Rediscovering the Idea of Cultural Heritage and the Relationship with Nature: Four Schools of Essential Thought of the Ancient Han Chinese

Chien-Nien Chen, Dawei Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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After a long-standing debate of pluralism in heritage conservation, the global practice has just started to broaden its view from material to people and even to nature, leading to the potential of a more comprehensive understanding and harmony between these spheres. Notwithstanding that the shift from material to people and then to nature seemingly looks like the only path in the modern heritage conservation movement to achieve the foregoing goals, in fact, there exist some regional cultures that originally featured particular views on human–nature harmony. This paper hence highlights the regional dierence in heritage with a focus on China of ancient times, which unfolds the particular perspective emphasising the unity of human and nature. With a case study of Huaqing Palace of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE), the research is expected to be the first attempt to rediscover that the four schools of thought, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and I Ching, had jointly formed a “wisdom” system of the ancient Han Chinese in shaping the idea of cultural heritage, as well as the idea of heritage conservation, which were inherited by modern Chinese without knowing and recognising it. The paper, therefore, argues that without understanding and acknowledging the significance of the ancient Han Chinese’s particular view on nature and the universe formed by the four schools of thought behind the material, it is not likely to protect and promote comprehensively their heritage value, such that the importance of cultural diversity will be just rhetoric.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1812-1834
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


  • Chinese cultural heritage
  • heritage discourse
  • intangible
  • resilience
  • sustainability
  • tangible


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