Keeping Memory of Beijing's Hutong and other Issues

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Ray, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Keeping Memory of Beijing's Hutong


    The following sketches are made by artist Kuang Han, a native of Yifeng, Jiangxi Province, graduated from Nanjing Normal University in 1989. Kuang Han moved to Beijing after finishing his school. During his stay in Beijing, he is strongly attracted by Beijing's culture heritage and he shows very strong interests in Beijing's Hutong (those narrow streets or alleys, most commonly in Beijing old residential area) and related culture.

    During the past 20 years, the artist visited almost every Hutong and old street in Beijing, collected about 3,000 pieces of materials and background information. In order to keep Beijing's Hutong on paper vividly, he did many pencil sketches during his visit of Hutong.

    Artist Kuang Han uses his special style, taste and observation angle to show us Beijing’s "Hutong Culture". Kuang Han's art work is not only give us an precious opportunity to see different parts of Beijing beyond those modern high-rise buildings, but also a great contribution to protect and preserve some special culture heritages which are disappearing in the mass construction of Beijing city in the modern time.

    The following sketches are parts of his art works showed on an exhibition entitled Keeping Memory of Hutong.

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    Many more sketches at:

    http://www.chinatoday.com/art/pencil.sketching.hutong/pencil_sketch_hutong_01.htm


    It was once a common scene in Beijing to see residents queuing in line to buy Chinese cabbages, one of the few vegetables available in winter. Greengrocers helped people load their tricycle trailers with piles of cabbages.

    Seldom do Beijingers have to store cabbages nowadays. Locals have a variety of choices of fruits, vegetables and other foods both in open markets and in the supermarket.

    But you can still see such vegetable stalls along the narrow alleyways (hutong) of Beijing. Alternatively you could recreate these images from past lifestyles through Kuang Han's pencil drawings.

    In one of his works, Kuang depicts several residents waiting aside a cabbage stall on Caishikou Street. Paying attention to small details one can see a board in the painting reading 0.12 yuan per jin (3 cents per kilogram).

    At his solo exhibition, running permanently at the Wan Fung Art Gallery in downtown Beijing, Kuang presented nearly 30 such pencil drawings depicting the daily life in ancient hutong.

    The exhibition, entitled "Preserving hutong," is the second of its kind after a previous series along the same theme in 2002.

    During the past decade, Kuang has been dedicated to holding people's memories of the vanishing hutong by taking photos and producing pencil drawings.

    Kuang's drawings offer the audience the chance to get an insight into hutong by selecting those most representative of those from past times.

    In a novel way, his art works attract eyes not through rich colors, but through broad-line pencil sketching.

    In recent years fewer painters would use solely pencil sketches in their artistic creations, since the art form arguably looks less attractive when compared to colored works. But in the eyes of Kuang Han, pencil is the best expression of the antique hutong and the life they contain inside.

    "Simple lines do not mean a monotonous content. We know that Chinese paintings normally apply few colors to demonstrate unlimited themes. So it is similar with my pencil drawings," said Kuang.

    "In a plain and similar way, pencil brings out the very graceful side and the cultural spirit of the hutong," Kuang said.

    The artist usually devotes his efforts to completing the delicate and expressive outline of every piece. He likes to adopt heavy lines to present a rhythmic contrast between light and shade.

    Though perhaps not glamorous, his paintings generally take on a pure appearance of black, white and grey against the dull yellow background, and reveal a beauty of old times.

    "It is a beauty not belonging to pure nature, but to the realistic life, through which I'd like to communicate with the audience the wisdom of our ancestors," Kuang said.

    Kuang's pencil drawings tend to lead you into a world of hutong filled with hustle and bustle.

    Dappled sun casts its light on mottled walls through grape vines. On thick trees hang several bird-cages and embroidered bed sheets. Small paper ads cover tightly closed wooden doors. Big Chinese characters saying the word "chai" are seen in a white circle on the wall representing the up-coming end of another period of old Beijing life.

    Kuang not only presents his audience with artistic pleasure, but also expresses nostalgia for a time he experienced and treasures.

    Born in Jiangxi Province, Kuang came to Beijing in the late 1980s after graduating from university. He lived in a single-storey, courtyard house (siheyuan) in the Beixin Hutong in the following seven years, and developed a strong fondness of the diverse life that exists in those historical alleyways.

    "There used to be six or more families sharing a siheyuan (enclosed courtyard) at that time. We often sat by a stone round table in the courtyard, chatting, appreciating the moon, and dining. It felt so quiet and peaceful. Though sometimes, you had to deal with naughty children playing and running from one household to another," Kuang recalled.

    Those sweet memories reappeared in his mind so many times after he moved into a multi-storey block of flats, and he felt hurt by the demolition of so many hutong in order to give way to skyscrapers.

    "It is true that people may lead an inconvenient life in hutong. But I find it difficult to dismiss these houses and communities from my heart. The hutong is from where Beijing grew and where its roots are," he said.

    Kuang has made countless trips to almost every hutong and has collected nearly 5,000 photos.

    "When drawing I usually sit in a corner with the canvas in my hand listening to the shout of things like "Potatoes on sale" or "Beers and erguotou (a kind of Beijing liquor)" from deep inside the alleyway. It is so enjoyable for me," he said.

    Kuang would sometimes receive phones calls from visitors to his exhibitions, who are pleased to have found the exact hutong depicted in one of his pencil series.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China's Traditional Dress: Qipao (Qi'pao)

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    Qipao - Traditional Chinese Dress
    As a traditional Chinese dress. Qipao is like a wonderful blossom in China's bright-colored fashion scene. Because of its unique charm, many women wear it to show their special grace.

