Chinasage : All about China



About Chinasage

We're building an extensive information source all about China. We found other sites were poorly structured, too detailed (such as Wikipedia) or just too old-fashioned. What we thought was needed was a carefully constructed set of pages with strict editorial control so that links and pages are consistent, up-to-date and easy to navigate without clutter.

The name “Chinasage” came about because this can be read as either “China sage” ( zhōng guó yīng míng) or “China’s age” ( zhōng guó shí dài) , which promotes our new knowledge resource at a time when China has come of age in the World.

China Sage News

We keep track of news reports from China but steer clear of the headlines that are well reported elsewhere. Here are some news stories, visit our news page for more stories and also follow us on facebook pageFacebook .

Wed 18th May

An unusual blue, silver and gold vase has sold for nearly ?1.5 million ($1.8 million). Another of those amazing stories of an overlooked treasure originally bought for about $500 found in Berkshire, UK. The vase was made for the Emperor Qianlong's court and includes symbols for longevity (crane), luck (clouds) and good fortune (bat).

Qianling vase
©Photo by the auctioneers Deweatts
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Tue 12th Apr

An exhibition celebrating the famous book 'Dream of the Red Chamber' has opened in The Hague, Netherlands. The exhibition brings together calligraphy, painting and translations of this epic story written mostly by Cao Xueqin in the mid 18th century

novel, Dream of the Red Chamber
These are from an exhibition outside Beijing showing different scenes from the classic Chinese novel 'The Dream of the Red Chamber'. Image by Klariti available under a Creative Commons License

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Tue 5th Apr

Today (April 5th) is the Qing Ming festival in China. It is an ancient festival tied with sweeping and tidying the ancestral tombs as Spring gets under way.

Also associated with Qing Ming is China’s most famous painting called ‘Along The River During the Qingming Festival’ Qīng míng shàng hé tú sometimes dubbed the Chinese ‘Mona Lisa’ but this painting is older and far more interesting. It is an amazingly meticulous painting of teeming life of all sorts in the then capital of China Kaifeng in around 1117 - it's incredible that it is 900 years old. The detail and naturalism is amazing and perspective is drawn accurately. Compare this with the comparatively crude Bayeux tapestry of around the same date. It was painted as a long scroll 10 inches [25 cms] by 17 feet [5 meters] with details of the bustling everyday life of the people - rich and poor. It is a valuable document of life at that time showing people eating and shopping. Very little is known about the artist Zhang Zeduan. All seems peace and opulence yet within ten years the capital city fell to Jurchen invaders and Kaifeng never again recovered its former splendor.

Qing Ming river festival
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Thu 31st Mar

On the third day of the third lunar month the Shangsi festival (or Double Third) is held in China. In 2022 it falls on Sunday 3rd April. This is an ancient festival that has faded over the centuries. It goes back over 2,000 years and is believed to have been based on an annual ritual bathing in rivers. This cleared away the grime accumulated over winter and ritually cleared away evil to make a clean start to the year. In modern times some people go out by water and collect orchid petals.

There are several legends associated with the festival. It may mark the birthday of the founding Yellow Emperor and the birthday of the important Daoist goddess The Queen Mother of the West. There is a traditional saying to celebrate the day 轩辕 Sān yuè sān Xuān Yuán shēng 'third month, third day, Huangdi born' (轩辕 is the personal name of the Yellow Emperor).

In 2018 there was a move to re-badge the festival as 'Chinese National Costume Day' where people of the many ethnic minorities of China are encouraged to wear their traditional costumes.

The following day is another rather obscure festival - Monday 4th April will be the ‘Cold Food Festival.’ In this case it is more straightforward to explain. The day was traditionally when the fires were put out that heated the house and cooked the food. The ashes were cleared out and everything cleaned. As there was no fire all the food was cold.

But the following day this year (this does not occur every year) is a much more important festival ‘Qing Ming’ on Tuesday 5th April when people pay respect to their ancestors. It is associated with ritually cleaning the graves and graveyards and making offerings to the departed. It is also the time to sow and plant crops and so is anchored to the solar year rather than the lunar year; this makes it falls between April 4th and April 6th. It is a public holiday.

