Category: china

China dates: Lovely photos of a beautiful girl taken by her…

China dates: Lovely photos of a beautiful girl taken by her boyfriend in Shanghai from the late 1940s.

A Little Railroad Trivia

The Peruvian Central Railway from Limma reached Chicla in 1878 (which sits at 12,444 feet above sea level) and La Oroya (12,287 ft) in 1893. But the highest point on the railway is actually
the Galera summit tunnel under Mount Meiggs at 4,783 m (15,692 ft), which was also built in 1893. It is no surprise that, historically, designated railway employee was on every train to provide oxygen in case passengers develop altitude sickness.

The Peruvian Central Railway was the highest railway point in the world until
Qinghai–Tibet Railway’s Tanggula tunnel was built 2006, which sits at an impressive 5,072 m (16,640 ft) above sea level.

Communist China Almost Had A Mao Dynasty

Did you know that Mao Zedong had a son? (Mao actually had 10 children, and 4 wives, but that’s another post.) The important son was Mao Anying. He had the vital qualities of being a man, surviving to adulthood, and not having mental health problems. Mao Anying was quietly being groomed, having been sent to the Soviet Union in 1936 for university. But then World War II broke out, and what does every good dictator’s heir need? Military experience!

Mao Anying joined the Soviet Red Army during World War II, serving as an artillery officer in Poland. As an added bonus, he got communist credentials, because China’s communist party was still friendly with the USSR at the time. When World War II ended he joined the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, as a Russian translator and secretary, and was promptly sent to the new war in Korea. And in 1950 he was killed by an American napalm bomb.

With Mao Anying’s death, any chance of a Mao dynasty also died. China was forced to have a non-hereditary leadership, with the top job being given to who could politic the best.

Mao Anying’s chance death prevented China from becoming like North Korea, which does have a hereditary dynasty. Unfortunately for North Korea, the Kim family’s children were too young to fight in World War II or the Korean War, and all survived to inherit the dynasty.

Unusual Chinese Artifact Found in Japanese Riv…

A bronze ring artifact from Japan has been identified as a weight for measuring commodities. The ring was found a while ago, in 1999, at the bottom of a dry riverbed which flowed during the late Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 BCE – 300 CE). The artifact is estimated to date to the second half of the 100s CE. The ring measures 12.7 centimeters (5 inches) across, is 0.7 cm (0.27 in) thick and weighs 89.30 grams (3.14 oz).

What makes the find special is that weight rings have previously been found only in China and Korea, as burial accessories. It has been known that Japan during this period had connections with China, as other Chinese-made artifacts from the the Early Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 8 CE) have been found in Japanese tombs. This ring weight suggests that Chinese trading practices, such as a semi-standardized weight system, were also making their way to Japan.

Earliest Evidence of Smoked Cannabis Found in …

Central Asians were smoking cannabis by 500 BCE! Archaeologists have found traces of cannabinol, an oxidative metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) in incense burners recovered from the ancient Jirzankal Cemetery on the Pamir Plateau in western China. It appears that cannabis plants were placed in the incense burners, then hot stones placed on top, to create a mind-bending smoke.

There is archaeological evidence that cannabis has been grown and cultivated since around 4000 BCE, but because those plants had very low THC content, they were likely being grown for their fiber and oil.

The new discovery at Pamir Plateau is the first clear evidence of cannabis being used for its psychoactive properties. Especially interesting: the charred remains had higher THC concentrations than are found in wild plants, suggesting they had deliberately been cultivated to enhance their psychoactive properties, or that the Jirzankal people sought out wild plants with especially high THC content.

Regular

One man, Kumarajiva, is responsible for revolutionizing Chinese Buddhism. He lived from 334 to 413 CE during China’s Sixteen Kingdoms Era, and was tasked by the Later Qin emperor with translating key Buddhist texts into Chinese from Sanskrit. This is harder than mere literal translation. Sanskrit and Chinese are very different, linguistically, and Kumarajiva complained that the translation work was like having to eat rice after someone else had already chewed it!

Kumarajiva was able to translate many key Buddhist texts. In China today, millions of Chinese speak the words of Kumarajiva every day.

The Subversive Woman Who Made Chinese History

In 1927, China was shocked by a sensational new character: Sophie, a woman wracked by sexual longing who was determined to torment her reliable if dull boyfriend, while consumed with lust for a man she could not have.

Sophie was the protagonist of Miss Sophie’s Diary, a short story by Jiang Bingzhi, who went by the pen name Ding Ling. It was published during a brief period in Chinese history, the New Culture movement, which was  liberal intellectual movement centered in China’s cities. Ding Ling was part of the left-leaning literary scenes in Beijing and Shanghai.

But she soon found herself on the run from the nationalist political authorities. Ding Ling and literarti like her were dangerously subversive to the China the nationalists wanted to build. She joined the communists by the 1940s, but ended up in internal exile, living in a remote rural area. Ding Ling’s work was too “bourgeouis” and “individualistic” and “rightist” now.

In the 1970s, in her seventies, Ding Ling was rehabilitated. Today she is remembered as one of China’s most important feminist authors.

Ancient Chinese Elixir of Immortality Found – …

A wealthy
individual living in the Chinese city of Luoyang during the Western Han Dynasty (202 BCE to 8 CE) was buried with an
assortment of fine bronze, jade, and ceramic objects. Among their burial goods
was a jar containing a yellow liquid which smelled alcoholic. Amazingly, it had survived over 2,000 years without seeping away.

Although initially thought to be rice wine, a chemical analysis has
revealed the liquid to be a mixture of potassium nitrate and alunite. These minerals are the main ingredients of the
legendary “elixir of immortality” mentioned in ancient Chinese texts. Given that it was found as part of a burial, the elixir did not work.

Still, this is a major find. It is the first hard evidence that one of the various “immortality medicines” written about in ancient texts were actually made. And presumably tried out, too.

A Brief History of Han Purple

Han purple was an ancient Chinese pigment which is thought to have been created as early as 800 BCE, but the most famous examples of its use date back to around 220 BCE when it was used to paint the Terracotta Army and murals in the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang at Xi’an.

Han purple peaked during the Han Dynasty, then declined, and then vanished from the historical record entirely – along with knowledge of how to make the color.

It was not until the 1990s that scientists were able to replicate it. The process to make the copper barium silicate pigment was extremely intricate. For one thing, it involved the grinding of precise quantities of various materials. And for another, it required heating to between 900 and 1,100 degrees Celsius. Amazing that the process was discovered so long ago!

The Dulong people are a minority group in Chin…

The Dulong people are a minority group in China who live in a historically inaccessible area in the Yunnan Province. (A highway built in late 1999 now makes it reachable to the outside world.) It was a tradition for Dulong girls to get a face tattoo when they began puberty, a tradition called “Hua Lian” (“painting the face”) or “Wen Mian” (“tattooing the face").

In the areas along the upper and middle reaches of the Dulong River, the tattoos were a complex pattern of connecting diamonds down the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks and mouth. In the lower reaches, the designs were much simpler. All tattoos were butterfly shaped as they believed that the dead turned into butterflies when they passed.

How the Dulong tradition began is unknown. Some speculate that it was so that Dulong women were less attractive as slaves, as Tibetan landlords used to demand families who could not pay taxes would pay in daughters instead.

Unfortunately, the tradition is dying. It almost completely ended after 1949 and the founding of the communist state. Today, there are fewer than 30 women alive with traditional Dulong tattoos.