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The Attitude Towards and Application of Animals in Traditional Chinese Culture

Professor Song Wei


Animal Legal and Historical Center
Publish Date:
2005
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

The Attitude Towards and Application of Animals in Traditional Chinese Culture

Written for: International Animal Law Conference, April 2-4 2004, San Diego

Attorney and Professor

Law of Science and Technology Institute

University of Science and Technology of China

 

Visiting Scholar

Michigan State University College of Law, 2003

 

1. Animals’ place in humans’ mind

2. Practical use of animals

2.1. Application

2.1.1. Food and clothes

2.1.2. Tribute

2.1.3. Sacrificial Rite

2.1.4. For medical use

2.1.5. Work

2.1.6. Pet

2.1.7. Entertainment

2.1.8. Gambling

2.1.9. Experiment

2.1.10. Symbols

2.2. Protection

3. Conflict and trend

3.1. Conflict between traditional views and demand arising from social development

3.2. Carrying out Animal Welfare is a general trend

 

 

China has a long history and it is one of the four greatest ancient civilizations. In Chinese history animals have always been playing an important role in human's life since ancient times. How do Chinese treat animals? How do they make use of them? These questions are worth discussing. This is also a crucial task in coordinating the relationship between humans and animals, humans and nature. As time goes by, China went through the primitive society, feudalistic society, semi-colonial and semi-feudal society and finally entered the modern society. The development of human beings cannot continue without nature and animals, yet it is also the history of some animals' extinction. Although it is a natural law for some species to appear and die out, the hazards brought about by farming, animal husbandry, industrialization, pollution and so forth are main reasons for the reduction of certain species in Mother Nature. The core of the human-animal relationship is humans’ attitudes towards and applications to the latter.

 

1. Animals’ place in humans’ mind

As we all know, human being is also one kind of animals, but it has evolved into the advanced animal with the ability to remould nature and to think. The conclusion from Darwin's research is that mankind derived from Ancient Apes, which is also one of the basic contents modern Chinese are taught in history class. In the early days of primitive society, when humans were in the budding period, many animals in nature threatened their existence and life.  This is because their power to resist natural disaster was still weak. In this case, human had an intricate feeling towards animals: those feral animals were humans' natural enemy, while they were also main providers for humans' foods and some daily necessities. Nature has its own rules for evolution, in which animals rely on each other but also prey on each other.  Animals are one kind of recourses of nature, so numerous carnivores’ coming to exist is the key to hold the balance in the Animal Circle. 

 

Totem worship, one traditional custom, had once prevailed all over the world. The evolution of totem has covered several stages: First, the original-look totem such as dragon, tiger and leopard; Then, near-original-look totem, which was mainly the half-human-half-animal image, like Nvwa, a goddess with the body of a snake; finally, the sub-original totem. In the primitive clan tribe, the particular living conditions led to each member’s worship for the totem of natural material, such as dragon, bird, snake and so forth. And this gradually developed into collective religious consciousness and certain taboos. Just owing to such custom and attitude, the system of sacrificing to gods or ancestors in feudalistic society spread like a raging fire. 

 

Since ancient times, Chinese have generally agreed that animals are humans’ tools and properties. Given the importance of horses, people in Tang Dynasty saw them as crucial instruments serving diploma and military. Corresponding to this, riding horse was regarded as a privilege for the noble. Thereby, the Tang government tried to carry out a decree to forbid craftsmen and businessmen to ride horses. Now it is acceptable for most people that animals raised as pets, fed in the zoo and kept for work are all public possessions of human beings. Therefore, PRC Constitution says, “citizen’s personal possessions, including...as well as livestock...”

 

Buddhists are kindhearted and against killing the living. Buddha says, “a butcher becomes a Buddha the moment he drops his cleaver.” It is clear that Buddha believers treat animals as their equals. But one has the right to protect himself when animals threaten his life. The law has clear regulations about legal defense against infringement behaviors. On the other hand, some people’s benevolence toward animals is out of their special function. For example, Nuer Hachi, the first emperor of Oing Dynasty, made a clear rule of prohibiting killing dogs, having their meat and wearing any clothes made by dog fur. The reason is that the dog was said to have saved Nuer Hachi and played a vital role in Man Nationality’s life. Thus they honored dogs.

 

As the above mentioned, it is inevitable for animals to be taken as human food, yet many Chinese even regard wild animals as valuable delicious food. The outbreak of SARS in 2003 made people dodge wild animals for fear that they would be infected the virus. Now, when everything has gone back to normal, how about people’s view toward wild animals? They may seldom appear on the menu, not to speak as the signboard dish, yet considerable ones are still willing to take risks to eat them.

 

On the whole, animals are merely in the subordinate status in China where humans are seen as the center. Nowadays, foreign nations are beginning to attach importance to animals’ welfare, while many Chinese do not know it, or just sneer on hearing it. Chinese has a proverb, “Everyone for himself and devil take the hindmost.” This is not for defining human-animal relation, but Chinese does treat animals in this way. In my view, animals have lives as human beings. They are an indispensable part of nature, which should not be monopolized by mankind. Humans are to treat animals as their equals and be their advanced companions. Only in this way can human beings get well along with Mother Nature.

