Category: china

This was illustrated by an emperor of China. Emperor Xuanzong of the Ming Dynasty made  in the fourth year of his reign (1429) for the high official Yang Shiqi.

The focus of the hanging scroll is the cat and a bowl of peony blossoms the cat is looking at. The traditional word for cat in Chinese is a homophone for octogenarian and therefore a blessing for longevity, while the peony was a symbol of wealth and prosperity. With this wall scroll, Emperor Xuanzong was wishing long life and good fortune to his chancellor.

  • In 3800 BCE, the Babylonian Empire took the world’s first known census – of farmgoods. They counted
    livestock
    and quantities of butter, honey, milk, wool, and vegetables.
  • In 2 CE,
    China’s Han Dynasty took the oldest surviving census data, showing a
    population of 57.7 million people living in 12.4 million households.
    Chengdu, the largest city, had a population of 282,000.

  • The first modern census in Britain in 1801 didn’t ask people to list their ages.
  • The first census in the US in 1790 only cared about age if the person was a “free white male,” which was sorted by “16 years and upward” and “under 16 years.” All other categories were ageless.
  • In 1853,
    Chile passed the first census law in South America.
  • Britain’s attempt to take a census in India in 1871 was difficult because there were rumors that
    the goal of the count is to identify girls to be sent to England to fan
    Queen Victoria during a heatwave.

Name tags (in Korean: hopae) were, at times, legally required for all adult males under the Joseon government. First introduced in 1413 by King Taejong they were apparently modeled after a similar system under the contemporary Yuan Dynasty. Hopae were required on and off until the early 1600s, usually when the government saw the need to control internal migration. The tags are made of wood or horn, and showed the man’s name plus other required identification. Some also included rank and permissions.

These particular tags belonged to soldiers. They list the soldiers’ name, year of birth, year of entering service, position, and place of residence/troop. The last two on the right were for two brothers, both cannoneers (別破陣).


Obscure engravings on animal bones from the site of Lingjing in Henan Province suggest that early hominins who lived there 125,000 years ago may have had more advanced cognitive abilities than once believed. The mysterious markings proved to have been etched into the bone. The bone was then rubbed with red ochre powder to make the markings more visible. It is unknown why they made these marks, or what they represent.

Two gilded silver dragon figurines featuring detailed horns, eyes, teeth, and feathers have been discovered in a Xiongnu elite tomb in north-central Mongolia. The dragons bear obvious characteristics of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 9 CE). They are evidence of the cultural exchange and interaction between the prairie in the north and central China, as well as the high status of the Xiongu buried in the tomb.

Of course, the silver dragons were not the only rich items they were buried with: a trove of gold, silver, bronze, jade and wood artifacts have also been found.

More than 40,000 years ago, Australia used to be home to many species of giant kangaroos. One, the
short-faced kangaroo, had a single-toed clawed foot (modern-day kangaroos have three toes), and weighed more than 260 pounds (118 kilograms, modern-day kangaroos reach only 200 lbs). And the short-faced kangaroo had a box-shaped head. A recent study of the short-faced kangaroo’s odd skull shape found that it was specifically adapted to eat
tough foods like mature leaves, stems, and branches when other food sources were scarce.

That makes the short-faced kangaroo very similar to the modern-day giant panda. They both have thick jaws, and specialized skulls, evolved for eating the toughest plants that other animals can’t.
When times are hard, the short-faced kangaroo and the giant panda both have a competitive edge.

The history of Hong Kong, visualized:

How did a small island become a hub of global finance? And why is it so important to both Britain and China? NatGeo’s illustrated history of Hong Kong leads you through almost two centuries of growth, change, and protests.

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

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.

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.