After a suspenseful, neck to neck race, Naruwan has been voted Grand Historian for Jan-Feb 2007 with 6 out of 17 votes; Richard Lim is a close second with 5 votes. Also worthy of congratulations, Damo has joined the CHF Staff team as a Moderator for the Prehistory to Qin, Chinese Archaeology, and the Asian History forums, Ashura has been promoted to the Super Moderator position, and both Imperial Marshal Mok and Publius have become Adminstrators. CHF has also been ranked as the most popular history chat forum by Alexa.com: http://www.alexa.com...rtBy=Popularity
Congratulations to all!
2. Monthly Memo from Members
For this month, kaiselin and Bao Pu tell us how they found CHF and have agreed to share their remembrances.
2.1 Note from a newbie
Greetings to all.
I am Kaiselin, a 54 year old woman, an artist of sorts. I paint historical and fantasy gaming miniatures, custom collector figures, some greeting cards, and assorted other bits of art that grab my fancy. My husband and I along with two children (now grown), 6 cats (way too many) are the resident eccentric nuts in the small very conservative rural village in northwest Ohio where we have lived for 20 years.
While doing research on clothing worn during the Boxer Rebellion, I found CHF. I realized I had found a site I wanted to join.
Why Chinese history? I have delved into some western history, Celtic, Greek and Roman, Medieval Europe and the American Civil War, WWI and II, and I am not an expert on any of them. A few years ago I began to notice that all my paths led to China instead of Rome.
I found a book of the Dao that had both the original Chinese characters and a translated English version. Reading that, I became curious about the Chinese Characters. At the same time, I had wanted to learn Tai Chi, for the positive healing aspects. There were no Tai Chi classes around, so I joined a Shorin Ryu karate class. One of my friends from the class asked me to paint a scroll to congratulate a student who had received his black belt. I researched what symbolic pictures and characters to use to express congratulations and well wishes. I began to learn to paint the characters and learn Chinese painting.
I really enjoyed the kata’s and sparing, but my goal had been good health and exercise, not the belt. When I discovered the sensei was just teaching the sport, and had no knowledge of breathing techniques or how to raise Qi, I left the class to continue study on my own. The books I read on Tai Chi and martial arts increased my interest in the etymology of the Characters. I began to teach myself to read Chinese.
Among some of my other interests that led me here are:
Archeology, paleontology, anthropology, history, art, painting, books, historical costuming (including weapons and armor), gardening, herbs, bonsai, board gaming (both large scale historical battles and some fantasy as well as board games like Setters of Catan and Carrcasonne.), ethnic music of all kinds, birding, movies (especially foreign movies), mythology, astrology, metaphysical studies, yoga, karate, tai chi, making my our own wine and beer, Chinese cooking, healing, spiritualism, Buddhism, Daoism, and last, but not least the constant amazement as to how some things in east vs. west are so much alike and then others are the exact opposite.
None of my friends have any interest in China, so there has been no one to discuss ideas or to help me learn. I was thrilled when I found CHF.
This was the first ( and so far only) website I have joined.
I am new to computers and forums. I floundered around not knowing how to navigate the forum when Publius stepped in to help. I was a real pest to him and asked all sorts of silly newbie questions. He helped me through each of them and encouraged me to take the exam. Everyone on the forum has been friendly and supportive. I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge that can be found here at CHF.
When Publius asked me to write this column for the March newsletter, I was surprised because I am not a good writer. I got a bit of stage fright, but said yes, it’s the least I can do to repay his help. Why worry about writing something for the newsletter when my posts can be seen by anyone. Nothing can be as sobering as having posted on the forum then having it appear as the number one choice when googling for info It made me realize that my post might be used ( and seen) by anyone as a source of information. I had been very sloppy in recording my own research. When it was only for me, it didn’t matter. (I knew all along that I should have been recording my sources, but was just being lazy.) I discovered that most websites are not documented. You can not take everything you read on the web as fact. I would hope that in the future my contributions can be used by other people with confidence.
