Entries Tagged as 'Culture'

Chinese Hell 中国地狱/ A photo Video of Buddhist Hell from Chinese temples

Chinese Hell 中国地狱 / A photo Video of Buddhist Hell from Chinese temples

This video is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. The pictures show violence, mutilation, dismembering, and torture. This is the Buddhist Hell; not a pleasant place to spend the rest of your days. The photos were taken in various temples around China, Tibetan areas in China, and in the Dai Minority area of Xishuangbanna.

I must admit that I find the images mesmerizing. Maybe it is some morbid fascination that I have. Or maybe it is because they are so different to what we see in Europe.  All I know is that when I enter a temple with these images I can’t stop snapping.

One of the things that sticks in my mind the most is the young monks in the Octagonal Pavillion in Jingzhen, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, happily laughing and smiling while painting these grisly images.

The music is by the Chinese punk band Underbaby 地下婴儿and the song is called Everything is the same 都一样。Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnEF3D9NKQ0

Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京: Two Films One Story

Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京

Two films, one story

Zhang Yimou’s new film on the massacre in Nanjing, Flowers of War (金陵十三钗), is the second major Chinese production to hit international cinemas on this topic in the last few years, the other being Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death (南京 南京). Having now seen both, I’ll try to compare and contrast them.

Both films are set during the early days of the Japanese conquest and occupation of Nanjing (南京) in 1937; Nanjing which was then the capital of the Republic of China. It was during this period that the Japanese committed the atrocities that were to become known as the “The Rape of Nanjing”. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were killed and thousands of women raped.

City of Life and Death(南京! 南京!) by  Lu Chuan

Filmed in black and white, Lu Chuan’s film conveys all the horrors and brutality of the destruction of Nanjing and its people under the Japanese occupation. Grey scene after scene, tense, gripping, and harrowing scene after scene, the spectator is left numb by the cruelty meted out by the Japanese army. The scene where the Japanese machine guns kill off the Chinese prisoners of war is horrific; yet, it represents the true events that took place on December 18, 1937, on the banks of the Yangtze River.

Nonetheless, in spite of the gruesomeness of his film, [Read more →]

Langde Miao Village (Video Slideshow) 郎德苗村 Guizhou Province

Langde 郎德

Guizhou Province near Kaili

We hope you enjoy this video slide-show. The photos were taken in the Miao Minority village, Langde near Kaili in 2007. The accompanying songs are traditional Miao folk songs with modern music (again the slide-show is a bit too long: I  promise to get the videos down to about 3 minutes in the future). For more information about Langde and how to get there: Continue reading below the video.

Langde was once the centre of an important Miao uprising against the Qing, which took place in the 19th Century. These days the village of Langde suffers a different kind of Han invasion; that of hundreds of Han tourists, coming to get a feel what has been marketed as exotic Miao culture. Nowadays, Chinese tourists take part in traditional singing and dancing events and marvel at the elaborate dresses and jewellery of the residents of Langde. How things have changed!

Miao Minority in Langde

For the traveller Langde is still a great village to visit. Its setting is idyllic, built on a green hill overlooking an elegant slow bend in the river. Rice fields and wandering water buffalo add to the rural charm. The village itself is a classic collection of traditional Miao two or three-storey wooden buildings, draped in strings of drying chillies and corn.

Langde Houses

We were visiting in the middle of August and spent almost the entire day in and around the village. In all that time only [Read more →]

Danba 丹巴 Festival Video slideshow: Holachina’s first video

Danba Festival Video slideshow

This is our first holachina slideshow video. The photos were taken during the preparations for the Danba 丹巴Festival August 2004. Danba is a small town in Western Sichuan about a 3 hour Bus ride from Kanding 康定. The town itself is small and scruffy but its setting, nestled in a deep valley at the confluence of two rushing rivers and surrounded by traditional Qiang (a Tibetan minority) villages, makes it quite idyllic.  The highlights include stunning villages, such as Jiaju 甲居藏寨 and Badi (not Baidi as I have written in the video) and the Qiang watchtowers peppered on the slopes of the steep valleys.

The year we visited Danba there were very few other foreigners and no domestic tourists. The following year, 2005, the Chinese National Geographic claimed that  Jiaju village 甲居藏寨 (7kms from Danba) was the most beautiful village in China. Since then its popularity among travelers, foreign and Chinese alike, has grown rapidly.

We hope you enjoy the slideshow. Some people may find the music a bit painful. It’s the same music that was being played on the VCD’s on all the buses we sat on during our trip around Western Sichuan in 2004 and it brings back great memories.

If you are interested in going to Danba, click on read more below. Here you’ll find the information we published on holachina.com in 2004. Expect there to be a much bigger selection of hotels and restaurants now. [Read more →]

Dream of Ding village 丁庄梦 A Novel by Yan Lianke阎连科

Dream of Ding village 丁庄梦
A Novel by Yan Lianke阎连科
Published by Corsair and translated by Cindy Carter

Dream of Ding Village 丁庄梦

Setting the Scene

The book is set in Henan province, central China, around the city of Kaifeng, during the early to mid-1990s.

“They dug me up so they could take me to Kaifeng and bury me next to my dead wife. “ (Page 310).

