China sage : Updates

update https://www.chinasage.info/updates.xml News of all updates to this web site are available as a news-feed so you can receive notifications of all the changes (on average one a month) automatically in your browser. Click on the RSS button to add it to your browser or copy and paste the link.

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Tue 3rd Sep
A mixed bag of updates to the web site has now been released. Looking ahead to the future new Chinese calendars for 2021 and 2022 have been added. These includes all the public and traditional holidays. While doing this work we found an error in the lunar month calculation for 2020 which has been corrected. Our three Mandarin Chinese lessons remain popular and we have added sound effects so you can here the words pronounced - very important when getting to grips with the Chinese tones. Some time ago we added a page on the Hanlin Academy but failed to mention an even older academic institution - the Taixue which was up and running 2,000 years ago. With now added a bit about it. On the same lines there is one ancient text, may be 2,400 years old that has a good claim to be by far the oldest Thesaurus, this is the ‘Er ya’, so we've added a bit about that.
Thu 8th Aug

The big new page we've added attempts to summarize the Mongol conquest of China and Asia. Although Genghis khan is widely covered elsewhere we found very few maps that clearly show the expansion of the Mongol Empire and this made it hard to understand. We've also found some nice illustrations of the Mongol people and paintings of the Mongol conquest.

We've also added a new translation of the Thousand Character Classic ; Steles; Chinoiserie and the South China Sea. If there is a topic you would like us to cover then please let us know.

Mongol, Hingary, Qadan
The Mongols in Hungary 1241. Hungary. Ink and paint on pergament. King Bela on the flight from the Mongols. The Mongol leader might be Qadan, a son of Ogedei. Painted 1358. Image by Szechenyi National Library available under a Creative Commons License
Tue 1st Jan

The performing arts in China have a long history. Although modern media has reduced audiences there are still dedicated practitioners who spend their lives honing their skills at puppetry, story-telling, street theater, lion and dragon dancing.

We have added a page describing these art forms and by using a dozen carefully selected YouTube videos you can see these art-forms brought to life.

Our page on Chinese opera has proven very popular and we hope this new page will bring the less well known performing arts to wider attention.

The stimulus to writing this brief survey was the recent death of the noted Pingshu story-teller Shan Tianfang.

Mon 31st Dec 2018
We've completed our one month fund raiser. Thanks for everyone who donated. However as there was only ten donations in all we can't consider it a success. This represents a donation from about 0.01% of our site visitors. We would receive about ten times that donation amount from advertisements so we will now experiment with targeted adverts again.
Thu 22nd Nov 2018
We don't like plastering our web site with advertisements so we thought we'd try a fund raising campaing instead - just like Wikipedia. We've introduced a popup that requests a donation - if cleared it does not prompt again for 10 minutes. If you donate you'll be popup free for 12 months. We'll keep the campaign going for the next month only.
Fri 9th Nov 2018

We've been busy adding a few hundred more characters to our web site. We use Chinese characters within the web pages whereever possible. To aid people learning the language we provide a simple pop-up that gives extra information when you hover the mouse over characters. We won't be able to add a full disctionary as there are thousands of them, we aim to provide about 1,000 of the most commonly used ones.

Thu 25th Oct 2018

Over the last few years more and more web sites have moved to use the latest HTML technology. We have waited until all major modern web browsers fully support it. HTML5 offers a lot more options for presenting web information. We have changed to use the new header, nav (Navigation), main (Main body of text) as well as aside, section and article tags. A few HTML4 features are now obsolete so we have changed pages where necessary. The changes will not be all that noticeable to users, it is mainly search engines that will appreciate the more logical structure.

We have continued to use the stricter form of HTML, commonly called XHMTL, that enforces strict matching of open and close tags. It's a shame that more web sites don't use this stricter standard as it makes differences between browsers much less likely. Nobody these days should be writing HTML directly and so a tool can make sure all the tags are properly formatted and matched.

If you spot any problems with the new web site please let us know.

Thu 25th Oct 2018

We've put in a number of site optimizations to make the information load faster. The performance according to Google Analytics is now at 100% performance for desktops. Unfortunately an information web site like this is not ideal for smart-phones as there is a lot of text and graphical information to broadcast.

We've also spruced up our Chinese astrology page - it was one of the first ones we added back in 2012.

Wed 19th Sep 2018

With the centenary of the May 4th Movement coming up next year it seems a good time to look back on the events of 1919. After World War I China underwent ignominious treatment under the terms of the Versailles Treaty. Shandong province which had been leased by Germany was to be handed to Japan rather than returned to Chinese control. Anti-Japanese fervor had already been brewing over the 21 Demands which a supine Chinese government had accepted. It looked like not only Shandong but Fujian province would be lost too.

In the first mass urban protest in China student led demonstrations eventually caused the government to reverse its pro-Japanese polices and China refused to sign the Versailles Treaty. The May Fourth Movement pioneered the use of vernacular Chinese in magazines and pamphlets and just as importantly women began to take an equal part in reformist organizations.

