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Beijing Opera

Peking Opera Facial Masks

Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera of China is a national treasure with a history of 200 years. In the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1790) , the four big Huiban opera Troupes entered the capital and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in Beijing's theoretical circle of the time. Over a period of more than half a century of combination and integration of various kinds of opera there evolved the present Beijing Opera. Beijing Opera is the most significant of all operas in China, and it has a richness of repertoire, great number of artists and audiences, that give it a profound influence in China and plays a large role in Chinese culture.

Beijing Opera is a synthesis of stylized action, singing, dialogue and mime, acrobatic fighting and dancing to represent a story or depict different characters and their feelings of gladness, anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear and sadness. The characters may be loyal or treacherous, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, their images being vividly manifested.

Beijing Opera masks originates from totem in ancient times, develops into facial paintings of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and eventually takes the shape of facial costume of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is a pattern of put-on facial make-up for opera actors and actresses in the stereotype roles of "painted face" and clown. It plays the artistic functions of implying commendatory and derogatory connotations and differentiating benevolence and malevolence, enabling the audience to get a glimpse of the inner world of actors and actresses through their symbolic facial make-up. In this sense, facial make-up has obtained the reputation as "painting of heart and soul".

 
Peking Opera Facial Masks

Chinese Opera Mask, Guan Yu

Red Color

Red indicates devotion, courage bravery, uprightness and loyalty. A typical "red full face" is Guan Yu, general of the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280), famed for his faithfulness to his Emperor, Liu Bei.


Chinese Opera Mask, Zhang Fei

Black Color

Black symbolizes roughness and fierceness. The black face indicates either a rough and bold character or an impartial and selfless personality. Typical of the former are General Zhang Fei with a black cross butterfly face (of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms) and Li Kui (of Water Margin), and of the latter is Bao Gong (alias Bao Zheng), the semi-legendary fearless and impartial judge of the Song Dynasty.


Chinese Opera Mask, Tu Xingsun

Yellow Color

Yellow signifies fierceness, ambition and cool-headedness. Shown is Tuxing Sun with a yellow symbolic face, a dwarf general with special powers in the opera "Three Mountain Pass."


Chinese Opera Mask, Hou Yi

Purple Color

Purple stands for uprightness, sophistication and cool-headedness. The reddish purple face likewise shows a just and noble character, for instance, Hou Yi with a purple three-tile face was a grain officer versed in black magic in the opera " Green Dragon Pass.


Chinese Opera Mask, Xia Houdun

Blue Color

Blue represents staunchness, fierceness and astuteness. Shown is Xiahou Dun with a blue pointed three-tile face, Cao Cao's most trusted general in the opera Bowang Slope."


Chinese Opera Mask, Cao Cao

White Color

White suggests sinisterness, treacherousness, suspiciousness and craftiness. Commonly seen on the stage is the white face for the powerful villain. It highlights all that is bad in human nature: cunning, craftiness, and treachery. Typical characters are Cao Cao, powerful and cruel prime minister in the time of the Three Kingdoms, and Qin Hui, treacherous Song Dynasty prime minister who put the national hero Yue Fei to death. Cao cao with a watery white face is the leading character in the opera "Meeting of the Elite."


Chinese Opera Mask, Zheng Lun

Green Color

A green face tells the audience that the character is impulsive and violent and depicts surly stubbornness, impetuosity and a total lack of self-restraint. Zheng Lun with a green pointed three-tile face plays a general in the opera “Green Dragon Pass”.


Chinese Opera Mask, Jiang Gan

Petty Painted Face

For the clowns of traditional drama, there is a special makeup called xiaohualian (the petty painted face), i.e., a small patch of chalk on and around the nose to show a mean and secretive character, such as Jiang Gan of the Three Kingdoms who fawned upon Cao Cao. It is also occasionally painted on a young page or an ordinary workingman, often to enhance his wit, humor or jesting and to enliven up the performance.

Ancient Poetry

Ancient Poetry

Classic Ancient Poems

望 岳 —— 杜 甫

岱宗夫如何?齐鲁青未了。
造化钟神秀,阴阳割昏晓。
荡胸生层云,决眥入归鸟。
会当凌绝顶,一览众山小。

Written by Du Fu

What shall I say of the Great Peak? The ancient dukedoms are everywhere green, Inspired and stirred by the breath of creation, With the Twin Forces balancing day and night. I bare my breast toward opening clouds, I strain my sight after birds flying home. When shall I reach the top and hold, All mountains in a single glance?


赠汪伦 —— 李 白

李白乘舟将欲行,忽闻岸上踏歌声。 
桃花潭水深千尺,不及汪伦送我情。

To Wang Lun Written by Li Bai

I'm on board; We're about to sail, When there's stamping and singing on shore; Peach Blossom Pool is a thousand feet deep, Yet not so deep,Wang Lun,as your love for me.


静夜思 —— 李 白

床前明月光,疑是地上霜。 
举头望明月,低头思故乡。

Thoughts in the Silent Night 
Written by Li Bai

Beside my bed a pool of light Is it hoarfrost on the ground? I lift my eyes and see the moon, I bend my head and think of home.


鹿 柴 —— 王 维

空山不见人,但闻人语响。 
返景入深林,复照青苔上。  

The Deer Enclosure Written by Wang Wei

Empty the hills,no man in sight, Yet voices echo here; Deep in the woods slanting sunlight, Falls on the jade-green moss.


清 明 —— 杜 牧

清明时节雨纷纷,路上行人欲断魂。 
借问酒家何处有,牧童遥指杏花村。  

In the Rainy Season of Spring Written by Du Mu

It drizeles endlessly during the rainy season in spring, Travellers along the road look gloomy and miserable. When I ask a shepherd boy where I can find a tavern, He points at a distant hamlet nestling amidst apricot blossoms.


鸟鸣涧 —— 王 维

人闲桂花落,夜静春山空。

月出惊山鸟,时鸣春涧中。

The Gully of Twittering BirdsWritten by Wang Wei

Idly I watch the cassia petals fall; Silent the night and empty the spring hills; The rising moon startles the mountain birds; Which twitter fitfully in the spring gully.  