    The history of Qipao
    In the early 17th century in North China, Nurhachi, set up the Eight
    Banner System. Later he led his troops into Beijing and overthrew the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). After years, a collarless tube-shaped gown was well developed, which was worn by both genders. This is the early version of the Qipao. It became kind of popular among the royal palace of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to show the Manchu nobility.

    Most of them were made of silk, and embroidered, with thick laces trimmed at the collar, sleeves and edges. The dress empresses of past dynasties wore them. Their style of dress was noted as the highest of standards for Chinese women
    for several thousand years.

    Qipao characterize Chinese women's modesty, softness and beauty. Like Chinese women's personality.

    Like many fashions, the beauty of Qipao stands away from others.
    Stunning is one of its features from the collar, loop, chest, waist
    and hips to the lower hem. Qipao completely shows off a woman's figure. Not only does it lay stress on the natural beauty of a female figure, but also makes women's legs appear more slender.

    Mature women in Qipaos can display their graceful manner

    Today, Qipao is also the modern designer's fashion icon.

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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Chinese Pottery and Porcelain

    Chinese Pottery and Porcelain:
    Pottery and china have always been a favour and a must in people's life. China is a country that boasts a long history of Pottery and China-making, and that is how it derives the name. Although it is no longer a technique reserved for China, most of the places claiming the best pottery and china still lie on this land.

    Apart from the Jingdezhen, the famous "City of Porcelain", there are a lot more places worth going on a china tour in China. Below are the choice where porcelain lovers are sure to acquire profound knowledge and enjoyment.

    Chinese Pottery, China, Porcelain, Bucarro, Celadon
    Jun Porcelain

    The Jun Porcelain, one of the five famous pieces of porcelain of Song Dynasty (960-1279), was born in Yuzhou, Henan Province. As the forefather' comment goes, the Jun Porcelain is known for its bright color, splendid look, exquisite shape and clear sound when being tapped. Emperors of different feudal dynasties took it as a rare treasure and ordered utensils made of Jun Porcelain for exclusive royal use. Thus, very few pieces of Jun Porcelain circulated among the common people, and their price soared as time went by.

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    The key to the Jun Porcelain rarity lies in one porcelain in porcelain-making, which is called "change in the kiln". Inside the original frit for the porcelain, the craftsman has already added the correct amount of copper. When the pieces are places into the kiln, the inside temperature then is carefully varied in the process, which results in the different patterns and shapes of colors on the porcelain surface. As the "change in the kiln" is not solely determined by human will, the creation of a rare Jun Porcelain is a gift by luck. The wonderful patterns and colors of the porcelain are born natural, beyond the control of the craftsman, however skilful he is.

    Ru Porcelain

    The Ru Porcelain is also among the list of the five famous types of porcelain from the Song Dynasty. Its birthplace is Ruzhou, a city near Yuzhou. The Ru Porcelain appears smooth and glistening as if it has just been taken out of water. Three main features of the Ru Porcelain are the "pear peel", referring to the tiny spots scattered under glaze, the "crab paw", meaning the web-like texture on the glaze, and the "sesame flower", the shape of the cracks in the glaze. Color of the Ru Porcelain include pinkish green, greyish blue and tawny, and their under glaze patterns and birds. Both pseudo classic ones and modern necessities can be found among today's Ru Porcelain.

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    Tangshan Porcelain

    Tangshan Porcelain of Hebei Province is a new porcelain-producing city. The Tangshan Porcelain includes porcelain for daily use, industrial porcelain, artistic porcelain and large-scale porcelain engraving. The most precious among the porcelain for civil use are the cinder porcelain, the white-jade porcelain and the magnolia porcelain. The white-jade porcelain is hard porcelain baked under high temperature. The main material for the cinder porcelain is the cinder of animals and that for the magnolia porcelain is talcum. The latter two tapes of porcelain, smooth, fine grained and semi-transparent, are famous throughout the world.

    The best representative of the artistic porcelain is the oxide-red, gold-ring crystallized glaze ware. Such porcelain is able to change color in accordance with different light and angle. As its creation process is extremely complicated, such porcelain has a high artistic value.


    Yixing Buccaro


    Yixing in Jiangsu Province can produce various kinds of porcelain, including vintage pottery. The vintage pottery, known as the buckaroo, has won gold medals at international exhibitions in Paris, Panama and Chicago.


    Endowed with superb local earth and outstanding craftsmen, Yixing is able to make many exquisite products. Its buckaroo tea ware is especially prominent,

    featured with a great variety and an elegant shape. There are pseudo classic teapots in the shape of pumpkins, lotus-leafs and lotus-roots. The buccaro wares can preserve the original flavor of the tea and prevent its deterioration. The longer they are used, the better.


    Longquan Celadon

    The celadon produced in Longquan, Zhejiang Province, is the first colourful porcelain of China. The kilns in Longquan started in the 10th century and came into prominence in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

    Longquan celadon looks plain and brawny, and its glaze bears a bright and simple color. In the porcelain of Linglong (Delicate) Celadon, various techniques, such as relief and hollowing-out are combined to achieve transparent, semi-transparent, and opaque effects. Longquan celadon can be classified as celadon for daily using celadon, pseudo classic celadon and artistic celadon. It is usually listed at high price, due to its small production and complicated process.

