Message from China

October 10th, 2011

Wang Ningde

Oct 10 1945 – The Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang signed a principle agreement in Chongqing about the future of post-war China

National Day in China (see more Wang Ningde here, don’t click on dead links.)

Message from Chinese activists and academics in support of Occupy Wall Street

This letter of solidarity, signed over by 50 intellectuals and activists in China, was posted to Utopia yesterday. Thanks to everyone for the translation and editing work!

Zizek Speaks to Occupy Wall Street

He steered the discussion away from the Cold War debate between communism and capitalism, noting that former communists, particularly in China, “are today the most efficient, brutal capitalists.”
The communist revolution “failed absolutely,” he said, suggesting that “the only way we are communist is that we care about the commons,” citing the environment as an example.

Apart from that Oct 10 birthday links

Harold Pinter

Julius Schulman

Theloneous Monk

Oscar Brown Jr.

Claude Simon

Forbidden City

February 7th, 2011

China’s most extravagant monarchs—the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–95) presided over China’s last dynasty

弘曆圓形古裝行樂圖像 軸
Portrait of the Qianlong Emperor in Ancient Costume
Lent by the Palace Museum, Beijing


The Qianlong Emperor was a master in using Western-style illusionistic images of himself in different guises to create alternate personae. Here, the youthful emperor had himself portrayed as a cultured Chinese scholar. Sitting in his study appointed with classical Chinese-style furniture, he is poised, brush in hand, to transcribe a poem onto a banana leaf. The only detail that distinguishes him from a traditional scholar is his ornate robe covered with auspicious motifs of flowers and cranes in bright, contrasting colors.


Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799; r. 1736–95)
Calligraphic Inscription, dated 1776
From the Belvedere of Viewing Achievements (Fuwangge)
Lent by the Palace Museum, Beijing

An avid calligrapher, the Qianlong Emperor developed a distinctive style characterized by regularity and restraint. Inscribed on gold-painted paper made specifically for the court, this text describes his anticipation of retirement.

The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City
February 1, 2011–May 1, 2011

More photos from Time Magazine

Rustic rootwood chair

Chinese paintings from as early as the eleventh century depict Buddhist and Daoist figures seated on rustic rootwood chairs as a way of suggesting their indifference to worldly goods and their synchrony with the natural forms of the cosmos.

Pu Yi February 7, 1906

Dr. An Wang February 7, 1920

Offering Table with Lords of the Cremation Grounds fromTibet

Dowager Empress

Chinese Antiqities

Dr Sun Yat Sen

The World of Kublai Khan

October 3rd, 2010

Kublai Khan khubilai

Under Khubilai, the Mongols welcomed a diversity of religions. The paintings and artifacts displayed here reflect not just Buddhism, but Hinduism, Taoism and Islam — a miracle of tolerance.
“They were barbarians, but they were never rude,” says Watt. “They killed a lot of people, but they weren’t rude.”

Read more:Barbarians at the Mets.

Noble Horse horse
Gong Kai (Chinese, 1222–after 1304)

One of the classics says that a horse’s ribs should be slender and numerous. An ordinary horse has only ten ribs. One with more than this is a noble steed

Wang Zhenweng (Chinese, active 14th century)
Portrait of the Japanese Monk Kokan Shiren, dated 1343
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

The inscription at the top of this portrait indicates that it is one of three such portraits produced in China by the little-known artist Wang Zhenweng. It also identifies the subject as the important Japanese monk Kokan Shinren, who trained in the Linji (Rinzai) tradition of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Known for promoting the use of physical punishment as a goad to advancement, monks in this lineage are often portrayed holding the large sticks they used to prod students.

Tapestry on the right

Tapestry with Lions with Palmettes, 13th century
Central Asia
The Iranian influence on the pattern and the similarity of its layout to that of drawloom silks suggest that this type of silk tapestry may have originated in the early thirteenth century, at a time of massive migrations of artisans from the eastern Iranian world to eastern Central Asia.

Shanghai Diva

September 19th, 2010

Wong Kar Wai (direct link)

Hua Yang De Nian Hua, or “To those who we remember fondly”, is a 2000 short film by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai that was shown at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival. It consists of a 2m 28s montage of scenes from vintage Chinese films, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s, set to a song from the soundtrack of Wong’s In The Mood For Love, a golden oldie by Zhou Xuan.”