竹里馆 —— 王 维

独坐幽篁里,弹琴复长啸。
深林人不知,明月来相照。  

The Bamboo Lodge Written by Wang Wei

Seated alone by shadowy bamboos, I strum my lyre and laugh aloud; None knows that I am here, deep in the woods; Only the bright moon comes to shine on me.


登鹳雀楼 —— 王之涣

白日依山尽,黄河入海流。
欲穷千里目,更上一层楼。

Mounting the Stork Tower Written by Wangzhihuan

The white sun sets behind mountains, The Yellow River flows into the sea. Go further up one flight of stairs, And you'll widen your view a thousand li.


枫桥夜泊 —— 张 继

月落乌啼霜满天,江枫渔火对愁眠。 
姑苏城外寒山寺,夜半钟声到客船。

MOORING BY MAPLE BRIDGE AT NIGHT
Written by Zhang Ji

At moonset cry the crows, streaking the frosty sky; Dimly lit fishing boats 'neath maples sadly lie. Beyond the city walls, from Temple of Cold Hill Bells break the ship- borne roamer's dream and midnight still.


游子吟 —— 孟 郊

慈母手中线,游子身上衣。
临行密密缝,意恐迟迟归。 
谁言寸草心,报得三春晖。

A Poem By A Leaving SonWritten by Meng Jiao

A thread is in my fond mother's hand moving. For her son to wear the clothes ere leaving. With her whole heart she's sewing and sewing. For fear I'll e'er be roving and roving. Who says the little soul of grass waving. Could for the warmth repay the sun of spring.

Ancient Poetry

In China "poetic education" in the original meaning is learning The Book of Songs. This is the first comprehensive anthology of Chinese poems including 305 poems of the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.). It was originally called Shi (Poems) and Shi Sanbai (Three Hundred Poems). Each poem in The Book of Songs was set to music and could be sung. The compilers classified the 305 poems into folk songs, ceremonial songs, and sacrificial songs, according to their contents and the style of the music. Folk songs, which were popular among the people, made up the best part of The Book of Songs, while ceremonial songs and sacrificial songs were used mainly on sacrificial or ceremonial occasions to eulogize the merits and virtues of the Son of Heaven and of his forefathers. 

Confucius (551 B.C. - 479 B.C.), a great philosopher and educator was very fond of The Book of Songs. He used to recite the poems from time to time, and used it as a textbook for his pupils. In the Han Dynasty, The Book of Songs was formally accepted as a classic of the Confucian school, called Shi Jing. The Book of Songs has over a long period of times been highly appreciated, and has exerted a profound and far-reaching influence on the development of Chinese literature, especially that of poetry, over a period of more than 2000 years. It has also served as important historical data for the study of ancient China from the early years of the Western Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn Period.


By the 4th century B.C. China's boundaries had expanded to include the vast area of the Yangtze river valley, where the strong State of Chu became even stronger. This region is very fertile and the life of the inhabitants was more highly developed than that of the northern people. They produced their own type of song, a representative collection of which was compiled under the name of the Chuci (楚辭 Songs of Chu). The songs in this collection are more lyrical and romantic. The style is different from that of The Book of Songs. It is called "poetic prose of Chu", or "the Sao style", in the history of Chinese literature. The representative poet is Qu Yuan (ca. 340-278 B.C.) and his follower Song Yu (fourth century B.C.). 

In the following literary history, there were certain periods which were dominated by one distinctive predominant literary genre, such as fu (descriptive prose interspersed with verse) during the Han Dynasty, poetry in Tang, Ci poetry (a special poetic form) of Song and qu (singing verse) of Yuan. 

During the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), the Chu lyrics evolved into the fu (賦), a poem usually in rhymed verse except for introductory and concluding passages that are in prose, often in the form of questions and answers. 

The Han was a period of cultural flowering. A poetic form that became the norm for creative writing, began to flourish. Emperor Wu created a music bureau, called "yuefu", 乐府, in Chinese, specially to collect and record ceremonial chants, but also the songs and ballads of ordinary people. Collected by the Han Music Bureau "Yuefu", many of these songs are anonymous, but also men of letters wrote these tunes, folk ballads, many of them are very narrative. Later, during the Eastern Han, poems with five characters to a line in imitation of the yuefu style appeared. The employment of five characters to the line was found to be a more rewarding measure, permitting a smoother and more melodious effect and the evocation of subtler human feelings. 

The yue fu began to develop into shi or classical poetry- the form which was to dominate Chinese poetry until the modern era.These poems have five or seven character lines, with a caesura before the last three characters of each line. They are divided into the original gushi (old poems) and jintishi, a stricter form developed in the Tang dynasty with rules governing tone patterns and the structure of the content. The greatest writers of gushi and jintishi are often held to be Li Bai and Du Fu respectively. The Tang Dynasty was a period of great radiance in literary creation and was especially noted for poetry writing, for which it has been dubbed the golden age of poetry, a predominant genre among all literary forms popular with both the rulers and the populace for about 300 years. There had emerged during this period of time a considerable number of brilliant poets and outstanding poetic compositions.

Towards the end of the Tang dynasty, the ci lyric became more popular. Most closely associated with the Song dynasty, ci most often expressed feelings of desire, often in an adopted persona, but the greatest exponents of the form (such as Li Houzhu and Su Shi) used it to address a wide range of topics.

As the ci gradually became more literary and artificial after Song times, the san qu, a freer form, based on new popular songs, developed. The use of san qu songs in drama marked an important step in the development of vernacular literature.