I am now looking for primary sources as I attempt to decipher who the 9 sons of the dragon are. Meanwhile, I am starting to study prehistory, Xia and Shang, My favorite threads are in Chinese Philosophy, Religion and Mythology, and Chinese Culture.
I am having a great time as I jump around the forum, reading what ever grabs my interest at the time…(I’ve stepped on a few toes along the way, as only a Sagittarian can do. My apologies if I’ve upset anyone. I never do it on purpose.) There are so many threads to read, so much history to absorb, and so much yet to study.
Thanks to the staff and moderators and other members, who are all friendly, a great help, and who have made the forum such a great place.
To other newbie’s, Welcome. Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions if you have problems. You will feel right at home quickly.
Have fun learning.
Hope to see you around,
2.2 Oration of an oldie
My name is Scott, a a born-and-bred Caucasian Canadian. From an early age I have been interested in anthropology and ethology (among other things), yet I never went to post-secondary school to study them. My first memorable experience with anything Asian was the made-for-television movie 'Shogun,' which obvisouly took place in Japan. Since then, (age 12?) elements of Japanese culture have been burned in my soul, even though I did not delve into other Asian cultures for many years.
In 1990 (at the age of 22) a friend gave me a translation of the Daodejing of Laozi. I found it amazing. There I found insightful words pointing to something I had already experienced or observed, or things which I had never considered before and made a lot of sense to me. I had found a kindred spirit in ancient China of all places. This was my first introduction to philosophy, to China, and perhaps even history. I quickly began buying not only every book I could find about the Daodejing and the Zhuangzi, but anything related. My choice has always been scholarly books, not the New-Agey fashionable perspective of Taoism. I do not dismiss anything without reading it first however. Sometimes I even contact sinologists from around the world for their opinions.
This 'anything related' that I began reading refers to all of the Warring States era philosophers, and Qin and Western Han. I found out that the more one understood the history and culture(s) of ancient China the better one could gain the perspective of those ancients and understand what they had to say. So, my study has taken me on many tangents into pre-Han history. The religious culture(s) of ancient China have also seemed relevant to me to fully appreciate the early "Daoists" and other philosophers, (although I am not a religious person at all, yet I would consider myself a 'spiritual person'). Sometimes my tangents have gone to areas of ancient China which have very, very little to do with early Daoism, like the oracle bone inscriptions (and the culture surrounding them), the ancient script, the pronunciation of the ancient language and geography. But I must say, for reasons I cannot explain, I have loved every minute of my learning about ancient China. Along with music and enjoying the outdoors, learning about ancient China has been a love of my life. Many people who know me can attest to this, although they do find it odd that I am so interested in things Chinese, as opposed to something closer to home. One reason is that, as a way of understanding the early Daoists, I began writing a book about "Early Daoism," more than 8 years ago, and continue to work on it. Hopefully I can publish it someday. It is for this reason, and my 'vice' of going on tangents that I do not contribute very much here at the Chinese History Forum.
As I wrote on my CHF member webpage, all aspects of the human experience are of interest to me, (not only the ancient Chinese experience). I have long had interests in biology, physics, psychology, sociology, ecology, archaeology and other scientific disciplines. I believe everything I learn helps me to have a more enjoyable life, to get the most of this human experience, which includes understanding how and why the other inhabitants of this planet do what they do. And I am happy to say that a number of members of this community have been quite helpful in this regard. I haven't any complaints with how the Chinese History Forum operates or its content as I have witnessed in the past two and a half years. It's a great 'place.'
As for "Bao Pu" 抱樸 (抱朴), this is an idiom found in chapter 19 of the Laozi:
Eradicate knowledge, discard distinctions
And the people will benefit a hundredfold.
Eradicate artistic skills, discard profit
And there will be no thieves and robbers.
Eradicate benevolence and deliberation
And the people will return to filial piety and compassion.