 

2. Practical use of animals

2.1. Application

Human beings can make use of various tools, including animals, for their own conveniences. This is one of the major elements differentiating human beings, as the advanced mammal, from common animals. Throughout history, animals play a vital role in mankind’s progression. With the changing of humans’ attitude towards animals, the ways in which they make use of animals accordingly changed to a certain degree. They learn from forefathers the beneficial practices of utilizing animals and constantly improving them. How the mankinds make use of animals reflects their attitude toward the latter. According to animals’ different functions, I divide the application of animals into several kinds that are as follows:

 

2.1.1. Food and clothes

Animal meat is a kind of main foods for human beings except Buddhists and vegetarians. To common people, their diet needs to be stressed so that it can be balanced with greasy and vegetarian foods. Thus people will be able to obtain more indispensable nutrition. In China there is an idiom “exotic foods from mountains and seas”. So long as those delicious animal meats exist, this term will remain. Present-day Chinese eat not only poultry, domestic dogs, a variety of animals raised on farm , but also wild animals, such as“the flying in the  sky; the running on the mountains; the swimming in the ocean”as the common saying goes. Some people even go to extreme to dine those animals under China’s special protection. For instance, to have monkey’s brain is always pursued as extraordinary enjoyment by quite a few. Moreover, there are some strange ways to eat animals. There is a practice“Chirping three times”, which originally arose in Guangzhou and then spread to Beijing. In this way of eating, people dine the newly-born mice. As they pick up the mouse with chopsticks, it gives out the “first cry”.Then dipping it in the seasoning juice makes it a second cry for. At last, it cries while being bitten. The procedure indeed casts a chill over the standers-by. In China, to dine abalone and shark’s fin indicates, to a certain extent, a high social position. Shark’s fin has always been serving as the leading dish in expensive Cantonese restaurants and strongly arouses diners’ appetite. In an ancient book entitled“Supplement to Compendium of Materia Medica”there is a sentence“Whenever a beast is held, the Shark’s fin is surely to be served as rare enjoyment.”Rice blended with shark’s fin was a masterpiece of dish invented by Hong Kong people in the early 1980s. Mr. Lu Xun (an eminent left-wing writer in the first half of 20th century) once mentioned, “See the shark’s fin, they do not necessarily desert them on the road to show they tend to lead commoners’ life. As long as the shark’s fin is nutritious, they eat as if they were radish and cabbage. ”

 

Snake meat also has many people’s favor. Cantonese never eat live snakes. Nor do they have infant snakes or snake heads. They are good at cooking delicious thick soup with snake meat in it. They can also make friend snake slices and dry the snake meat into preserved meat. In the recent years ways of cooking snakes have been further innovated. For example, the quick-boiled snake slices and the “small pieces of snake flavored with pepper and salt” have been much popular among Cantonese.

 

At the same time, Cantonese are crazy about donkey meat. Among the professionals who are engaged in cooking donkey meat, there is a much quoted saying“Donkey meat in the human world can be compared with dragon meat in heaven.”

 

In remote antiquity, animals, as well as wild fruits, are the main source for human food. The ethnic Hezhen used to live on the “Three-river Plain” of northeast China or around the Wanda Mountain. They generally took fish for food and fish skin for clothes. By the Spring and Autumn Period, livestock had been exchanged as goods. In the War States Period, livestock and animal products enjoyed a higher position among goods.

 

With the development of society and alternation of dynasties, delicious dishes in the imperial palace became more and more substantial. Each emperor had his own favorites. Emperor Ming in Song Dynasty preferred candied intestines of octopus. Emperors in Ming Dynasty favored roasted clams, fried shrimps, frog’s legs, chest meat of chicken cooked with bamboo roots, and the dish for“three important occasions”, with sea cucumber, abalone, shark’s tendon, fat hen and pig’s feet braised together. In the royal court of Qing Dynasty, the banquet of highest standard with the richest dishes was “Man-han Big Banquet” by name. This kind of feast consists of pastry of Man ethnic group and dishes of Han ethnic group. Meat and viscus of various animals are an important part of it.

 

Human brutally exfoliate furs and feathers from animal bodies for their own enjoyment. Originally, to put on furs and clothes made of feathers is a convenient way to have ready-made clothes. And the history of wearing furs and feathers is nearly as old as human history. Furthermore, there is no sign at all for this fashion to fade away. For example, woolen sweaters and fur jackets are household names; leather products from cattle, sheep and pigs are common in the market; pelt of marten is one of the three treasured objects in northeast China; fox hides, tiger skins and leopard furs are all rare treasures in people’s eyes. In daily life, if necessary and possible, people produce varied articles with animal furs and feathers for daily use. For instance, shark’s skin is used for making suits of armors, because the grains on the skin surface enable it slip-proof. That was why people in Tang Dynasty twined shark’s skin around the sword handle both as decoration and slip-proof device. Besides, beautiful peacock tails were made into fans and brushes. In Tang Dynasty, fans decorated with peacock feather replaced that with pheasant tails to serve in the imperial court.

 

 Needless to say, camels play an important part in the desert. Camel hair can be made into soft cloth with good quality. Macro Polo, an Italian traveler to China, had ever sung high praise for the cloth without ceasing. Camel meat is eatable, while camel humps are considered most precious delicacies.

 

2.1.2. Tribute

Among all economic institutions in ancient china, contributing local products was an old one showing the features of agricultural economy. Contributing the native products falls into the contributing institution. Animals form the main part of tributes. In Tang Dynasty, because of the huge demand for horses and camels as well as the strong influence of Tang Kingdom, horses and camels were contributed to Tang continuously. For instance, the visiting delegations from small kingdoms, such as Turpan, Chumi and Tu Jishi (inhabiting along the Mo Nasi River), had all presented camels to Tang Dynasty. Another small state called Yu Dian, ever gifted Tang a “wild camel that run very fast”. ① In 635 AD, Emperor Taizong accepted a lion contributed by the Kang Kingdom. Besides, Tocharian also offered their lions to Tang Dynasty three times.