After the Song dynasty, both shi poems and lyrics continued to be composed until the end of end of the imperial period, and to a lesser extent to this day. However, for a number of reasons, these works have always been less highly regarded than those of the Tang dynasty in particular. Firstly, Chinese literary culture remained in awe of its predecessors: in a self-fulfilling prophecy, writers and readers both expected that new works would not bear comparison with the earlier masters. Secondly, the most common response of these later poets to the tradition which they had inherited was to produce work which was ever more refined and allusive; the resulting poems tend to seem precious or just obscure to modern readers. Thirdly, the increase in population, expansion of literacy, wider dissemination of works through printing and more complete archiving vastly increased the volume of work to consider and made it difficult to identify and properly evaluate those good pieces which were produced. Finally, this period saw the rise of vernacular literature, particularly drama and novels, which increasingly became the main means of cultural expression.

Chinese Dragon

Chinese Dragon

 
Chinese Dragon Introduction

The people of China have a long held belief that they are descendents of the dragon, a tradition that is firmly embedded in their culture and one that is encountered across all aspects of Chinese society and in the minds of its people. Whereas in western cultures dragons are usually regarded as a symbol of malevolence, in China the dragon is held in high esteem for its dignity and power for good. 

From primitive times people have regarded the dragon as an auspicious creature with the power to bless and influence their lives. As tribes fought for domination and came to be united under a common banner the dragon was adopted as a national icon. Such was the mysterious creature's power it was regarded as the god of rain, thunder, the rainbow, and the stars. In a society that was founded upon agriculture and animal husbandry totally reliant upon its natural environment and in particular the climate, the dragon was worshipped as the source of all that was beneficial to communal well being. This concept has been sustained for thousands of years as more and more deification was bestowed upon the dragon ranging from being a bringer of joy to prophecy and miracles. With the establishment of a feudal society, emperors compared themselves to the dragon thereby making it the exclusive symbol of imperial majesty. Anyone who subsequently used the dragon as a symbol either intentionally or erroneously could be regarded as offending their ruler and condemned to death. 

The image of the dragon has undergone a series of changes over the centuries becoming more and more mighty and beautiful. The original illustration on primitive bronze ware portrays it as ferocious and mysterious; in the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220), it became magnificent and unrestrained; while during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), it was personalized as gentle, tamed and graceful. From the Song Dynasty onwards (960 - 1279), the design became delicate and flowery. There are several different kinds of dragon according to color, which may be yellow, blue, black, white or red. Of these the most highly revered was the yellow dragon and so each emperor wore a gown decorated with a yellow dragon pattern. 

Although there are differences in appearance, the basics are similar. This is because it is a combination of the features of animals with which people were familiar. A dragon has a protruding forehead indicating wisdom and antlers signifying longevity. Its ox's ears denote success in the imperial examination; it has tiger's eyes as a sign of power; eagle's claws showing bravery; while a fish's tail implies flexibility and the horse's teeth are a mark of diligence and so on. 

The most vibrant and spectacular way of expressing fondness for the dragon is the dragon dance. This has evolved from what was a ritual rain dance into a popular entertainment performed during the period from Spring Festival until the Lantern Festival. The second day of the second lunar month is the Han people's special time - 'Dragon Heads-raising Day'. People could not tonsure their hair from the start of the lunar New Year until then. The activities for celebration are still for a good rain. Other big festivals related to the dragon include the Dragon Boat Festival and those of ethnic groups like Zhuang, Yao, Hani, and so on.

Nine Sons of the Dragon

It was said that the dragon had nine sons, each of whom was endowed with a unique supernatural power. These appear in many aspects of art as well as forming part of daily life. 

The eldest son appeared as a tortoise, a creature capable of bearing very heavy stone steles. Tortoise statues were erected in ancient temples and courtyards, as people believed that to touch them could bring good luck. 

The second son was like a tiger, powerful especially in the courts of justice and its likeness was engraved on the doors of jails to add stateliness. 

The third son was just like a lizard but one without a tail. It was thought to forage in dangerous places with the ability to swallow fire. The roofs of palaces were adorned with such dragons as a protection against fire. 

The fourth son, resembling a spiral shell bears a likeness to a closed mouth and would be carved or painted on doors as its closed form symbolized safety. 

The fifth son had a great love of music and it is depicted as a yellow dragon upon musical instruments such as the Hu Qin of the Han People, Yue Qin of the Yi ethnic group, and tri-chord qin of the Bai ethnic group. 

The sixth son was similar to but smaller than its father. It feared cetaceous creatures such as dolphins or whales and upon seeing a cetacean, it would shout loudly in fear. Thus it became a tradition for people put its likeness on clocks with a carved wooden cetacean as the bell-striker in order to increase the sonority of the toll. 

The seventh son appeared like a wolf and people who were greedy would be called 'Tao Tie' which was the name of this son of the dragon. 

The eighth son was like a lion with a propensity to sit and enjoy the aroma of joss sticks. This was introduced into the imagery of Chinese Buddhism and would be depicted on Buddha thrones and incense burners. 

The ninth son bore a likeness to a jackal with its taste for killing, thus it often appeared on sword scabbards. Another tradition says that 'Pixiu', a fierce but auspicious beast, was the ninth son of the dragon. It had a dragon's head, horse's body, kylin's feet, a long beard and wings but no anus, which was its most distinctive feature and symbolized the bringing and accumulation wealth. In the art of Feng Shui, it also functioned to exorcise undesirable influences. For this reason hosts would have a statue of 'Pixiu' on certain furniture; it was believed that Pixiu made of jade were the most effective for such purposes.

Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Chinese New Year, the Mid-Fall Moon Festival and the Dragon Boat Day are three major festivals in China. The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Chinese call this day as Duan-Wu . Duan means beginning. Wu means Horse month in Chinese calendar. The Horse month usually begins on June 5th or June 6th in the Gregorian calendar. That means Dragon Boat Festival should be held in June, unless that year has Leap Month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

The Sad Story

In China, the Dragon Boat Festival memorializes the Chinese patriotic poet Chiu Yuan (340 BC-278 BC or 343-290 B.C.), who committed suicide by jumping into the river after tying himself with big rock on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.

Chiu Yuan was the number one advisor of the kingdom of Chu . But people were jealous his position and said lots of bad words on his back. The king wouldn't take his advice in the end and was killed by the enemy of neighbor kingdom. The new king continued to enjoy the luxury life and didn't like Chiu Yuan either. Later, Chiu Yuan was exiled. He wrote many patriotic poem after then.

