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Archive for November, 2009

Cultural Palace of Minorities in China

Address: Beijing, Fuxingmennei Dajie, #49

The Cultural Palace of Minorities is located on the west end of Chang’an Street, in Be?ing. This is a focal point where all the nationalities of the country can come together for cultural exchange: it is a microcosm of the greater family of diverse peoples that make up China. The building occupies some 30,000 square meters and is a multistoried tower-like structure. It stands 13 stories high and has two wings that flank the central hall.

Some 30,000 objects constitute the collections of the Museum, including scripts, costumes, and handicrafts that relate to minority peoples. The territory from which they are drawn extends to Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Ningxia, Yunnan and Guizhou. The material encompasses artifacts from all 56 of modern China’s ethnic minorities. It also includes historical objects from peoples who once lived on the same territories including Xiongnu, Dangxiang, Qidan, Dian peoples among others.

Traditional clothes are a particularly striking part of the collection. There is also a wealth of religious artifacts relating to every kind of religion in China. Among the objects from Tibet are scriptures, documents, laws, treaties and books that constitute an invaluable historical record.

Historical relics are also held in this museum. They include musical instruments dating to the Tang dynasty, armor from the Yuan dynasty, items from the Western Xia, weapons from the Qing dynasty, and so on. Based on these collections, the Museum has held exhibitions of ancient scripts, costumes, bronze drums, and a great diversity of other topics. As an example, an exhibition of the Tong minority of Guizhou showed local architecture using not only actual objects but models of architectural sites. It brought in young Dong boys and girls to dance, play instruments, and perform so that the audience could feel they were situated in the deep mountain passes of the Dong people.

A corner of minorities’ cultural exhibition hallAn extensive library of books in twenty-four different national minority languages is located in the basement of the Museum. The languages include Han, Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean, Uighur, Kazakh, and others, in some 400,000 volumes. Among these are rarely seen scripts, and artistic works of great value in the form of golden sutras, carved woodblocks, manuscripts, paintings and early rubbings.

These have scientific as well as artistic value, in narrating the history of the cultures of all of China’s people.

Great Yu Controlled the Flood

The story of Yu is based on a king of the same name who ruled in Chinese legend from 2205 to 2197 B.C. Like all demigods of ancient times, Yu changes into different shapes whenever necessary. Unlike the demigods of ancient times, Yu is the first to pass on his status as ruler to his descendants and thus create a dynasty, or ruling family. He named his dynasty the Xia Dynasty. It isn’t a mythical dynasty, the archaeological evidence has proven its existence.
The ruling king in this story is the Yellow Emperor, a good leader who struggled with the mighty rivers that flooded the country each year. According to ancient myths, the Yellow Emperor had a pile of magic dirt that could absorb water. His grandson Kun stole the magic earth and dropped little balls of dirt wherever he went. The dirtballs swelled into huge, fertile mounds of soil as they absorbed water. The peasants then scooped up the fertile soil and spread it over their sopping fields. Kun also built dams to control the flooding of the country’s unpredictable rivers. Unfortunately, the dams often burst and flooded the land again. When the emperor found out about the theft, he was furious and sent Zurong the fire god, now the chief executioner, to track down and kill his grandson Kun. Zurong chased Kun to the ice glaciers of the arctic and struck him dead with a flaming sword. Kun’s body lay trapped and frozen in the ice.
Three years later, the Yellow Emperor sent Zurong the fire god to check on his grandson Kun’s body. When he reached the spot where Kun was buried in the ice, the fire god was amazed to find that Kun’s body was perfectly preserved in the ice. As he hacked open the glacier with his sword, Zurong accidentally split open Kun’s body. A huge Loong flew out of the corpse. Terrified, Zurong fled to warn the Yellow Emperor. The huge Loong became Yu, son of Kun, who was born with all the memories and knowledge of his father.
Like his father, Yu was filled with compassion for the farmers. However, unlike his father, he did not wish to incur the wrath of the Yellow Emperor. Immediately, he hurried to the Yellow Emperor’s court. Bowing before the ruler, Yu pleaded for the lives of the farmers, “Your majesty, I beg you to pity the people for their suffering. Levitra cialis Please help them restore their land.” The Yellow Emperor was not impressed with Yu’s pleas. He bellowed, “Do not forget that your father stole my magic earth and tried to restore the land without my permission!”