May 4th Protest,  Beijing,  Tiananmen Square
29th November 1919. More than 30,000 male and female students from 34 schools in Beijing gathered in front of Tiananmen Square to denounce the Japanese imperialists for killing the people of Fuzhou and protesting against Japanese ships invading Fuzhou. After the meeting, demonstrations were held, and slogans such as "Strive for Fujian" and "Resist Japan" were sloganed along the way, and more than 100 kinds of flyers were distributed, totaling 78,000. When the brigade went through the General Chamber of Commerce, it also sent representatives to the inside to ask the Beijing Business Bank to boycott Japanese goods and to break the Japanese economy. Image by Sidney D. Gamble available under a Creative Commons License
Tue 11th Sep 2018
Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz. Available under a Creative Commons License

The high point of Western appreciation came in the early 18th century. One man was a real fan of China - Gottfried Leibniz and many of his great discoveries (monads, calculus, binary arithmetic) were inspired by Chinese civilization. After his time though relations soon deteriorated.

Tue 28th Aug 2018

The early contacts between the UK and China are revealing about attitudes back in the 17th century that seem to have changed little. The first few attempted contacts were purely to open up trading opportunities which were at this time chiefly wool. When the information started coming back from the Jesuit mission to Beijing the intellectuals in Britain were intrigued. There followed half a century of avid interest in all things Chinese. This new article looks at two people with differing interests in China John Weddell and John Webb.

Thomas Hyde
Thomas Hyde (1636-1703), Oriental scholar by Francis Perry (died 1765), Engraver. National Portrait Gallery. Available under a Creative Commons License
Fri 24th Aug 2018

We've spent the last few weeks updating our dictionary of Chinese characters. There are now over 750 of the most commonly used characters. We've added extra features such as listing similar looking characters and indicating measure words. Many of the characters have a graphic to show how they are drawn and an audio guide as to how they are pronounced. Although we can't include all Chinese characters that are in our online dictionary we think it a very useful resource for learning written Chinese.

Mon 16th Jul 2018

With some trepidation we decided to add a description of the Imperial Chinese system of justice. It had a deservedly bad reputation for cruelty for centuries. One approach to criminal justice is to make the punishment so painful that the deterrent effect makes people fear the consequences for even a minor crime. For centuries in Imperial China this is how the huge population was kept law abiding. Rumors of the tortures that couldbe used against malefactors did the trick and the country was seen as largely law abiding. The ancient system although heavily reformed still lives on to the present day in the general approach to justice.

torture,  fingers
The punishments of China: illustrated by twenty-two engravings: with explanations in English and French. Image by George Henry Mason available under a Creative Commons License
Thu 28th Jun 2018
The leading academy for scholarship in China and probably the world lasted from 725 until 1911. The Hanlin Academy was an imperial institution that chose its members from candidates who did best in the top level examinations. This pool of talent from all over China helped the Emperor administer the country in all sorts of ways. On one occasion it was tasked with writing an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. The work took thousands of scholars five years to write into eleven thousand volumes - the largest ever written document. It fell into decline in the late Qing and became the victim of a fire during the Boxer Rebellion. It stands as testimony to the prestigious place of scholarship in China from a very early date.
Mon 21st May 2018

We've upgraded the festival page so that it shows the upcoming festivals in date order rather than needing you to scroll down to the current day in the year. We've also included our month calender at the top for convenience. Please let us know if we are missing a festival or have a date incorrect.

Dragon boat festival, Guangxi, people, boat
A dragon boat crew in Guangxi
Wed 9th May 2018

We've been busy giving the web site a crisper, less cluttered look. We've changed the top menu colors and font, simplified the graphics and spent effort making pages work better on the smaller mobile screen. The top level drop menu is now mulit-level allowing quick navigation to popular pages. If we've broken anything that you liked, let us know. Your comments on the new look will be much appreciated.

Thu 26th Apr 2018

All about the strange version of English/Chinese used for trading in southern ports (c. 1750-1880). The language has Chinese features but is widely thought of as a simple form of English designed by the British for the Chinese to use but the real story is a lot more complex than that.

pidgin
The Red-haired glossary,. c. 1835. Available under a Creative Commons License
Tue 10th Apr 2018

Even though China is the most populous nation on Earth (although soon to be overtaken by India) there is still room for wildlife away from the heavily populated regions. As China has deserts, snow fields, high mountains, tropical rain forests and vast grasslands the range of opportunities for wildlife is remarkably diverse. In our brief survey of the main regions within China and the more remarkable creatures and plants living there we are immensely grateful to people who have posted their entrancing photographs for public use.

snow leopard, chinese wildlife
Portrait of a male snow leopard (Panthera uncia) of the Rheintal zoo. Modifications made by Niabot . Image by Tambako available under a Creative Commons License
Fri 30th Mar 2018

The yin and the yang is the best known concept from ancient Chinese wisdom. It is now used by everyone - and often incorrectly as it is about alternatives and balance rather than opposites. We've taken our short description of yin-yang out of the Feng Shui section, greatly expanded it and given it a section all to itself.

Taiji figure of yin and yang
Tue 6th Mar 2018

Korea is never far from the news these days and with the Winter Olympics just over it seems an opportune time to take a look into China's relations with Korea. It's unfortunately all too common for people not to know why we have ended up with a divided Korea, and that this division is certainly not of the Korean peoples choosing.