Chiu Yuan met a fisherman, who never cared about the country and quite satisfied his life. Chiu Yuan thought that the king wouldn't run the country, people only cared about themselves, nobody cared the future of the country and to live is meaningless. So he killed himself by drowning himself in the river. Many fishermen tried to rescue him, but the body is never found. Fishermen worried about fish would eat his body. So they threw food into the river to feed the fish. Plus, they tried to scare fish away by splashing the water with their paddles and beating the drums on the long narrow boats.

Then the dragon was added into the story. Fishermen believed there was a water-dragon under the river. One man poured down a big jar of strong yellow wine (made of rice). Later, a drunken dragon-like fish floated on the river. One piece of Chiu Yuan's clothing was found in-between the whisker of the water-dragon.

The Dragon Boat

The custom of Dragon Boat Race might begin from the southern China. They selected the 5rh lunar day of the 5th lunar month as the totem ceremony. The dragon was the main symbol on the totem, because Chinese thought they were son of dragon. They also made dragon-like canoe. Later, Chinese connected this custom with Duan-Wu festival. Since this was the event only in the southern China. This might be why Dragon Boat Race doesn't that popular in entire China today. But we can see yearly Dragon Boat Race events in Honk Hong and Taiwan. The picture shows a person lies on the top of dragon head of the boat to prepare to catch the flag of target to win the race.

Now, the Dragon Boat Race becomes an international event. This sport is popular in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Honk Hong, Singapore etc. Some organization's events aren't held around the Dragon Boat Festival. Some are in July, August or September. You n

The Delicious Food

One saying the fishermen threw bamboo-food into the river for Chiu Yuan. The fishermen kept the custom on on the 5th day of 5th lunar month every year. Until Late Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), one outsider came and acclaimed fisherman's behavior, but recommended to wrap the food with leaves and tie with color silky rope, which can scare fish away. So the Chiu Yuan can unwrap the leaves to eat the food.

Obviously, the Zong-zi, which Chinese eat on the the Dragon Boat Day period, is like the food for Chiu Yuan. Zong-zi is make of steamed glutinous sweet rice mixing with meat and condiment wrapped in the bamboo leaves. There are salty, sweet, hot or cold different variety of Zong-Zi today. You can find Zong-Zi in Chinese restaurants providing Dim-Sum lunch or same Chinese diners in Chinese communities in USA.

The Standup Egg

The Dragon Boat Day is usually in June, which is Horse month. Horse hour in astrology is from 11:00 AM to 13:00 PM. They said that you will be lucky for the coming year if you can make an egg standing up during Horse hour on the Dragon Boat Day. Parents like to let their children to try to make the egg standing up on the Dragon Boat Day. Certainly, the standing up egg competition will be held at noon in many places. They said that it's will be easier to make a standing up egg at noon. Many try to cheat on the ground, eggshell or inside egg to in order to win the competition.

People had looked for the scientific explanation. The egg can standup easily is because the Dragon Boat Day is close to the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. The summer solstice occurs when the Earth's axis tilts the most toward the sun, causing the sun to be farthest north at noon. Sun reaches to the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere on the day of summer solstice. Before sun travels back to the southern hemisphere, it seems as if the sun stands still. When the gravitation between sun and earth are pulled each other to the most, an egg can stand up easier.

Actually, the Dragon Boat Day is not close to the summer solstice every year. Because the lunar leap months, the Dragon Boat Day usually is close to summer solstice every three years.

Year Summer Solstice Dragon Boat Day
2004 6/21/2004 6/22/2004
2005 6/21/2005 6/11/2005
2006 6/21/2006 5/31/2006 (Leap Month)
2007 6/23/2007 6/19/2007
2008 6/21/2008 6/08/2008
2009 6/21/2009 6/27/2009 (Leap Month)
2010 6/21/2010 6/16/2010
The Auspicious Leaves

marriageThe 5th lunar month is marked as "Poison" month in Chinese Farmer's Calendar. This is because the gem, insect, fly, mosquito, and pest are active in this summer month and people is easy to catch infectious disease. On the Dragon Boat Day, Chinese put the leaves of Acorus and Artemisia on the doors or windows to repel insect, fly, flea and moth away from the house. Those leaves have anti-poison function and can prevent an epidemic.

The leaves of Acorus are linear, sword-like, glossy, evergreen and lush. Artemisia belongs to daisy family with fern-like leaves.

In Tan Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), Rebel Huang scouted the target village and prepared the next attack in 5th lunar month. He saw a woman carrying a boy in her one arm and holding the another boy's hand was running. Rebel Huang asked her why running. She said, "We heard Bandit Huang is coming, we need to run for our lives." Huang asked again, "Why carrying one in the arm, but holding another with hand?". The woman said, "The one in the arm is the only son of my husband's elder brother. The other one is my son. In case, I cannot run quickly enough, I will drop my son and save my husband brother son." Rebel Huang was very touching, then told her that "Go home quickly and put Acorus and Artemisia on your door, then rebel forces won't hurt your family." She returned to the village and told some people. On the 5th day of 5th lunar month, Rebel Huang's forces entered the village, all the families with Acorus and Artemisia on the door were safe. The custom keeps since then.

The Incense Bag

marriageMany contagious disease and plague had found in the 5th lunar month in the Chinese history. Besides putting the Acorus and Artemisia on the doors or windows, Chinese make the incense bag and hang on the neck to prevent from contagious disease and keep evil spirit away.

The incense bag are made by hand. Chinese put the powder of Acorus and Artemisia with some other fragrance stuff into different kind of sewing bags. Therefore the incense bag can prevent an epidemic as the leaves of Acorus and Artemisia. The popular incense bags was 12 horoscope animals. Today, we can find many different auspicious symbols, many other animals, fish, flower, bird, even the cartoon characters. Long time ago, Chinese women liked to make incense bag for children.