Yu replied, “Then give me some magic earth and your permission, and allow me to complete my father’s work.” Secretly, the Yellow Emperor agreed that the world was a big, muddy mess. None of his gods had any ideas about how to stop the raging rivers that flooded the country year after year. Kun had tried to divert the rivers with dams but had failed. Therefore, every spring, the rivers continued to burst their banks, drown innocent people, and destroy property. Furthermore, the emperor was pleased that Yu had asked for the magic earth, rather than attempt to steal it. At last, the emperor said to Yu, “Pile the magic dirt on the back of this tortoise and go forth to control the floodwaters. With the help of this tortoise and a winged dragon, rebuild the world in your father’s vision.”

Yu was curious about the size and shape of the earth. Therefore, before leaving the emperor’s court, he dispatched one of the lesser court gods to measure the country north/south and another god to measure the country east/west. Each returned to report exactly the same number: 233,500 li (three li make one mile) and 75 paces. Delighted, Yu created a map from the gods’ descriptions, which made the earth a perfect square. Then Yu divided the country into nine areas, or provinces. Only then did he begin his construction work.
Unlike his father, Yu was not content merely to build dams to control the rivers. Instead, he studied the shape of the land in each area. He observed the course of the rivers and planned their most natural route to the sea. To guide the rivers, Yu dug canals, carved tunnels, leveled hilltops, created dams, and formed lakes. In each area, Yu used the tail of the dragon to gouge out new channels for the rivers.
As he plodded across t Over the counter viagra he country, Yu found 233,559 large holes in the earth. Year after year, water had bubbled up in these cavities and flooded the world. Now Yu plugged up the gaping holes with dirt and reeds, and dropped in magic dirt balls from the tortoise’s back to dry up the soggy earth caused by the floods.
When he worked, Yu often used the form of a human to avoid frightening the farmers. Even in his human form, he had an ugly face like an insect, with a mouth like the bottom of a crow’s beak and a long neck like a snake. The farmers did not care about his appearance, however. They loved him for his efforts on their behalf.
As Yu traveled across China, he named the tribal groups and recorded their customs: Leather-Skin people; Goat-Fur people; Oyster-and-Pearl people; Kingfisher?Green-Silk people; Grass-Skirt people; Felt-Tent people; Mountains-of-Jewels people; Dew-Drinkers; Red-Grain-Growers; Lacquer-Makers; Winged people; Short people; Deep-Set-Eyes people. He charted their land and collected samples of their soil as he traveled across the fifty rivers and mountains of China.
Wherever he went, Yu found happy families. Their happiness only made him aware of his own loneliness. Although Yu was married briefly, his wife and son both abandoned him because they had no fondness for digging dirt. With neither wife nor son by his side, Yu continued his work alone, with only the tortoise and the dragon for company. His hands were covered with sores and calluses. His skin was blackened and blistered from the sun. One leg shriveled and twisted as Yu limped around the rough terrain. Wherever he traveled, farmers hailed him as the Great Yu.
Their widespread affection caused the ruling emperor to choose Yu as the next emperor. It was thus that Yu became the founder and ruler of the Xia [She ah] dynasty. Soon plentiful grain harvests blessed the land. The rivers ran peacefully to the sea and did not overflow. The people lived happily in their villages and blessed the name of Yu in their joy and conteThe story of Yu is based on a king of the same name who ruled in Chinese legend from 2205 to 2197 B.C. Like all demigods of ancient times, Yu changes into different shapes whenever necessary. Unlike the demigods of ancient times, Yu is the first to pass on his status as ruler to his descendants and thus create a dynasty, or ruling family. He named his dynasty the Xia Dynasty. It isn’t a mythical dynasty, the archaeological evidence has proven its existence.

The ruling king in this story is the Yellow Emperor, a good leader who struggled with the mighty rivers that flooded the country each year. According to ancient myths, the Yellow Emperor had a pile of magic dirt that could absorb water. His grandson Kun stole the magic earth (in Chinese: Xi-Rang) and dropped little balls of dirt wherever he went. The dirtballs swelled into huge, fertile mounds of soil as they absorbed water. The peasants then scooped up the fertile soil and spread it over their sopping fields. Kun also built dams to control the flooding of the country’s unpredictable rivers. Unfortunately, the dams often burst and flooded the land again. When the emperor found out about the theft, he was furious and sent Zurong the fire god, now the chief executioner, to track down and kill his grandson Kun. Zurong chased Kun to the ice glaciers of the arctic and struck him dead with a flaming sword. Kun’s body lay trapped and frozen in the ice.

Three years later, the Yellow Emperor sent Zurong the fire god to check on his grandson Kun’s body. When he reached the spot where Kun was buried in the ice, the fire god was amazed to find that Kun’s body was perfectly preserved in the ice. As he hacked open the glacier with his sword, Zurong accidentally split open Kun’s body. A huge Loong flew out of the corpse. Terrified, Zurong fled to warn the Yellow Emperor. The huge Loong became Yu, son of Kun, who was born with all the memories and knowledge of his father.

