Chinese Character in story

In my story one of my characters has a Chinese mother who did the bulk of raising him and she would have instilled in him a lot of their culture. This son grows up to be the emperor of the nation in my story and while this nation has its own holidays and traditions I’m wondering what are some things his mother could have taught him that I could use to make him seem part of this culture. For example some histories he would be interested in or some historical clothing he would wear (the novel is Historical fantasy) or peoples he would admire. I’m just looking for things that he would adopt into his life as he grew up to help flesh out the character and give him depth to his heritage. Thanks.

He speaks Chinese a bit in the book and uses a bo staff to fight. It’s shown that he prefers Chinese cuisine.

Hi there,

This seems better suited in #story-services:special-services - so I’ll go ahead and move it over there.

Thanks for understanding,
Fray - Community Ambassador :frog:


I can’t help you, but maybe here they can help you Sensitivity - Ethnic /Cultural

Thank you. I will take a look at that.

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I’m first generation Chinese American, I could try to answer some specific questions but of course take it with a grain of salt because my American background would influence all my answers. I’m also a girl, and boys and girls are raised very differently.

I’m not quite sure what exactly you mean by adopt into his life. Chinese people as a whole are very humble, in that they will refuse a gift or help 2-3 times unless you HEAVILY insist. We prefer money to gifts, but the only gifts that they really like are usually fruit related if they’re older. In general they hate spending money, devote their lives to their family and children, are very hard working, and are very critical of themselves and everyone around them. They are not affectionate. All these tropes are stereotypes but also very valid in my lives, and in most of my friends’ lives. However, remember that just because someone is of that culture does not mean they have to follow all of that culture’s norms.

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Ah, okay. All of this helpful though. I think I might be on the right track. Interesting about the fruit and the money. Thank you a lot for offering me this information.

  • As for adopt-I wasn’t sure how to word my question, I was trying to say what things would influence his everyday life/ running of his kingdom. Thanks again.

Hi! I’m a Chinese Singaporean, speak a bit of Chinese (i’m not very good), and have been reading up on Chinese culture since I was a kid (my grandfather was from China). Maybe I could help for the day to day cultural stuff.

For people he could look forward to, I have some suggestions

  1. Tang Taizong (one of the best Chinese emperors from the Tang Dynasty)
  2. Emperor Kangxi (from the Qing Dynasty, also very good. His Son Emperor Yongzeng and his grandson, Qianlong are very good too) But i am not sure you want to use him cause the Qing Dynasty was the last Dynasty in China before the Kuomingtang than the Chinese Communist Party
  3. Zhuge Liang courtsey name Kong Ming nickname sleeping dragon (Arguably the smartest person in Chinese History. He is from the three Kingdoms Era. Super bright. Fun fact. he is rumoured to have godlike abilities such as controlling the weather. I think it was probably supreme foresight though. They also like to make fun of his wife cause she was ugly but she is as smart as he is so i think it is a good match)
  4. Sima Yi (Also from the three kingdoms Era. the only man to beat Zhuge Liang. turns out, the only way to beat that guy is to not fight him. that way, you don’t lose but you can’t win either. You just wait for him to die which, unfortunately, he did.)

Yeah, I am a big fan of the three Kingdoms Era. Love it.