The Inauspicious Day

The 5th lunar month is a bad month. The 5th day of the month is an inauspicious day, because many famous people died on this day in Chinese history. One customary book recorded, "if a baby's born on this day, baby boy brings bad luck to dad and baby girl brings bad luck to mom." It happened that parent killed the baby born on this day before.

One famous tragedy story about the 5th day of 5th lunar month happened in Han Dynasty. A 14-yar old girl Tsao Er's father were drowned in the river. The girl cried along the river and looked for her father for 17 days. On the first day of 5th lunar month, the girl jumped into the river. On the 5th day of 5th lunar month, people found the girl's body and her father's body holding together and floating on the river. People were very touching and prayed for them.

The Wine and Water

They said that you will become healthier to drink the spring water from the well on the Dragon Boat Day during Horse hour (11.00 AM to 13.00 PM). The story is from late Ming dynasty. A general brought his troop to the hill and couldn't find the water for days. He prayed to the heaven, then struck his sword into the ground and the water spurted out on the 5th day of 5th lunar month at noon.

Once Chinese drank Strong Yellow Wine to clean up the gem in the body on the Dragon Boat Day. The Strong Yellow Wine is made of rice. It's a tonic wine and not good for children. Therefore adult just wipe the children forehead with the Strong Yellow Wine. They believe that will make children healthier and won't catch the 5th lunar month disease.

Date of Chinese Dragon Boat Festival
The 5th day of the 5th lunar month
Year Summer Solstice Dragon Boat Day Dragon Boat Day
2009 5/28/2009 5/28/2009 5/28/2009
2010 6/16/2010 6/16/2010 6/16/2010
2011 6/6/2011 6/5/2011 6/5/2011
2012 6/23/2012 6/23/2012 6/23/2012
2013 6/12/2013 6/12/2013 6/12/2013
2014 6/2/2014 6/1/2014 6/1/2014
2015 6/20/2015 6/20/2015 6/20/2015

Ancient Poety

In China "poetic education" in the original meaning is learning The Book of Songs. This is the first comprehensive anthology of Chinese poems including 305 poems of the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.). It was originally called Shi (Poems) and Shi Sanbai (Three Hundred Poems). Each poem in The Book of Songs was set to music and could be sung. The compilers classified the 305 poems into folk songs, ceremonial songs, and sacrificial songs, according to their contents and the style of the music. Folk songs, which were popular among the people, made up the best part of The Book of Songs, while ceremonial songs and sacrificial songs were used mainly on sacrificial or ceremonial occasions to eulogize the merits and virtues of the Son of Heaven and of his forefathers. 

Confucius (551 B.C. - 479 B.C.), a great philosopher and educator was very fond of The Book of Songs. He used to recite the poems from time to time, and used it as a textbook for his pupils. In the Han Dynasty, The Book of Songs was formally accepted as a classic of the Confucian school, called Shi Jing. The Book of Songs has over a long period of times been highly appreciated, and has exerted a profound and far-reaching influence on the development of Chinese literature, especially that of poetry, over a period of more than 2000 years. It has also served as important historical data for the study of ancient China from the early years of the Western Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn Period.

By the 4th century B.C. China's boundaries had expanded to include the vast area of the Yangtze river valley, where the strong State of Chu became even stronger. This region is very fertile and the life of the inhabitants was more highly developed than that of the northern people. They produced their own type of song, a representative collection of which was compiled under the name of the Chuci (楚辭 Songs of Chu). The songs in this collection are more lyrical and romantic. The style is different from that of The Book of Songs. It is called "poetic prose of Chu", or "the Sao style", in the history of Chinese literature. The representative poet is Qu Yuan (ca. 340-278 B.C.) and his follower Song Yu (fourth century B.C.).

In the following literary history, there were certain periods which were dominated by one distinctive predominant literary genre, such as fu (descriptive prose interspersed with verse) during the Han Dynasty, poetry in Tang, Ci poetry (a special poetic form) of Song and qu (singing verse) of Yuan.

During the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), the Chu lyrics evolved into the fu (賦), a poem usually in rhymed verse except for introductory and concluding passages that are in prose, often in the form of questions and answers.

The Han was a period of cultural flowering. A poetic form that became the norm for creative writing, began to flourish. Emperor Wu created a music bureau, called "yuefu", 乐府, in Chinese, specially to collect and record ceremonial chants, but also the songs and ballads of ordinary people. Collected by the Han Music Bureau "Yuefu", many of these songs are anonymous, but also men of letters wrote these tunes, folk ballads, many of them are very narrative. Later, during the Eastern Han, poems with five characters to a line in imitation of the yuefu style appeared. The employment of five characters to the line was found to be a more rewarding measure, permitting a smoother and more melodious effect and the evocation of subtler human feelings.

The yue fu began to develop into shi or classical poetry- the form which was to dominate Chinese poetry until the modern era.These poems have five or seven character lines, with a caesura before the last three characters of each line. They are divided into the original gushi (old poems) and jintishi, a stricter form developed in the Tang dynasty with rules governing tone patterns and the structure of the content. The greatest writers of gushi and jintishi are often held to be Li Bai and Du Fu respectively. The Tang Dynasty was a period of great radiance in literary creation and was especially noted for poetry writing, for which it has been dubbed the golden age of poetry, a predominant genre among all literary forms popular with both the rulers and the populace for about 300 years. There had emerged during this period of time a considerable number of brilliant poets and outstanding poetic compositions.

Towards the end of the Tang dynasty, the ci lyric became more popular. Most closely associated with the Song dynasty, ci most often expressed feelings of desire, often in an adopted persona, but the greatest exponents of the form (such as Li Houzhu and Su Shi) used it to address a wide range of topics.

As the ci gradually became more literary and artificial after Song times, the san qu, a freer form, based on new popular songs, developed. The use of san qu songs in drama marked an important step in the development of vernacular literature.

