Traditional Culture: The Proper Way to Sit in Ancient China
(Clearwisdom.net) Ancient Chinese people emphasized how to sit properly because it is an important part of good manners. There were three main postures before chairs were commonly used. The Fu position was sitting cross-legged. Similar to the lotus position in Buddhism, it is also called Jiafu. In the Qiju position both legs extend straight forward in front of the body like a dustpan. The Ji posture requires sitting on one's knees with the buttocks resting on one's lower legs and feet. When there were no guests present, people could sit casually in the Fu and Qiju positions, but if one was talking to a respected older person, talking to friends, talking about important issues, eating at dinner parties or banquets, or treating guests, one had to use the Ji posture.
Many records in ancient Chinese teachings mention sitting positions. In the Xihan Dynasty (207 B.C. to 25 A.D.), the two noblemen Song Zhong and Jia Yi were listening to a prophet explaining his prophecies. He was very knowledgeable, talked about things very rationally and convincingly, and made these two noblemen instantly feel respect. They immediately straightened their clothes and sat up straight to pay their respect to this prophet.
In Chinese history, the emperor and his helpers were all very careful to pay attention to their virtue and manners. Even in daily life they had to discipline their own words and actions. Mr. Tao Kan, a famous courtier during the Dongjin Dynasty (317-420), followed the principle of "Even when it is leisure time, still sit straight." Mr. Sima Guang (1019-1086) during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) always sat straight with a solemn altitude in his daily routine. The great Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) was good both at managing the country and fighting on the battlefields. He was very grand, and he always sat on the dragon throne very straight, looking down at sentient beings. He had cultivated this strict style for a long time. He recalled his childhood by saying, "Eating, moving, and speaking were all regulated. Although I always lived alone, I still dared not to go overboard." After he became the Emperor, he always sat straight in discussions with his courtiers, when studying in the palace study, and even while chatting and laughing with his family. His manner was established in early childhood, and he observed strict self-discipline during his daily life.