Like his father, Yu was filled with compassion for the farmers. However, unlike his father, he did not wish to incur the wrath of the Yellow Emperor. Immediately, he hurried to the Yellow Emperor’s court. Bowing before the ruler, Yu pleaded for the lives of the farmers, “Your majesty, I beg you to pity the people for their suffering. Please help them restore their land.” The Yellow Emperor was not impressed with Yu’s pleas. He bellowed, “Do not forget that your father stole my magic earth and tried to restore the land without my permission!”

Great Yu Controlled the Flood

Yu replied, “Then give me some magic earth and your permission, and allow me to complete my father’s work.” Secretly, the Yellow Emperor agreed that the world was a big, muddy mess. None of his gods had any ideas about how to stop the raging rivers that flooded the country year after year. Kun had tried to divert the rivers with dams but had failed. Therefore, every spring, the rivers continued to burst their banks, drown innocent people, and destroy property. Furthermore, the emperor was pleased that Yu had asked for the magic earth, rather than attempt to steal it. At last, the emperor said to Yu, “Pile the magic dirt on the back of this tortoise and go forth to control the floodwaters. With the help of this tortoise and a winged dragon, rebuild the world in your father’s vision.”

Yu was curious about the size and shape of the earth. Therefore, before leaving the emperor’s court, he dispatched one of the lesser court gods to measure the country north/south and another god to measure the country east/west. Each returned to report exactly the same number: 233,500 li (three li make one mile) and 75 paces. Delighted, Yu created a map from the gods’ descriptions, which made the earth a perfect square. Then Yu divided the country into nine areas, or provinces. Only then did he begin his construction work.

Unlike his father, Yu was not content merely to build dams to control the rivers. Instead, he studied the shape of the land in each area. He observed the course of the rivers and planned their most natural route to the sea. To guide the rivers, Yu dug canals, carved tunnels, leveled hilltops, created dams, and formed lakes. In each area, Yu used the tail of the dragon to gouge out new channels for the rivers.

As he plodded across the country, Yu found 233,559 large holes in the earth. Year after year, water had bubbled up in these cavities and flooded the world. Now Yu plugged up the gaping holes with dirt and reeds, and dropped in magic dirt balls from the tortoise’s back to dry up the soggy earth caused by the floods.

When he worked, Yu often used the form of a human to avoid frightening the farmers. Even in his human form, he had an ugly face like an insect, with a mouth like the bottom of a crow’s beak and a long neck like a snake. The farmers did not care about his appearance, however. They loved him for his efforts on their behalf.

As Yu traveled across China, he named the tribal groups and recorded their customs: Leather-Skin people; Goat-Fur people; Oyster-and-Pearl people; Kingfisher?Green-Silk people; Grass-Skirt people; Felt-Tent people; Mountains-of-Jewels people; Dew-Drinkers; Red-Grain-Growers; Lacquer-Makers; Winged people; Short people; Deep-Set-Eyes people. He charted their land and collected samples of their soil as he traveled across the fifty rivers and mountains of China.

Wherever he went, Yu found happy families. Their happiness only made him aware of his own loneliness. Although Yu was married briefly, his wife and son both abandoned him because they had no fondness for digging dirt. With neither wife nor son by his side, Yu continued his work alone, with only the tortoise and the dragon for company. His hands were covered with sores and calluses. His skin was blackened and blistered from the sun. One leg shriveled and twisted as Yu limped around the rough terrain. Wherever he traveled, farmers hailed him as the Great Yu.

Their widespread affection caused the ruling emperor to choose Yu as the next emperor. It was thus that Yu became the founder and ruler of the Xia [She ah] dynasty. Soon plentiful grain harvests blessed the land. The rivers ran peacefully to the sea and did not overflow. The people lived happily in their villages and blessed the name of Yu in their joy and contentment.
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The Thousand Faces of the Tang Costume

In terms of cultural and economic development of the feudal society, theA drawing of Tang Dynasty lady Hufu. (Painted by Gao Chunming) Tang Dynasty in China was doubtless a peak in the development of human civilization. The Tang government not only opened up the country to the outside world, allowing foreigners to do business and come to study, but went so far as to allowing them in exams for selection of government officials. It was tolerant, and often appreciative, of religions, art and culture from the outside world. Chang’an, the Tang capital, therefore became the center of exchange among different cultures. What is worth special mention is that women of the Tang Dynasty did not have to abide by the traditional dress code, but were allowed to expose their arms and back when they dressed, or wear dresses absorbing elements from other cultures. They could wear men’s riding garments if they liked, and enjoyed right to choose their own spouse or to divorce him. Materialistic abundance and a relatively relaxed social atmosphere gave Tang Dynasty the unprecedented opportunity to develop culturally, reaching its height in poetry, painting, music and dance. Based on the development in textiles in the Sui Dynasty, and progress made in silk reeling and dyeing techniques, the variety, quality and quantity of textile materials reached unprecedented height, and the variety of dress styles became the trend of the time.