After the Song dynasty, both shi poems and lyrics continued to be composed until the end of end of the imperial period, and to a lesser extent to this day. However, for a number of reasons, these works have always been less highly regarded than those of the Tang dynasty in particular. Firstly, Chinese literary culture remained in awe of its predecessors: in a self-fulfilling prophecy, writers and readers both expected that new works would not bear comparison with the earlier masters. Secondly, the most common response of these later poets to the tradition which they had inherited was to produce work which was ever more refined and allusive; the resulting poems tend to seem precious or just obscure to modern readers. Thirdly, the increase in population, expansion of literacy, wider dissemination of works through printing and more complete archiving vastly increased the volume of work to consider and made it difficult to identify and properly evaluate those good pieces which were produced. Finally, this period saw the rise of vernacular literature, particularly drama and novels, which increasingly became the main means of cultural expression.


Ancient-Poetry1

望 岳 —— 杜 甫
岱宗夫如何?齐鲁青未了。
造化钟神秀,阴阳割昏晓。 
荡胸生层云,决眥入归鸟。
会当凌绝顶,一览众山小。

Written by - Du Fu
What shall I say of the Great Peak? The ancient dukedoms are everywhere green, Inspired and stirred by the breath of creation, With the Twin Forces balancing day and night. I bare my breast toward opening clouds, I strain my sight after birds flying home. When shall I reach the top and hold, All mountains in a single glance?

 Ancient-Poetry2

赠汪伦 —— 李 白
李白乘舟将欲行,忽闻岸上踏歌声。
桃花潭水深千尺,不及汪伦送我情。

To Wang Lun - Written by Li Bai
I'm on board; We're about to sail, When there's stamping and singing on shore; Peach Blossom Pool is a thousand feet deep, Yet not so deep, Wang Lun, as your love for me.

Ancient-Poetry3

静夜思 —— 李 白
床前明月光,疑是地上霜。
举头望明月,低头思故乡。

Thoughts in the Silent Night - Written by Li Bai
Beside my bed a pool of light Is it hoarfrost on the ground? I lift my eyes and see the moon, I bend my head and think of home.

Ancient-Poetry4

鹿 柴 —— 王 维
空山不见人,但闻人语响。
返景入深林,复照青苔上。

The Deer Enclosure - Written by Wang Wei
Empty the hills,no man in sight, Yet voices echo here; Deep in the woods slanting sunlight, Falls on the jade-green moss.

Ancient-Poetry5

清 明 —— 杜 牧
清明时节雨纷纷,路上行人欲断魂。
借问酒家何处有,牧童遥指杏花村。

In the Rainy Season of Spring - Written by Du Mu
It drizeles endlessly during the rainy season in spring, Travellers along the road look gloomy and miserable. When I ask a shepherd boy where I can find a tavern, He points at a distant hamlet nestling amidst apricot blossoms.

Ancient-Poetry6

鸟鸣涧 —— 王 维
人闲桂花落,夜静春山空。
月出惊山鸟,时鸣春涧中。

The Gully of Twittering Birds  - Written by Wang Wei
Idly I watch the cassia petals fall; Silent the night and empty the spring hills; The rising moon startles the mountain birds; Which twitter fitfully in the spring gully.

Ancient-Poetry7
竹里馆 —— 王 维
独坐幽篁里,弹琴复长啸。
深林人不知,明月来相照。

The Bamboo Lodge - Written by Wang Wei
Seated alone by shadowy bamboos, I strum my lyre and laugh aloud; None knows that I am here, deep in the woods; Only the bright moon comes to shine on me.

Ancient-Poetry8

登鹳雀楼 —— 王之涣
白日依山尽,黄河入海流。
欲穷千里目,更上一层楼。

Mounting the Stork Tower - Written by Wangzhihuan
The white sun sets behind mountains, The Yellow River flows into the sea. Go further up one flight of stairs, And you'll widen your view a thousand li.

Ancient-Poetry9

枫桥夜泊 —— 张 继
月落乌啼霜满天,江枫渔火对愁眠。
姑苏城外寒山寺,夜半钟声到客船。

MOORING BY MAPLE BRIDGE AT NIGHT - Written by Zhang Ji
At moonset cry the crows, streaking the frosty sky; Dimly lit fishing boats 'neath maples sadly lie. Beyond the city walls, from Temple of Cold Hill Bells break the ship- borne roamer's dream and midnight still.

Ancient-Poetry10

游子吟 —— 孟 郊
慈母手中线,游子身上衣。
临行密密缝,意恐迟迟归。
谁言寸草心,报得三春晖。

A Poem By A Leaving Son - Written by Meng Jiao
A thread is in my fond mother's hand moving. For her son to wear the clothes ere leaving. With her whole heart she's sewing and sewing. For fear I'll e'er be roving and roving. Who says the little soul of grass waving. Could for the warmth repay the sun of spring.

Chinese Porcelain

Chinese Porcelain

 
Defining Porcelain

In the context of Chinese ceramics the term porcelain lacks a universally accepted definition. This in turn has led to confusion about when the first Chinese porcelain was made. Claims have been made for the late Eastern Han period (100 to 200 AD), the Three Kingdoms period (220 to 280 AD), the Six Dynasties period (220 to 589 AD), and the Tang Dynasty (618 to 906 AD).

Development history
Early wares

Fragments of pottery vessels dating from around the year 9000 BC found at the Xianrendong (Spirit Cave) site, Wannian County, in the province of Jiangxi represent some of the earliest known Chinese ceramics. The wares were handmade by coiling and fired in bonfires. Decorations include impressed cord marks, and features produced by stamping and piercing.

The Xianrendong site was occupied from about 9000 BC to about 4000 BC. During this period two types of pottery were made. The first consisted of coarse-bodied wares possibly intended for everyday use. The second being finer, thinner-bodied wares possibly intended for ritual use or special occasions. There is archaeological evidence suggesting that at some point both types of wares were produced at the same time.

