Having explored in the first three articles of this mini-series, deadly demons, friendly fiends, gorgeous ghouls and saucy spooks in Chinese supernatural lore, I come to the mythical monsters.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, creatures, culture, horror, monsters, mythical, myths, supernatural
A while ago, I was given this beautiful old cabinet originally used for holding Traditional Chinese Medicines, so that I can store all the varieties of my loose leaf tea collection. Each of these many rows of small draws have the names of a herb carved onto it. Before I put my leaves into it, I thought it would be interesting to find out a little about each of these herbs.
Posted in Culture and tagged cabinet, china, Chinese, culture, herbs, medicine, TCM, tea, traditional medicine
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article highlighting some of China’s female science fiction writers . It is a well-known fact that women in the SF community have been heavily overlooked in China, where a hard-science-heavy tradition took root in the genre’s first ‘golden age’ of the 1950s, which in itself was a continuation of a nation-building role for sci-fi that could be traced all the way back to the beginning of the century. Although women have been active contributors to the genre since at least the 1970s, with writers such as Zhang Jing and Ji Wei, their inclination, or perceived inclination to write ‘soft science fiction’, meant they have not been as visible as male writers in previous eras. In the twenty-first century however, kēhuàn (Hanyu for sci-fi) has diversified as a genre, branching off into more character driven fiction, which integrates science with story, shifting away from works that centrally focused on science theory or concepts.
Posted in Commentary, Culture, Translation and tagged china, Chinese, culture, equality, feminism, fiction, literature, science fiction, SF, SFF, women's writing
Spring Festival planning actually starts as Christmas ends. That sad moment of shoving carefully boxed Christmas trees and garlands in the loft offset with bringing down another box, labelled “CNY DECS”. This box isn’t opened up immediately though, there’s a lot of real life things that need to happen, including cleaning and writing the inevitable articles for media who suddenly remember Chinese people exist. The box sits in a corner for a few weeks, saving us the effort of having to head to the loft a second time, but also taking the edge off the January blues, until we open it on Xiaonian.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, culture, customs, Spring Festival, tradition
Beyond “Made in China” being stamped on almost every toy under the tree, you wouldn’t really consider the impact of Christmas as a festival in China, indeed my childhood was almost entirely Christmas-free.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, christmas, culture, customs, festival, tradition, winter
A type of Cdrama and film that has been very popular over the last decade, is the Tang Dynasty mystery, tales of detection, court intrigue and crime solving adapted from novels by well-known writers of the 21st century, yet set in ancient China. One reason for the current focus on Tang Dynasty culture, is that China is once again at an economic and cultural peak, recalling its greatest gold age in history. One key figure that immortalised this perfect combination of the Tang setting and tale of mystery, is Di Renjie.
Posted in Commentary, Culture and tagged china, Chinese, crime fiction, culture, detective fiction, Di Renjie, fiction, film, Gong An, Judge Dee, novels, Robert Van Gulik
Cdrama now enjoys a global following, and one of the most popular shows at the moment is Tencent’s A Dream of Splendour (directed by Liu Yang and staring Liu Yifei, Chen Xiao, Liu Yan and Lin Yun), a historical fiction series set in dynastic China. Unlike a lot of other cdrama which are based on contemporary novels, this series has been inspired by a 13th century opera of Guan Hanqing, one Yuan Dynasty’s best-loved playwright, 赵盼儿风月救风尘 (zhào pàn’ér fēngyuè jiù fēngchén), Zhao Pan’Er Courageously Saves A Lady of the Night. Instead of outlaws, notables and royalty, the frequent subjects of a lot of other historical fiction, it tells the tale of three ordinary women surviving the hardships of life through their resourcefulness and friendship, eventually turning a small teahouse into a very successful restaurant.
Posted in Culture and tagged A Dream of Splendour, Cdrama, china, Chinese, culture, fiction, literature, opera, plays, playwright, Yuan Dynasty
On July the 3rd 2022, renowned writer Ni Kuang, passed away, aged 87. He was one of the most popular modern classic Sinophone writers.
Posted in Commentary and tagged books, Chinese, culture, fiction, Ni Kuang, novel, orbituary, science fiction, Sinophone, Wisely, writer, writing, Wuxia
There is something special about seeing yourself on the big screen, and if not yourself, then someone who you can see yourself as, or recognise yourself in. This is one reason why Pixar’s Turning Red has been such a big thing, coming out at a time when it looked as though the studio would sooner do another movie following Bugs’ Lives, than putting an East-Asian in the protagonists driving seat.
Now, I’ve never been a ‘Disney kid’, so I was still cautious as I sat down to watch the film, having been stung twice by the mouse’s Mulan. But… I was charmed, enthralled, and thoroughly entertained by the story, and of course, characters who looked like me.
Posted in Commentary and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, deity, Disney, film, panda, Pixar, Turning Red
Donghua (Chinese for animation) has spread its wings internationally over the last decade, so impressive have been the currents it’s generated that even big Western studios like Disney, are capitalising on the trend. But its history of donghua goes all the way back to the early twentieth century. This is a talk I delivered for at Amecon in 2008, at the UK premier of Storm Rider: Clash of Evils. Having discovered that certain ageing white academics have helped themselves to my talk for ‘research’ without crediting me, I removed it from Myspace. Today, I’m making it available, in honour of the release of Domee Shi’s Turning Red. If you do use it for whatever project, put my name in the sources, and in return, put a little towards my research materials, or, buy me a cup of tea.
Posted in Blog2, Culture and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, donghua, film, history