Jianshui 建水 2006. This photo was taken in 2006 in Jianshui, Yunnan province from the top of the city gate. I have been trying to work out which ethnic minority this lady belongs to for a while now. My guess is that she is from the Yi Minority 彝族, but there are also Miao苗族, Hani哈尼族 and Yao瑶族 minorities in the vicinity of Jianshui. If anyone else can be more precise I’d be grateful.
La Guía esencial de la lengua china has been written by my friend and colleague at the Centro Superior de Idiomas Modernas (CSIM) in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Baoyan Zhao and her co-author Francisco Javier López Calvo. As the book is mainly for Spanish learners of Chinese I have left the review in Spanish. However, many of the tips and advice in the book can be useful for all learners of Chinese.
La Guía esencial de la lengua china es un libro de consulta que resuelve aquellas dudas que surgen durante el estudio del chino. Por medio de una accesible estructura de preguntas y respuestas los autores se acercan a los distintos aspectos de la lengua china, de manera detallada y precisa pero a la vez con un estilo fácilmente comprensible para el lector. Tanto si estáis pensando en empezar con el estudio del chino, si os encontráis en las primeras fases del aprendizaje o si lleváis cierto tiempo con ello, en este libro encontraréis una gran cantidad de información provechosa, interesante y curiosa. Dado que la lengua china a primera vista puede intimidar por su complejidad y por lo diferente, este libro pretende ser el mapa o la guía de viaje que os ayudará a comprender mejor el punto donde os encontráis, y que sin duda hará más fácil y eficaz vuestro estudio. Como apunta el propio libro en su portada, un buen comienzo es la mitad del éxito, y a través de sus páginas encontraréis la manera de que vuestro comienzo sea el mejor posible.
These amazing buildings sprout like giant mushrooms from the pretty paddy fields around Kaiping. Some structures are simple and plain affairs, others elaborate and ornate, the best are jaw droppingly beautiful.
The Diaolou were mostly built by returning Chinese emigrants in the early years of the 20th Century, especially in the 1920s. Many reflect the styles of the countries where the émigrés went, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Europe or North America. Some of the Diaolou are a mix of different styles. Building a Dialou was a returning émigré’s way of showing the homeland that he had made it. However, at the same time, one of the principal functions of a Diaolou was defensive. China in the 1920’s was in the midst of the Warlord era. Internal conflicts and instability were rife.
Bandits and remnants of warlord armies roamed the countryside, pillaging and looting. The Diaolou were used primarily as night watch-towers and as a way of sealing off and protecting the family from potential intruders and kidnappers. This was done by providing the towers with heavily fortified entrance gates, as well as the means of closing off each floor separately.
The more elaborate Diaolou were also built to display their owners’ wealth and prestige. Some have commemorative plaques, documenting the family’s history. There are stories of great patriotic heroism, others are of personal tragedies and incredible hardship. When the Japanese invaded China, many of the Diaolou owners fled abroad and never returned.
After the Chinese Revolution in 1949, the Diaolou fell into disuse and were all but forgotten until the 1990s. However, after a long campaign by Chinese history scholars, the Diaolou of Kaiping were listed as UNESCO heritage in 2007. Slowly, the descendants of some of the emigrants have been returning to restore the buildings. There are still over 1,800 Diaolou in the Kaiping region.
To visit the Diaolou, you first have to get to Kaiping, which is some two and a half hours by bus from Guangzhou.
Location: Sichuan Province, China, in the vicinity of Leshan (2-3 hours)
The ancient town of Luocheng is a gem for those looking for traditional teahouse culture. Luocheng is renowned for its boat architecture: the two sides of its main street narrow down at both ends and widen gradually towards the middle, thus creating the oval shape of a boat.
Straddling the street and forming, as it were, the prow to complete the boat- like appearance of the town, stands a beautifully restored theatre. It is covered in traditional grey tiles and flamboyantly decorated with historic scenes and smiling Buddhas.
However, the absolute highlight of Luocheng is the swell of teahouses lining the main street, sheltered by the overhanging wooden porticos of the buildings. Overlooking this sea of bamboo tables and chairs, occupied by querulous old men in faded Mao jackets, arguing over heated games of cards or Mah-jong, while smoking small stubby pipes carved out of roots, visitors can truly imagine themselves in a time warp.
Joining the regulars over a cup of tea, you can really get an impression of what village life must have been like in the old days. The whole place still oozes authenticity and atmosphere; two elements that are often lacking in many of China’s more popular historical places. In fact, Continue reading “Luocheng: Is This The World’s Best Teahouse Town?”
Cursos de chino en Madrid / Chinese Language Courses in Madrid 2013 /2014
Universidad Complutense Madrid /Learn Chinese in the Complutense University in Madrid
Curso de chino mandarin en Madrid 2013/2014
Como todos los años el CSIM (Centro Superior de Idioma Modernas) te ofrecen cursos de chino en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Las fechas son del 14 de octobre 2013 hasta el 31 de mayo 2014: 3 horas semanales. Todo/as los profesores son licenciadas y con ampliar experiencia en impartir clases de chino. Para mas informacion clic haz clic en este enlace: http://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/idiomas/cursos/generales.htm
I’d always complained about my journey to work at the University in Madrid. Everyday, having to face the over-crowded underground transporting its cargo of stressed out passengers. Sweaty and smelly in the summer; germ infested in the winter; it’s standing room only most days. Compounding the misery, there are the strikes and demonstrations, that might delay your journey by up to an hour (and Madrid has one of the world’s best underground systems). Then I saw this video and since then I have I gone into Zen mode. I don’t moan or complain anymore.
I just say to myself how lucky I am. My gripes were nothing more than that of a privileged urbanite who has no idea as to what lengths other people have to go to in order to get an education.
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.
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.
We hope you enjoy this video slide-show. The photos were taken in the Miao Minority village, Langde nearKaili 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!
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.