    White and Black Porcelain

    Both the white porcelain of Dehua and the black porcelain of Jianyang are famous porcelain produced in Fujian Province. The town of Dehua in south Fujian started making semi-porcelain wares as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and its porcelain products were shipped to Southeast Asian countries in the Song Dynasty via the port of Quanzhou. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the white porcelain production began. The black porcelain produced in Jianyang, north Fujian, won favour with the emperors from The Song Dynasty.

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    The white porcelain can be divided into ivory white and snow white. The white porcelain figure of Goddess of Mercy best illustrates its value. Other products like tea and kitchen wares also deserve a place in a well-furnished house. The smooth surface of the black porcelain can provide mirror images. Rabbit hair-like lines can clearly see under the glaze. The main products are Rabbit Hair Cups, vases, stationery, tea set and animal figures.

    Zibo Artistic Porcelain

    The artistic porcelain produced in Zibo enjoys high fame in north China. They come in a great variety, including vivid figure porcelain, eye-catching colourful pottery, and pseudo classical porcelain. They are unique in the color of the glaze. The "eyes of heaven" is a kind of glaze in a black background strewn with silver dots. Wares of such glaze are very precious, known as the top tea wares in Japan. The "Tea Litter Glaze" is yellow and green-mottled. It is usually used in stationery, jugs and jar-making. Such wares have a simple and ancient taste, favoured by many collectors.

    Yaozhou Celadon

    Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province, was once the dependency of Yaozhou years ago. Ancient kiln ruins can still be found lying in its suburbs. In the Song Dynasty, the Yaozhou celadon was very popular. Unfortunately, its techniques failed to be handed down through the generations. However, about two decades ago, the local porcelain factory succeeded in reviving the old techniques. The glaze of Yaozhou Celadon is oval, with ice-like texture. The products include incense burners, table wares, tea sets, wine vessels and stationery.


    Shiwan Porcelain


    Shiwan Porcelain of Foshan, Guangdong Province, is no stranger to tourists from Hong Kong, Macao and Southeast Asian countries The pottery became famous in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Most Shiwan Porcelain products are human figures. A visit to the Foshan Ancestral Temple will leave you a deep impression of the porcelain figures on eaves, roofs, and walls. Shiwan Porcelain falls into four categories: The little pottery figures, animals, and pavilions in a bonsai may be as small as a pea or a grain of rice.

    Fengxi Porcelain

    Fengxi Town of Chaozhou is the main porcelain-producing area in Guangdong Province. Although it bears a modern and foreign aura, Fengxi started celadon productions as early as the Tang Dynasty. In the Song Dynasty, it was able to make all-engraved porcelain. The Fengxi Porcelain products mainly feature figures, flowers and hollowed-out wares, serving both aesthetic and function porposes. Fengxi also produces tea sets used for Chaozhou Kongku Tea.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Chinese Cuisine:

    Chinese cuisine has a long history, and is one of the Chinese cultural treasures. It is as famous all over the world as French cuisine. Chinese cookery has developed and matured over the centuries, forming a rich cultural content. It is characterized by fine selection of ingredients, precise processing, particular care to the amount of fire, and substantial nourishment. Local flavours and snacks and special dishes have formed according to regions, local products, climate, historical factors, and eating habits.

    There are four major local cuisine in China. Each local cuisine has its own characteristics, but Chinese cuisine as a whole is divided into four major schools-Shandong, Sichuan, huaiyang, and Guangdong (Cantonese). Four more can be added: Hunan, Fuijian, Anhui, and Zhejiang. Sometimes Beijing and Shanghai cuisine are also counted.

    In addition, China has Special Cuisine including Palace, vegetarian, and medicinal dishes are categorized a special cuisine.

    China also has some local flavors and snacks In recent years, fast food, such as Mcdonald's hamburgers, Kuntucky Fried Chicken, and pizza have become popular in China.

    Four Major China Local Cuisine


    Guangdong cuisine (Yue Cai):

    Guangdong cuisine uses a great variety of ingredients such as birds, freshwater fish, snakes, and saltwater fish. It emphasizes freshness and tenderness. Representative dishes of the Guangdong cuisine are three snake dragon tiger meeting, dragon tiger phoenix snake soup, stir-fried shrimp, eight-treasure lotus-seed glutinous rice, fresh mushrooms in oyster sauce, pot-cooked soft-shelled turtle, and crisp-skin roast piglet.

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    Yue Cuisine: Fried Fish

    Shandong cuisine (Lu Cai):

    This cuisine uses a wide and fine selection of ingredients. The plentiful dishes are cooked in many ways. Shandong soups are most famous, and green onion is commonly used as a seasoning. Shandong cuisine is best represented by its variety of seafood dishes, such as sea cucumber braised with green onion, braised snake-head egg, crab eggs with shark's fin, Dezhou roast chicken, and walnuts in butter soup.

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    Liu Cuisine: Sliced Fish

    Sichuan cuisine (Chuan Cai):

    Sichuan cuisine dishes are famous in China and abroad for their spicy-hot taste and the flavour of Chinese prickly ash. Sichuan cooks select their ingredients with great care, use a variety of seasonings and cook each dishes are differently. Thus Sichuan dishes are known as a hundred dishes with a hundred tastes. Most common flavour include hot and spicy, five fragrances, mixed spices, chilli and Chinese prickly ash, and sweet and sour. Famous Sichuan dishes include spicy pork shreds, diced chicken with peanuts and vegetables, bear's paw, chicken cubes in mixed spices, bean curd with chilli and Chinese prickly ash and fried carp.

