The Jade Culture of China

January 28, 2015

Cultures I know of that valued jade more than gold were the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans and Chinese.

In fact, China’s history with jade has been documented back more than 7,000 years, as Archaeologists have discovered jade objects dating from the early Neolithic period (about 5000 BC).


On the Road of Jade

Experts of the Zhejiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology found a 6,000 year-old jade workshop in China. Inside the ruins, piles of stone slices and primitive tools were found along with twenty jade rings.

Xinhua reported that the ruins were located in Tonglu county in Zhejiang province.

In 12th century China, a treatise was written about the property of jade, which resulted in 100 volumes with 700 color illustrations.

Confucius believed jade was the symbol of intelligence, humanity, loyalty and truthfulness, and the Chinese have called it eternal, divine, the Stone of Heaven and Earth, and the stone of tranquility.


Chinese Jade Culture

Peter Luca wrote on the Health Properties of Jade in China on Suite101.com, and he said, “for centuries, imperial households and courts, ate jade, wore jade, sucked on jade and were buried with it.”

Luca says, “Scientific research has confirmed that the stone contains elements such as: Zinc, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Cobalt, Selenium, Chromium, Titanium, Lithium, Calcium and Sodium. A current line of thinking is that, wearing natural products for a long period of time can supplement the body’s diet in its requirement for these elements.”

Jade also absorbs the sun’s energy and lets it out at night.

The finest Jadeite comes from Myanmar while Nephrite (another type of jade) is found in China, Guatemala, New Zealand and Canada.

As you can see, we have barely scratched the surface of this stone.

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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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

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China’s curious link between Opium, Christians, Cults and Cannon balls

January 27, 2015

Organized religions and cults such as the Falun Gong have been in China for centuries, but have never played a major role in the culture until the 19th century when Christianity and opium was forced on China.

C.M. Cipolla, in Guns, Sales and Empires, wrote, “While Buddha came to China on white elephants, Christ was born on cannon balls” paid for by the profits to be made from opium. Cipolla obtained his first teaching post in economic history in Catania at the age of 27. In 1953, Cipolla left for the United States as a Fulbright fellow and in 1957 became a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Two years later he obtained a full professorship.

The treaties that ended the two Opium Wars—first Opium war (1839-1842) and second Opium War (1856-1860)—required that China’s emperor allow Christian missionaries free access to all of China to convert the heathens. The treaty also opened all of China to the opium trade. Christianity and Opium might seem a strange partnership but that’s the way it was.

Then there was the Taiping Rebellion led by Hong Xiuquan, God’s Chinese son and a Christian convert, who was responsible for 20 – 100 million deaths over a period of 14 years (1850 – 1864). Hong claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ, and millions of Chinese believed him, but the Taipings were against the opium trade and that led the Christian countries to support China’s emperor against the Christian Taipings proving that profits come before God.

Then in the early months of 1900, thousands of Boxers, officially known as Fists of Righteous Harmony, roamed the countryside attacking Christian missions, slaughtering foreign missionaries and Chinese converts.

Confucius and Lao-Tse have influenced the foundation of Chinese culture and morality, and these two along with Buddha offer more of a blended influence on Chinese culture than Christianity or Islam.

Thanks to Confucius, China’s mainstream culture understands the importance of people within the family and society more so than many other countries and cultures. This may explain why China is a powerhouse of industry today.

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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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

 E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


To the Chinese these Americans were Heroes

January 21, 2015

It is ironic that in the 1940s we were fighting with the Chinese against the Japanese. Then in 1950, China and the US fought against each other in North Korea and Chinese advisers were sent to assist North Vietnam to fight the US in the 1960s.

Then, after Nixon arrived in China in the 1970s, we were friends again—sort of.

In February 2010, I had an instant message chat with Ian Carter, an Australian expatriate living in Southeast China, and learned from him that during World War II in 1944 an American B-24 Liberator bomber vanished without a trace in Southeast China.

Fifty-two years later in 1996, farmers discovered the bomber’s wreck and the remains of the ten-man crew on Mao’er Shan (Little Cat Mountain), Southern China’s highest peak . The name of the B-24 bomber was Tough Titi.

These Americans are considered heroes—click link to learn more about this story—to the Chinese, and the remains of the crew were returned to the United States for burial.

There’s a memorial stone near the crash site and Chinese tourists pay honor to these Americans by leaving flowers and other gifts.

To honor these heroes further, the Chinese recovered some of the bomber’s parts and used them as a centerpiece for a museum in Xing’an, about four hours from the crash site.

