History of the Chinese icons

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 August, 2008, 12:00am

An explanation of some of the icons seen in last night's event

The 'Four Great Inventions'

China invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing, and during the ceremony 'classical scholars' wearing traditional costumes were seen surrounding carved wood blocks - the earliest form of printing.

Peking Opera

The stylised form of singing, action, dialogue, mime, acrobatics and dancing emerged during the Qing dynasty more than 200 years ago, and last night more than 900 performers staged a traditional opera depicting a 'triumphant return'.

The Silk Road and Silk Road of the Sea

The ancient land and sea links between east and west allowed goods to be transported more than 8,000km, and during the performance a female actor was carried on a large stage and a fleet of ships depicted on banners sailed in an 'ocean' of men in blue costumes.

Calligraphy, ink painting

Mastery of these art forms was required of students for centuries in imperial China, and the ceremony saw black-clad dancers using a screen as a performance space as they simulated the movements of a brush.

Tai chi

Believed to have been founded more than 800 years ago, the 'soft' martial art aims to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity, and last night a multitude of practitioners wearing white displayed a range of techniques.