Zhou Xuan 1Zhou_Xuan See Zhou Xuan on youtube

was a popular Chinese singer and film actress. By the 1940s, she had become one of China’s seven great singing stars.[1] She is probably the most well-known of the seven, as she had a concurrent movie career until 1953.

In 1957 she died in Shanghai in a mental asylum at the age of 39 during the Anti-Rightist Movement

Old Orient Museum by Vincent Lexington Harper


  • Happy birthday Maggie Cheung – 20 September 1964 (Here she was at Venice)
    (In the Mood for Love youtube)

  • Three Years by Li Xiang Liang (Yoshiko Yamaguch – ex-wife of Isamu Noguchi)

    The Good Emperor

    January 4th, 2010

    Zhezong Zhezong A good emperor 哲宗
    dying young doing good. He was only 24 yrs old.

    Emperor Zhezong (January 4, 1076 – February 23, 1100) was the seventh emperor of the Song Dynasty of China. His personal name was Zhao4 Xu1. He reigned from 1085 to 1100….

    Zhezong lowered taxes, stopped all negotiations with the Tangut Empire and resumed armed conflict which eventually forced the Xixia to enter a more peaceful stance with the Song. Overall, Zhezong’s reign gave the Song dynasty a breathe of fresh air but Zhezong was not able stop fighting between conservative members in his government and the more liberal members catering to Wang Anshi’s reforms. This eventually lead to the northern Song’s demise in the 12th century. (wiki)

    Huizong Emperor Huizong digital image by Fung Lin Hall the emperor as an artist
    (See previous post – Emperor and the Brushstrokes or how this emperor resurrected Brice Marden’s career)


    Song Emperors and Song Dynasty

  • Happy birthday to Gao Xinjian winner of 2000 Nobel Prize for literature and his paintings are here.

  • Google celebratesnewton10-tree
    Isaac Newton’s birthday. (Why apples are falling on Google today)
    But apples do not fall from this copy.

    Dr Sun Yat Sen

    November 12th, 2009

    Dr Sun Yat Sen

    Sun Yat-sen (pinyin Sūn Yìxiān) (12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Republican China, Sun is frequently referred to as the Father of the Nation. Sun played an instrumental role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in October 1911, the last imperial dynasty of China. He was the first provisional president when the Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1912 and later co-founded the Kuomintang (KMT) where he served as its first leader. Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and remains unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan.(Via)

    Dr Sun Yat Sen(1866-1925) & Penang

    Dr Sun Yat Sen’s original name was Sun Deming, he is also known as Sun Zhongsan(孫中山), Sun Wen(孫文), Sun Yixian (孫逸仙) & Sun Itchisen or Sun Itchiyama (Japanese names).
    He was born on 12-11-1866 in the village of Cuiheng, Xianshang county, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China; which is 26 km north of Macau. But a certificate of birth issued by Hawaii that he was born in Kingdom of Hawaii on 24-11-1870, but the claim of Hawaii birth was based on typewritten testimony, and without any documentation from witnesses. He died on 12-3-1925 after illness in Beijing, China.

    Obama went to Punahoe, Sun Yat Sen went to Iolani

    Dr Sun was in Malaya, Penang and Singapore during his preparation for the revolution.

    Sun Yat Sen in Japan in Jan 1901

    Unfortunately, his three principles did not survive his death and corrupt General Chiang Kai-Shek soon emerged as leader of the Kuomintang Party. The Japanese invasion and the escape of the Communist leaders through their long march set up conditions for the civil war after the defeat of Japan. After losing China to the Communists, Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan with much of China’s treasure and art works where a virtual dictatorship was created that survived until his death in 1975. Mao Tse_Tung also set up a ruthless dictatorship in China which exists until today. China as a Democratic Republic was lost to history.

    <> <> <> <> 2sunyatsen
    Sun Yat-sen Married Soong Ching Ling
    Soong Axis the Forgotten Dynasty Soong Ching Ling broke off from her brother in law (Chiang Kai-Shek) and remained in Communist China where she was respected by the party.