Han dynasty

Some experts believe the first true porcelain was made in the province of Zhejiang during the Eastern Han period. Chinese experts emphasize the presence of a significant proportion of porcelain-building minerals (china clay, porcelain stone or a combination of both) as an important factor in defining porcelain. Shards recovered from archaeological Eastern Han kiln sites estimated firing temperature ranged from 1260 to 1300°C. As far back as 1000 BC, the so-called "Porcelaneous wares" or "proto-porcelain wares" were made using at least some kaolin fired at high temperatures. The dividing the line between the two and true porcelain wares is not a clear one.

Sui and Tang dynasty

Over the following centuries innumerable new ceramic technologies and styles were developed. One of the most famous is the three-colored ware of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), named after the bright yellow, green, and white glazes which were applied to the earthenware body. They were made not only in such traditional forms as bowls and vases, but also in the more exotic guises of camels and Central Asian travelers, testifying to the cultural influence of the Silk Road. Another type of ware to gain the favor of the Tang court was the qingci, known in the West as celadon. These have a subtle bluish-green glaze and are characterized by their simple and elegant shapes. They were so popular that production continued at various kiln centers throughout China well into the succeeding dynasties, and were shipped as far as Egypt, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan.

Yuan and Ming dynasty

Blue and white porcelain was first produced under the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD). Baked at an extremely high temperature, porcelain is characterized by the purity of its kaolin clay body. Potters of the subsequent Ming dynasty (1368-1644) perfected these blue and white wares so that they soon came to represent the virtuosity of the Chinese potter. Jingedezhen, in Jiangxi province, became the center of a porcelain industry that not only produced vast quantities of imperial wares, but also exported products to as far away as Turkey. While styles of decorative motif and vessel shape changed with the ascension to the throne of each new Ming emperor, the quality of Ming blue and whites are indisputably superior to that of any other time period.

Qing dynasty

During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), porcelain was enriched with the innovation of five-colored wares. Applying a variety of under-glaze pigments to decorative schemes of flower, landscape, and figurative scenes, these wares have gained greatest renown in the West. In almost every major European museum, you will find either a five-colored ware or a monochromatic ware (in blue, red, yellow or pink) from this period. 

The quality of Chinese porcelain began to decline from the end of the Qing dynasty as political instability took its inevitable toll on the arts. However, the production of porcelain is being revived as Chinese culture gains greater recognition both at home and abroad. In addition to modern interpretations, numerous kiln centers have been established to reproduce the more traditional styles.

A Brief Introduction of Jingdezhen

marriageJingdezhen has a long history and a magnificent culture. It crouches on the south of the Yangtze River as a “Powerful Town on the South of the Yangtze River", and was listed with Foshan in Guangdong Province, Hankou in Hubei Province, and Zhuxianzhen in Henan Province as the four famous towns in Chinese history. It is designated one of the first 24 famous Chinese cities of historical and cultural interests and a first-rate city opening to the foreigners by China’s State Council. In June 1953, Chinese Administration approved Jingdezhen City as a municipality under the direct jurisdiction of Jiangxi Province. It now covers an area of 5256 square kilometers with a population of 1,520,000, including 400,000 urban residents. There are one city, one county and two districts under its jurisdiction: Leping City, Fuliang County, Zhushan District and Changjiang District. 

Jingdezhen city lies in the Northeast of Jiangxi Province. To its Northwest is Dongzhi County of Anhui Province, to its south Wannian County, to its West Boyang County, and to its Southeast Wuyuan County. It is located in the transitional area between the Huangshan – Haiyushang mountain range and the Plain of Poyang Lake at longitudes 116°57'-117°42' east and latitudes 28°44'-29°56' south in the monsoon subtropical climate. It enjoys enough sunshine, sufficient rainfall, and a mild and moist climate, with clearly demarcated four seasons. It has beautiful scenery featured by a network of many rivers and streams and a chain of mountain peaks one rising higher than another. The city is 320 meters above sea level with an average temperature of 170C, an annual rainfall of 1763.5 millimeters, and average annual sunshine of 2009.8 hours.

As the world-famed ceramic capital, Jingdezhen City has a long history of ceramics making and a rich cultural heritage. In accordance with the historical records, “Xinping (as the city was known as then) began to make pottery in Han Dynasty”. It is evident that pottery was first made in Jingdezhen in Han Dynasty. In the first year in Jingde Reign of Song Dynasty (1004), the royal court decreed the city made porcelain wares for imperial use with the wording “Made during the Jingde Reign” printed on the bottom of every piece. Hence the city got its name “Jingdezhen”. From Yuan Dynasty to Ming and Qing Dynasty, emperors sent their officials to Jingdezhen to supervise the manufacture of royal porcelain. They set up the Porcelain Office and built the royal kiln, which produced many wonderful ceramic articles. Among them were those particularly famous for the four classic decorations: blue and white, famille rose, rice-pattern and color glaze. The Porcelain Wares for Chairman Mao Zedong, the Wares for the" APEC" and the Wares for tire Stale Hotel (Guesthouse) and other ceramic art works are all greatly appreciated in the world. The porcelain made in Jingdezhen enjoys the praise of 'as white as jade, as thin as paper, as sound as a bell, as bright as a mirror'.Guo Moruo (the late famous historian and scholar) highly praised the brilliant ceramic history and culture in Jingdezhen and the ceramics connected the Jingdezhen to the world closely with the poem that 'China is well known by the porcelain, the famous porcelains are made in this city.'

