Chinasage : All about China



About Chinasage

We're building an exciting new information source all about China. We found other sites were poorly structured, too detailed (such as Wikipedia) or just too old-fashioned. What we thought was needed was a carefully constructed set of pages with strict editorial control so that links and pages are consistent, up-to-date and easy to navigate without clutter.

The name “Chinasage” came about because this can be read as either “china sage” ( zhōng guó yīng míng) or “china's age” ( zhōng guó shí dài) , which promotes our new knowledge resource at a time when China has come of age in the World.

China Sage News

We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are the latest news stories, for more visit our news page.

Fri 26th Jun

The Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty were not content with just the Summer Palace and Forbidden City in the capital Beijing they also built an even larger extensive pleasure park at Chengde 150 miles further north-east. Here they could escape the summer heat and practice horsemanship out in the hills and mountains. The resort is dotted with impressive replicas of buildings elsewhere in China including the Potala Palace, Lhasa. It was here that the Emperor would hold audience and where on 4th September 1793 Englishman the Earl MacCartney representing the English East India Company had a famous meeting with Emperor Qianlong.

Hebei, Chengde, Qing dynasty, temple
Chengde, Hebei has many palaces built as replicas of buildings in China. This palace is a recreation of the Potala Palace Tibet Copyright © Dreamstime see image license

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Thu 18th Jun

June 21st will be marked by an annular eclipse with 40% of the sun obscured over much of China. It will be annular rather than total eclipse because the moon is slightly further away from the Earth than average and does not quite cover the whole solar disc. It will reach 90% coverage in southern China - from Tibet through to Fujian.

It happens to coincide with the Summer Solstice when the days in the northern hemisphere are at their longest. The Summer solstice is xià zhì in Chinese meaning ‘Summer limit’.

The Chinese for a solar eclipse is rì shí meaning literally ‘Sun eat’ following the ancient tradition that the moon or a celestial dragon (or dog) eats up the sun. The first record of an eclipse in China dates back to at least 1217BCE. China has kept an unbroken set of astronomical observations longer than any other civilizations. The prediction of eclipses became a very important study as the ominous diminution of the sun’s power could be seen as Heaven’s displeasure at the Emperor’s rule. People came out of their houses and stopped work while temples banged gongs and rang bells to scare away the dragon eating the sun.

Annular eclipse
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Fri 12th Jun

A new discovery of a small carving (only 0.76 inches [19.2 mms] long and 0.49 inches [12.5 mms] high) has excited an international team of archeologists at a site near Xuchang, Henan province. Professor Li Zhanyang of Shandong University is the lead writer of the report of what was found at the paleolithic site at Lingjing. It is far earlier than any previous bird sculpture to be found in China at 13,500 years old and is carved by hand from a single mammalian bone. The bird is carved so it has a base so it could stand up and be admired.

ancient bird sculpture,Henan
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Wed 13th May

In recent years a new 'festival' has been added to the calendar. This is on 20th May each year and is the day when young unmarried couples indulge in a little romance. It is all because the number 520 in Chinese ( wǔ èr líng) can sound vaguely like 我爱伱 wǒ ài nǐ 'I love you'. So far this has only really caught on in cities where stores have made it another trading bonanza.

With China just emerged from lock-down, when some couples have been forced to keep apart, it has taken on more importance. Another reason for 2020 being special is that the year expressed as 二零二零 èr líng èr líng sounds a bit like 爱你爱妳ài nǐ ài nǐ 'Love you, love you' particularly on a muffled mobile phone. In Shanghai all available marriage services on this auspicious day have already been snapped up.

Chinese couple

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Chinasage Site updates

We continue to improve the web site as you can see on these descriptions of updates and upgrades, for older entries please visit our site news page.

Thu 25th Jun
Site improvements

Running a web site like this is a continuous process. Just when you think you've got the content looking good either the technology or the search algorithms change. We try to design the pages to work well with smartphones but these continue to develop with new features. In this latest set of changes we've made better use of the new HTML5 tags such as 'aside', 'section', 'figcaption' and 'footer'. This helps browsers and Google work out what bits of a web page are important and which are peripheral.

When you make the changes you can never be sure whether it has improved matters and the web pages will then appear higher on Google searches as a result - you have to wait at least two months for everything to be re-indexed and re-analyzed.

We've also split the Chinese calendar away from the Festivals page as we think people are either interested in one or the other and not both. if you have any views on layout or content we are always delighted to hear from you - just use the envelope icon at the top of any page.

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Tue 2nd Jun
Ming Tombs

When looking for pages to give a good background to the spectacular tombs of the Ming Emperors we found that there was nothing that really covered the subject in depth. There were inconsistencies and confusion as to what could be found where and had to resort to using Google Earth to locate some of the buildings. We hope that our new page with numerous illustrations will help you appreciate the splendor of these magnificent constructions.

ming tombs, stele pavilion
Stele Pavilion on Sacred Way to Ming Tombs, Beijing. Image by Willi Luntzer available under a Creative Commons License
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garden, Foshan, Guangdong, architecture
Moon gate in Qinghui garden, Foshan city, Guangdong

Conventions

We use a consistent style for links within Chinasage. An internal link taking you to another page within our site is shown like this while a link to a page on any other web site is shown like this .

We use Chinese characters wherever appropriate. Most browsers should display both the characters and the pinyin correctly. We highlight any use of the older Wade Giles system. Except where stated all characters are the modern simplified form used in the People's Republic rather than the traditional ones (pre-1970s). To help you learn Chinese characters many of the very common characters are highlighted thus: hovering the mouse over the character pops up a box showing further information about the character.

Dates are given using the BCE/CE (Before Common Era and in Common Era) year convention rather than BC/AD. If a date is not followed by BCE or CE it should be taken as CE.

Authorship

All the text on the Chinasage web site is our own, we do not copy and paste from other web sites. We research each topic from a number of separate sources. The only exception to this are quotations and image credits. All text is our copyright and can not be used/copied without our permission. We are independent of any other company or government, the opinions expressed are our own. We do not receive funding from any external agency or organization.

Teacup Media (China History Podcast)

We are delighted to be able to promote links to Laszlo Montgomery's excellent Teacup Media series created over the last ten years. Laszlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 30 years. The set of 250 podcasts totals 130 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.

Acknowledgments

We are extremely grateful to the many people who have put their photographs online for anyone to adapt and use. Without them our site would be very drab. If we are not using the image license correctly please let us know. Some pages use Javascript to create special effects such as our airport table and calendar. We are grateful to the original authors for providing their code to be used and adapted by anyone else. The online Chinese dictionary uses the definition from the CC-CEDICT project for which we are grateful for a generous free license. Sound files kindly provided by shtooka.net under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.

Feel free to contact Chinasage to point out any errors, omissions or suggestions on how to improve this web site.