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    Chuan Cuisine: Vegetable Cooked with Sheep Liver

    Huaiyang cuisine (Huaiyang Cai):

    Huaiyang cuisine includes dishes from Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, and Huai'an in Jiangsu Province. It focuses on the freshness of ingredients. Huaiyang dishes have a light flavour, retaining the original tastes of ingredients. They also have pleasant colors and pretty shapes. Famous dishes include beggar's chicken, sweet and sour mandarin fish, chicken pieces with egg white, boiled salted duck deep-boiled crab meat in clear soup and steamed shad.

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    Huaiyang Cuisine: Steamed Fish

    China Special Cuisine:

    Palace, vegetarian, and medicinal dishes are categorized a special cuisine.

    Palace cuisine originated from the imperial kitchens, where dishes for emperors and empresses were cooked. Palace dishes are made from carefully selected ingredients and cooked with great care. Different dishes are made for different seasons. Cutting methods are exquisite. Diners eat according to traditional procedures.

    Vegetarian cuisine: Vegetarian cuisine became popular in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and developed further in the Ming and Qing(1368-1911) dynasties. Three divisions of vegetarian cuisine—temple, palace, and folk- appeared during that time.

    Made of green vegetables, fruits, edible fungi, and bean products, and cooked in vegetable oil, vegetarian dishes are tasty, nourishing, and highly digestible, and they help the body resist cancer. They are cooked in various ways, and some taste like meat. Famous dishes include "chicken", mushrooms and gluten, "meat" braised in soy sauce and spices, "ham" with mixed vegetables, hot and sour spices, "fish" with Chinese toon, "shrimp," and dried "meat" strips.

    Muslim dishes became popular at the time when Islam spread to China, inheriting the cooking tradition of the nomadic peoples in ancient north-western and north-eastern China. The most representative dishes include instant-boiled mutton, fried rice with mutton, dumplings with filling of mutton, cakes braised with mutton, and beef-entrails soup.

    Medicinal cuisine: Also called therapeutic food, medicinal cuisine is an important part of Chinese cooking. Master Chefs have developed many food therapies by combining cookery and traditional Chinese medicine. Famous medicinal dishes include lily and chicken soup, shrimp meat with pearl powder, tianfu carp, duck braised with soy sauce and orange peel, and steamed dumplings stuffed with minced meat and podia cocoas, a medicinal plant.

    Other famous cuisine includes Confucian dishes, Tan's dishes and full formal banquet cuisine, combining Manchurian and Chinese delicacies (Manhan Quanxi).

    China Local Flavors and Snacks:

    China has many local flavors and snacks. The southerners prefer rice, while the northerners prefer noodles. Beijing flavor is famous for sweetness, Guangdong snacks are more Western, and Suzhou snacks have pleasant colors and beautiful shapes. The most famous Chinese local flavors and snacks include bean curd jelly in Beijing; Goubuli steamed dumplings in Tianjin, small steamed soup dumplings with the ovaries and digestive organs of crabs in Zhenjiang, small steamed pork dumplings served in the steamer tray in Shanghai, dumplings stuffed with crab meat sesame paste and pea sprouts.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Bamboo and Chinese / Chinese Culture:


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    Chinese traditional painting: bamboo

    China is known as the Kingdom of Bamboo because it has the most bamboo of any country in the world. More than 400 species of bamboo, one third of all known species in the world, grow in China. China leads the world in the amount of area planted with bamboo, the number of bamboo trees and the amount of bamboo wood produced every year. The area that produce the most bamboo are south of Changjiang (Yangtze) River, and the biggest producers are Sichuan, Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Jiangsu provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

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    The oldest archaeological finds of bamboo articles in China were unearthed from the remains of a primitive society that existed some 7.000 years ago in what is now Hemudu, Yuyao County, Zhejiang Province. As early as the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century B.C), Chinese people used the bamboo for making household articles and weapons, such as bows and arrows. Before paper was invented, strips of bamboo were the most important writing medium, more widely used than silk, for example, because they were cheaper, resistant to corrosion, and more abundant. Bamboo has thus played an important part in the spread and development of traditional Chinese culture.

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    Bamboo strips used as "paper" in ancient China

    Bamboo was closely connected with the daily lives of people in ancient China. Su Dongpo(1037-1101), a literary giant of the Song Dynasty(960-1279), said that people could not live without bamboo, and people of the time used bamboo as firewood and to make tiles, paper, rafts, hats, rain capes, and shoes. At that time, as today, bamboo shoots were eaten as a popular dish because of their crispness and fresh, sweet taste. Bamboo shoots also contain vitamins, sugar, fat, and protein.

    In the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. A.D 220) bamboo was used for papermaking because it produced high-quality paper and was inexpensive: three tons of bamboo could yield one ton of paper pulp. And bamboo is till an important raw material for papermaking today. Some 1.600 years ago, people wrote with brushes on xuan paper made from young bamboo, and xuan paper is still popular for Chinese calligraphy and paintings.

    Today, bamboo is widely used for household articles such as mats, beds, pillows, benches, Chairs, cabinets, buckets, chopsticks, spoons, baskets, and handheld fans. It is also used to make traditional Chinese musical instruments such as the sheng, a reed instrument; the di, a flute; and the xiao, a flute held vertically.