But it is not enough to regard these three sayings as your task;
We should also supplement them with the following:
Display the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block (抱樸),
Have little self-interest and reduce your desires.
(trans. Steven Hodge)
And since to 'Bao Pu' is an aspiration of mine, it seemed a nice nickname to adopt.
Good health and happiness to everyone,
3. Cultural Column
Our culture columnist, Moon, welcomes the giving months of Spring with an article about the Dragon-Head-Raising Festival. She will share the origins of this lively story and how the tradition is carried on today.
The Dragon-Head-Raising Festival (龙抬头)
According to the folk legend, the 2nd day of the second lunar month is the very day for the Dragon King who is in charge of clouds and rains to raise his head. After that day, there will be more and more rain, so that day is also called Spring Dragon Day.
Most Chinese northern farmers believe that with the help of that day, all stores, big and small, will be full of grain. Every year when this day comes, those Chinese northern people will carry the lanterns in the morning to fetch water from the wells and the rivers. They will light the candles, burn incense and pay tribute to the Dragon King. In the old times people called this "Welcome the Fields Dragon." On that day, all the families will eat noodles or fried glutinous rice blocks, and pop corn to enjoy happiness.
A popular fairy tale in the north of China can tell the origin of the day.
When Wu Zetian, the Empress in the Tang Dynasty came into power, the Heaven God was so angry that he ordered the Dragon Kings to stop raining for 3 years.
Soon after this, the Dragon King who was in charge of the heaven river heard the bitter cries from the folks, saw many people starve to death. He was afraid that there would be no life in no time. Then he went against the Heaven God's order and gave the folks a heavy rain.
Because of this, the Dragon King was thrown into the folks’ world by the Heaven God and pressed under a large mountain, and would be let out only when gold beans are in blossom. A sign on the mountain stated:
The folks hurried to look for gold beans everywhere in order to save him from the pressure.
On the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month the next year, when people were drying the corn seeds in the sun, they thought of the corn seeds as gold beans because when they were roasted, they would pop in blossom like gold beans. So all the families began to pop corn and burn incense and put gold beans on desks.
When the dragon king raised his head, he knew the folks were trying to save him, so he shouted to the God, "Gold beans are in blossom, so let me out." ("金豆开花了，快放我出去！") After the Heaven God saw all gold beans in blossom in all families, he had to give his order to ask the Dragon King to return to the heaven palace and go on with his job of making clouds and rains for the folks.
Since then, it has been a folk custom to eat pop corn on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month. In fact, after the 2nd lunar month, since there will be more and more rain which marks the end of little-rain winter, is a clear characteristic of the monsoon climate in North China.
4. Highlighted threads of the month
Home to Beginners;
Why didn’t China conquer the World? http://www.chinahist...p;#entry4881333
Several fundamental historic questions lie within LuckyNomad’s questions—why didn’t China conquer the world, especially given its proportionately high population?
The answers to this question range from the methodology behind Chinese diplomacy, the layout of China’s geography, and the economic logistics necessary to mount such a massive campaign. Acknowledging the interplay between these factors is crucial for building an understanding of China’s role through history and of its current geo-political role.
Chinese agriculture: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16465 .
The Greatest Chinese Wonder in History, Please Vote! http://www.chinahist...p;#entry4881336
This poll thread is almost as old as CHF and still draws participants. Within the four pages of the thread, forummers voice their favor of China’s greatest wonder. These range from the top vote getter, The Great Wall of China, to humanism. The explanations given for choosing favorite wonders provides the reader with a general grasp of Chinese technological, bureaucratic, and philosophical achievements.
Ancient Chinese Arsenal;
The development of jian and dao sword thru ages: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16632
Simply put, this development is described in Thomas Chen's comprehensive Chinese weapon website that's given within the thread.
Chinese Art of War;
The Shi caste, Are they the knights of ancient China ? http://www.chinahist...p...45&start=45
The debate centers around the use of the term Shi 士 and how and why it evolved during the Warring States Period.