Kaifeng Outside Jiaozi Guan 开封饺子馆

Kaifeng, situated  in China’s Henan province on the banks of the Yellow river, once served as the Song dynasty capital (then known as Bianjing (汴京) and is thought to have been the world’s biggest city between 1013 and 1127. Much of its imperial splendor has been lost to the ravages of war, floods and rebellion, but it still retains one of the few remaining landmarks from that time, the magnificent Iron Pagoda (铁塔), built in 1049.

Iron Pagaoda 开封的铁塔

Another of its treasures is the incredible Qingming Scroll, painted by Song dynasty artist Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145), which captures the daily life of people from the epoch at the ancient capital, Bianjing; today’s Kaifeng.

Qing Ming Scroll

Modern day Kaifeng is a pleasant city to visit, with lively night markets, interesting temples and pagodas and the added lure of finding traces of China’s tiny Jewish community. Huge skyscrapers, ubiquitous in most Chinese cities, are conspicuous by their absence: due to the wealth of ancient ruins and relics still buried under the ground, the digging of deep foundations is prohibited.

Kaifeng 开封

Strolling around sleepy Kaifeng, it is hard to believe that the villages and surrounding counties hide a dark secret that very few visitors will see, or even know about. In fact, any attempt by a foreigner to visit these places will immediately arouse the suspicions of local police and the security bureau. What are they hiding? [Read more →]

Two days in Langzhong Ancient City 阆中古城 (from our diary 29-31 July 2006)

Two days in Langzhong 阆中古城 (from our diary)

Langzhong Ancient Town 阆中古城

 This small town, with a big history, is situated on the banks of the Jialing River, some 225 kilometres from Chengdu (Sichuan Province). It is all at once the burial place of the Three Kingdoms general, Zhang Fei, birthplace of the Han dynasty inventor of the Chinese Calendar, Luo Xiahong, and home to a wealth of traditional Sichuan architecture.

Langzhong Gucheng 阆中古城

In short, Langzhong has plenty of things to see and do to keep a visitor busy for two days.

Langzhong Gucheng 阆中古城

Day One

Your first priority on arrival is to find accommodation in one of the many traditional family mansions that are situated in [Read more →]

Chronicle of a Blood Merchant: a novel by Yu Hua (Book Review).

The book

Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, a novel by Yu Hua.
Published by Anchor Books. Translation by Andrew F. Jones.
Among other works, Yu Hua is the author of To Live (turned into an acclaimed film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li) and Brothers.

Chronicle of a Blood Merchant by Yu Hua

The Story

Small Town China

The main character is Xu Sanguan, a cart-pusher in a silk factory in a small rural town. Xu is persuaded by two peasants, residents from the village of Xu Sanguan’s favourite uncle, that he can sell his own blood for a handsome sum, and thus supplement his meager income. Reluctantly, dragging his feet, Xu Sanguan accompanies them to the hospital for his first blood sale. We soon learn that the main reason for his reluctance is not cowardice, but the fact that selling your own blood is traditionally taboo in China; which is also why the hospitals pay such a high price.

Small town China

Xu Yulan (Xu Sanguan’s wife) on finding out that he has just sold blood:

“My dad used to tell me when I was little that [Read more →]

Chaozhou 潮州 Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷: Visit Chaozhou’s Amazing Historic Street: Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

Chaozhou: Guangdong Province

Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

Chaozhou is definitely one of Guangdong’s more interesting cities. Apart from being home to some exquisite ancient temples, impressive Ming dynasty walls and buzzing markets, Chaozhou is also home to some fascinating colonial and Qing dynasty architecture.

Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

This post looks at the Qing dynasty buildings in Jiadi Xiang甲第巷, a restored lane of Qing courtyard dwellings. There’s nothing quite like it in China.

Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

In Jiadi Xiang all the houses are embellished by colourful and elaborate wall paintings that surround the main doorways and follow the curving line of the eave roofs.

Jiadi Xiang 甲第巷

The paintings represent scenes of [Read more →]

Danba Festival & Song

 

Danba Qiang Minority Song

Here is a Tibetan song from the Qiang minority in Danba. This beautiful area is in Sichuan Province. The photo was taken in 2004 during rehearsals for the Danba festival.

Danba, posted with vodpod

 

Shaoxing 绍兴 in Beijing北京 / 风骚浙人 (Fēngsāo Zhērén Restaurant)

风骚浙人 Fēngsāo Zhērén Restaurant (Beijing)

 

Black Bean Fish

 Located in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, the风骚浙人 fēngsāo zhērén, or sometimes  known as Zhejiang Ren Zai Beijing (The Zhejiang People in Beijing Restaurant, 浙江人在北京) is a rather special eatery.  From the outside, you’d never guess that the modest façade conceals an ancient courtyard and some of the best Chinese food in Beijing.

The Place

The Patio

Enter through a rather non-descript doorway and find yourself in a traditional Qing dynasty courtyard house with simple, but tasteful, dining rooms and a tree-shaded patio. As the weather was perfect, we chose to eat in the atmospheric patio. The clientele seemed to be well-heeled locals who were expecting nothing but the best.

The Service

Waiter in the Fengsao Zheren

The waiter was attentive and friendly without being overbearing. He took pride in suggesting the best dishes, but without being pushy.

The Cuisine

Chou Dofu (Smelly Tofu) & Rice Cakes with Crab Roe

The restaurant’s cuisine comes from Shanghai and the province of Zhejiang, a coastal province just south of Shanghai, and a further emphasis is placed on Zhejiang’s Hangzhou and Shaoxing绍兴 regions. That means great fish, crab, smelly tofu and [Read more →]