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    Bamboo Flute

    Woven bamboo arts and craft come in a wide variety, including toy animals, lanterns, flower baskets, trays, tea boxes, screens, and curtains. Bamboo weaving is popular in the provinces of Guangdong, Fuijian, Hunan, Sichuan, and Anhui as well as Zhejiang which has a history of bamboo weaving going back more than 2.000 years.

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    Bamboo is also used in Chinese medicine. The leaves eliminate heat and phlegm; the juice cures stroke, insanity, and a kind of asthma caused by excessive phlegm; and the root can stimulate the vital forces, quench thirst, and promote lactation.

    Bamboo's resistance to stretching and its ability to support weight are at least double those of other kinds of wood, making bamboo an ideal material for houses, scaffolding, supporting pillars, and work sheds.

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    Tall and graceful with luxuriant foliage, bamboo is an ideal plant for household courtyards and parks. It tolerates the heat of summer and the cold of winter, it grows on unfertile land, and it regenerates after being cut.

    Throughout the centuries, bamboo has inspired the imagination of artists, while men of letters have written poetry and prose to express their admiration for the purity and elegance of bamboo. They compared the qualities of bamboo to those of man, and Su Dongpo attributed his literary inspiration to bamboo. Bamboo was also a favorite subject of noted Chinese painters of past dynasties.

    Bamboo, a material for arts and crafts and a symbol of integrity, has enriched the traditional Chinese culture, and become an everlasting subject for scholars and artists.
     
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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Four weddings, one country - four Chinese generations

    By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua

    "We will wed at a small theatre in Beijing by performing a play about our love story," said Wang Zhe, owner of a small restaurant in one of central Beijing's alleys, "I am the playwright and all the actors and actresses are my friends and relatives."

    Shanghai office worker Li Runya, 26, on the other hand, said frankly that she and her husband had no wedding ceremony. A year before, they registered as a couple and had been living together since.

    China, a country with its thousand-year-long traditional style wedding, has seen constant changes in the past decades in how people celebrated marriage.

    1970s: "Let's bow to Chairman Mao's portrait."

    In 1971, the then 22 and 19-year-old doctors Mr. Wang Shan and Ms. Yang Ying, walked into a local marriage office in the central Henan Province with letters of reference written by their respective work units, proving they had approval to get married.

    No photographs, no wedding gowns. Instead, they bowed to Chairman Mao Zedong's portrait, worshipped at home, and to their parents afterwards.

    With a monthly salary of 30 yuan (4.4 U.S. dollars), Wang borrowed a door panel from his work unit to be their "new" bed. They gave candies to colleagues and relatives and in return, got teacups and paintings as gifts.

    "For most people in the 70s, our dream was to own 'three wheeled things and one vocal thing' which, namely, are a bicycle, a sewing machine, a watch and a radio," said Yang.

    1980s: "I blushed when we kissed at the wedding."


    "Naughty friends forced us to kiss at the wedding in front of parents and relatives," recalled Han Tong, who got married in 1988. "It was very embarrassing indeed."

    "The 80s was an innocent and conservative age when people took love and marriage very seriously. We barely kissed or hugged in public," added the 46-year-old man.

    Sun Shuangding, 58, now a librarian at the eastern Nanjing University of Science and Technology, had a different story to tell. "My wife's parents strongly objected to our marriage though we had been in love for three years. All we could do was to get registered as a couple and continue to live apart."

    In 1983, Sun's wife finally persuaded her family, but due to "tight money issues", the couple was unable to hold a wedding. "We only went to nearby Zhenjiang city for a trip."

    "By and large, our fathers' dreams of watch and radio came true during the 80s," said Sun, "but we still could only manage to live frugally. Homemade furniture was popular and basic electric appliances such as a TV and refrigerator became common in urban families."

    1990s: A western style bridal veil, pink and rented


    Zhi Ying, 38, recalled how she fought to be a fashionable bride in 1995. She insisted on wearing a western bridal veil on the freezing winter day despite strong objections from her mother.

    "I'd rather go to hospital after the wedding," said the courageous woman. Finally, the mother and the daughter made a compromise: the bride wore her dream veil, but only in pink as white was traditionally used for funerals.

    Zhi paid six months of her salary to just rent the veil. "Western style wedding dresses were the trend in the 1990s. Most young people chose to wear western suits and gowns at weddings, at any cost," she said, full of excitement even today.

    Also, at that time, a groom had to give his bride a ring, a necklace and a pair of earrings, all gold, as wedding gifts, according to Zhi's husband Wang. Washing machines, stereos and honeymoon trips became hot choices for newly-weds.

    Wang added, "Another interesting thing is that professional wedding service companies came into being and became popular very quickly. At first, they only provided dresses for renting and helped brides put on make-ups; later on, they took on everything from car arrangement to ceremony anchoring."

    21st century: "A play" vs. "a certificate"


    21st century China has seen a division in how people choose to get married, typically the "play" type and the "certificate" type.

    The "play" type, such as restaurant owner Wang, put a great deal of effort into planning special weddings. The "certificate" type, such as office worker Li Runya, on the other hand, are happy to live together with their other halves without any ceremony.

    Li Runya, who had been with her husband for over a year now, told Xinhua, "As we have just finished furnishing our new apartment, we are likely to have a wedding early next year."

    Li was born in the 1980s, a "one-child" generation who were often considered spoiled and rebellious. Brought up in a relatively well-off China, this generation had access to a wide range of information and has become familiar with different cultures.

    Cathy Xu, 25, now working in Melbourne, Australia, got married two years ago before she left China. Like Li, she and her husband only had a marriage certificate and had been living together since.

