The Private and Passionate Poetry of China

November 19, 2014

The Golden Age of Poetry in China was during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD).  One book of Chinese Love Poetry edited by Jane Portal (© 2004) was published by Barnes & Noble Books (ISBN 0-7607-4833-0).

I’m sure that most people outside of China don’t think of love poems when they think of China. However, there has to be a reason for more than 1.3 billion people, other than the Great Wall of China, the Pacific Ocean and the biggest mountain range on the planet, the Himalayas, which helped shelter China from some of the violence that rocked the rest of the world for centuries—at least until the Opium Wars.

For poetry lovers, Chinese Love Poetry imparts a sense of the private passion that beats in the Chinese heart. The three arts of poetry, calligraphy and painting, the Triple Excellence, are represented on the pages.

The following painting, lady weeping at parting from husband, 17th century, comes from the Qing Dynasty and the book says it is a color woodblock print on paper.

Chinese poetry is frequently personal and often linked to a particular occasion (page 9).

Deeply in love, but tonight
we seem to be passionless;
I just feel, before our last cup of wine
a smile will not come.
The wax candle has sympathy ­­–
weeps at our separation:
Its tears for us keep rolling down
till day breaks.

by Du Mu (803-852 AD)

As you can see, the Chinese are a passionate people—they just don’t dramatize these passions publicly as many Westerners do—at least until the West invaded China to force—if possible—a different set of values on China’s collective culture.

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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 Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 3 of 3

November 13, 2014

Enough said about The Economist, Christianity and differences between dictatorships, democracies and republics, and back to the long history between China and Burma/Myanmar, which started during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.).

Due to deposits of jade in Burma/Myanmar and that region, Chinese merchants have been involved in mining and trade there for more than two thousand years.

Then during the Qing Dynasty, there were four major invasions (1765-1769) of Burma by China’s Manchu leaders. In 1784, the long struggle between Burma and China ended and regular trade started up again.

In November 1885, Sir Robert Hart favored a proposal that China, as Burma’s overlord, stand aside and allow the British Empire to pursue her own course there provided that Britain allow Burma to continue her decennial tribute (once every ten years) missions to China. Source: The I. G. In Peking, Letters of Robert Hart, Chinese Maritime Customs 1868-1907, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, page 614, 1975.

Instead, the British Empire made Burma a province of India in 1886.

Since independence from the British Empire, Burma has generally been impartial to world affairs but was one of the first countries to recognize Israel and the People’s Republic of China.

Territories such as the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and countries like North Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam and others along China’s long borders were considered vassal states by some Chinese dynasties, and these vassal states often sent lavish gifts and delegations to China’s emperors on a regular schedule.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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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 Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 2 of 3

November 12, 2014

What does the Beijing based unnamed critic writing for The Economist expect—that China adopt America’s evangelical, neo-conservative/neo-liberal role to spread “democracy” and “Christianity” to the world through nation building?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the critic writing in The Economist suggest that he or she expects China to spread “democracy” to countries like Burma and North Korea, which are by definition dictatorships, which the U.S. has a long history of supporting. See Cold War Origins of the CIA Holocaust to learn more.

If you haven’t read this opinion piece in The Economist, I suggest you do before going on to Part 3. Did you know that at the same time that the United States sells or gives weapons to dictatorships and authoritarian governments, it also has programs through the U.S. State Department to support religious freedom in many of the same countries?

For instance, Saudi Arabia, a country that prohibits any religion other than Islam and has a long history of human rights violations (Human Rights Watch World Report 2013) . On October 20, 2010, the US State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history—an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The IAGS says this about Saudi Arabia: “Much has been reported about the complex system of terrorist financing and the money trail facilitating the September 11 terror attacks. Individuals and charities from the Persian Gulf—mainly from Saudi Arabia—appear to be the most important source of funding for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda.”

Continued on November 13, 2014 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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China’s Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 1 of 3

November 11, 2014

The Economist (September 9, 2010) published a critical piece about China’s relationship with MyanmarWelcome, Neighbor – China hosts another tinpot dictator from next door

“Tinpot dictator” are the two key words in the title of this opinion piece, as if the United States or the UK has never hosted and/or supported “tinpot” dictators.

A well-written criticism of the U.S. government from Sri Lanka sets the record straight.

“I wish the spokesman of the (U.S.) State Department … would explain how Washington’s concern for democracy in Sri Lanka squares with US support for repressive regimes such as the one in Uzbekistan or the autocratic rule in Saudi Arabia, both countries in which the U.S. has military facilities.

“In post-World War II period, Washington has militarily propped up such dictators including several in South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos who was ousted by the Filipino people, Indonesia’s Suharto also thrown out by the people, Vietnam’s Dinh Diem, various military governments in Thailand, Singapore’s autocrat Lee Kwan Yew, the military dictators in Pakistan from Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, all of them from our part of the world…” The Ugly Americans Once More (Lankaweb, Sri Lanaka’s first Social Media website)

The Economist only mentions a half century of history between China and Burma/Myanmar, yet, China’s history with Burma and then Myanmar goes back about two thousand years.