 

In the Yongle Period of Ming Dynasty, a man named Zheng He, led Chinese commercial fleet and navigated to the Atlantic Ocean. He achieved this altogether seven times, which proved to be an unprecedented and splendid feat. It was not until nearly 500 years after Zheng He had reached the African east coast and the mouth of Red Sea when the Italian navigator, Columbus, and the Portuguese navigator Da Gamma, discovered the New Navigating Route.

 

2.1.3. Sacrificial Rite

It is a routine for a feudal country to offer a sacrifice to Heaven, ancestors and territory. Chinese society is based on family relations. So Chinese believe they originated from their ancestors instead of God. They think that every individual acts as a link in the chain-like system evolving from their forefathers. The late ones are ancestors of the living generation, while the latter will be ancestors for later generations. Because of this belief, Chinese attach great importance to Worshiping ancestors. May the method and time vary; all worshipping ceremonies share one feature: animals and the food made of animals are a must.

 

As time went by, the worshiping mechanism was developing all the time. By the end of the Guangxu Period in Qing Dynasty, it had nearly grown mature. The Dragon Boat Festival was also for offering a sacrifice to such gods as Qu Yuan, Cao E, Silkworm God, Taoism Master Zhang and Zhong Qui. In Ming Dynasty, people of Li ethnic group, who dwelled in Yazhou Province, had the custom of worshiping the “Mountain Ghost” as well as the “Underground Ghosts”. For those who had insulted the Thunder God, they would have to kill pigs for the sacrifice of the god and held a worshiping mass. A westerner witnessed Chinese ceremonies for worshiping the nature and gods, and vividly portrayed them in his book named Chinese Records. There, he wrote: “They took the pig’s heads as major sacrifice, and also offered cooked hens, gooses, ducks rice, as well as a huge pot of liquor. They first displayed all the sacrifice before the god’s idol, then singled out the share for the god, which was a plateful of pigs’ ears (the upper part of the ear)…”

 

In Oing Dynasty there went around a legend in which the ancestor of the Man Nationality was under the aid of a divine magpie. Later, when the Man governors fought with army of Ming Dynasty, a kind of dark magpie served as Man Army’s savior. Because of this, dark magpies were highly respected in Qing Dynasty. In worshiping rites, every household erected a “divine rod” in their yards and placed some rice paddy around it. People called this consecrating “Divine Magpie”. Also, it was recorded that every June 6 in lunar calendar, the Buyi ethnic group, who inhabited in Yun Nan and Gui Zhou Prvince, would dispatch pigs and bulls and make Zongzi (a mass of rice wrapped in a Zong leaf) to worship there forefathers.

 

2.1.4. For medical use

Humans will grow old, turn ill and die. This is a natural law. Humans’ existence cannot do without medical science and medicine itself. In China, the ingredients of medicine are made of various animals and plants. The so-called Chinese medicinal science is noted for its special diagnosis and medicine. Chinese medicine even needs more crude drugs composed of animals and plants. Take toad for example. It is a valuable Chinese medicine. It has a quick effect of relieving poison and fever, detumescence, and curing deep-rooted ulcer. In Li Shizhen’s book Compendium of Meteria Medica,1181 sorts of medicine were recorded, including 1181 of herb and 462 of animal medicine. They take up 86.8% of the total drugs in the book. Li divided animals into five species, i.e., insects, fish, reptiles, birds and beasts. For the five he further divided into seventeen genera. For instance, he made a list of twenty-third kinds of names in the genus called Original Bird, belonging to the bird species.

 

Bezoars of ox, stones taken from the gallbladder of an ox, are a common crud drug nowadays. However it used to be called “stone of hair and dung” in the Middle Ages. It was found in many ruminating animals, especially in the fourth stomach of a goat. It had the function of detoxification and enjoyed a high reputation in Neat East areas.

 

In Tang Dynasty the hawk was a symbol for gallantry in people’s mind. At the same time, such belief was indicated by the ways that hawks were put to medical use. The meat of hawks could remove evil off a patient; the talons were burned to ashes to cure symptom caused by ghosts;People even burn the hawk’s dung into ashes and mix them with a spoonful of liquor to make a detoxification drug for removing evil things in one’s body. It was said that the courageous temperament of hawks were passed down to the patient and rendered him power to conquer ghosts and evils. On the other hand, people in Tang Dynasty marveled at ostrich. Tang’s historical datum records a camel contributed by Tu Huoluo in the first year of Yong Hui Period: it has a strong power in running: As the Dang records put it, “By fluttering its wings it runs fast and is able to cover 300 Li (a Chinese length unit) per day”. It was said, “the camel can eat copper and iron.” According to this peculiar ability, the Tang people chose its dung to make medicine and declared that “for someone who has swallowed a piece of iron or stones by mistake, take the drug and the hard ones will be dissolved at once.”

 

The owl was also said to have medical function, mainly for brightening eyes. Because owls possess an amazingly good eyesight at night, so the symbolic indication of “brightening eyes” was indeed a stubborn yet innocent way of imaging, just like the assumption that penis of donkeys can make a man more manlike while tigers’ bones can strengthen one’s joints. It was written in a medical book Materia Medica that, remove an owl’s hair and intestines and fry it in the oil, then one can use it to cure malaria. Besides, wizards frequently made use of owls’ livers. Although the above-mentioned function is generally believed, quinine is still the most effective drug to treat malaria.