    Some others, though, didn't even wait to get officially registered to live together. "I can totally understand if two people in love live together before getting married," said Wu Dan, a customer service worker in a U.S. company's Shanghai office, "but as girls, we also have to beware of unsafe sex."

    Almost every 20-something who was interviewed said they could accept living with their boyfriend or girlfriend before getting married. However, they all emphasized that they had to be quite sure he or she was the right person before having sex or living with them. (Xinhua Net, Dec. 8, 2008)
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Chinese Tea

    By Eileen Wen Mooney

    When you think of Chinese tea, green tea and now increasingly often, white tea, springs to mind. However, black tea, also known as red tea, is just as much a staple tea in some regions of the country. Not only that, there exists a very common roast that is classified as both green and red.

    All teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The differences between the types of tea are determined by the processing method, where the tea plant is grown and also by the appearance and taste of the infused tea.

    The length of time leaves are fermented determines the color, taste, aroma and character of the tea.

    The longer leaves are roasted, the darker the color. The less the leaves are fermented and roasted, the more natural the taste of the tea. Black teas are fermented and green teas are not.

    Chinese teas can be categorized into four different groups: green, black, oolong (which is semi-fermented and thus is considered as both a green and red tea) and finally flower-scented teas known as huacha.

    Chrysanthemum "tea," on the other hand, contains no tea leaves at all, but instead is an infusion of dried chrysanthemum flowers alone.

    Shennong, whose name literally means the Divine Farmer and who is considered as the ancient Chinese Father of Agriculture, is honored with the discovery of tea. According to legend, one fall afternoon, Shennong decided to take a rest under a Camellia tree and boiled some water to drink. According to the story, dried leaves from the tree above floated down into the pot of boiling water and infused a pot of tea, marking the first ever infusion of the tea leaf. Intrigued by the delightful fragrance, Shennong took a sip and thought it refreshing.

    Since Shennong's discovery, tea has been grown and enjoyed throughout the world.

    As the caffeinated drink that kept monks awake during long hours of meditation, tea proved to be a popular beverage in Buddhist monasteries. For this reason, many monasteries cultivated vast tea fields. Lu Yu, author of The Book of Tea, was an orphan brought up and educated in a monastery. It is likely that his experience growing up surrounded by tea led to the writing of his classic during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In The Book of Tea, Lu Yu recorded a detailed account of ways to cultivate and prepare tea, tea drinking customs, the best water for tea brewing and the classifications of tea.

    During the Sui Dynasty (581-618), tea was taken for its medicinal qualities. In the fourth and fifth centuries, rice, salt, spices, ginger and orange peel, among other ingredients, were added to tea. In the Tang Dynasty, tea drinking became an art form and at the same time a drink enjoyed by all social classes. Whipped powdered tea became fashionable during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), but disappeared completely from Chinese culture after the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), when many other aspects of Song culture were erased due to foreign rule. Chinese people became accustomed to drinking steeped tea from the Yuan Dynasty onward and continue to drink it this way to today.

    In Beijing, Chrysanthemum tea is most commonly offered in restaurants, either complimentary or for a price. At dim sum restaurants, a variety of teas are offered, but the classic southern black teas traditionally served with dim sum are strong and medicinal, such as Pu'er, or light and fragrant, such as Jasmine, or xiangpian.

    In the southeast provinces like Fujian and Guangdong are known for their production of oolong teas and while it is offered in restaurants to accompany meals, it is also a nice tea to be enjoyed slowly in teashops along with nibbles.

    In the south and northwest, brick teas are standard fare for Tibetans, Mongolians and Uyghurs. Brick tea is black tea that comes in a variety of compacted forms, such as bricks, cones, or discs. This compacted form was convenient for tea traders and nomads as it was easy to transport.

    After a rich meal, there is nothing like a hot and slightly bitter cup of tea, drunk unadorned, each sip savored for the pure taste that steeps from the tea leaves sitting on the bottom of your cup.

    Choosing a tea to go with your meal or book in a tea house, is in itself a joy and the choices are endless.

    Types of tea

    Bilochun (Green Snail Spring)


    From Suzhou's Taihu Lake and the west side of Dongtingshan in Jiangsu; curled leaves made from small early spring tea leaves. This tea has a grassy fragrance and a very light, sweet taste.

    Black

    Qihong from Anhui; this is a velvet-smooth tea with a delicate aroma and a mellow flavor.

    Dianhong

    Yunnan black tea; was first produced over 1,500 years ago making it one of the oldest teas. This strong tea yields an amber-like cup.

    Longjing (Dragon Well)


    From Xihu and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province; flattened, sparrow-tongue shaped and smooth tea leaves the brew a soft, pale green, tinged with gold. Longjing is the most aromatic green tea with a sweet and mellow taste that is slightly grassy.

    Maofeng

    Maofeng from Anhui; Maofeng teas have a broad, flat shape and a sword-like curve from tip to end. It tastes light and subtle.

    Pu'er

    Large-leafed tea gathered from trees that thrive in Yunnan Province's varying climate and acidic soil. Famous as a medicinal tea, it is believed that to aid digestion, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pres-sure, reinforce the immune system and help to prevent the formation of cancer cells. The smooth dark Pu'er tea has a rich and distinctively earthy flavor.

    Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess)

    It is one of the best-known teas, named after Kuanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. This tea is darker, as it is roasted for 11 hours and further roasted for a few more hours over charcoal. It has a very distinctive roasted aroma with a woody and robust flavor.

