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China April 25, 2016

Posted by anagasto in art, history.
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china map

The little red dot is Beijing, not at all in the center of the country.

Most people have heard of the Gobi desert, and everybody knows about the Himalayas .
There are 1.136 billion people speaking Chinese, but they do not all understand each other, because they speak different types of Chinese :-)

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.Chinese_Wall

Chinese Wall by gnu published at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chinese_Wall.JPG under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

So immense is the Great Wall that it could never be properly maintained.

Maybe it was never completely built, never completely manned. Maybe it was meant to be completed sometime in eternity. It is 1,500 miles long, with an average width of 6 meters, a fortification built more than 2000 years ago.

Chinesische Mauer by Bjoern Kriewald in public domain according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chinesische-mauer.jpg

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Pandas_eating_bamboo_Washington_Zoo

And the Panda. It lives in the bamboo forests of China and the Tibet and somehow has become known to people from the West better than China itself.

It lives mainly on bamboo, but also likes honey, shrub leaves, eggs, fish oranges and bananas and has even been a factor in political powwow between China and the West.

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Their Dragon. Very little is ever understood about China. In the past the dragon was the emperor’s emblem, but now it stands mainly for Yang, the positive masculine principle in Chinese philosophy.

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forbidden city

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%E8%A7%92%E6%A8%93.JPG under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

And the strange towers and palaces that resemble their writing.

This tower is part of the emperor’s Forbidden City in Beijing where in the past other people were not allowed to enter. But not all of China’s art is strange to people from the West, and lots of it is just sweet and light.

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Their  paintings on silk. Two little cats fighting : see how he has his ears back and how he pretends to be looking away, the way they do, nonchalantly. —

Chinese kittens and cats The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mao_I_001.jpg

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chinese letter for happiness

The Chinese do not have an alphabet. Instead they have something similar to our traffic signs, drawings representing a thing or an idea.

That black ink drawing means happiness. Educated Chinese know about 4,000 of those little drawings. —

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silkroad of china

These are some of the roads where 2000 years ago silk was brought from China to the West.

tn_Transasia_trade_routes_1stC_CE_gr2

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China exported silk all the way to Europe, and so the Europeans became aware of China’s existence, though it took them a long time.

Marco Polo was probably the most popular merchant to have brought back tales of China and Chinese goods, but all through history traders came from many different countries.

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Jewish trade routes from a drawing licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radhanites.png

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Drawing by Splette in public domain according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silk_route.jpg.

Silk was the major trade item from China, but many other goods were traded, and various technologies, religions and philosophies, as well as the bubonic plague —the Black Death — also traveled along the Silk Routes.

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About about 700 years ago a Westerner arrived in China and visited the famous Kublai Khan. The Westerner’s name was Marco Polo, and the Khan sent him back to Europe with messages to the Pope.

All of China has since become the source of poetic fiction:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree…

The picture is in public domain according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Loquats_and_Mountain_Bird.jpg

Kafka wrote the greatest of his parables about the Emperor’s message and Andersen wrote about the little nightingale whose song at the Imperial Court was found inferior to the jingle of a clockwork bird.

 

And Hofmannsthal wrote his hypnotic : “In der Mitte aller Dinge wohne ich, der Sohn des Himmels…” ” In the middle of all things live I, the son of Heaven….”

 Chinese kittens and cats
The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. In public domain according to
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mao_I_001.jpg

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life size clay army

Not too long ago the Chinese dug up thousands of clay soldiers, a complete army made of burnt clay all life size, including the horses, also life size!

Maybe they were used as decoys in war or to save the lives of real men in funeral ceremonies.

In the past, in many places, when the ruler died, all the people around him were killed to accompany him in his other life.

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burnt clay army

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runyan bridge

Now, great bridges are being built in China, and they picked up Western technology in no time.

This is the new Runyan Bridge, China’s longest suspension bridge across the Yangtse River.

Below, a Yangtze River ferry to show the size of the river:

Ferry_on_the_Yangtze_near_Nantong

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The arts center in China’s capital, Beijing , the world’s largest, where you walk in beneath an artificial lake that can be seen through clear screens :

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Xihan_rhino,_gold_&_silver_inlays

Does the rhino wear a saddle?

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Beijing 4

Until last century China was poor, and even now their growing wealth  shows China’s potential, not its everyday life.

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beijing-traffic

China’s economy is the second largest in the world, but at present they need better transportation and communication systems and also more energy to be able to work at full capacity.

That picture of the traffic in Beijing is from a blog at http://thecityfix.com/2007/11/ where there are also great photos of the traffic in Cairo and Hong Kong.

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There was a French cartoon on Wikipedia showing how the Powers of the late 1890s imagined they could divide up China among themselves:

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trying to divide up China


The pie represents China and is being divided between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, William II of Germany, Nicholas II of Russia, who is eyeing a particular piece, the French Marianne and the Meiji Emperor of Japan, carefully contemplating which pieces to take. A stereotypical Qing official throws up his hands to try and stop them, but is powerless.

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Chinese cat

I lost the exact link, but the picture is at http://riowang.blogspot.com.es/ in a post that also included this photo:

old beijing city wall.

The old city wall of Beijing : the larger version of the photo is at http://www.studiolum.com/wang/chinese/kessel-beijing/004.jpg

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Comments»

1. Charlie call me Chuck - July 31, 2008

fantastic post, you put together a nice wide variety of things that I never knew about China, just in time for the games :)

2. David - August 2, 2008

Fascinating post cantueso, thank you for putting it together. Those clay soldiers are just incomprehensible! What could have motivated the people who built them?

East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet according to Kipling.

3. Carl D'Agostino - March 19, 2012

I see yin and yang in cats too. They are doomed. Their manufactured goods are crap with low quality materials and no quality control and they dump it on the world market and we are stuck with it because there is little on the shelves not from there.


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