Dragon Boat Festivals of the World

August 20, 2014

When I was at the 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration in San Francisco, I learned that Dragon Boat races take place in San Francisco Bay.  I stopped at the Dragon Boat booth and was told there would be more than a hundred boats competing in the Dragon Boat Festival from Treasure Island in San Francisco on September 25-16, 2010. This year (2104), this SF festival will be held September 20 & 21.

In China, The Dragon Boat Festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth moon. The Legends Behind the Dragon Boat Festival says that the festival celebrates and honors Ch’u Yuan, (343-278 BC), who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River during the fourth century BC during the Chou Dynasty to protest government corruption.  There is some controversy over the real reason but this is the most popular one.

It is said that people rushed onto the river in boats to find Ch’u Yuan’s body but failed.  Today, the festival is a day where boat races are held throughout the Chinese-speaking world wherever significant numbers of Chinese live.


Morgan Stanley Dragon Boat HK Final Race 2013

Today, Dragon Boat Festivals are no longer exclusive to China: for instance, they are held all over the world: San Francisco, Boston, Oakland, Colorado’s Sloan Lake, Washington D.C., several festivals in the U.K., Victoria B.C. in Canada, Schwerin in Germany, South Africa, etc.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The not dizzy Dizi – a Chinese bamboo flute with a lot of history

August 19, 2014

The more than two thousand year old Dizi is a traditional Chinese musical instrument that was popular during the Warring States period (472-221 BC) and was used in opera during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.

There are two opinions about where the Dizi came from. Official Imperial documents say that a messenger for Han Emperor Wudi brought one with him from western China in 199 BC.

However, older bone and bamboo flutes have been found in ancient tombs. One was found in an Eastern Han tomb (206BC – 9 AD).  Several bone flutes were found in Zhejiang province and more than thirty flutes have been found that were nine thousand years old.  The number of holes varies.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Buddhism’s arrival to China and its many faces

August 13, 2014

During the Han Dynasty in the first century B.C., trade with Central Asia introduced Buddhism to China.  Over the centuries, interest in Buddhism grew.  However, due to Confucianism and Taoism, the Chinese adapted Buddhist scripture to fit the Chinese culture creating the Mahayana sect, which spread to Korea and Japan.

Like most major religions, there are subdivisions within Buddhism but most may be classified into three. This is why Southeast Asian Buddhists differ from the Chinese.  The Theravada form of Buddhism is found in Southeast Asia in countries like Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporates other beliefs, and there are four principal schools or types of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the four, the Yellow Hat sect.

Buddhism in China reached its high point during the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907. However, in 845 AD, the Tang emperor suppressed Buddhism and destroyed thousands of monasteries, temples and shrines.

Soon after Mao and the Communists won China, Buddhism flourished for a time but was repressed during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – ‘76) along with all other religions. Many monasteries and Buddhist texts were destroyed. After Mao, many of the major monasteries were rebuilt under Deng Xiaoping.

Today, Buddhists represent the largest religious group in China between 100 to 200 million. (PEW Forum)

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Despised in China, the woman who died a thousand times

August 12, 2014

Almost half a century after her death, Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961) has not been forgotten.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go.

Between 1919 and 1961, she acted in 62 films. The Internet Movie Data Base says she was the “first Chinese-American movie star”.

To act, Anna had to play the roles she was given. The Western stereotype cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman who always fell for a Caucasian man. The dark side of achieving her dream of acting in movies was that Anna had to die so the characters she played got what they deserved.

Anna often joked that her tombstone should read, “Here lies the woman who died a thousand times.”

Until Chinese started to emigrate to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, they had never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior.

However, the discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism and hatred directed at African-Americans.

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans, which created a protected class, and since the Chinese—due to cultural differences often did not complain—they were left behind.

In many respects, this racism toward the Chinese still exists in the US today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing, which supports the old stereotype.

When Anna May Wong visited China in 1936, she had to abandon the trip to her parent’s ancestral village when a mob accused her of disgracing China.

After her return to Hollywood, she was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism, she lived in Europe for a few years.

Since U.S. law did not allow her to marry the Caucasian man she loved, and she was afraid that if she married a Chinese man he would force her to give up acting since Chinese culture judged actresses to be the same as prostitutes, she never married.

Anna May Wong smoked and drank too much. She died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Ancient Tea Horse Road

August 6, 2014

Many have heard of or read about the Silk Road between China and Europe, but I think few have heard of the ancient Tea Horse Road, which I first read about in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic (NG).

Legend says that tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.

But that isn’t what struck me the most about the NG piece. It’s the example that demonstrated why the peasants loved and possibly worshiped Mao Tse-Tung.

From May 2010 National Geographic Magazine, page 103

For more than a thousand years, men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea on their backs across the rugged mountains into Lhasa. Some froze to death in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed into the clouds.

This all ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket, whom the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Climbing the Dragon’s Back in Southeast China

August 5, 2014

The Dragon Back Rice Terraces are located in Guangxi Province in southeast China near Vietnam.  The nearest city is Guilin, which is close to the Li River.

When we arrived, there was two-legged transportation for anyone who wasn’t strong or healthy enough to climb to the top.

There are fifty-six minorities in China and this is an autonomous region where the Zhuan minority lives— the largest minority in China with more than sixteen million people. The ancient Zhuang culture has been traced back more than two thousand years.

Halfway to the top, we passed this woman cleaning rice.

We arrived in the autumn and the rice had been harvested. The terraces were turning brown. For lunch, we ate in the village.  The terraced rice was cooked in segments of bamboo over an open fire.

At the top, we looked toward the far mountains—a foggy blue outline.

On the way down, we noticed an entrepreneur making money by letting tourists dress in minority costumes and take pictures.


Video from Oregon Lifestyles

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Earth was Flat Once

July 30, 2014

In 1610, Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius, the Starry Messenger, about discoveries he made with his new telescope. He was attacked for his theory because it seemed to contradict Scripture and what the Church told people to believe if they wanted to get into heaven.  Because of this, in 1633, Galileo was tried and convicted of heresy.


Have you heard of the Flat Earth Society?

Fifteen hundred years prior to Galileo’s discovery that the earth was round and orbited the sun, there is evidence that Chinese mathematicians had calculated the size of the earth on the basis that it must have been spherical (round). However, similar to what happened to Galileo, the Chinese people would continue to believe the earth was flat for centuries.  It’s possible that when Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), China’s first emperor, had the great book burning, he burned the evidence of earlier Chinese mathematical texts.

In addition, older Chinese creation myths included details that accounted for the tilt of the earth and other astronomical facts.  Several existing, ancient Chinese applied mathematics texts prove the Chinese were the first to use some of the most basic and advanced mathematical principles and concepts utilized in modern times. Two of these texts are the Chou Pei and Chiu Chang (these texts date from the period of the Zhou Dynasty from 1046—256 BCE).

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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