13 Modern Angles Representing ‘China’s Big Four’

monkey king painting lots of monkeys in a village collecting firewood a fire burns

Smoke rises from the funerary pyre of the monkey king Vali. (Image Credit: via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

China is an old and profound culture. It has a long history of novels and historical legends. Among these classic pieces are four very essential novels that have inherited the name “China’s Big Four” among Chinese.

But besides China’s Big Four, there are a number of other historical entities that come in the power of four, like the four talented women.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

This holds true even in modern times in regard to expressing the greatness of a selected variety of things, even those greater than four in number.

In the spirit of “China’s Big Four,” Chinese Netizens got the ingenious idea to go through China’s entire history and culture, weighing each aspect of it against their criteria that would make it a “Big Four.”

The following list shows 13 areas, each bearing 4 aspects, that Chinese Netizens believe would qualify to be regarded as “China’s Big Four.”

China’s Big Four is not only about classic novels

1. Four most talented women:

  • Cai Wenji
  • Ban Zhao or Shangguan Wan’er
  • Zhuo Wenjun
  • Li Qingzhao
Gathering Gems of Beauty painting
Cai Wenji (蔡文姬). The full album is known as Gathering Gems of Beauty (畫麗珠萃秀) (Image: By He Dazi (赫達資) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Four great classical novels:

  1. Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  2. Journey to the West
  3. Water Margin
  4. Dream of the Red Chamber

3. Four beauties of ancient China:

  1. Xi Shi
  2. Wang Zhaojun
  3. Yang Guifei
  4. Diaochan
Wang Qiang painting
Wang Qiang (Wang Chiang; 王牆, also 王檣 and 王嬙), more commonly known by her stylistic name Wang Zhaojun (Wang Chao-chun; 王昭君), was known as one of the ‘four beauties’ of ancient China. (Image: Sailko [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

4. Four ancient operas that depict tragedy:

  1. Writer Guan Hanqing’s Snow in Midsummer
  2. Ma Zhiyuan’s masterpiece Han Gong Qiu
  3. Bai Pu’s Indus Rain
  4. Ji Junxiang’s The Orphan of Zhao

5. Four legendary stories:

  1. The Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, known as the Love Story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (Butterfly Lovers)
  2. Da Yu Controls the Great Flood
  3. The Cowherd and the Weaving Girl
  4. Lady Meng-Jiang’s Tears Made the Great Wall Collapse

6. Four famous Buddhist mountains:

  1. Mount Wutai in Shanxi
  2. Mount Emei in Sichuan
  3. Mount Putuo in Zhejiang
  4. Mount Jiuhua in Anhui
Sunrise at Mount Emei, one of  China's big four mountains.
Sunrise at Mount Emei in Sichuan Western China. (Image: By Staceynyx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

7. Four great inventions:

  1. Compass
  2. Gunpowder
  3. Printing technique
  4. Geomantic compass

8. Four ancient capitals:

  1. Xi’an
  2. Luoyang
  3. Beijing
  4. Nanjing

9. Four major cuisines:

  1. Lu (Shandong)
  2. Chuan (Sichuan)
  3. Su (Jiangsu)
  4. Yue (Guangdong)

10. Four traditional festivals:

Dragon Dance in Chinatown, NYC, Lunar New Year
Dragon Dance in Chinatown, NYC, Lunar New Year (Image Credit: By Patrick Kwan from New York City, USA (Dragon in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Lunar New Year
  2. Mid-Autumn Festival
  3. Dragon Boat Festival
  4. Ching Ming Festival

11. Four major regional operas:

  1. Beijing Opera also known as Peking Opera
  2. Huangmei Song originally known as “Caicha Opera”
  3. Cantonese Opera
  4. Yue Opera

12. Four famous mountains:

  1. Yellow Mountain (absolute)
  2. Hua Mountain (danger)
  3. Lu Mountain (popular)
  4. Tai Mountain (scholar)

13. Four famous wines:

  1. Maotai
  2. Fenjiu
  3. Luzhou Lao Jiao Tequ
  4. Xifeng

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Recommended Stories

Stir-fried pebbles.

Stir-Fried Pebbles: Chinese Vendors Are Making a Dish Made of Stones

Chinese street food vendors have amused the world by creating a unique cuisine; stir-fried pebbles, ...

Chinese painting of Kou Zhun, an official during the Northern Song Dynasty.

The Inspirational Story of Kou Zhun’s Mother: A Lesson in Moral Education

China, with its 5,000-year-old civilization, has always been recognized for the importance it places on ...

Man and woman in a heated argument.

Disagreeing Gracefully: How To Foster Understanding in a Polarized World

Most of us have found ourselves embroiled in a heated disagreement, feeling so hurt or ...

Exoplanet K2-18b.

Signs of Life? Why Astronomers Are Excited About Carbon Dioxide and Methane in the Atmosphere of an Alien World

Are we alone? This question is nearly as old as humanity itself. Today, this question ...

The tower in Kaiyuan Temple with cherry blossoms.

Historical Tale From China: Murong Yanchao Outsmarts a Swindler

During the Later Han Dynasty (947-950), Yunzhou’s leading commander, Murong Yanchao, was celebrated for his ...

A basket of eggs.

Reviving the Simple Long-Lost Art of Roasting Eggs

Roasting eggs is probably the most ancient way of cooking eggs. About 1 million years ...

A closeup view of jail cell iron bars casting shadows on the prison floor.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything Overnight on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 2)

Mr. Yang said persecuted entrepreneurs like him are too numerous in his home province and ...

A polar ring galaxy.

Astronomers Have Discovered a Rare ‘Polar Ring Galaxy’ Wrapped in a Huge Ribbon of Hydrogen

A galaxy can come in many shapes and sizes, from giant, slowly rotating ovals and ...

Mr. Yang.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 1)

Mr. Yang, one of China’s highly successful entrepreneurs now living in exile, recounted how he ...

Send this to a friend