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Showing posts from April, 2009

Three people saying so produces the tiger

During the Warring states period (453 - 221 BC), it was a common practice to exchange crown princes as hostages. This practice ensured that the various kings would honor their agreements.
The king of Wei's minister, Pang Cong, and the crown prince (the heir apparent to the king of Wei) were to become hostages at Handan.
Before leaving, he asked the king of Wei, "Now if one person said that there was a tiger in the market, would your majesty believe it?" The king said, "No."
Then, Pang Cong said, "If two people said that there was a tiger in the market, would your majesty believe it?"
The king responded, "I would be suspicious about it."
Finally, Pang Cong asked, "If three people said that there was a tiger in the market, would your majesty believe it?"
The king replied, "I would believe it."
Pang Cong said, "Whereas it is clear that there is no tiger in the market, yet three people saying so produces the tiger. Now then, …

Every Bush and Tree Looks like an Enemy Soldiers

In AD 383, the King of Former Qin, Fu Jian, led a huge army to attack Eastern Jin. After losing the first round of fighting, Fu Jian looked down from a city wall, and was terrified when he saw the formidable battle array of the Eastern Jin army. And then looking at the mountains around, he mistook the grasses and trees for enemy soldiers. As a result, when the nervous Fu Jian led his army into battle, it suffered a crushing defeat.

This idiom, Cao Mu Jie Bing, describes how one can defeat oneself by imagining difficulties, and people may be easily frightened in emergency.

People are very easily scared, during the Second World War, British people were frightened by German air-raid, they applied themselves rigorously to construct air-raid shelters, to stick sticky strips on their windows to reduce danger from flying glass and to install effective Black-outs, everyone got gas mask.

One story tells that one family was not ready when that first siren sounded, so they hurriedly dressed, ran t…

Custom of swearing witnesses in use in China

Friday's Post 
The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, September 5, 1801; Issue 3575.
Wednesday evening a serious fray took place in Kingsland Road, between some of the Chinese when one of them, named Agui, received a violent blow on his head with a hatchet, which rendered it necessary to send him to the hospital, where his recovery is deemed doubtful.
The man who gave the blow was taken before John Gifford, Esq. the sitting Magistrate, who, by means of an interpreter, took the deposition of two of the Chinese who were present, and committed the offender, named Assing, to prison. 
The Magistrate was reduced to the necessity of adopting the custom of swearing witnesses in use in China. He caused a saucer to be given to each of them, which they dashed to pieces, calling God to dash them to pieces in a similar way, if they spoke any thing but the truth.

Horn crafts or manufacturing

[GENERAL ORDERS, The Aberdeen Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), Wednesday, August 5, 1801; Issue 2795.]
This news briefing introduced Chinese horn crafts, the process of manufacturing was little known elsewhere but in China at the time.
A Quantity of fine horn, we understand, has lately been received from China, It is considered a good substute for glass, being surprisingly thin and transparent. The horns generally manufactured by the Chinese are those of sheep and goats. The ususal way of managing them is, to bend them by immersion in boiling water; after which they are cut open and flattened; they then easily scale, or are separated into two or three thin laminae, or plates. In order that these plates should be made to join, they are exposed to the penetrating effect of steam, by which they are rendered perfectly  soft. By applying the edges immediately to each other, and pressing them, they instantly adhere and from one substance. It is a contrivance little known elsewhere but in china.

Chinese emigrants in South East Asia in 19 Century

Old News e-clipping, from Wednesday's and Thursday's posts, Trewman'sExeter Flying Post (Exeter, England), Thursday, March 26, 1801. In this news, Chinese emigrants in Java were obliged to return home, but their property had been detained and confiscated by the then Dutch Government, it's interesting that the paper used 'tyranny' to describe the Dutch Government. A letter from Bombay, dated in November last, mentions a report of considerable supplies of stores having reached Batavia from Europe; it adds, that a great number of Chinese, who have emigrated to Java for the purpose of commerce, had been obliged, by the tyranny and rapacity of the Dutch, to return home, but that the property of many of them had been detained and confiscated by the Government. There is another report from Foreign Intelligence (The Aberdeen Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), Wednesday, August 12, 1801; Issue 2796.), Chinese emigrants has been treated badly by Spanish government in Manila: All…

The Talking Pupils

At Ch‘ang-an there lived a scholar, named Fang Tung, who though by no means destitute of ability was a very unprincipled rake, and in the habit of following and speaking to any woman he might chance to meet. The day before the spring festival of Clear Weather, he was strolling about outside the city when he saw a small carriage with red curtains and an embroidered awning, followed by a crowd of waiting-maids on horseback, one of whom was exceedingly pretty, and riding on a small palfrey. Going closer to get a better view, Mr. Fang noticed that the carriage curtain was partly open, and inside he beheld a beautifully dressed girl of about sixteen, lovely beyond anything he had ever seen. Dazzled by the sight, he could not take his eyes off her; and, now before, now behind, he followed the carriage for many a mile.

By-and-by he heard the young lady call out to her maid, and, when the latter came alongside, say to her, “Let down the screen for me. Who is this rude fellow that keeps on star…

Sima Guang Broke Ceramic Water Vat

Sima Guang was a renowned historian during the North Song dynasty and compiled the monumental Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government. There is a folktale that Sima Guang broke a great ceramic container where a boy was drowning.

When Sima Guang was eight years old, a group of boys were playing happily in a garden where there were many water vats. Suddenly a boy fell into a vat.

All other boys ran away except for Sima Guang. He thought he should help the drowning boy. But he was too small and the vat was too large. Then he had a good idea. He found a big rock and used all his force to break the bottom of the water container open. The water flushed out of the vat, and the boy was saved.

As a young boy, he dealt with the emergency like a grown up, how clever he was.

This folktale is called SIMA GUANG DA PO GANG in Chinese, which could simply be a play on his name for rhyming, or a twist of tongue.

Western media's view of Chinese in 19th century

[This article is from Friday's Post, The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, January 17, 1801. It's quite interesting to read how Western media's view of Chinese in 19th century, no issues about anti Chinese cheap products, no human rights problems, or air polutions.]

The common people in China, have ballads and songs inculcating chiefly the rules of civility; the relative duties of life, and maxims of morality.
The Chinese novels are amusing and instructive; they enliven the imagination without corrupting the heart, and are replete with axioms which tend to the reformation of manners by a powerful recommendation of the practice of virtue.

Conscious that the political existence of a Government depends on the proper regulation of the impulses of Nature, the severest penalties are denouced by the Chinese code of laws against all publications unfriendly to decency and good order; the purchasers of them are held in detestation by the greater part of the community; and w…