    Ching Ling (Madame Sun) differentiated herself from her siblings, believing that the Communists were better stewards of her late husband’s three principals than were the Kuomintang. She continued living in Shanghai after the Communist takeover until her death in 1981. Although she never joined the Communist party, she was honored with a period of national mourning and given a full state funeral in Beijing, lying in state for three days in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square.

    Zhang Xiao – Three Gorges

    August 10th, 2009




    Photograph by Zhang Xiao

    Zhang Xiao at Eyecurious

    Zhang Xiao was born in 1981 in China’s Shandong province. There is some great work on his website, in particular his series on the demolition linked to the infamous Three Gorges Dam.

    Related link Up the Yantze

    Cancer Village In China

    May 11th, 2009

    A worker hauls phone casings on a tricycle. Despite the dangers it presents, the e-waste business in Guiyu continues to thrive.
    (image via)

    Shangba, China’s Village of Death

    Cancer Village boychina

    A boy plays outside his home in in Xi Di Tou near the costal city of Tianjin. Villagers say the pollution emitted by chemical factories is causing cancer. Government figures show that 300 million people regularly drink polluted water and the effects are clear in the cancer village of Xiditou, near the port city of Tianjin, south-east of Beijing.
    The Tianjin health authority admits that its cancer rate is 30 times the national average, a figure blamed on water and air contaminated by a rash of chemical factories.

    A map of Cancer villages in China..

    China’s “Cancer Villages” Pay Heavy Price for Economic Progress (Commondreams)

    Up the Yangtze

    December 27th, 2008

    Leonard Cohen loved this film. Yung Chang described his encounter with Leonard Cohen at the end of this clip below.

    <> <>

    So I got this idea of making a movie about tourists on this Yangtze cruise boat – a kind of Gosford Park idea that shows the social hierarchy, the lives above and below the decks. And I realized that the people working on the boat were all from the Yangtze area, and that many of their families were affected by the dam.
    The other aspect was this sense of apocalyptic journey – something out of Heart of Darkness. It’s a strange landscape of chaos and decay – like the photos of Edward Burtynsky. It’s very ghostlike along the river – hazy and grey and difficult to see long distances. Then we visited the Ghost City itself – Fengdu – famous in Chinese mythology as the site of the Gates of Hell. In my mind, the Three Gorges Dam became the Gates of Hell. There were so many metaphorical layers to explore, so I just went with this idea of a surreal journey up the Yangtze.(Q&A with the filmmaker Yung Chang)

    Intervew from Indiewire

    I really wanted to approach my film with an Altmanesque/Herzogian cinematic technique. I like using fiction films as reference points. There’s also a natural irony and humor that often permeates through the observation of West and East cultures so it was important not to make an overly heavy doomsday film but to capture those humorous flashes that make a human story all the more real and three-dimensional. Of course, the beauty of documentary is that you’re literally improvising and being spontaneous. You let the environment, your subjects, and the given moment carry you along. There’s no storyboarding. When you’re making a documentary, you shoot a lot of footage in hopes of capturing a few emotional moments.

    Collection of critical responses for this terrific film.

    Hal was up the Yangtze decades ago.

    I would like to see this film. In 1980 I went up the Yantze with my mother and brother. Takes 3 days, Sort of a slow beautiful unfolding. I got to know my tour guide, a very nice Chinese woman that always kept the door open when we talked to each other. She suggested to me, the corruption of the Communist party, she was a party member. Hal Lum (via email)

    Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art

    October 7th, 2008

    Li Shun <>maorouge1
    Rouge Flower – Silkscreen and Oil

    141 works by 96 artists are represented in Mahjong:Contemporary Chinese Art from Sigg Collection now at Berkeley Museum.

    Ai Wei Wei aiweiweicoke Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo (Click to enlarge)

    Shi Xhinning duchampmao1Duchamp Exhibition in China. (Another Mao painting by Shi Xhinning)

    Here more click through below,

    Obssessive Memories – Liu Jiang Hua (In the mood for lost arms and body parts? Wong Kar Wai in porcelain).

