don't wrap our right fist.We leave our left fingers extended with the palm touching the right fist.
However,I've seen Wushu exponents from mainland China did it the other way,the right on the left fist.
Any ideas?

It is supposed to be the left hand over the right fist.  Just as the left side of the Hanfu wraps over the right side, the left hand should wrap over the right fist.  Men use left over right, and women are supposed to use right over left, although this is not well known anymore.  

 

 

 

Don't forget about 揖礼. This is much more authentic than 拱手.  In 揖礼, you place your left hand over your right hand (for men), and your right hand over your left hand (for women). This is a much more formal style.  


I think a thread should be devoted to discuss about the various ways of chinese greetings. In today's modern society, certain traditional greeting (such as bowing/kowtoy) have been abandoned, while some traditional greeting such as the Chinese Martial Arts (Wushu) Greeting of Fist-Wrapping are still preserved.

China was a land of Rites, and for this reason, social etiquettes in the past had been rather elaborate with various greetings symbolizing different meaning and purpose.

1. Hand-shake Greeting

This is probably the most common way of greeting for chinese.

This means that when two persons meet, they will shake hand with one another (usually using the right hand). When they say good bye to each other, they also shake hand. Hand-shaking is not just a chinese practice, it is common in almost every other culture. Hand-shaking is considered a polite way of making a relationship closer. Hand-shaking has actually become the most common way of greeting among the world.
A simple handshake would suffice, possibly combined with a slight bow. Strong handshakes are not really the norm and many an American or European has commented on the limpness of the Chinese handshake.

The exact years of its origin are unknown, but historians had pin-pointed that it probably have begun during pre-historic times (sometime when the tools and fires were invented). At that time, people were hunters and warriors and their right hands were usually carrying weapons. When they meet stranger, in order to symbolize that they have no hostile intent, they would put down their weapons/gadget on their right hand and then extend their hand and let the stranger touch their palm, in order to prove that they had no weapons. This practice later evolved into the common hand-shaking etiquette.


Gift Giving Etiquette

Source: http://www.kwintesse...s-hongkong.html


Gift giving is part and parcel of in chinese business or between friends. It helps establish and maintain relationships. Gifts are always exchanged between business associates at Christmas and Chinese New Year. A common gift is known as Ang Bao. This is when a gift of money is given in a red envelope to children and non-governmental staff. New bills are given in even numbers and amounts.

Gifts that are advised to avoid giving are clocks, books, blankets, anything unwrapped or wrapped in blue and green hats. When gifts are received do not open in the presence of the giver. When giving and accepting gifts use both hands. Gifts should be reciprocated.


2. Traditional Hand/Fist-Wrapping of Chinese (known as "Gong Shou 拱手" )

I am not too sure whether the translation of "Gong Shou 拱手" to "hand/fist-wrapping" is correct, so correct me if I'm wrong. But Gong Shou has the general meaning of "submissive". It generally means "give in to someone".

Gong Shou is a common traditional practice of greeting among the chinese, notably during the traditional chinese festival such as Chinese New Year, marriage ceremony, between neighbours, friends, colleagues etc. It is polite way of representing respect, blessing and wishes. It is also practised when saying goodbye.To practise such greeting, the common way is to stand up with your upper body fully upright, extend your two elbows, then wrap your two hands/fists together as one in front of your chest (usually the left fist will be clenched, while the right palm will wrap the left fist). After wrapping the fist together, just shake the together up/down many times. (You will probably see this common practice in chinese kungfu movie or historical drama series).

Gong Shou is usually accompanied by traditional chinese greeting words such as "Gong Xi Gong Xi 恭喜,恭喜" (Congratulations! Congratulations! ),"Jiu Yang Jiu Yang 久仰、久仰" (Long Time No See),"Qing Duo Duo Guan Zhao 请多多关照" (Please take good care) ,"Jie Ri Guai Le 节日快乐" (Happy Festival) ,"Hou Hui You Qi 后会有期" (see you later and in the future).


3. Martial Arts Greeting of Hand/Fist-Wrapping (known as "Bao Quan 抱拳" )

This is a common etiquette in Chinese Martial Arts. The etiquette is known "Bao Quan Li 抱拳礼" (literally translated as "Fist Wrapping Rite". You will see this in Chinese Kungfu movie or in chinese martial arts sparring.

The common practice is as follow:

Stand Upright with the body straight. Clench your right fist. Straighten your left palm to have 4 fingers in plane, and your left thumb slightly bend. Wrap your two hands together (the left palm over the right clenched fist). Placed the two hands in front of your chest, but making sure that your two eldows do not come up.

There are philosophical martial arts meaning about this practice: The left palm (with 4 fingers) symbolizes Virtue, Wisdom, Health, Art, which are also called the "4 nurturing elements", symbolizing the spirit of Martial arts. The left thumb is slightly bent to mean that one should not be arrogant or always attempt to be no.1 . The right fist symbolizes rigorous practice. Since the right fist is clenched, it means a form of 'attack' but with the left palm wrapping it, it means "discipline" and 'restraint/control in order not to abuse the martial practice".

Another explanation is that the left hand symbolizes the "5 lakes 五湖" while the right fist clenched symbolzies "4 sea 四海"). When the left hand is placed onto the right hand, it means that "people in the 5 lakes and 4 seas are all brothers" (五湖四海皆兄弟). It's a practice to respect and prevent fightings among the different martial groups in the past.

4. Bowing (also known as "Ketou 磕头" or Kowtow)

Bowing was a form of ancient chinese practice when a commoner or an official greet an emperor. It was also practised when a commoner greet an official (such as magistrate or someone in the chinese bureaucracy). The common practice was to kneel down on the floor, and then bow with heads touching the ground and two hands landing on the floor.

Such practice was largely abandoned after Chinese imperialism ended in 1911. Today, chinese rarely bow, although it can be quite common 'knock the head' as a form of slight bowing in greeting.

Kowtoy (bowing) is only practised today in Chinese religious ceremony/rituals such as ancestor worship, daoist ceremony, buddhist paying homage to the Buddha etc. The 90 degree bowing is however practised in Japanese culture.

If you have other ways of greetings for chinese, please contribute and put down your views.

Any comments are appreciated.

What do you think? Do you actually shake hand most of the time? icon15.gif

 

 

Don't forget about 揖礼. This is much more authentic than 拱手.  In 揖礼, you place your left hand over your right hand (for men), and your right hand over your left hand (for women). This is a much more formal style.  


Edited by 汉人, 20 February 2014 - 01:57 AM.





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