Category: chinese

In Chinese superstition, a chestnut dangling from a branch provokes fear. The character for “lì” means both “chestnut” and “afraid, trembling.”

EMPEROR TAIZU OF SONG: 

EMPEROR Taizu (960-976 CE), formerly known as Zhao Kuangyin, was the founder of the Song (aka Sung) dynasty which ruled China from 960 to 1279 CE. Taizu settled for a territorially smaller but more unified and prosperous China than was seen in previous dynasties, and he made particular efforts to curb the powers of the military and bolster those of the scholar-officials within the state bureaucracy. Taizu’s careful governance would ensure that his successors had the foundation upon which they could build one of the most successful dynasties in China’s history.  

The Tang dynasty had ruled China from 618 CE with great success, but their collapse in 907 CE resulted in a sustained period of political upheaval. The once unified Chinese state was broken up into many competing political entities and so the era from 907 to 960 CE is often referred to as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (Wudai shiguo) period. One man would rise above all other military rulers in these turbulent times, the Later Zhou dynasty general-warlord Zhao Kuangyin (also spelt Guangyin).

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pogphotoarchives:

Lee Gan ?, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Photographer: Furlong & Crispell
Date: 1885?
Negative Number 103148

A Vietnamese woman soldier with a rifle displays a Chinese man she captured and took prisoner in a battle against the Chinese PLA in the Sino-Vietnamese War, February 1979 Phong Thổ district Lai Châu province

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YIN AND YANG: 

THE principle of Yin and Yang is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example, female-male, dark-light and old-young. The principle, dating from the 3rd century BCE or even earlier, is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture in general. The two opposites of Yin and Yang attract and complement each other and, as their symbol illustrates, each side has at its core an element of the other (represented by the small dots). Neither pole is superior to the other and, as an increase in one brings a corresponding decrease in the other, a correct balance between the two poles must be reached in order to achieve harmony.

The concept of Yin and Yang became popular with the work of the Chinese school of Yinyang which studied philosophy and cosmology in the 3rd century BCE. The principal proponent of the theory was the cosmologist Zou Yan (or Tsou Yen) who believed that life went through five phases (wuxing) – fire, water, metal, wood, earth – which continuously interchanged according to the principle of Yin and Yang.

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Chinese justice – prisoner kneeling on chains, little fingers supporting arms, Moukden – 1906

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ZHOU DYNASTY: 

THE Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE) was the longest-lasting of ancient China’s dynasties. It followed the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1046 BCE) and it finished when the army of the state of Qin captured the city of Chengzhou in 256 BCE. The long history of the Zhou Dynasty is normally divided in two different periods: Western Zhou (1046-771 BCE) and Eastern Zhou (770-256 BCE), so-called following the move of the Zhou capital eastwards where it was safer from invasion.

The most influential minds in the Chinese intellectual tradition flourished under the Zhou, particularly towards the last period of the Zhou Dynasty, considered a time of intellectual and artistic awakening. Many of the ideas developed by figures like Laozi, Confucius, Mencius and Mozi, who all lived during the Eastern Zhou period, would shape the character of Chinese civilization up to the present day.

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“Bloody Saturday” – a Chinese baby crying within the bombed-out ruins of Shanghai South Railway Station a few minutes after a Japanese air attack on civilians during the Battle of Shanghai. August 28, 1937.

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Chinese troops wearing gas masks during the battle of Shanghai, 1937.

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An unidentified person stops a line of Chinese tanks, Tienanmen Square, Beijing, 1989

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