    Great Walls 2000 Years ago and Restaurant by Miao Xiao Chun

    It looks like a landscape Liu Wei, Born 1989 in Beijing – Liu Wei

    Wave by Li Song Song
    (Mme Mao Tse Tung or Lady Maobeth and scarier than Sarah Palin, Chiang Ch’ing was another no talent actress when she met Mao. )

    Chen Zai Yan – Three Famous Xingshu Documents

    Hai bo – They Recorded for the Future

    Hon Hao Beijing No5

    Mostly Mao here for this post, extremely narrow and biased selection, neverthless we must acknowledge that Mao was good for artists.

    Yu Youhan yu_youhan1
    Insiders View of China’s Art – Kenneth Baker

    The collector explained that the Berkeley Museum’s architecture muddled the plan to have 12 thematic sections, which gave rise to the title “Mahjong.”
    Uli Sigg: The exhibition concept doesn’t derive from mahjong, but it plays with it. It’s a game with 144 stones and you will have 12 groups of 12 stones. … Mahjong has been played since the Ming Dynasty and today it is played on the Internet, so it has a very large audience. It looks back into the past and also into the future. And the third element is that each time you play, the stones are combined differently, and as the exhibition travels, works will be combined in different ways.

    A review from C-Monster

    But here at Mahjong was a consumer vocabulary I could understand. There were fun clothes and bright constructivist posters and plastic tchotchkes, all sensationally over-obvious in their message. I wanted to buy, buy, buy!

    Happy Rat Year

    February 6th, 2008

    Banksy dead rat (via)
    Google Banksy Rat
    Rat Dude is on sale.

    Before Banksy there was Blek Le Rat

    I am Blek le Rat. I am a French graffiti artist. I was one of the first artists to use stencils for an artistic purpose in Paris in the beginning of the 1980s—in ‘81 exactly. At first, I put rats and I made them run along the wall. I wanted to do a rat invasion. I put thousands all over Paris.

    Between me and my heart there is nobody – Blek Le Rat on youtube

    It is worth noting that the Rat Brigade did not discriminate on the basis of species.

    Monkey on high bike monkey on high bike
    The above image from A Speculative History of Rat patrol

    Chinese New Year Rat Happy Rat Year 2008

    Chinese New Year 4706, which begins Thursday, is the Year of the Rat, which holds a place of honor as the first creature in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar.

    Porcile and Earthly Delight – last Chinese New Year post

    Update:Not everyone is celebrating New Year in China
    <> <> <> <> <>Lunar new year 08 google gif

    Nixon in China + Zhou En Lai

    January 8th, 2008

    Zhou En Lai greets Nixon. (Act I)

    This funny opera was composed by John Adams, produced by Peter Sellers, and choreographed by Mark Morris.
    Judging from these clips on youtube, Pat Nixon is the only non political person in the mix of power hungry world leaders, providing the audience with maternal warmth and humanity.

    The Bad Boy provides us with more clips (one clip is missing).

    As a big fan of the opera Nixon In China, I was so excited to find the following clips from it on YouTube. As the title implies, NIC is about the historic meeting between Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-tung. The composer, John Adams, once described it (jokingly) as an opera for “Republicans and Communists.” Well, I’m neither and I still love the hell out of it.

    This third clip is one of my favorites. Kissinger (as Lao-Szu) whips a peasant woman half to death in a stage play. Pat Nixon comes to the woman’s aid and then the music gets better.

    Nixon and Zhou En Lai (image source)

    Today January 8 was the day China lost their beloved leader Zhou En Lai. in 1976.
    How do you assess Zhou’s achievements in China’s tumultuous history?
    Some accuse Zhou of going along with Mao and not protecting the Chinese people; others show gratitude to Zhou for saving China from Mao’s tyranny.
    Zhou was first and foremost a survivor. Most of Zhou’s contemporaries died directly under the hand of Mao or died in mysterious accidents. Zhou alone, of his stature, survived. Mao was determined to outlive Zhou and did so by a few months.

    Perhaps my favorite image of Zhou is from footage of Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. As the US President blathered on about ‘friendship and mutual respect,’ the jaded premier shifted in his chair unable to contain a mighty yawn at the dog and pony show onstage. Zhou’s work with Kissinger was done and in the books. That had been the important part.
    Perhaps, he was simply tired. (This date in history: The Death of Zhou Enlai)

    Was he a tragic hero?

    A sentimental eulogy to Zhou En Lai on youtube.