    Oolong (Black Dragon)

    It has a mixed personality of green tea - clear and fragrant and strong and refreshing as black tea, as well as a long after taste that lingers in your mouth. Dongding oolong tea from Taiwan, is the most prized oolong tea for its quality and aroma.

    (Source: Global Times)
     
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Shadow play

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    Shadow puppetry. Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry took center stage during last year’s Olympic Games, lead by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou’s use of the puppetry in his memorable opening ceremony festivities. (Photo source: Globaltimes.cn)

    By Sun Yiran

    BEIJING, May 4 -- Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry took center stage during last year's Olympic Games, lead by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou's use of the puppetry in his memorable opening ceremony festivities.

    Tasked with directing the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, Zhang adopted shadow puppetry as part of his goal to use the opening ceremony to share traditional Chinese culture with the world.

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    Shadow puppetry, also known as shadow play, is one of China’s historic folk arts.(Photo source: Globaltimes.cn)

    Zhang's first featured shadow puppetry in his 1994 film To Live, in which the film's protagonist Fu Gui (play by Ge You), was a skilled shadow puppeteer and which helped to reintroduce the art of shadow puppetry to audiences.

    The ancient art form was also visible at the Chinese Traditional Arts and Crafts Show held during last summer's Olympic Games.Among the 27 Chinese folk artists invited to perform, shadow puppeteers from Beijing and Shaanxi were a particular hit with both athletes and visitors.

    Shadow puppetry, also known as shadow play, is one of China’s historic folk arts.

    Performed by three to five puppeteers, shadow puppetry is a form of storytelling that uses puppets against an illuminated backdrop to create the illusion of movement.

    During a shadow play, puppeteers hide themselves behind a white curtain and move stick-mounted puppets, while also narrating the story through folk song. Performances are generally accompanied by musicians playing drums and stringed instruments.Similar to Peking Opera, characters are clearly defined, with set roles for sheng (male), dan (female), jing (painted face) and chou (clown).

    Mixing opera, music, fine art and craftsmanship, shadow puppetry is often considered a predecessor of the movie and has thrived in China for centuries.

    Shadow puppetry originated during the Han Dynasty approximately 2,000 years ago. According to The History of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Wudi (156- 87BC) of the Western Han Dynasty was so devastated by the death of his favorite concubine Madame Li that he began to ignore all court administration and government matters.

    One day, the Emperor's minister, Li Shaoweng, met a child on the road who was swinging a puppet in his hands. As the shadow of the puppet bounced on the ground with extreme lifelikeness, Li had a sudden burst of inspiration. After returning to the palace, the minister asked his servants to fashion several pieces of colored silk into the image of Madame Li and then to fix them to wooden sticks for support.

    That evening, the Emperor was invited to watch, as the servants brought concubine Li back to life through silk puppets and oil lamps. The emperor thoroughly enjoyed the performance, after which shadow puppetry became a main feature of the royal court and imperial China.

    The process of making the specialized puppets for shadow puppetry is quite complex. Dried and cleaned sheep, donkey or other skin is treated with a chemical process until it becomes thin enough to be translucent. The skin is then coated with oil and cut into the necessary patterns. The head, limbs, and trunk of the puppets are often carved separately and then stitched together so that each part can be moved independently.

    The leather puppets are then finally painted to define their features and help give them a personality. Many times, decorative patterns such as flowers or clouds are used to denote female puppets, while dragons and tigers are more common on male characters.

    Emblematic of the resurgence of interest in Chinese shadow puppetry is the growing interest in shadow puppets by collectors worldwide. According to the chief of the Xi'an Shadow Play Museum Jiang Gouging, the market for Chinese shadow puppets is booming, with the price rising noticeably every year. It is not uncommon for puppets to be sold for upwards of 100,000RMB at auction.

    The Chinese Ministry of Culture has applied to UNESCO for shadow puppetry to be recognized as an intangible part of world cultural heritage, following UNESCO's decision to remove the limit on the number of applications for cultural heritage protection.

    (Source: Globaltimes.cn)
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Wax Painting Art in Guizhou, China



    As a traditional printing handicraft, wax printing has been prevailing in China's Guizhou province for at least a thousand years. Instead of using the craft mainly on garments, these contemporary painters have combined the wax printing craft with many other painting skills and created a number of wax printing pictures with a unique style. Having lived with national minorities in Guizhou over a long period of time, these artists have not only the knack of traditional wax printing skill, but also a profound understanding of the minorities' life, such as music, dance, festivals and customs, which is fully incarnated in the works.

    We are so proud to have the opportunity to give our visitors and users the chance to enjoy the beauty of Guizhou wax painting art, and to experience ethnic culture in Southwest China.

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    Autumn Fruits

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    Baby Dragon

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    Bench Dance

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    Bench Dance

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    Birds
     
  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China Festival: Lantern Festival

    The Lantern Festival occurs on the 15th day of the first lunar month according to the old Chinese calendar, when a full moon provide enough light for the various ceremonies and activities traditionally held throughout China. Customarily, family members reunite for a meal of yuanxiao, round, sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour served in soup, which symbolize a wish for the family’s happiness and good luck all year.