Customs and practises you might be able to use
For Food

  1. Four dishes one soup. This was instituted by Zhu YuanZhang of the Ming Dynasty to curb excesses all his banquets would have only four dishes and one soup.
  2. After each course in a banquet, you must leave some some food behind on the dishes (I’m not sure which country you’re from so I’ll just say it in case but the Chinese people don’t have their own individual portions after a certain point in history - i know they did during the Han dynasty but beyond i’m not sure - nowadays, we all have our own rice bowl and we share the dishes. so these are the dishes I’m refering to here) the standard amount left behind is a third. the point is so that the host doesn’t look like a miser who didn’t provide enough food. Of course, at home, we actually try to finish. It would be a waste otherwise. This rule is for banquets and hosting.
  3. for the Qing Emperors, a little silver slip is placed on each dish to test for poison. if there is poison, the slip will turn black. Some people use silver chopsticks for the same reason
  4. Some of us will drink tonics for health even when we are not sick. These are usually slow boiled over a long period. Personally, I don’t think they taste very good and I will admit that I avoid them
  5. Sometimes we eat food based on superstition and for medicinal purposes, like eating pig leg to nourish your leg or something like that. My family doesn’t do it
  6. Some food have cultural significance, like during Chinese New Year we like to eat fish. we also wish each other nian nian you yu (may you have fish every year aka a surplus every year) A roasted pig is also sent to the bride’s house after marriage when she makes her first visit back home. To exclude it means the bride has been rejected by her husband
  7. There are also food taboos. Like during the Ming Dynasty, at least near the emperor, no one could eat pigs (Zhu) because the Emperor’s surname was Zhu. It sounded like you were eating the Emperor
  8. Fancy food you can have your character eat include Budda Jumps over the wall (yes, that’s its real name), Roast Suckling Pig, Roasted Duck, Beggers chicken, Number one dish in the world (also it’s real name), Match of Dragon and Phoenix (chicken and eel in case you are wondering), and Phoenix wrapped in green (watermelon chicken)
  9. Leave too much rice on your bowl and the superstition is you’ll marry a pockmarked husband/wife!

Miscellanous Cultural Stuff

  1. During Chinese New Year, we put the character fu (wealth) upside down to signify that wealth is falling from the sky
  2. Since your character fights, there is a chinese greeting where you put your right hand over your left fist. This is in GENERAL for NORMAL PEOPLE and only for the MEN (usually). For WARRIORS, it’s the left hand over the right fist to show I’m not fighting you now…or yet.
    3.For some reason, and i have no idea how, the clothes seem to allow them to carry stuff in their sleeves and some inner pocket in their coat.
  3. Oh and since you are doing clothes, I recommend taking clothes from the Han Dynasty (I can’t describe them so I’d recommend a search). Chinese fashion has changed over the centuries but Han Fashion is considered Chinese. Don’t take Qing because the Manchus aren’t considered Han Chinese and actually invaded China. Actually, now that i think about it, I don’t know if anyone cares about it though so it’s up to you. I’ve worn Qing outfits for Chinese New Year. You can also look at Tang and Song Fashion but it looks quite different from Han Fashion for the girls

Haha ok. I’ve written quite a bit. Not sure what you’re exactly keen on but feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. I and my books and whatever hell I go through on Chinese New Year would be happy to help.

Oh, but I know zip about martial arts so I’m afraid I can’t tell you about that.

Oh right. I forgot to mention. In case your character falls ill and has to take medication, Chinese medicine includes

  1. Acupunture
  2. Bitter brews (the most common I think. I’ve had to drink those and they taste awful. we even have a saying for it, Liang yao ku kou or good medicine tastes bitter)
  3. Suction therapy (they light a glass cup like thing and create a partial vacumm before placing it on your skin)
  4. Some aromatic stuff. I know it exists but i haven’t the faintest idea what it is
  5. Surgery. (the less said the better. I think this is standard)

I probably missed a few but in case you need it, here it is. I recommend the first two. I think they are more common than the rest. Chinese medicine has its own way of thinking about the body though (heat, cold, qi etc.) so they won’t talk about viruses, infections, bacteria and etc.

Wow. Thank you for all of this information, it is a great help. Since there is a war going on in my story it will be interesting to look up clever people like Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang. The information about food is great (those fancy dishes) I’ll have to include some of those. I’ll certainly look up the clothing too and the part about the warriors, I think it will be very useful in this story. All this time I’ve also overlooked medicine but it does play an important part in the book with this character so I’ll go back and take a look at that as well. Thanks again for all of this.

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