Harmony is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. Throughout China’s ancient, inclusive civilization, the cosmological principle of harmony between humanity and heaven, the worldview of seeking harmony among all nations, and the social ideal of harmony without uniformity have been a constant feature, and every ethical value has been consistently reinforced by harmonious and benevolent minds. The values of peace, concord, and harmony were etched in the Chinese cultural genes and passed down through the ages and throughout the lands, forming the intangible foundation of China’s uninterrupted civilization.
The concepts of Harmony（和）and Unity（合）tie the entirety of Chinese history together and epitomize Chinese wisdom. This dyad initially referred to harmony of the mind, of musical notes, or of yin and yang, and gradually came to incorporate unity in the universe, the world, and the family. “Yin and yang combine to create life, and myriad beings live in harmony and unity; this is called concordance,” states The Interpretation of Records of the Grand Historian, or Shiji Zhengyi.
According to Interpretations of the Book of Changes, “Harmony and Unity intermingle and give birth to all beings.” These two concepts are thus life’s fundamental pathway. To ancient Chinese, the fundamental nature of the universe was harmony. In cosmological terms, they saw the world as one in which “all things that grow live in harmony,” and “the greatest value of the rites” was making interpersonal relationships harmonious. They wrote that “the people should be nurtured with rational governance” in order to make society harmonious and that “the joy of being a human is to live in harmony with others.” These aspects come together to form a state of “supreme harmony,” which gave rise to a five-millennium-old continuous civilization, extending across every inch of this land.
Drawing on the rich collections of the Palace Museum and the National Museum of China, this exhibition explores the historical origins of the culture of “Harmony and Unity” in China through four parts: “Harmony with Nature,” “Harmony Between Nations,” “Harmony Among People,” and “Peace and Amity.” It illustrates how the Chinese nation came to “cherish unity and seek great harmony” and promotes the contemporary value and global significance of Chinese civilization.