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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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

 E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

 

 


At San Francisco’s 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration

January 13, 2015

In 2010, I went to the 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration in San Francisco on Saturday, May 15, and saw my first Guzheng. No one was playing it. The band was playing with other instruments, but this stringed instrument was silent as if it had been abandoned.

The modern-day Guzheng has movable bridges and may have 15 to 26 strings.

In ancient times, the strings were made of twisted silk, but by the 20th Century most players started to use metal strings (generally steel for the high strings and copper-wound steel for the bass strings).

The Guzhen has been around since The Warring Kingdoms era (402-221 B.C.). In the video, listen to Bei Bei playing Under the White Wind.

Last year’s San Francisco Asian Heritage Street Celebration was held on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Sponsored by Hill Physicians, this annual festival is free to all attendees.

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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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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China Preserving its History

January 6, 2015

A few years ago, David Frum wrote on his blog (I think he deleted that post or closed his Blog since then) about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum said, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum. For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… He offhandedly mentioned at one point that there remained not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins.”

David Frum—who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush—was wrong.

I wrote a three-part series about the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which have not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber.  Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out rock mountain, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived more than 2,000 years ago.

And I’ve toured the Ming tombs, and seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai.  Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ, is still in use today.

Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.

Last but not least, there’s the Great Wall and China’s Terra-Cotta Warriors from the first emperor (260-210 BC). I wrote about Qin Shi Huangdi in this post: http://ilookchina.net/tag/the-first-emperor-of-china/

Though the beginning of the Great Wall of China can be traced to the third century B.C., many of the fortifications included in the wall date from hundreds of years earlier, when China was divided into a number of individual kingdoms during the so-called Warring States Period (Beginning between 481 – 403 BC) .

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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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

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Three Journeys to the West from China

December 30, 2014

No, this post is not about immigrants, tourists or Chinese armies invading America, because Chinese troops would have to swim the Pacific Ocean since China’s navy isn’t large enough to move a military force of that size.

For instance, China has one 26-year-old used, conventional aircraft carrier with 54 aircraft. The U.S. has twenty with three under construction with almost 100 aircraft on one carrier.

But this post is about China’s classic novel, “Journey to the West”, also known “The Monkey King”.

There are four novels that are considered Chinese classics—Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of Red Chamber, Journey to the West and The Outlaws of the Marsh (some of these classics have been released with other titles), and there are three Chinese books titled “Journey to the West”.

One Journey to the West is nonfiction about K’iu Ch’ang Ch’un, who visited Genghis Khan in Persia between 1221 and 1224.

The second Journey to the West is another nonfiction account about Hsuan-Tsang (Xuanzang,  602  – 664 AD), a Buddhist monk who traveled to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures.

The third Journey to the West is the fictional romance that introduces the Monkey King and his friend the Pig. This Journey to the West is a classic Chinese mythological novel. It was written during the Ming Dynasty based on traditional folktales. Consisting of 100 chapters, this fantasy relates the adventures of a Tang Dynasty (618-907) priest Sanzang and his three disciples, Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, as they travel west in search of Buddhist Sutra.

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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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More than 3,000 Years of Chinese Porcelain

December 24, 2014

Chinese porcelain originated in the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC), and Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province is a well-known Chinese city where porcelain has been an important production center in China since the early Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).

From China, caravans carried its famous Chinese porcelains west: ceramic lusterware, lacquerware – snow-white vases, bowls, glasses, and dishes with sophisticated patterns. It was solely the Chinese who knew the secret of making the thinnest and resonant porcelain, making it very expensive in European markets. Silk Road Encyclopedia.com and Gotheborg.com

Chinese porcelain was also available in the American colonies as early as the seventeenth century, but it did not become commonplace until after 1730. Before the U.S. Revolution, porcelain was exported to the colonies mainly by English and Dutch traders. European traders sailed to Canton (Guangzhou) in southern China, exchanged their goods for Chinese products, and then returned to sell porcelain and other Chinese imports on the European and colonial markets. In addition to porcelain, teas and silks were also exported from China in large quantities. Mount Vernon.org

“The demand for Chinese products—tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen (a coarse, strong cotton cloth)—continued after the Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves.” Source: Early American Trade With China

This hunger for Chinese products, while the Chinese found little in the West to buy, led to the Opium Wars, which Britain and France started and won to force China to even the trade imbalance. Then China sold the West silk, porcelain and tea while the West sold China opium.

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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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