China has exerted a strong influence over Korea in the last two thousand years and shares many cultural traditions. There have been time when China invaded Korea but also times when China intervened to defend it from other invaders. In this new article we concentrate only on the history of foreign relations with Korea from the Chinese perspective.

Korea,  Japam
Japanese Empress Jingu (169-269CE) setting foot in Korea. Painting by 1880 Yoshitoshi . Available under a Creative Commons License
Thu 1st Feb 2018

We've added some extra entries into our extensive guide to Chinese Symbolism. These include: Onions, Rhinoceroses, Ice and Hats.

And now we've just completed a scan on all the 2,864 unique references to other web site. Even over a year many web sites have shutdown or been relocated, some have re-organized their content. In this latest scan we've changed many URLs to use the secure form (https://) as that is now becoming standard. You can already use https://www.chinasage.info for this web site.

Xinjiang, landscape, river
Kanas national park in Xinjiang
Fri 22nd Dec 2017

As we approach the end of 2017 it seemed appropriate to publish more information about Chinese New Year, which is late in coming this year - it is not until February 16th. We describe the traditions and customs associated with the various days of the long festival. The Chinese people have never needed much excuse for a festival and will also celebrate Christmas Day and New Years Day, mainly in the cities.

lanterns, new year
Chinese New Year, Saigon, Vietnam. Image by falco available under a Creative Commons License
Mon 18th Dec 2017

In preparation for 2018 we've now made our whole year at a view available online, as a PDF and as a graphics file for you to download and print. It shows all the festivals, lichun calendar and public holidays as well as all the Chinese months and days.

At the same time we've upgraded many of the graphics on the web site as some were a bit too grainy (due to heavy image compression).

Wed 13th Dec 2017

The relations between China and Britain were at a low ebb after the second Anglo-Chinese (Opium) war of 1858-60. They suffered a further fall after the debacle involving the purchase from Britain of a flotilla of boats to help put down the Taiping Rebellion raging in southern China. However Britain chose to misinterpret their instructions and wanted it to be a British commanded and manned fleet only under very vague Chinese control. The Chinese were appalled and the flotilla was rejected and sent back to the U.K. with much hostility and further distrust as its legacy.

opium war, sea battle, junk, boat, ship
The East India Company iron steam ship Nemesis, commanded by Lieutenant W. H. Hall, with boats from the Sulphur, Calliope, Larne and Starling, destroying the Chinese war junks in Anson's Bay, on 7 January 1841. Image by Edward Duncan available under a Creative Commons License
Mon 27th Nov 2017

We hit an obscure technical issue in our quiz implementation, so we have had to go back and re-design them using different technology. They work pretty much as before but they should load more quickly and be easier to play on mobile devices. There are now 14 quizzes each of 15 questions of different levels of difficulty. Each time you play them the questions are asked in a different order with a different selection of possible answers.

rice, paddy fields
Terraced rice fields in Yunnan, China. The reflected sky is glinting on the fields. Photo by Jialiang Gao available under a Creative Commons license .
Wed 15th Nov 2017

Our popular guide to China's top 80 airports has been updated. In the last two years 17 new airports have become busy enough to enter the ratings as top Chinese airports. Quite airports have also added an extra terminal to cope with the spiraling demand for air travel.

airplane
An Air China Boeing 747 taking off from Beijing Capital Airport. Photo by Thomas Fanghaenel , available under a Creative Commons license .
Mon 6th Nov 2017

Our popular quizzes have been updated and extended. Three new ones have been added : two more intermediate difficulty level quizzes on general knowledge about China and another history quiz. At the same time we have taken steps to improve the look and performance of the web site. We've also split out very long list of book sources (130) into seven separate pages.

Fri 12th May 2017

For much of the last two thousand years China was by any standard the most advanced nation on Earth, and yet by the early twentieth China was classed as a third world country needing massive food aid to alleviate famine. The reason why China did not maintain a lead in science and technology has puzzled scholars; in particular it was Joseph Needham who posed his famous question ‘Science in general in China - Why did it not develop??. Many answers have been proposed but none of them seem to totally fit the bill.

Fri 17th Mar 2017

We've been through all the web pages and updated the list of references. We continue to receive requests for citation and it is important that we clearly present all our sources. We found that some source references were missing and some mentioned that were not actually used by the text. All the source references are stored in a knowledge database - no notes or card references and so we can quickly trace back to the source of facts.

At the same time we have continued to improve the web site content as soon as new material is researched and added.

Mon 16th Jan 2017

The story of the isolated community of Jews in China was a sensation in Europe and America of the late 19th century. At the former Chinese capital of Kaifeng a community had lived at peace with the local Chinese for one thousand years. They had built their synagogue in the Chinese style and held the sacred Torah. The community grew to about one thousand before coming to an end in the early 19th century.

Kaifeng, jews
Jews of K'ai-Fun-Foo (Kaifeng Subprefecture), China. A picture from the public domain en:Jewish Encyclopedia. Available under a Creative Commons License
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