I'm a candidate of scholar.
On 25 January 2012, during the Chinese Dragon Year festival,
exam, organized by Taizhou Imperial Examination Museum
(泰州科举院试博物馆) and conducted according to the tradition set
up in the Ming Dynasty, was held at City of Taizhou (泰州)
in Jiangsu Province, which attracted a large number of onlookers.
It was a sunny afternoon. At 2 o'clock, in the cheerful
music, the chief examiner announced the ground rules for
the exam and 10 candidates were soon led to their seats.
- Prized Scholar, Eye of Board and Seeker of Flower
Unlike the old days when the exam could take days to complete,
in this fast food age, the scholar exam 2012 was just 20
minutes from start to finish, and the assessment was even
quicker. The Prized Paper (状元, the gold medal winner), the
Eye of the Board (榜眼, the silver medal winner ) and the Seeker
of the Flower (探花, the bronze medal winner) were determined
right on the spot. Then the Prized, the Eye and the Seeker
were put on their specially designated outfits and received
the academic cirtificates
from the Rev. Patron of Teacher (恩师大人).
Following the line to the antiquated exam tradition, they
set no age limit for the participants; but unlike the tradition,
the policy of equal opportunity for female in exam place
was implemented this time, thus a 12-year-old girl became
the honourable Seeker of Flower.
The scholar examination system is a revolutionary invention
initiated by empror of Sui (隋朝: 581 - 618)， a dynasty prior
to Tang. Similar to all early forms of civilization in human
history, China used to be a feudal society with rigid hierarchical
structure based on one's social inheritance. But more than
2,000 years ago when the emperors of Han (202BC - 220AD)
accepted Confucius humanitarian teaching as the fundamental
principle of ethics and believed that all men should have
equal rights to gain access to education (有教无类) and job opportunity
(帝王将相，宁有种乎！) , the feudalism was abolished, and the government
officials were individually selected from citizens by recommendation
based on academic achievement and moral standanrd. But this
arrangement was too subjective and arbitrary thus an anonymous
written exam system was born.
The imperial examation was typically divided into three
levels. When a man passed the county exam (童试), he would
be rewarded a title of Elaborated Talent (秀才 ), equivalent
to a bachelor's degree, which allowed him to enter an elite
class of intellectuals. If he further passed a provincial
exam (乡试), he would then receive a title of Recommended Man
(举人), equivalent to a master's degree, which entitled him
to be recommended for a position in a government office.
The top grade exam was administrated by the Culture & Education
Ministry (礼部) at the state level (会试) once in every four
years, and those who passed the exam would be invited to
a group interview in court, with the top three winners to
be orally examine by the emperor face to face. All these
men would be awarded a degree of Advanced Scholar (进士), equivalent
to PhD, and all formally became government officials.
When the Europeans adapted Chinese civil service exam practice
and further developed it into a tertiary education assessment
and reward system and a public service exam system, the system
in China lost its novelty and was decaying. Manchus dragged
China back to their stone age and removed the subjects of
science and technology from the examination. The so-called
scholars of Qing Dynasty were on the whole just a bunch of
smart ass with little wisdom, a group of crafty pettifoggers
with no real skills, a collections of spin doctors with no
principles. They were willing to serve anybody who was rich
and powerful and could pay them with fame and wealth, regardless
who they were and if they were for or against Chinese interest:
be they Manchus, Japanese, or other China-destroyer aliens.
The entire exam system that became completely rotten under
the Manchus was eventually ended about a hundred years ago.
Source of info/photos: 刘小敏
Or is it? May be not. This is a scene occurred on 15 January
2011 when entrance exam was held for master degree courses.
Across the country a total of 1.51 million people participated
in the examination in the hope of beboming a Recommended
Man or Recommended Woman of the 21st century.
A state examiner checks the qualification of a recommended
woman-to-be at the entrance of the exam room for the entrance
Two Recommended Men-to-be prepare their exam in the rain.