 

Snakes are a valuable crude drug for Chinese medicine. The snake’s gallbladder and meat has magical effects: first, relieving the disorder of organs and improving blood circulation; second, reducing the cold air from the body and relieving rheumatism; third, reducing phlegm and curing cough; fourth, brightening eyes and strengthening the liver. The snake’s oil can prevent blood vessels from sclerosing; the snake’s tongue can ease pain. In a word, every part of snakes is valuable. What’s more, the more toxic it is, the more powerful the treating effect is. If someone has been bitten by the snake called long-nodded pit viper (five-step snake) and will not receive immediate treatment, the one will probably die. However, it is searched everywhere by the crude drug traders. Another animal, earthworm, which is also named “earth dragon”, serves as the main bait for fishing. At the same time, it can be taken to produce medicine. Li Shizhen said that the earthworm was cool and could deal with all fevers, carbuncles and inflammation; when it went through the whole body it has the function of diuresis. And by smoothing the energy channels it can cure foot troubles.

 

Most Chinese must have tasted dog meat. It contains plenty of nutrition, just as a proverb goes, “Amid all the birds in the sky, quail is the most appetizing; among all the beasts on the land, dog is the most delicious.” Besides, the whole body of a dog can be put into medical use. The dog’s blood is salty and mild. It can improve the blood circulation, relieve gores, and cure vomiting blood caused by feebleness accompanied by overwork. The dog’s liver is sweet, bitter, salty and mild. It has the effect of changing the state feebleness and relieves the disorder of organs, which can cure beriberi and dysentery. The dog’s heart is sweet, sour, salty and mild, and can make people stronger and remove the coldness off one’s body. Thus it is taken to treat the biting wounds by the mad dogs as well as rheumatism and arthritis. Bitter and chilly is dog’s hair, which can detoxify one’s liver, brighten one’s eyes, arrest bleeding and achieve detumescence. People use it to treat vomiting blood, hurting in one’s eyes caused by wind and inflammation. The injecting liquid with dissolved dog bones can be used to treat various sorts of arthritis, strain of lumbar muscles and the hurt of sciatic nerves. Furthermore, powder made from dog bone’s ashes has certain effect in treating chilblain when mixed with sesame oil.

 

2.1.5. Work

From ancient times till now, it is common for animals to work for the mankind. For example, people use oxen to plough. This is also determined by the social progression and thus indispensable. With the development of society and high technology, many old working practices have been changed so that numerous animals have been set free from heave work. For catching fish, people have invented many ways, among which, using Chinese cormorant is an old practice. Chinese cormorant is also called fish-catching hawk and nicknamed “Water Crow”. It belongs to the pelican species with brown feather, white neck, yellow mouth and blue eyes. Once trained, it will be able to respond to their owner’s signal and became a masterhand in catching fish.

 

During ancient times there had already been hunting. Though there were different purposes in hunting, all hunters would often take hounds and falcons. When Hu Bilie Khan went hunting, one baron led an army of 50,000 soldiers and 5,000 hounds, marching on his left; another baron led the army and hounds marching on Khan’s right. It is indeed splendid. The Man ethnic group made a living mainly through hunting in which hounds were the major tools. And hounds also served as an important means of transportation on the snow-covered lands of northeast china. I believe the legend of “hound sled” is still imprinted in the Northeast people’s heart. Since the 3rd Century BC, hunting by falcons had been well known to Chinese. People tended to use a kind of short-winged hawk--- harrier --- to catch quails and other little birds inhabiting in densely wooded regions. As harriers, goshawks are also expert hunters. They are yellow-eyed, quite huge and good at catching such traditional preys as pheasants and hares. It was said that, Li Si, the prime minister of Qin Dynasty, had ever mentioned his favorite gray goshawk before he was punished to death.

 

Since ancient times, horses have been an important means of transportation. In Ming Dynasty, nomads went outing mainly on their horses. However, in less developed regions, people could only walk. Some ethnic minorities also had the custom of riding elephants. At the same time, horses were vital tools in war. Battles steeds were indispensable in china. In traditional wars, especially when there were not modern planes and battle vehicles, horses were the crucial vehicles for riding and carrying provisions. The numbers and quality of battle steeds determined the attacking power of the cavalry. Therefore, the battle steeds played a decisive role in a battle. At the end of East Han period, Cao Cao defeated Wu Huan and forced more than ten thousand of Wu Huan soldiers to move to Chinese hinterland to be enrolled as cavalries. The Tang Dynasty’s high position and influential authority largely relied on the quantity of battle steeds that Tang could obtain. Therefore, battle steeds played a vital importance in Tang’s reign. With the fast movement of high technology, battle steeds are no longer important in high-tech wars. For instance, the newly concluded Iraqi War bears sharp distinction from the traditional war. This arrival of high-tech battles declared the end of the traditional ones. On the other hand, elephants also played some importance in Chinese ancient wars. In Tang Dynasty, Panpan State is famous for its war elephants. Thai and Burmese people are good at training elephants, too. In Chinese Yun Nan Province, local influential families used to raise elephants in order to carry goods and commodities.

 

Camels, with the name “ship in the desert”, are vital in the development of northern regions of China. They serve as transporting tools for carrying soldiers and goods through the Gobi Desert and Talimu Highlands. As early as in Han Dynasty, there had been commercial and military camel teams in the newly-exploited region west of Yumen Pass. When Tang Emperors further extended to areas beyond the Middle Asia, it had to search camels from other countries to meet its internal demands. Owing to high speed and safety, the government frequently sent camels as envoies for urgent affairs, especially for delivering the news of endangered border. Yang Yuhuan, the favorite concubine of Emperor Xuanzong, is a household name. One of her stories, which bore some connection with the camel, goes like this: Emperor Xuanzong gifted her some kapur, which was contributed by Ancient Vietnam in Indochina. Yet she secretly sent “camel envoy” to transfer the kapur to An Lushan, a general in charge of the remote and dangerous northeast frontier.

