Getting dressed in Han Chinese costume, having a red dot on forehead, writing the character of “Ren” (“Man” in Chinese), watching Dacheng Rites-music…
Kaiwen students new to school were immersed in an experience of ancient culture,
At the First Writing Ceremony at the Imperial College.
Awestruck by the sacredness and profoundness of the identity of “student”,
They started their very important lesson of life.
First Writing Ceremony is an educational form of enlightenment for children starting to learn for literacy in Chinese traditions. In ancient China, students would show up at school early on the first day of school, listened to enlightenment teachers for the most basic and simple principles of life as well as literacy and then pay homage to the Confucius statue, before being admitted to school. The ceremony is called “Po Meng” (enlightenment).
In ancient times, First Writing Ceremony is very formal and of great significance for the intellectual and it’s dubbed as one of the four ceremonies in life. The First Writing Ceremony of Kaiwen Academy has become a tradition, for which the 1st grade students of the school will come to the Imperial College in every autumn semester to experience the ancient First Writing Ceremony and traditional Chinese culture.
On October 29, 2019, the First Writing Ceremony of Kaiwen Academy at Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum was held. All the 1st grade students and their parents gathered at the museum to attend the ceremony, visit the Imperial College and the Confucius Temple and watch Dacheng Rites-music.
Vice Principal giving a speech
Vice Principal Scott Reid of Kaiwen Academy gave a speech and said that First Writing Ceremony was very special and attending the ceremony in this 700-year-old ancient architecture would deeply impress the 1st grade students. He hoped that the “little demoiselle cranes” would work hard at study and become “little scholars”.
Trimming the apparel
Trimming the apparel reflects the mental outlook of people. As an ancient saying goes, “trim the apparel before getting sensible.” Trimming the apparel is an admirable carrier for recollecting excellent moral character of our ancestors and also the first step to make the children sensible.
Having a red dot on forehead to open the wisdom eye
Giving a red dot on pupils’ forehead is called opening the wisdom eye. This is intended as a gesture to inspire wisdom and reflect the good wishes of teachers and parents for the students: be wise and sensible, enjoy studying and study well.
Reading the Standards for Students
The Standards for Students represents the essence of traditional Chinese culture in etiquettes, filial piety and respect for teachers. Kaiwen students felt the wisdom of Chinese culture, with the sound of reading echoing across the sacred place.
Writing the character “Ren”
The students wrote on rice paper the character “Ren” (meaning “man” in Chinese), which was simple yet profound. Hopefully, the students would learn to become a wise and fine person at the enlightenment stage of life and stand upright as a man.
Paying homage to the Confucius statue
As guided by teachers, the students paid homage to the Confucius statue to show respect for teachers.
Paying respects to teachers and parents
The students also paid homage to teachers for their teaching and to parents for their nurturing.
Visiting the Imperial College
Imperial College was the highest educational institution in ancient China and first set up in the Sui Dynasty. Before Sui, college was called Chengjun or Shangxiang and Taixue was set up in the Han Dynasty. In the first year of Yong’an, Emperor Jing of the Kingdom of Wu created Guoxue and established the Taixue Boshi system.
The Song Dynasty, inheriting the system in the Later Zhou Dynasty, set up Imperial College in its beginning years, which recruited children of officials above a certain level as students. Imperial College was later changed to Guozixue and then changed back to Imperial College afterwards. In the third year of Qingli reign in the Northern Song Dynasty, Fan Zhongyan took part in the Political Reform during Qingli Emperor and upgraded Yingtian Academy to Nanjing Imperial College, which, together with Imperial College in Dongjing and Xijing, became the highest educational institutions in the Northern Song Dynasty.
The students also watched the Dacheng Rites-music integrating music, dance and chanting. They experienced the beauty of the ritual music in being “solemn, formal, elegant, implicit, harmonious, pure and authentic” and were impressed by the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
First Writing Ceremony influences children with extensive and profound Confucian culture,
Giving the students their first important lesson in life.
Through the ritual education,
“Little demoiselle cranes” of Kaiwen Academy
Experience the formality and sacredness of the ceremony,
Are inspired to cherish the opportunity of study and work hard,
And are encouraged to inherit the excellent traditional Chinese culture
And carry forward the spirit of sinology.