The tourism resource of Jingdezhen is rich with deep connotation, and owns the special privilege including the ceramics culture, place of culture interest and ecological environment and so on, particularly in advantageous condition of the ceramics resource. There has been found more than 30 ceramics historical ruins, such as the famous ancient ceramic material producing area --Kaolin, which the worldly name of the clay of producing porcelain Kaolin was named' after, the ruin of Hutian ancient kiln, the ruin of the royal kilns in the Ming and Qing Dynasty and so on, which are, ranked in the National and Provincial Historical Relic's Protection Units, have the inference and attraction over the world. In Jingdezhen, there are many landscapes and sights, such as perfectly preserved the clusters of Ming and Qing Buildings, the houses group of the Anhui style, the ancient play stage, the ancient County Office in Fuliang which is known as the Number One in the south of the Yangtze River and the second in China, the old Sanlu Temple named after the Sanlu Daifu (the senior official of Kingdom Chu)--Quyuan, the Red Tower where the first emperor in Ming Dynasty-Zhu Yuanzha'ng hid in a battle, the platform to face upward to the virtuous in Yaoli, the fairyland in Hongyuan, the Sun Island, the Moon Lake, the Yangfu Temple, the Lijushan Mountain, the Jade Green Lake. Jingdezhen is also the area of glory revolutionary heritage, the famous Reorganization of the New Fourth Army ever happened in Yaoli town in Fuliang, Zhongpu Town in Leping was the cradle of the Red Tenth Army. In 1997, the National Tourism Administration commended the city to be one of the 35 trump sights in the 97' China tourism year.

marriageJingdezhen is rich in the natural resource, has good ecological environment. The main mineral products are porcelain stone, Kaolin, coal, tungsten, gold dust, cuprum, fluorite, sulphur, limestone, marble etc. Especially the deposits of porcelain stone, Kaolin is very abundance, and the reserves verified at present can be exploited for over 300 years. The coverage race of forest in the whole city reaches 60.9%, which is the important forest area in Jiangxi Province. About 50 kilometers far away from the downtown there are primary forests where inhabit many bears, tigers and monkeys and so on, and grow the yew and other rare trees. In Fuliang County, the villages in Yaoli Town and in Ehu Town are enveloped in the cloud and mist all round the year. In history, the special local products in Jingdezhen were:” The first is porcelain, tea goes secondary". Tea is one of the famous products in Jingdezhen. As early as the Tang Dynasty, Jingdezhen was the important tea-distributing center all over the country, the poem "Pipa (lute) Row " by the famous poet Bai Juyi said that "The businessman pays more attention to the huge profit than his family, last month he went to Fuliang for tea ". At that time, the tax revenue of tea from Jingdezhen occupied 3/8 in the whole tax revenue of tea of the country. The tea "Fuhong (Redfu)" owns a long-standing international reputation, ever was awarded the golden prize in the Panamanian World Fair in 1915. The famous brand green tea with high-quality, "Deyu Living Tea", "Cliff Jade in Yaoli", "Immortal Tea as glossy ganoderma at Jasper Lake" have been developed and cultivated in these years sold well in the market. The "Deyu Living Tea" has been selected to be used in the Great Hall of the People as the special offered tea and the state banquet tea.

Jingdezhen has a superior investment environment. It Iies in the "golden triangle" economic area of Nanchang, Jiujiang and Jingdezhen, situating in the boundary of three provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Anhui, and locates the center point of the hot line of national tourist-the Lushan Mountain, the Huangshan Mountain, the Longhushan Mountain, the Jiuhuashan Mountain, the Sanqingshan Mountain, the Poyang Lake, the Qiandao (Thousands of Islands)Lake (The above mentioned interests are all within the distance about 150 to 200 kilometers). After reforming and opening to the world for more than 20 years, the infrastructure turns to better and better. The supply of water, power, gas is sufficient, the teleconimunieation has benn modernized with optic fiber, internet and digital and the traffic networks extend in all directions. The railway of Jiangxi to Anhui and the national highway No. 206 runs through the city, the Jingdezhen-Jiujiang expressway shortens the distance between the city Wuhan, Nanchang and other cities,the airline connects it with Peking, Shanghai, Guangzhou and etc, Changjiang River of the city can get its waterways to Poyang Lake then into Yangtze River. The modern transportation Network with waterways, highways and railways, airlines have formed. The city ‘s face is changing with each passing day. With the construction of the 6 main highways in the city, the city's feature changed greatly. The culture and museum area, the ecology area and the modern area have not only combined into a whole with their own characteristics but also support and connect with one another. At the same time, Jingdezhen municipal administration has been paying much attention to developing the soft environment for the economic development. It has laid down a series of policies and measures such as "Several Policies and Measures of Emancipating the Mind further, Extending to Open, Accelerating the Development", "the Preferential Measures for Encouraging Investors outside to Invest and Cooperate in our City". "Several Measures to Protect the Investor outside", "Cases of Reward to intermediary of the Investing outside" and so on, The government has set up the service hall to handle all kinds of certificates, carrying out the opening to the outside in a door, the service in a station, the charging in a window. All these measures have created a better condition for the development of the private economy and for the guests at home and abroad who come here for investment business, tourism or sight-seeing. 

Jingdezhen is one of the important modern industrial bases in Jiangxi Province. The ceramic industry has come into such a system that the production of daily-use porcelain takes the principal part and the art ceramic, construction ceramic, the industrial ceramic and the electronic ceramic and so on are also evaluative together and co-developing. It has become the important ceramic producing and exporting base and the scientific research center in China. Meanwhile the infant industry is booming, which has formed such lines as the automobile, machinery, electron; medicine, chemistry, building materials food and other industries. At present, the total output of the infant industry has accounted for over 90% in the whole industry of the city, becoming the important mainstay in the city's economy. There are a batch of strong enterprises (groups) in the city such as the Change Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Limited, the Hay Electric Appliance General Company the Printing Machinery Works, the Coking Gasworks, the Jiangxi Chemical Fiber and Chemical Engineering Co. Ltd, the Dongfang Pharmaceutical Co.Ltd, the Deyu Group Corp. and so on.

Now, the people in the city take the inspection of the General Secretary Jiang Zemin as the motive force, according to the Secretary of C.C.P Provincial Party Committee--Meng Jianzhu's general imagination--"Regenerate the city's strong power, become a powerful economic city artd a tourism city which combined the historical culture and the modern civilization together in the south of Yangtze River", carry forward the spirit of Jinggangshan Mountain energetically, steadily increase with each passing hour, work hard and pursue strongly, advance the industrialization, urbanization, informationization all-sidedly, struggle hard in order to turn Jingdezhen into a rich, civilized modernized mountains and rivers (landscape) ecological garden city.