 

Carrier pigeons were quick mail carriers and thus important in ancient times. Oxen were also important as a working tool. Till now, in less mechanized countryside, oxen are still used for farming.

 

2.1.6. Pet

The pet is also called the companion animal. Because of its beautiful appearance or sweet tweet, people domesticate them. It is rewarding to be accompanied by pets. They can help adjust their keepers’ mood; help cure illness and make healthy ones fitter. There are many kinds of pets. In ancient times the royal family raised “royal pets” in their palace. Take Qing Dynasty for example. In the palace there were various animals for playing and enjoying, such as birds, dogs, cats, crickets and long-horned grasshoppers. Many of them were contributed by the local officials, and only a small part were caught by royal servants under the royal family’s order. Every species of the royal pets was taken care of by a special unit, for example, the eagle’s room was in Donghua Gate; the deer’s garden lied within royal park; in the court, there flied white cranes and other birds. Moreover, raising long-horned grasshoppers and scarabs were very common in the Qing Palace.

 

Dog is one of the most commonplace pets. In the world there are 137 kinds of well-agreed good breeds. They have varied looks and capacity. Generally speaking, the pet dogs are small-sized fancy dogs. As early as in Han Dynasty, the Beijing Dog had been raised in palace as the royal dog. It was called Luohong Dog in Song Dynasty, Golden Silk Dog in the period of Five Dynasties, and Mudan Dog in Ming Dynasty. This sort of dog is gentle, nimble and good at comprehending its owner’s intention. Therefore, it was favored by Empress Ci Xi and was kept on the Longevity Hill. Since then it has been called Beijing Dog. Later the British-French allied forces intruded into the Forbidden City and robbed five of them. The left were reduced to living in the common people’s house. This is what I call “once royal dogs, now in common households”.  In the Man ethnic group there always goes around a tale about a dog came to Nuer Hachi’s rescue. When Nuer Hachi was being chased by General Li Chengliang’s subordinates of Ming Dynasty, his green steed was shot to death by arrows. Nuer Hachi had to take shelter in a meadow. Worn out, he fell asleep as soon as he lied on the grassland. However, a dog loyally sat by his side and safeguarded him. When the Ming army arrived, they could not find Nuer Hachi. So they set fire to the grassland. As the fire spread fast, the dog ran to a river, soaked its hair, and ran back to roll on the grassland around its master. He repeated doing that for quite several times and finally wetted all the grass near Nuer Hachi. In this way his life was secured. Many households keep dogs, because there are many advantages in having a dog. This is determined by dog’s natural instincts. For example, in mountainous areas of Yun Nan, once there were four men playing cards in the evening. Suddenly, the host’s dog rushed into and barked all the time, and even bit its master’s clothes to go outside. The host lost its temper and drove it out. When the owner had just sat down, the dog returned and bit his clothes, trying its best to run out of the house with its master. The host ran outside to beat it when there came the roar of the earthquake. His house broke down and the other three card-players were crushed to death. Besides, keeping cats is many people’s hobby, too. Lao She, a prestigious writer in china, once wrote an essay entitled A Cat, saying his cat often climbed up to his draft paper without fear, and left there a series of footprints.

 

The parrot echoing one’s words can be dated from ancient times. In remote antiquity, there had been native parrots in China. In the period of Emperor Xuanzong in Tang Dynasty, a colorful parrot was kept in the palace. It was good at imitating people’s speech and beloved by the emperor. Parrot is also called “divine bird in the west of Yuman Pass”. Because the inhabiting places of parrots were destroyed, and many parrots were caught and be raised in cages, considerable rare species have died out. Parrots’ specialty wins favor of rich bird-players, high officials and noblemen, in whose eyes parrots even become the apple. Nowadays, parrots have become commonplace and become a member in many bird-loving families. Among birds, the voice of Garrlux canorus is sweet and is loved by numerous bird-lovers. Pigeon is favored by bird fans for it bears embodiment of peaceful and prosperous future.

 

Many people also love raising fish and tortoises. With the fashion of keeping pets becomes more and more prevailing, people tend to choose strange pets than before, such as some beasts of prey, which were originally dodged by people. Another pet, dwarf horse, is the royal pet in European countries, and is also favored by many Western households. It is short and lovely, with the maximum height of eighty-six centimeters. The shorter a dwarf horse is, the more expensive. Moreover, the otter is also kept as pet.

 

2.1.7. Entertainment

Nowadays, people have many things to enjoy, such as, playing poker, mah-jong or ball games, singing and so on, among which animals have been long been an indispensable part since the ancient times. Elephants, for example, once the common animals on the land in China, became extinct as time went. Entering Tang Dynasty, elephants had become one of the “alien goods” and were frequently used for the performance of elephant fighting and dancing. It was recorded that Emperor Zhongzong of Tang Dynasty once watched the elephant fighting performance at the south gate of Luoyang. However, the performance of elephant dancing during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong stood out at the most famous. When elephants were dancing, people could also enjoy the performance of horses, mountain vehicles and acrobatics, besides, there was something really deserving attention. the alien tropical huge beasts--- rhinoceros, together with elephants, also gave performances in big parties given by Emperor Xuanzong. The important events in 龟兹 was characterized by the performance of ostrich fighting. The 黠戛斯 ethnic group also had performance of “ostrich playing”.