The most outstanding garments in this great period of prosperity were women’s dresses, complimented by elaborate hairstyles, ornaments and face makeup. The Tang women dressed in sets of garments, each set a unique image in itself. People no longer dressed by their whims, but played up the full beauty of their garment based on their social background. Each matching set of garments had its own unique character, as well as a deep cultural grounding. In general, the Tang women’s dresses can be classified into three categories: the hufu, or alien dress that came from the Silk Road, the traditional ruqun or double layered or padded short jacket that w as typical of central China, as well as the full set of male garments that broke the tradition of the Confucian formalities. Let’s first talk about the ruqun, which is made up of the top jacket and long gown and a skirt on the bottom. The Tang women inherited this traditional style and developed it further, opening up the collar as far as exposing the cleavage between the breasts. This was unheard of and unimaginable in the previous dynasties, in which women had to cover their entire body according to the Confucian classics. But the new style was soon embraced by the open-minded aristocratic women of the Tang Dynasty. Zhang Xuan, a woman painter of the Tang Dynasty, and Zhou Fang, another famous painter, were particularly good at portraying opulent women in elaborate dresses. Zhou Fang, in his painting Lady with the Flower in the Hair, portrayed a beauty with a long gown lightly covering the breasts, revealing soft and supple shoulders under a silk cape.

The chart of the make-up order for Tang Dynasty women. A facial make-up of Tang women. (Drawn by Gao Chunming)

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Outstanding scientist: Qian Xuesen

Brief introduction:

Qian Xuesen or Tsien Hsue-shen (December 11, 1911 – October 31, 2009), a native of Hangzhou,Qian Xuesen-portraitZhejiang Province, went to the United States to study in 1935. In 1955 he returned to China, and in 1958 he joined the Communist Party. He served successively as Director of the Institute of Mechanics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Vice-Minister of the No. 7 Ministry of the Machine-building Industry, Vice-Minister of the State Commission on Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence and Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology. He was also elected alternate member of the Ninth through Twelfth CPC Central Committees. Qian played a leading role in the research, manufacture and testing of carrier rockets, guided missiles and satellites, thus making outstanding contributions to the development of China’s aerospace industry.

*** *** *** *** *** ***

Qian Xuesen, a famous scientist in modern China, is a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering. He was bornin in Hangzhou City of Zhejiang Province in December 1911.  Qian graduated form Shanghai Jiaotong University in 1934. In 1935, he went to the United State for advanced study in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). After receiving master’s degree in MIT, Qian went to study in California Institute of Technology. In 1939, Qian received PhD degrees of both aerospace and mathematics and left the school to be a teacher, as well as a researcher studying the applied mechanics and rocket and missile theories.

Qian returned to China in 1955. After his return, Qian has served successively as director-general with the mechanics institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences, deputy director-general and director-general with the fifth research institute of the State Defense Ministry, vice chairman with the Seventh Design and Research Institute The Ministry of Machinery Industry, deputy director-general with the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, president with the 3rd China Association for Science and Technology, vice president with the 6th to the 8th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Currently, Qian is the senior consultant with the Commission of Science and Technology of the General Equipment Ministry of the People’s Liberation Army, honorary president with China Association for Science and Technology. In 1957, Qian won the first prize of the natural science by Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1979, the outstanding alumnus prize by California Institute of Technology, in 1985, first prize of national advanced technology awards, in 1989, the title of “World’s Celebrity for Sciences and Engineering”, and in 1991, China’s outstanding scientist with outstanding achievements and the nation’s first-grade medal for heroic models.

In 1956, Qian put forward “Proposal on the Development of China’s Aviation Industry for National Defense” and assisted Zhou Enlai, the then premiere, and Marshal Nie Rongzheng to prepare the establishment of China’s first missile and rocket R&D structure, the Fifth Research Institute of State Ministry of Defense. In October 1956, Qian assumed office of director-general with the fifth research institute. Henceforth, Qian has long been in charge of the chief technological officer with the R&D of China’s missile, rocket and spacecraft, and has contributed greatly to the establishment and development of China’s missile, rocket and spacecraft undertakings. Qian is a forerunner pioneering the development of China’s aerospace science and technology. He has been honored as “Father of China’s Missile“.
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