The opinion piece also does not mention that China, since 1982, has not been into nation building as the U.S. has since 9/11, when President G.W. Bush launched wars against Iraq and Afghanistan with threats to Iran and North Korea.

Continued on November 12, 2014 with Part 2

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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.

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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Beijing’s Story Telling Opera, Jingyun Dagu

November 5, 2014

Jingyun Dagu is a form of Chinese opera where stories are often sung in a Beijing dialect accompanied by a drum along with one or two other musical instruments.

The focus is on the singing that depicts stories in short episodes.

Dagu was first popular near the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

One super star of Dagu was Luo Yusheng, who was born in 1914, and died at 89 in 2002. Her stage name was Xiao Caiwu. She studied under Su Huanting at the age of nine in order to play Laosheng (old man) roles in Peking Opera. At 14, she gave performances in singing without musical accompaniment in Nanjing, before she formally switched to Jingyun Dagu at the age of 17.

In 1934, Luo Yusheng studied at the Liu School of Jingyun Dagu (storytelling in Beijing dialect while beating a drum, accompanied by two or three persons who play three-stringed instruments).

At one time she was well known by most of China, and her fans called her the Queen of the Golden Voice.

After the PRC was founded in 1949, Dagu singers were regarded as people’s artists or actors, who sang traditional stories and new operas with themes reflecting contemporary life. For instance, patriotic Communist stories like Glorious Journey, Red Flag Over Mount Everest, and Patriotism and Roaring Waves.

The singer/drummer is often accompanied by the Sihu (a four-stringed instrument similar to an Erhu) and Pipa (lute) in addition to three-stringed lutes and wooden clappers. China Culture.org.

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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 Dark History with Japan

November 4, 2014

Poor relations with Japan started as far back as 1840, when Japan joined the British, French and Americans during the Opium Wars to gain concessions to sell opium to the Chinese.

In 1843, under the agreement of the Nanjing Treaty, Shanghai became one of five treaty ports to be turned into a colonial city that would be under control of foreign countries—Great Britain, France, America and Japan. McGill.ca

Until 1871, most Japanese had never had much contact with the Chinese. Then, getting to know the Chinese led to a Japanese opinion that the Chinese were ethnically inferior since they were different from the Japanese and most Japanese haven’t changed their minds to this day.

In 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops faced off in Korea, which ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.

In 1894, Japan and China fought their first war over Korea. Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries.

China was defeated in 1895 losing Korea as a tributary and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria.

Then in 1870, Japan annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had also been a tributary to China.

A Ryukyuan envoy even begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands should belong to Japan instead of China.

On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a war to conquer China. Over the next 8 years, Japan would occupy most of China.

In fact, Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities during World War II that resulted in millions of Chinese deaths. The Chinese estimate that they lost about 15-20 million in World War II and most of those deaths were civilians. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops.

“The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s yearly visits to a Tokyo shrine for war veterans has always played in China as a reminder of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.” U.S. News & World Report

Long memoires and hard feelings still smolder and sometimes ignite into flames. Since China has risen from the ashes, Japan should walk softly around the mighty reborn dragon.

_______________

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 evolution of education and knowledge—China vs. the West

October 28, 2014

In the West, Pliny’s Natural History encyclopedia (77 – 79 A.D.) was a massive compilation of practical information on medicine and on the natural world. The first institutions in Europe that were considered universities were established in Italy, France, Spain and England in the late 11th and 12th centuries A.D., and public education has been a development of the last 150 to 200 years.

In contrast, many Chinese scholars believe the history of education in China can be traced back as far as the 16th century B.C. during the late Xia Dynasty (1523-1027 B.C.). Throughout this period, education was the privilege of the elites. China Education Center.com

It was during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), that China’s first public education system was established, so it should not come as a surprise that the origins of China’s first encyclopedias can be traced to the late Han Dynasty. The biggest Chinese historiographic work of antiquity was written during this period, and Chinese calligraphy developed into an art.

Then, in 986 A.D., a Sung Dynasty emperor ordered that an encyclopedia be written.

This ancient encyclopedia is known as the Four Great Books of Song (宋四大书), which was compiled by Li Fang (925 – 996 A.D.) and other scholars during the Sung Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.).

The last book (Cefu Yuangui) was finished during the 11th century. The four encyclopedias were published with the intent to collect all known knowledge of the time. Source: History Cultural China

There were one thousand scrolls with 2,200 biographical entries.

This ancient example of the literary world printed about a thousand years ago was commissioned by Vice Primer Zhou Bida (Sung Dynasty), who had a group of scholars proof read the original copy of the encyclopedia before block printing it.

_______________

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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