 

Boluo ball game was introduced from Iran to Tang Dynasty through western territory. The fields of the game were constructed in the palace, and those who were good at it included emperors, ministers, ladies and scholars. Although it is still not clear what kind of horses people in Tang Dynasty considered most suitable for the game, there is one thing we are sure of that players must ride horses which played indispensable part in the game. Circus was first introduced to China from Rome over 1800 years ago. China has had circus troupes since Tang Dynasty. While entering Song Dynasty, the range of tame animals expanded from horses to birds, beasts, turtles and fish. The repertoire usually included the performance of bear playing with a club, donkey playing with a branch, raven playing chess, monkey playing, fish jumping across the dragon gate, etc. From Yuan Dynasty on, performances like turtle tower and toad praying appeared. In Ming Dynasty, there appeared performances such as ant playing and rat going through a loop. While in Qin Dynasty, jumping over a camel was a traditional game among Man ethnic group. It went like this: Set an eight-foot high camel in the field. Jumpers were required to line up and run to the camel and jump over its back in turn. While jumping, performers might act in this way or that and those who stood firmly on landing succeeded, which were similar to the horse vaulting in gymnastics except that in the former game performers were not allowed to touch the camel’s back which demanded for more skills.

 

Circus in some places of China is still well received nowadays. Animals like monkeys, tigers and canaries perform under tamers’ instructions. Animals in zoos are also for people’s appreciation. Recently, places all over China are devoting to the construction of zoos of wild animals aiming at presenting people which the real faces of wild animals.

 

2.1.8. Gambling

It is forbidden to gamble on Chinese mainland and those culprits who go too far will be punished according to the Criminal Law. However, people just will not stop gambling in practice, especially in places like Macao and Hongkong. Due to the special systems of the special administrative districts, gambling in these places is very popular and usually takes various forms among which animals are one of them. Horse race is one of the most popular gambling forms in some places.

 

The author thinks use of animals for gambling is the result of the development of the animal entertainment. In ancient China, fighting games (cock fighting, duck fighting, goose fighting, cricket fighting Cuju, etc) were originally animal games, which were introduced into gambling methods later. Activities like horse race, ball hitting and horsemanship are originally healthy although they sometimes serve for the gambling purpose. Cock fighting appeared as early as Zhou Dynasty, which was recorded long before in Liezi·Huang Emperor. It became widely accepted during the Spring and Autumn Period and the days of old China, Tianji, a general in Qi Empire, was well known for his love for horse race.

 

There also exists a kind of fish which loves fighting by nature---fighting fish. In China, it was also named crosstail fighting fish, or Chinese fighting fish, or nicknamed embroidered handkerchief, heaven fish or Buddha fish. Since male thrushes are fond of fighting, they are usually raised for fighting in the mountain areas of China, Hongkong, Macao and Southeast Asia. Quail fighting, beginning from Tang Dynasty, had been popular for quite a long time in Chinese history. A game initially though, it was totally for the gambling purpose reaching Qin Dynasty. By the end of the reign of Qin Dynasty, quail fighting was still quite popular. As was recorded in the second volume of Notes of the Travels in Shanghai written by Ge Yuanxu in late Qing Dynasty “Shanghai people are fond of quail fighting after frost falls.” The popularity of the quail fighting resulted in the appearance of “Table of Quail”, which mainly focuses on the way of observing, choosing, raising, caging, taming, etc, in great detail.

 

The cricket fighting beginning from Ming Dynasty still enjoyed its popularity by Qing Dynasty although it was severely banned by the government. As a result, it was not only popular with common people, but loved by emperors as well. A set of cricket pots made during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi collected in the Palace Museum are no doubt the representatives of cricket pots. They were probably the possessions of the emperor. As was recorded in Trivial in Jinling, “gambling takes place in the fighting field surrounded by quite a number of people guessing with gambles holding their own crickets. The crickets are arranged in a container, supervised by people and must be similar in size.” We can infer that cricket fighting took place in autumn days on a fairly large scale in old Nanjing.

 

2.1.9. Experiment

Animal experiment has now been an integral part of the social development. In old days, an animal experiment was not common except when people wanted to make sure if a certain drug was safe for people by letting a dog or a cat or a pig try it and observing its reaction before drawing the conclusion. On Sept. 23 1934, animal scientists initiated the founding of the Association of Animal Science of China and made great achievements after that. Bei Shizhang, Zhuxi, Tongdi and some other scientists founded the modern experimental animal research in China by making use of animals to explore the law of regeneration, division, transformation and other activities of cells, which eventually resulted in the birth of a series of significant theories such as the theory of the reconstruction of cells.

 

Mosquitoes have plated an important part in the research of the 蠓 type of insects. This research, focusing on the insects spreading diseases on Hainan Islands, was conducted aiming at reducing the incidence of such a disease. People living in Hainan and the military troops there got infected the diseases of malaria and dengue fever and some other infectious diseases. In a medical graduate school of Guangzhou military camp, there lives a colonel by the name of Liu Jinhua, who has lived with mosquitoes for 16 years. He even “fed” mosquitoes with his own blood in order to study the insects spreading diseases of malaria, dengue fever and some other infectious diseases, which eventually brought about the research findings for the first time in the world. These findings have won the second and third prizes of the military technological progress recently.

 

The Hi-tech, especially biological Hi-tech cannot develop without animal experiments. For instance, the birth of Dolly, the clone sheep, declared the new development of biological clone technology. Animal experiments have made great contributions to the development of mankind.  

