Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I am pretty sure almost all of you have been to a Chinatown. But how many of you know how to say Chinatown in Chinese? Have you ever read the Chinese characters on the gate? I know there are some exceptions, but these are the characters you will find on Chinatown gates around the world:
唐人街 (Táng Rén Jiē)
(Táng): Tang dynasty
(Rén): people
(Jiē): street
[Source: Click here]
So why is Chinatown called Táng Rén Jiē in Chinese? Well it is because Tang dynasty is considered to be the most prosperous dynasty in the Chinese history, and Chinese people take pride in being called 唐人 (Táng Rén). Hence Chinatown is called 唐人街 (Táng Rén Jiē) – street of the ‘Tang’ people.
Chang’an (now Xi’an), the capital during the Tang dynasty is considered to be the largest city in the world at that time. Even though the Silk Road, 丝绸之路 (sīchóu zhī lù), from China to the West was originally formulated during the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty is believed to be the golden age of the Silk Road, with the highest amount of trade taking place at that time.
丝绸 (sīchóu): silk
(lù): road
Another highlight of the Tang dynasty is literature. Two of the greatest Chinese poets, Du Fu and Li Bai are both from Tang dynasty. I will post their poems in a different blog post.