The Philosophy of Chinese Music Part 1: Zhi Yin Culture in The Untamed

If you like your Asian historical dramas, Eastern magic fantasy, or Kungfu shows, you’ll have seen, or been watching, or at least heard of, The Untamed. With gorgeous costumes, props, sets; fantastic script, filmography and storyline, a great cast, and queer representation to boot, no wonder this mainland Chinese series, an unexpectedly domestic hit, has also achieved unprecedented global popularity. Originally a Xianxia (genre featuring humans interacting with supernaturals) web novel named Modao Zushi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, the series is steeped in Chinese culture. One of the central themes that really stands out is the multiple roles of music in the story. (Heads up, this article contains spoilers). 


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Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Tian Hou

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them.


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Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Lei Zu

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them.


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Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Hou Tu

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them.


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Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Nü Wa

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them.


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Five Fabulous Chinese Goddesses: Xi Wang Mu

Even though China’s pantheon is mammoth, there does tend to be more male deities than female, it’s an imbalance I’ve tried to redress in my book. For Chinese goddesses are fabulous indeed, they come in many types – deities of the elements, the trades, protectors, creators. Most of the Nü Shen, Chinese for female deity, are very powerful. They also have amazing stories, and are some of China’s oldest supernatural beings. In this mini-series I write about 5 of them. 


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The Poppy War: A Review

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.


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Chunwan 2020

It’s Chinese New Year eve. We all know what that means. After the big meal, there would be four hours of non-stop song, dance and comedy. Like a baptism by fire to being truly Chinese, the Chunjie Wanhui (Chunwan for short), has to be done. For all Chinese like myself who’ve grown up with it, sat through it during childhood, rolled our eyeballs at it over adolescence (when our parents still managed to get it over satellite), as we get older, it’s become a ritual that, no matter where in the world you are, and how you’re celebrating, brings you right back.


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A Touch of Sin: Talk Taster

As China began exporting its movies in the 70s and 80s, a cult of fandom grew around the kungfu and action films. From “36 Chambers of Shaolin” to “City on fire”, these films made a deep impression on young American filmmakers-to-be, most obviously Quentin Taratino, who took heavy Inspiration from these films for “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill”. However, inspiration between vibrant creative cultures becomes a conversation, and those elements Tarantino borrowed, were absorbed by a new generation of filmmakers in China, including Jia Zhangke. Jia has had an interesting career. Starting off making mockumentary-style films about petty criminals and China’s disaffected youth, and now having reached such critical acclaim that he has over 100 international awards and nominations. His films still deal with how ordinary people’s lives were affected by China’s rapid social change, and “A Touch of Sin” brings many of his themes together, to tell stories about outcasts and misfits, in a manner more akin to traditional Chinese storytelling. (First delivered for the Spring Festival screening at Genesis, London, 2019).


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Introductory Talk to Big Fish & Begonia: A Taster

This screening is part of the April Anime season. Anime is faux-French term predominantly used to refer to Japanese animation. Chinese animation is called Dong Hua.

That animation you’ve just seen, “Where is Mama” is a product of the first golden age of Chinese animation. The director, Te Wei,broke a lot of the established rules of the time, and instead of just imitating western animators like Disney, he attempted to create a very eastern style. 


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