 

2.1.10. Symbols

Dragon, created by our Chinese ancestors, is the national emblem of China. We have still called ourselves “the descendants of dragon” to this day. It is the visual aggregation of many animals, including the head of dinosaur, the horn of ox, the body of snake, the fish scale, the claw of eagle, and the tail of fish, which symbolizes the sacred power of human. Regarding dragon as the emblem of the Chinese nation originated from the totem worship in the remote age. In the past, the image of dragon is just equal to royalty. Taking Qing Dynasty as an example, there is a strict hierarchy system in costumes to distinguish the higher-rank officials from the lower ones. Emperor, or “the son of heaven”, is the only person that can wear the imperial robe, which is embroidered with dragons. Ministers can only wear the ceremonial robe with golden designs of pythons. The imperial clansmen, like prince (or the relatives of the emperor who is granted the title of prince), beile (hereditary title of nobility below that of prince), and beizi (a hereditary title of nobility below beile), have a round patch embroidered with the designs of dragons or pythons in the front and at the back of their ceremonial robes as emblems to distinguish themselves. The civil and military officials use square patches. The designs of birds is used by civil officials: crane stands for the first rank officials, golden pheasant, peacock, skylark, silver pheasant, bittern, xichi(a water bird akin to the mandarin duck and drake in ancient books), quail, and lianque(a long-tasseled fly catcher)stand for the officials from the second to the ninth(the lowest) ranks respectively. The design of beasts is adopted by military officials: they are kylin (Chinese unicorn), lion, leopard, tiger, bear, young tiger, rhinoceros, and seahorse standing for the officials from the highest rank to the lowest rank. It is obvious that the designs of different animals on the patch represent the ranks of official positions as well as the magnitude of power, which shows the strict hierarchy in the feudal times.

 

China is a multi-ethnic country with a large number of religious beliefs in all ages. Buddhism plays an important role in all religions worshipped by Chinese people. The reason why all the creatures love Buddhism loyally is that one of its principles adopted by the adherents is ahimsa.  In Tang Dynasty, the religious image of elephant is extraordinary vivid. There are a great many examples that combine the Buddhist images with the secular images in the literatures of Tang Dynasty.  For example, “the elephant host” is the god dominating the South, and “the elephant king” symbolizes the revered authority of Buddha, while the Bodhisattva with the title “fragrant elephant” sets a perfect example to all the adherents.  Nowadays, lions that have lost the mien of “the king of beast” can be found everywhere in the zoos.  Yet it is one of the strongest and the most awesome beasts in the animal kingdom. In Tang Dynasty, lions, which came from west and were more violent than tigers, were seldom seen in China. Therefore, Chinese people made a strong impression on the lion by its majestic-looking and awesome manner. Otherwise, lions, bearing a symbolic meaning of religion, also remind people of India and Buddhism.  “The roar of lions” is used as an acknowledged metaphor for Buddha preaching the sermon to all the creatures in this mortal world.  Buddha is regarded as the grand lion in human, so his bema is also called “the bema of lion” This metaphor is amplified to indicate the bema of Buddhist dignitary afterwards.  A most great poet li Bai once quoted the legend in his poem “Golden lion occupies the bema”.

 

There is an old story in China called “Broken Mirror Joined Together” (It is a story about the reunion of husband and wife after an imposed separation.) According to the modern archaeological studies, the tortoise and crane used as decorative pattern on the bronze mirror found in the excavated site have very special symbolic meaning. It is said that the images of tortoise and crane first appeared in the Six Dynasties on the Yansheng coins on which engraved a few Chinese characters “live as long as the tortoise and crane”. And gradually the characters evolved into designs.  According to the legend, the lifespan of tortoise can be ten thousand years, and that of crane is a thousand years. The Narrative of Alien Species by Ren Rifang says: “A-thousand-year tortoise would grow hairs, and if it had lived for five thousand years, it would be called the divine tortoise; and the sagacious tortoise if its life could last for ten thousand years.” Crane, best in birds, belongs to the so-called positive birds.  Essence of Preserving Health also says: “The lifespan of crane can be hundreds or thousands of years.” Therefore, tortoise and crane are auspicious animals that stand for longevity in ancient times. Using them as decorative pattern also suits Chinese aspiration of seeking after the sense of fulfillment and living to old age in conjugal bliss.  One of the important deities worshipped in Taoism are called “the gods of all directions”. They are Qinglong (God of Oriental Lunar Mansions), Zhuque (God of Southern Lunar Mansions), Baihu (God of Western Lunar Mansions), and Xuanwu (God of Northern Lunar Mansions). Xuanwu is the byname of tortoise. There is a superstition of using the spiritual tortoise to foretell the good or ill luck in Shang Dynasty. Tortoise is also the symbol of eminence and nobility. In Xizhou, there is an official called “tortoise man”, who will hold the tortoise in reverence to the place in which people celebrates the sacrificial rites, from which shows the significance of the fete. In the Spring and Autumn Period, the battle flags would be embroidered with the designs of tortoises whenever the high-ranking officers went out for a battle. There is a strict rule of using utensils with the designs of tortoises: The monarch’s was two cun (1/3 decimeter); the seigneur’s was eight cun; the high official’s was six cun; the civilian’s was four cun, which shows the hierarchy.  In Han Dynasty, a kind of soft-shelled turtle was used to casting the nine tripods that is called “tortoise tripods”, regarded as the guardian utensils for the country and the imperial authority. If a monarch wanted to move the capital to another place, he should move the “tortoise tripods” first. It was not until the Song Dynasty that the tortoise has lost its reputation and its symbolic meanings have been changed into the derogatory ones.

 

Therefore, to some extent animals have played an indispensable role in human spiritual field with providing sustenance for them.