Qingming, tomb, ancestor veneration
Making offerings at the family tomb, Qingming festival Copyright © Dreamstime see image license

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Thu 3rd Mar

It is now fifty years since the historic visit of President Nixon to China where he met Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. After a long break in any formal contact since 1949 it marked a major shift in both US and Chinese policy that began the opening up process. Nixon was accompanied by Henry Kissinger (as United States National Security Adviser) who is still going strong at the age of 98. This CNN article looks back at US-China relations in general and considers how ground-breaking this visit actually was.

nixon, usa, zhou enlai
US President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toast, February 25, 1972. Image by White House Photographer available under a Creative Commons License

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Wed 9th Feb

A competition to find the best photographs about everyday life in China has released its results. The Global SinoPhoto Awards has found some very evocative images of China.

The overall winner shows a girl twirling on a bed in front of her grandmother was made by photographer Li Huaifeng’s “The Dancing Dreams of a Mountain Girl”. Follow the link to see more of the award winning photographs.

Award winner
©Li Huaifeng
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Thu 27th Jan

The new Tiger Chinese New Year is ushered in on 1st February 2022 - the start of Chinese year 4720 in the traditional calendar.

This year the celebrations will be even more widespread because the Beijing Winter Olympics begin during the holiday on 4th February. In Chinese astrology the tiger holds a position of honor as it is considered an animal of power and courage. People born in a year of the tiger are thoughtful, competitive and charming and may be destined for high office.

As in the last two years covid restrictions may make the annual migration of millions of Chinese to visit their families more difficult or impossible. Noted anniversaries in 2022 include the death of Confucius in 479BCE (2,500 years ago), and the celebrated visit of President Richard Nixon to China on February 21st 1972 (50 years ago).

Tiger Year 2022
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Fri 21st Jan

In the west feel-good films aimed at children are released for Christmas. In China this happens in time for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). This year it falls on 1st February just ahead of the opening of the Beijing winter Olympics on the 4th.

This year the big successful film is Xióng shī shào nián with the English title ‘I am what I am’ but actually ‘young male lion’ is more like a translation. This animated film tells the tale of a boy dreaming of becoming a leading lion dance performer against all odds (somewhat similar to Billy Elliot in plot). The lion dance tradition is something that has faded in recent years and it is hoped the film will encourage more youngsters to take it up.

Here is a link to the official film trailer video .

I am what I am

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Chinasage Site updates

We continue to improve the web site as you can see from these updates and upgrades, for older entries please visit our site news page.

Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Tiananmen Square, NPC
Great Hall of the People, Beijing where the National People’s Congress (NPC) of China convenes. January 18, 2003 Photo by Allen Timothy Chang, available under a Creative Commons license .

Conventions

We use a consistent style for links within Chinasage. An internal link taking you to another page within our site is shown like this while a link to a page on any other web site is shown like this .

We use Chinese characters wherever appropriate. Most browsers should display both the characters and the pinyin correctly. We highlight any use of the older Wade Giles system. Except where stated all characters are the modern simplified form used in the People's Republic rather than the traditional ones (pre-1970s). To help you learn Chinese characters many of the very common characters are highlighted thus: hovering the mouse over the character will pop up a box showing further information about it.

Dates are given using the BCE/CE (Before Common Era and in Common Era) year convention rather than BC/AD. If a date is not followed by BCE or CE it should be taken as CE.

Authorship

All the text on the Chinasage web site is our own, we do not copy and paste from other web sites. We research each topic from a number of authoritative sources (mainly books). The only exception to this are quotations and image credits. All text is our copyright and can not be used/copied without our permission. We are independent of any other company or government, the opinions expressed are our own. We do not receive funding or backing from any other agencyor organization .

Teacup Media (China History Podcast)

We are delighted to be able to promote links to Laszlo Montgomery's excellent Teacup Media series created over the last twelve years. Laszlo Montgomery has in depth knowledge of building commercial contacts with China over 30 years. The set of 290 podcasts totals 150 hours of audio commentary which covers every conceivable topic in Chinese history. Highly recommended.

Acknowledgments

We are extremely grateful to the many people who have put their photographs online for anyone to adapt and use. Without them our site would be very drab. If we are not using the image license correctly please let us know. We are grateful to Kim Dramer for permission to use her short videos all about Chinese culture and traditions. Some pages use Javascript to create special effects such as our airport table and calendar. We are grateful to the original authors for providing their code to be used and adapted by anyone else. The online Chinese dictionary uses the definition from the CC-CEDICT project for which we are grateful for a generous free license. Sound files kindly provided by shtooka.net under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.

Feel free to contact Chinasage to point out any errors, omissions or suggestions on how to improve this web site.

If you would like to support our work and keep us independent become a Patreon or make a Donation via Paypal.