Chinasage : All about China





Bits and Pieces

China Sage News

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We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are some news stories, visit our news page for more stories and also follow us on Facebook .

Thu 11th Aug

China is famous for producing world-beating bronze technology at a very early date. Large bronze vessel dating from the Shang dynasty (1600-1100BCE) have long been admired.

A recent study has been looking into the recipe for bronze used and it seems it is a complex system based on alloys rather than just a rough mixture of tin and copper. Only if a carefully followed process was followed would the Shang bronzesmiths been able to create such large and finely detailed objects. For many years the Kaogong ji was the source reference to follow but this uses the terms ‘Jin’ and ‘Xi’ as ingredients with no description of what they were. It is now thought these were specially produced alloys of precise proportion of elements.

Zhou dynasty, bronze, dish
Ancient bronze dish of Western Zhou dynasty date

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Thu 4th Aug

Chinese Valentine’s Day this year falls on Thursday 4th August.

In China the festival is a moveable festival as it falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month [Qīxìjié means seventh night festival]. It commemorates the love between Zhī nǔ the weaver and Niú láng the cowherd . Because after marriage they spent too much time canoodling rather than carrying out their work, the gods separated them and they were only allowed to meet on one night each year. The husband and wife are represented by the bright stars Vega (Lyra constellation) and Altair (Aquila constellation) and a bridge of magpies is made over the Milky Way which runs between them in the sky to allow them to meet. The magpies will only come if it is a dry day.

It has now become a day for lovers to have a romantic evening, exchange gifts and maybe pop the question.

ox, oxherd, Niulang, Zhinu
The oxherd Niulang seeking to reach his estranged bride Zhinu in the sky.

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Thu 28th Jul

China produced fine ‘magic mirrors’ that mystified everyone until quite recent years. The smooth mirror surface creates a hidden image in its reflection when bright light is shone on it. This new discovered magic mirror was made in the 16th century and creates an image of the Buddha surrounded by light beams, the characters on the reverse spell the name of the Amitabha Buddha.

These mirrors were made of bronze from the Han dynasty onwards. The way they work is not obvious, only careful microscopic analysis revealed that the mirror surface is not quite smooth but has very fine ridges and dimples that create the effect. The design is made by first making the smooth mirror surface and very carefully hammering in the design on the reverse.

These mirrors rarely survive and Shanghai museum has a couple this one is at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio.

magic mirror
©The back of the mirror features Chinese characters that spell the name of the Amitābha Buddha, Photograph: Rob Deslongchamps
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Wed 13th Jul

On hot summer days one way to escape the heat is to visit the cool interior of museums. This page shows fifteen great treasures from Taipei, Hong Kong and Beijing.

national palace museum, taiwan, taipei
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan. Image by Dr. Gary Lee Todd available under a Creative Commons License

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Fri 1st Jul

The housing market in China has entered a challenging phase - too many houses and too few buyers. Some sellers are turning to desperate measures, some are offering a free pig to purchasers (Jiangsu province), while others are accepting payment in wheat or garlic (in Henan province). Clear signs that the housing market was in big trouble came when EverGrande defaulted on debt repayment last year. Buyers can elect to have the pig slaughtered without actually having to take delivery.

Shanxi, Taiyuan, lake, modern housing
Longtan Park, Taiyuan, Shanxi

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Thu 23rd Jun

Southern China is often subject to heavy rain but this year the rains have come early and in greater quantity than normal. In some parts of Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian rainfall records have been broken and hundreds of thousands have been evacuated from flooded homes. Yingde, Guangdong on the Bei River is one of the worst affected areas. This is worrying because the bulk of the rainy season (June-September) is yet to come.

Northern China is suffering not from rain but the heat, the increased drain on the electricity supply for air conditioning is causing concern. All in all, with the excessive heat in Europe and US, the predictions of climate change do seem to be confirmed this year.

Guangdong flooding

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Thu 16th Jun

The Jumbo Kingdom Floating restaurant that for many years has graced the harbor of Hong Kong has shut up shop. Severely hit by the pandemic it has continued to lose money and has now closed permanently. Eight dedicated boats used to ferry diners to the traditional styled mammoth restaurant.

hong kong,  restuarant,  boat
Jumbo Kingdom restaurant, Hong Kong. December 2000. Image by Maksym Kozlenko available under a Creative Commons License

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Thu 9th Jun

It's the time of the grueling university entrance examinations gāo kǎo that are vital for future careers. There has been a tradition of mothers wearing a traditional silk dress 旗袍 qí páo to bring luck. Now some fathers and brothers have taken to wear the dress to bring luck and also lighten the serious mood. The origin is partly from the similar sounding proverb/idiom qí kāi dé shèng which means 'Success at first attempt' that has for centuries been associated with good wishes for examination success.

man wearing Qi pao dress

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Zhongnanhai, government
Xinhua Gate is the main ceremonial gate into the Zhongnanhai complex of government buildings, Beijing. The sector is located just to the west of the Imperial centre of government the Forbidden City. Image by Bgabel available under a Creative Commons license


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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 twelve years. Laszlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 30 years. The set of 290 podcasts totals 150 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.


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