 

2.2. Protection

As mentioned above, humans’ attitude towards animals decides how animals will be treated. In consider of importance of animals for the ecological balance, it is necessary to put them under protection. While protection,by the name, must have something to do with laws and rules. Laws have been serving as the main protection means since the ancient times. China, during the time as early as Qin Dynasty, had adopted economic and legislative means to protect animals. As for wild animals, they were under management and protection according to change of season and the natural law of growth. It is regulated in Laws of Earth, for instance, that it is forbidden to chop trees or set traps or nets to catch birds and beasts in the mountain from February (Lunar Calendar) to July. As for animals, for economic use, people responsible for the management were required to strengthen the protection. For example, it is regulated in Laws of Cattle and Sheep in Laws of Qin Dynasty that every 10 adult cows must give birth to over 5 baby ones, and every 10 adult female sheep, over 4 lambs. According to Laws of Livestock, those responsible for the breed of cattle have to be punished if they fail to ensure the death rate of below 30%. In Laws of Burglary in Han Dynasty, it is clearly stated that “those who steal a horse must be sentenced to death, and those who steal a cattle must be punished more severely”. This means a death sentence befalls the burglar no matter what happens. It is also regulated in Mandate for the Jin Barrier that those who traded horses and cattle to foreigners and ethnic people will be punished as culprits.

 

Hunting had long been the favorite activity of emperors. However, this did not prevent them enacting laws. It is banned to hunt the whole lair of beasts, or kill baby deer, or drain the water to catch fish, or burn the mountain for the purpose of hunting. It also set some regulations in terms of seasons: In spring, when otters have not fed themselves with fish, it is banned to employ nets in the water; in the early days of autumn, when eagles have not set to kill birds, it is banned to place nets in the valleys; in October, when leopards have not preyed on beasts, it is banned to trap them in the wildness; it is also banned to set field on fire before insects go to hibernate. In addition, it is forbidden to kill pregnant animals, nor snatch away bird eggs, nor catch baby fish, nor butcher pigs under one year old, etc.

 

Today we have Wildlife Protection Laws, which demands the protection for animals. In this law, animals that are forbidden to kill are listed, and responsibilities culprits need to take are clearly stated. Apart from this, other animal regulations and regulations concerned for the prevention and the examination of epidemic diseases of animals also call for some sort of protection of animals although they are mainly human centered. We believe not only wild animals will be given more freedom but also domestic animals will enjoy more rights as laws are becoming more consummated. However, we must tighten the roles played by the owners of domestic animals.

 

3. Conflict and trend

3.1. Conflict between traditional views and demand arising from social development

 

With the progressing of industrialization, the whole environment turns worse and worse. Humans’ attitude toward animals and the way they make use of animals will affect humans’ sustainable development. Influenced by the ever-increasing awareness of environmental and ecological protection, and the practice of Animal Welfare in foreign countries, considerable animal protectors treat animals as their equals and pay attention to the human-animal relationship. However, the majority of Chinese stick to their traditional opinion, so the whole mechanism cannot be changed. As a result, many problems in reality remain hard to handle. Take an old man in Si Chuan Province for example. He has gifted all his savings to his pet dog, Huanhuan by name. When his son was trying to deposit his father’s money, he encountered embarrassment. Finally his son could not fulfill his father’s will. Nor was he able to ensure the right of his father’s beloved dog. In face of the law vacuum, how to balance the benefit of humans and animals?

 

The Wildlife Protection Laws issued in 1988 is the most fundamental law for animals in China. However, it merely protects the rare, endangered and nearly extinct animals. Besides, it has no clear regulations for protecting the gradually decreasing sparrows, hares and frogs, which results in the ever-worsening ecological environment. Therefore, it is safe to say this law can no longer meet the demands arising from animal protecting. Furthermore, this law targets on wild animals and excludes the companion animals as well as farm animals. In a word, this law is far from the requirement of Animal Welfare thus needs to be emended.

 

Some areas in china, such as Hefei, have ever launched a vigorous campaign of getting rid of dogs. There were various reasons for that. The SARS that broke out in 2003 also made people form the misconception that dogs will contract epidemic diseases. Each local authority either fails to give regulations for raising pets or restricts raising pets, which made modern people hard to stick to such hobby. A newspaper reports that a wealthy businessman is going to raise a horse as his commuting vehicle. However, there is neither particular law nor communication regulations for that. So his wish cannot come true.

 

The above-mentioned conflict leads to many difficult questions. Yet, it also serves as pushing power for advancement. To solve the conflict, first, humans’ attitude towards animals needs changing; second, the balancing point between humans’ well-being and that of animals is to be located.

 

3.2. Carrying out Animal Welfare is a general trend

Animal Welfare refers to healthy and happy living status of animals. Humans ought not to bring animals unnecessary pains. In another word, the mankind is to treat animals from an equal angle. That is to say, we should not disturb animals at ease and should take good care of their daily life. In my view, Animal Welfare will become the mainstream attitude towards animals, with the ecological environment going worse and animal protectionists working persistently. Only by carrying out Animal Welfare can human beings show their sublime morality and the balance of nature kept better than before to achieve humans’ sustainable development.

 

To carry out Animal Welfare simply requires relieving pains on the part of animals but not to advocate killing no animals or vegetarianism. For instance, eating pork is inevitable, but we should anaesthetize pigs before killing them. Moreover, when raising pigs we should feed them carefully and timely; when transporting them, make sure the quantity of them according to the given space. We have to do experiments on animals, yet we need to try our best to minimize the agony we bring to them. All this cannot do without laws, which are also the essential for governing a nation. To put it in another way, laws and related regulations are to be gradually established and perfected along with the changing of humans’ attitude toward animals.

 

I hold the belief that, with the further advancement of Animal Welfare system, Chinese people will by and by renewed their attitude towards animals. Nevertheless, this will take a long time. We cannot take too quick a step in altering people’s attitude towards and application of animals.

 

 

 

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