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.

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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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Infamous Angel Island—the Ellis Island of America’s West Coast

October 22, 2014

There is a poem on the Statue of Liberty that ends with “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay was America’s west coast Ellis Island, but those famous last lines on the Statue of Liberty Poem did not apply to the Chinese and other Asians.

From 1919 to 1940, mostly Asian immigrants entered the US through Angel Island.

After 1940, the immigration station on Angel Island was forgotten until a California Park Ranger, Alexander Weiss, discovered the stories carved in the walls.

He thought that there were stories here as if there were ghosts waiting to be heard.

Over half of the Angel Island immigrants came from China and Japan and most of the carvings on the walls were poems written in Chinese.

A former detainee, Dale Ching, went through the station in 1937 when he was sixteen.  Even though Dale’s father was born in the United States, he still had to go through the immigration station.

While the East Coast’s Ellis Island welcomed immigrants, Angel Island’s story was one of sadness and suffering.

Most European immigrants who went through Ellis Island stayed a few hours, but immigrants on Angel Island were kept locked up under armed guard with barbed-wire fences surrounding the buildings and some people stayed for days, weeks, months and years.

The park service wanted to tear the Angel Island buildings down but Weiss found supporters and they struggled to preserve this history.  They succeeded and the restoration project was challenging.

Alexander Weiss sums up the video saying we should know both the right and the wrong from U.S. history.

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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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Was China’s ShangDi the God of Creation?

October 1, 2014

China is the oldest, continuous civilization on earth. Ancient records date back to about  2500 B.C. and coincides with the Biblical timeline, which shows that the great flood took place around 2344 B.C. Bible Study – Flood

Ancient Chinese myth has their first king, Fu-hi or Fohi (Chinese Noah) making his appearance on the Mountain of Chin surrounded by a rainbow after the world had been covered with water.  Myth says this Chinese Noah also sacrificed animals to God.

According to Silvia Videler, the Miao tribe of Southwest China has a similar myth. The Miao think God destroyed the world by flood because of the wickedness of man. The Miao myth also says Nuah (Noah) had three sons: Lo Han (Ham), Lo Shen (Shem), and Jah-hu (Japheth).

“ShangDi, the Creator-God of the Chinese, surely appears to be one and the same as the Creator-God of the Hebrews.” Answer in Genesis

“One of the earliest accounts of the Border Sacrifice is found in the Shu Jing (Book of History), compiled by Confucius (551 to 479 B.C.), where it is recorded that Emperor Shun (2256 to 2205 B.C.) sacrificed to ShangDi.” Answer in Genesis

ShangDi is the High God of the ancient Chinese.  He was worshiped as the Creator God for thousands of years. ShangDi was known as the Heavenly Ruler and the Chinese emperors were known as the Sons of Heaven.  No other god was higher or more powerful.

Evidence says that the ancient Chinese understood the nature of God as the ancient Hebrews did after Abraham (1812 B.C. to 1637 B.C.), who is considered the father of the Jews (about 3,000 years old), Christians (about 2,000 years old) and Muslims (about 1,400 years old).

While the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans worshiped many gods, the Chinese worshiped one God above all others, ShangDi. If true, that would mean the Chinese might have believed in God longer than the Jews, Christians or Muslims.

In fact, it appears that the Chinese believed in God (ShangDi) without an organized religion for more than four thousand years.

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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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Taking the train to Tibet

September 30, 2014

Many know Tibet as the Roof of the World. For centuries, Tibet was isolated mostly because it was difficult and time consuming for anyone to go there—even armies.

In 1903, the British Empire sent an army to Tibet to protect its interests, and it took a year for Sir Francis Younghusband’s invasion force to reach Lhasa in August 1904.

A book was written about that invasion, The British Empire & Tibet 1900-1922. Asian Affairs says, “The great value of Dr. Palace’s study is to highlight the much neglected China angle to the Tibetan issue … [this book is] helping to indicate the very important place of the Tibetan affair in the story of Western imperialism”

Today, the journey to Tibet is not as daunting.  Besides an airport, there is the train that leaves Beijing and arrives in Lhasa forty-eight hours later. The length of the rail line is 1,215 miles (1,956 km), and it was opened for travelers July 2006.

Tourists, both foreign and Chinese, take the train to Tibet to learn more about the people while others stay—changing the demographics.

The train to Tibet sometimes reaches elevations over 5,000 meters (16,404 feet).

One Western tourist, who had been to Tibet twice, said that the ethnic groups in Tibet are not mixing together. She said there was a Chinese area and another where Tibetans lived.

Makes sense—in American cities emigrants tend to stick close to their ethnic/cultural group. In the past, there have been Irish, Jewish, and German communities, and today there are Vietnamese, Latino or Chinatowns.

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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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Zheng He’s 15th Century Chinese Armada

September 17, 2014

When the Yongle Emperor died in 1424, China’s Hongxi Emperor stopped the voyages of China’s largest fleet. Source: BBC

A century later, about 1529, another Ming Emperor burned all records of the fleet. This decision to withdraw from the world may have resulted in China not being ready to confront the Western Imperial powers that would arrive in the 19th century starting the Opium Wars, which would devastate China.

The voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s armada were rediscovered in Fujian province in the 1930s. The story was etched in a pillar. By the final, seventh voyage, the fleet had covered over 50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles and was comprised of three hundred ships and 28,000 men.

By comparison, Christopher Columbus set sale in 1492 with 3 small ships and 88 men. Erik the Red, a Viking explorer, also crossed the Atlantic in even smaller ships to build a settlement in Greenland around 1,000 AD. Some archeologists suggest that the Phoenicians may have reached the Americas before the Vikings and Columbus around 500 BC. Some even say as early as 1500 to 1200 BC.

A joint Chinese-Kenyan expedition of archaeologists continues to search for a ship from Zheng He’s fleet, which may have sunk during a storm near the Lamu islands. ( Old Salt Blog )

Many layers of myth surround China’s ancient mariner. According to Kenyan lore, some of his shipwrecked sailors survived and married local women.

DNA tests have reportedly shown evidence of Chinese ancestry and a young Kenyan woman, Mwamaka Shirafu, was given a scholarship to study Chinese medicine in China, where she now lives.

In addition, National Geographic.com reports on the discovery of an ancient burial site found in Kenya’s Lamu archipelago: “These burial places, with their half-moon domes and terraced entries, were virtually identical to the classic Ming tombs that dot hillsides above Chinese ports from which shipwrecked Treasure Fleet sailors might have hailed.”


Another invention from ancient China still used in modern ships 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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Kaifeng and India’s Bnei Menashe Jews returning to Israel

September 9, 2014

The first YouTube video is about the Chinese descendants of the Kaifeng Jews of China returning to Israel.  Three Chinese women living in Israel wait at the airport for their arrival.  Several years earlier, these women went through a similar experience when they arrived from China.

All of the Chinese, those arriving and those already in Israel, are descendants of the Jewish community in Kaifeng, China, that was established either during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), or earlier during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and some argue it may have been even earlier.

Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei Israel, talks about the Kaifeng Jews and how they lost their identity through assimilation.   What’s left of that Chinese Jewish community has made great efforts to hold onto their Jewish identity.  Now, many of the Kaifeng Jewish descendants are reconnecting with their Jewish roots.

The Shavei organization has been guiding and supporting the descendants of the Kaifeng’s Jewish community for several years, and Kaifeng Jews have traveled to Israel to study Hebrew and the Jewish culture. After arriving in Israel, the Kaifeng Jews went straight from the airport to the Western Wall.


Another lost Israeli tribe, the Bnei Menashe, were discovered in India—a fascinating story.

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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 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.

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