Chang Kwang-chih (K.C. Chang), 1931-2001, Pioneer of Chinese archaeology: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16515
Yun provides the CHF Community with important references by the influential Chang Kwang-chih that serve as a comprehensive introduction to Chinese anthropology and the Shang Dynasty.
Prehistory to Qin;
Mengchang Jun from Qi: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16444
Shawn was curious about how men of talent in the past got hired as think-tanks of nobles and court ministers.
Assumption of regal titles by feudal lords: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16529
This thread discussed the politickings involved when feudal lords decided to assume the title kings. While the Zhou king who still bore the title "Son of Heaven" was helpless to stop them from assuming regal titles, not all feudal lords who assumed kingship found it was all that rosy either.
Killing of entire families in Han dynasty: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16541
Having discarded the harsh punishments instituted during the Qin, was the Han Dynasty all that benevolent after all?
Did any Han envoy make it to Rome? And why did the Han call Rome 'Great Qin'?
Three Kingdoms and Western Jin;
Where and when was the Battle of CāngTíng? http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16645
This thread looks at the little-known last conflict between Cao Cao and Yuan Shao.
Did Yuan Shao still have a chance after Guandu? http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16630
A hypothetical look to analyze what Yuan Shao must rectify if he was to change his fate in history.
Sui and Tang;
Why 6 protectorates? http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16570
Warhead raised the question of reliability of literal interpretation of conventional terms used in history.
Spanish dollar in Ming Empire: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16447
CHF Forummers question the influx of foreign currency into Ming Empire, its popularity and what it revealed about foreign trade of the dynasty known both for venturing the furthest overseas as well as the most stubbornly closed doors afterwards.
gundai fei, why was she killed by her own son? http://www.chinahist...showtopic=14049
With all the intrigues within the household of Nurhaci, it was amazing that they produced leaders who not only unified the Jurchen tribes, but also successfully conquered the Ming Empire. This thread explores the allegations of Nurhaci's concubine having affair with one of his sons, an affair which threatened to tear the nascent dynasty apart.
Republic and People's Republic;
"No dogs and Chinese allowed" - did the sign exist: http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16571
An urban legend or a historical fact? CHF members give their take.
General Chinese Culture;
You can't keep a good thing now. First started in January 2006, this thread is revived with more sharings by converts to tea drinking, namely rooster sharing the intricacies of brewing tea to a gourmet art.
Chinese Philosophy, Religion and Mythology;
Maoism and its Chinese philosophy antecedents, How is Maoism similar to Mohism, Legalism, etc... http://www.chinahist...showtopic=16547
Do Mohism and Mao Zedong Thought really have close similarities? Were the early Chinese Communist leaders conscious of these similarities? If so, how did they incorporate them into Marxism-Leninism? Of Mohism, Legalism, and Confucianism, which, if any, did the Chinese Communist leaders implement most into Mao Zedong Thought?
These are questions raised by Publius worth pondering. Could Mohism more known for its pacifism and reluctant but most effective participation in warfare, share any thing in common with Maoism?
Or is it just a matter of human beings has never really changed despite thousands of years of development?
Historical Origin of Water Margin, Was Water Margin's theme based in peasant revolt? http://www.chinahist...showtopic=15753
Started by General Zhaoyun in January 2007, this thread has continued to explore the question "Who was the author of Shuihuzhuan"?" Inputs from Ashura and orchid_dreams look into the possibilities, examining the writing styles of "the usual suspects" like Luo Guanzhong having a hand it in, comparing Suihuzhuan and Sanguoyanyi.
Devil exterminations in "Journey to the West": http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?showtopic=16640
European Hansen wonders if there is any similarities between Sun Wukong's vanquishing demons to witch-hunts in the West, or if there was a metaphorical reference to Westerners foreign presence in China.
Editorial Staff: Imperial Marshal Mok, Snowybeagle, Publius, and Yun
Cultural Columnist: Moon
Special Thanks to kaiselin, Bao Pu, and the CHF Staff