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    Red Lantern Decoration in Northern China

    Custom dictates that the holiday be enlivened with lantern hung throughout the house, lantern shows, yangko (a popular rural folk dance), stilt walkers and dragon dances. The history of this merriment dates back 1,900 years to the Han Dynasty when Emperor Mingdi sat on the throne (A.D.58-75). Mingdi ordered lanterns lit in every palace and monastery on the 15th day of the first lunar month in homage to Buddha. Since then various activities, such as lantern shows, fair, and evening parties to guess riddles related to lanterns, have been organized in different parts of China.

    The lantern usually are made of thin bamboo strips, straw, rattan, metal or animal horns and are covered with red paper or gauze. They come in various shapes and sizes. Some are classified as palace lanterns while others are revolving lanterns that feature fables or pictures of animals. Now technology and electronics are being used in festival lanterns, and neon lights side by side with traditional Chinese paper lanterns add more festivity to the holidays for both urban and rural dwellers.

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    Dragon Dance

    Dragon dances originated with ancient ceremonies for the Dragon King. At first these dances were a prayer for favourable weather. Today performers are more concerned with demonstrating their skills or unique techniques for simulating a dragon. Making a dragon for this dance using colourful paper or silk fabric requires special skills and craftsmanship.

    Stilt walking, a recreational activity in rural areas, combines dances drama and physical agility. Chinese stilts are usually 20 to 90 centimetres high. Using various props, performers play folk heroes or roles from popular dramas.

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    Fish in Chinese Culture Means Prosperous and Harvest

    Yangko is very common folk dance among Chinese in northern China. A yangko can be performed by two or three people who re-create a simple story line, or by several dozen dances who act out complicated dramas. A performer’s sense of humour, plus colourful props such as colour ribbons, paper fans, or handkerchiefs make a yangko a unique cultural celebration, especially when combined with stilt walkers and dragon dances.

    Round sweet dumplings traditionally are eaten for happiness on the Lantern Festival. Today these dumplings also are a popular dessert in China, and come in two varieties: one is made of white and brown sugar, sweet-scented osmanthus, nuts and sesame seeds; the other has meat and vegetable fillings. Recently Chinese have begun adding chocolate for a truly unique flavour, even though traditional ingredients are readily available in Chinese markets. Besides the traditional boiled dumplings, fried sweet dumplings are becoming popular.

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    Red Lantern During the Festival Night
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Make A Red Envelope for Chinese New Year

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    At Chinese New Year it is traditional for parents and elders to give gifts of "lucky money" to children and unmarried adults. The money, which can vary from a small, new coin to a substantial sum, is always presented in a red envelope. It's easy to make a red envelope - why not have a go with the children?

    You will need:

    Red paper
    Gold paint/ pen
    Glue

    Red Envelope Template

    Instructions:

    Print out our template onto red paper and cut out.

    Fold along the marked lines and glue the small flaps down, leaving the top open.

    Use gold paint or a pen to draw a Chinese character on the front of the envelope. You can find some inspiration from our Chinese calligraphy cards if you like.

    ************

    Chinese Puzzles

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    Chinese Scene - Find the Difference

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    Help the rat find his way to the temple

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    How many rabbits can you count in this picture? It's fun to color in, too


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  13. kickok1975

    kickok1975 Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Very good, Ray.

    Although you "appear" not friendly to China some time, I would say you are the very person who would spend most time, take most effort to learn China, understand China in this forum. Solute to you.
     
  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I am not a His Master's Voice to any person or to any country, including my own.

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    I do not hesitate to say it as I see. It may appear a trifle abrasive.

    Yet, on the other hand, I do not close my eyes to what is good and what we can learn from.

    Leaving Chinese politics aside, there are some fascinating aspects of China that we must know and appreciate.

    I have experienced the goodness of the Chinese people in my travels abroad as also with the large Chinese population of my city and, it may not be known, I have Chinese relations too! :)

    Many Chinese have shown the glittering cities of China. They are 'showcasing' the progress. They are not trying to make Indians understand China.

    What is important is to understand China and its rich heritage.

    That is what I am trying to 'showcase' with my limited experience.

    Building bridges and yet not forsaking the realpolitik of the Sino Indian equation and current relationship.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  15. kickok1975

    kickok1975 Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I agree, that's why I'm taking a different approach which is not always understood and supported by my fellow Chinese members. Cold Skyscrapers and freeway don't create bridge between people's heart, only mutual respect and deep communications do.
     
  16. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Please use this thread to bring in the issue of culture, traditions, festivals of different parts of China so that it can help all to understand the beauty of the Chinese people and their civilisation.

    How about a video of the Lion Dance and its history?
     
  17. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Many Chinese have shown the glittering cities of China. They are 'showcasing' the progress.

    ++++++
    I think it's just part of human nature. Sometimes I also do promotion for my hometown which I always feel proud of. In real life instinctively one wants to show the best of himself/herself to others. It's not only the psyche of Chinese alone but also of Indian I think.

    For now China and India are "enemy states". It makes it a must to understand each other - Know thy enemy ('_')
     
  18. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    True, but remember what Sun Tsu said:

    For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I hoped that this would be a thread without the usual rancour. However, since you raise the issue, may say the following?

    English Proverb:

    Pride goes before a Fall!


    This one is quite topical:

    The false ego uses criticism of others to build itself up. It revolts when criticized. It blooms when flattered.

    The ones who are more aware would realise that When dealing with such people who display skyscrapers and bridges alone and nothing of their true greatness, then one should remember that one is not dealing with creatures of logic or genuine pride, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity. Hence, mere mirages of an overheated patriotism resulting from sudden progress.

    It is like saying that they have nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.

    William Penn has said, “Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.”
     

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