Tag Archives: Chinese Culture
My Chinese friend called today asking to hang out. When I asked what was up, she said she intended to go home today but her brother called and warned her not to travel today. Apparently today the province is celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival.
It falls on the 15th of the 7th lunar month. According to my friend, they believe that today many ghosts are able to travel around the country. This is why my friend couldn’t travel- she has to leave the way clear for the ghosts instead. Instead many adherents will go to the graves and leave lots of food for the hungry wanderers to eat.
They also make hand-made traditional dumplings out of long noodles. They are long so you can wrap up your ancestral ghosts in the strand and keep them close to you in the future. Funnily enough, we went to the little Chinese garden here and ran into 5-6 grandfathers out with their grandkids. They had been tasked with entertaining the kids while grandma made the dumplings. To participate, my friend and I had beef dumplings at the local street market and she promised to wait until tomorrow to go home :p
Introduction to the Chinese Lunar Calendar
Introduction to the Chinese Lunar Calendar
and Origin of the Zodiac Animals
Happy Year of the Monkey!
Archaeologists have uncovered the world’s oldest set of tea leaves from the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor!
Living 2,150 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Jing was a major fan of the delicious drink. Like all the rest of us tea lovers, Emperor Jing understood the power of the tea leaf and its healing/renewing abilities.
The collection of tea leaves was 42 feet x 8 inches. That is a major tea haul! If you ever tried drinking tea from leaves rather than a lipton bag, you’ll know that it only takes a small amount to go a long way. This amount probably lasted him a long while in the afterworld!
This particular type of tea, Camellia Sinesis, comes from a type of small evergreen shrub known as a tea tree. The leaves and buds of the tree are used to create a special, expensive green tea. There are actually two varieties of the tree–one is used to create the Chinese teas (such as White Tea, Oolong, Pu’er, Green Tea, etc.) and the other is used to create Indian Assam teas. The leaves of the tree have long been applied in Chinese traditional medications and as a caffeine provider. I’m guessing it was pretty easy to bring the emperor over as a tea supporter 🙂
The tomb was located in Xi’an, China. Xi’an is now world-famous due to the discovery of the Terra Cotta army buried under the local hills and is only about an 8 hour drive from where I live! I’m really excited; maybe I could see this tea pile 🙂 Emperor Jing’s tomb contained “50,000” terra cotta animals and statues, along with other great treasures.
The extra amazing thing about the tea beyond its age is the fact that it is some of the earliest proof that researchers have about the Silk Road. It is believed that the emperor may have traded his tea with Tibet where similar tea remains were found dating not long after. This shows the the Silk Road probably moved thorugh Tibet at the time.
Took a little trip to the Luòyáng , China this past weekend as part of a culture trip hosted by the University!
Pronounced something like “loi yahng,” this beautiful home to the National Peony Festival (I’ll add an update on the Peony Garden later) is one of the “cradles of Chinese Civiliazation” and one of the ancient capital cities of China (Henan has 2 of them! – Luoyang and Xinzheng). The city itself is amazingly clean and open, the streets are unlittered and it’s pretty modern.
The best part of my visit by far though was the Longmen Grottoes and the Peony Garden. This week was part of the 2 week festival they have each year for the Peony festival, so people were everywhere despite the rain.
The Longmen Grottoes themselves are absolutely mind-blowing ~ an amazing feat of human design and capability. To imagine that such intricate design, specific carvings, and gentle touch art were feasible so many centuries ago is one of those things that always stops me in my tracks. I know a lot of people aren’t as interested as I in history and stone statues (several of the teachers I was with were fairly denigrating about spending so much time in a “Stone Garden). But to me, standing on the same ground, touching the rocks they touched, seeing the art they created, glimpsing pieces of hearts long past. It’s simply miraculous.
The Grottoes are home to thousands and thousands of carvings on the stone faces of the mountain cliffs. Most are of Buddha or his followers, some are pagodas, buildings, and other designs. The varying stone colors used to frame and decorate the statues, each one different from the rest. Carved over a period of centuries (5th – 15th Century AD), each set was designed by a different artist, many from completely different times. You can trace the changes, both in religion and philosophy (skinny to fat Buddhas for example) and in art styles.
One of the other reasons the grottoes is so stunning is the River Yi (pron. ee) that runs alongside the valley in front of the rocks. The river is clean and beautiful, sweeping along a lovely walkway as antique-style dragon boats float up and down. Stone bridges line the view, criss-crossing over to the other side that offers views of antique buildings lining the mountain paths.
It’s just a beautiful way to spend a day