Showing posts from January, 2009

Cheng He The Syncretist

Last year, I remember there was a report on piracy off the coast of Somalia. The report said that throughout 2008, as many as 100 ships had been attacked by Somali pirates and seven of these were said to have belonged to China. China was reported to have been thus forced to send two destroyers and a supply ship out of its territorial waters, for the Gulf of Aden to be exact, for the first time in recent history. I suppose that was not a mammoth exercise. Historically, China had sent a big fleet out of its shore in the 15th century. The famed Admiral Zheng He and his armada of junks had sailed as far as the east coast of Africa and the southern Gulf region and parts of the Red Sea to trade pearls, porcelain, spice and silk. Cheng He was said to be a Muslim and had helped to propagate his faith in South East Asia. However, in around 1431, he set up a commemorative pillar at the temple of the Taoistgoddess ,Tian Fei, in Fujian province, China to whom he and his sailors prayed for safety …

Death of a Kung Fu Writer

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia as she appeared in The Bride with White Hair...

I remember seeing Taiwanese actress, Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia sporting an incredibly long white hair in a Hong Kong movie, The Bride with White Hair in the 90s. The Ronny Yu's movie which starred Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia and the late Hong Kong hearthrob, Leslie Cheung Kok Wing had been adapted from a martial art novel, Romance of the White haired Maiden written by the late Liang Yusheng. Liang Yusheng whose real name was Chen Wuntong recently passed away of bladder cancer in his adopted country, Australia at the age of 85. Liang Yusheng was said to be one of the pioneers in writing Chinese martial arts novels. There were a few other famous martial arts novelist like Gu Long, Jin Yong and Wang Du Lu. With Jinyong and Gu Long, Liang Yusheng were dubbed the three legs of the tripod of wuxia, which probably means they were the pillars of novels of the martial arts genre. Perhaps, Liang Yusheng's demise may remind…

Painting the town Red!

In the Olympics, Chinese gymnasts wear red leotards . According to University of Durham researchers Russell Hill and Robert Barton in an issue of the journal Nature, wearing red consistently is associated with higher probability of winning. A 2004 study of Olympic athletes finds that those wearing red have an advantage over blue-suited competitors. American athletes also wear red but that was because red is in the U.S. flag. Chinese however have since time immemorial,regarded red as the lucky colour. Red is a must especially for a joyous occasion like Chinese New Year and presently as the Ox ushers in the New Year, Taiping and I presume all the Chinatowns in the world too, would be painted red...

Seeing red in Taiping...

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When Liudmila of Lazy Yogi requested that I post a photo of a person that is beautiful, really beautiful, from my point of view, I thought that is a difficult task indeed. Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder and while Lidumila pointed out it could vary from culture to culture and from nation to nation, it cannot be denied that in any one culture or nation, it varies from person to person and even in a person, it varies from time to time according to the person's mood. I remember the days when skinny girls like Twiggy was the rage in the western world and in ancient China,Yang Kuei-fei who was the favoured concubine of the T'ang emperor Hsüan-tsung was reputed to be a plump woman. Beautiful girls I suppose are many and varied and once, in the 70s during the time when Taiwanese romantic movies were the rage in South East Asia, a classmate of mine had asked who we thought was the fairest of the female Taiwanese movie stars. Then, the shining stars included Chen Chen,…

Changing Values

Zhang Ziyi is hot! One of the Four Young Dan actresses in China, the others being Zhao Wei, Xu Jinglei and Zhou Xun, Zhang Ziyi has had a string of Chinese and International hits including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha which were directed by Ang Lee and Rob Marshall respectively. I remember seeing Zhang Ziyi for the first time in Chang Yi Mou's The Road Home, an exquisite, heart warming love story between a school teacher and a country girl. Zhang Ziyi had looked so sweet and innocent then and one'd probably not dream that she would be caught sunbathing topless and frolicking on a Caribbean beach. The series of 81 photos of her getting intimate with her Israeli fiancé, billionaire Vivi Nevo recently has inccured the wrath of critics. A critic wrote: Zhang Ziyi is really shameless. She is with a foreigner, but should remember certain conduct is expected of Chinese women. Of course, Chinese especially in ancient time, require a woman to be prim and prope…

Bull Dance

You'd probably have heard of a dragon dance or a lion dance but have you heard of a bull dance or a cow dance or an ox dance? Well, there is going to be a bull, cow or ox dance this year in Penang, Malaysia,thanks to an Ipoh craftsman, Teh Wing Liang, who created two gold and silver bulls for the Kepala Batas Tiong Hua Sports and Cultural Asociation. The bulls will dance to usher in the year of the Ox and while you are waiting for their performance, why not check out your Chinese Zodiac? People who are born in 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and 2009 for example, are born in the year of the ox and if you'd click on they year below, you'd get to find out what 2009 has in store for you. Keep your fingers crossed!

Rat 1900191219241936194819601972198419962008
Ox 1901191319251937194919611973198519972009
Tiger 190219141926193819501962197419861998
Rabbit 190319151927193919511963197519871999
Dragon 190419161928194019521964197619882000
Snake 1905191719291941195319651…

Green Post: Dangerous Gas!

Did it occur to you that sometimes your laser printer smells funny? It seems that these printers release ozone and you'd get to smell the dangerous gas if not for the filter in the machine to absorb it. Now, with the laser printer becoming such an integral part in our life, I wonder how on earth do we keep the earth green? Filtered or not, the gas must go somewhere in the end and wherever they go, they still end up somewhere in the earth's atmosphere and that means, they are going to stick with us right to the very end! Such a good friend indeed, this dangerous gas!

Burial Jars

I figure if you are a tourist in Egypt, you'd come across souvenirs in the form of cute jars. These jars probably are copies of canopic jars. Canopic jars are used by ancient Egyptians from the period of the Old Kingdom onwards to store viscerals for the after life. These viscera were removed during the mummification process and each organ, the heart, stomach, lungs and intestines were kept in four separate jars. The canopic jars were placed inside a canopic chest and buried in tombs since it was believed the dead person would need their organs for the afterlife. Burial jars are commonly used in many ancient cultures, I suppose. In Philipines, a burial jar known as The Manunggul Jar which was found in the Manunggul caves in Palawan is considered a national treasure and in Iran, a burial jar of an eight-year-old Parthian gir who was buried 2200 years ago along with 18 objects including, agate jewelry, beads and earthenware was found in Nakhl-e Ebrahim village. These days, some Chin…