Judaism in China

April 18, 2018

The Jews settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road.  The Jews who first arrived in China were welcomed by the Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building a synagogue that was finished in 1163 AD.

The Kaifeng Synagogue had a Torah written on sheepskin. The architecture of the buildings reflects Jewish culture. Evidence indicates that the Kaifeng Jews were very traditional and obeyed Kosher dietary laws and practiced circumcision for males.

The Jewish community in China thrived for centuries before it was assimilated into Chinese culture through intermarriage. But by the middle of the 18th century, little survived of that Jewish community.

In 1849, the Yellow River flooded causing what was left of the Jewish community to break apart. Today there are about five hundred descendants of the Kaifeng Jewish community that want to reclaim their Jewish traditions.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Religious Influence in China

April 17, 2018

The Financial Times reports, “Christianity first reached China in the 7th century AD, brought by Nestorian Eastern Syriac believers.” The Review of Religions.org says Islam arrived about the same time, but in the 17th century, The downturn for Muslims began with the rise of the Qing Dynasty in 1644. Qing Emperors made life very hard for Muslims. First they prohibited the Halal slaughter of animals, then they banned the construction of new Mosques and the pilgrimage for Hajj. Conditions grew bleak for Islam in the second half of the 19th Century when rebellion led to the slaughter of possibly millions of Chinese Muslims.”

This helps explain why China has never had an organized religion dominate the culture as religions have in Western and Middle Eastern countries.

In fact, when organized religions meddle too much, the Chinese eventually strike back. During the Tang Dynasty in 878 A.D., a rebel leader named Huang Chao burned and pillaged Guangzhou (better known in the West as Canton) killing tens of thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Then there were two Opium Wars during the middle of the nineteenth century where France and England invaded to force opium and Christian missionaries on China.

That resulted in the Taiping Rebellion, which was led by a Christian convert, Hong Xiuquan, known as God’s Chinese son. Hong claimed to be Jesus Christ’s younger brother. Estimates say twenty to thirty million Chinese may have died during this religious war to rid China of opium and turn China into a Christian nation, far more than all the Crusades combined.

The culmination of a series of campaigns against organized religions starting in the late 19th century, including Mao’s Cultural Revolution, destroyed or forced Christians, Jews, and Muslims to hide their religious beliefs.

More than thirteen hundred years have passed since Christianity and Islam were introduced to China, but after all those centuries only 0.45-percent of the Chinese population follows Islam while about 2.5-percent are Christians. That means about 97-percent of the population does not belong to an organized religion like Christianity or Islam that often has an influence on politics.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Feminist Emperor Wu Zetian

March 27, 2018

Emperor Wu Zetian (624 – 705 AD) of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) ranks alongside Cleopatra—the last Pharaoh of Egypt, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella of Spain, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great, and the British Empire’s Queen Victoria.

We Zetian was the only woman in China’s history to become an emperor, and her rise to power and reign as an emperor has been unjustly and harshly criticized by Confucian historians. She is one of the most remarkable women in Chinese and world history.

The second and third emperors of the Tang Dynasty were her husbands and seventeen of the emperors that ruled after her second husband died were her children and their children.

Historical records claim Zetian was a stunning beauty and that because of this Emperor Gaozong was attracted to her, but some modern scholars think it was her intelligence that won him over.

The evidence speaks for itself. While she ruled the Tang Dynasty, the economy, culture, social and political affairs prospered. She was also a talented military leader who reformed the army. After the reforms, without leaving her palace, she managed military conflicts with rival states and defeated them, and under her leadership, the empire expanded and grew stronger. She promoted officials that earned the right through merit. There is no evidence of favoritism. In fact, officials convicted of failing in their duties to the people were punished and often beheaded.

Zetian clearly respected decisive men such as her Prime Minister De Renji, and she often talked about Li Shimin, her first husband, with respect.

She also did not rule as a tyrant. Before making decisions, she listened to all opinions on an issue. Modern historians have studied her ruling style, and the evidence reveals that her political decisions were wise ones.

During the fifty years that Zetian ruled the Tang Dynasty as Dowager Empress and then as an Emperor, China’s borders expanded north, south, and west, and she did not lose any of the territory gained.

She also wrote many books and collected art. In addition, she edited the Book of Agriculture that  influenced agricultural development during the Tang Dynasty.

The historical evidence also reveals that as an ancient feminist, she should have earned praise since she did a better job as Emperor than most of the men that ruled China during the Tang Dynasty.

It also helped that the Tang Dynasty was a time of relative freedom for women. Women did not bind their feet or lead submissive lives. Binding feet did not start until the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD).

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Tang Dynasty: Part 3 of 3

March 23, 2018

The Tang Dynasty did not discriminate against ethnic groups.  All were treated the same, and people from minority groups held positions of great importance. In fact, members of minorities became prime ministers, generals, and members of the imperial garrison.

And the mothers of several Tang emperors were not from the Han majority.

Tang Emperor Taizong handled relationships with ethnic minorities skillfully. One motto of his was, “In the past, Chinese emperors emphasized the Han people at the expense of minority groups, but I believe they are all from one family so they support me.”

The ethnic minorities in northwest China revered Emperor Taizong and called him Tian Kehan. Kehan means “emperor” and Tian Kehan means “the son of Heaven“.

In October 1970, archeologists discovered more than a thousand Tang artifacts. One was a silver kettle featuring dancing horses with cups in their mouths, which matched the historical record for Emperor Taizong’s seventieth birthday.

Poetry flourished. Although the Tang Dynasty lasted less than 300 years, more than 50,000 poems had been produced. All of them have been published today in one collection of Tang poetry.

Then there were the developments and inventions. Total History reports, “One of the authors of medicine in the Tang period identified that people who suffer from Diabetes had excessive sugar levels in the urine. … the use of gun powder in weapons … the first gas cylinders to hold gas, made of bamboo … air conditioning to cool rooms in the imperial palace … the invention of porcelain.” This is just a sample.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Tang Dynasty: Part 2 of 3

March 22, 2018

The Tang Dynasty demonstrated respect for all foreign religions, and it was during this time, Christianity was introduced to China.

The first Imperial family of the Tang Dynasty was a military family in Northwest China for generations and they made Taoism the national religion.

After the first Tang emperor, Taoism was removed as the national religion and all religions were treated equal, and this benefitted Buddhism.

In 1987, archeologists discovered an underground temple/palace below the Famen Temple that had been built and sealed during the Tang Dynasty and found a solid-gold pagoda and inside was a finger bone of the founder of Buddhism, Sakyamuni.

The seventeen-hundred year-old Famen Temple was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty. To date, this is the largest underground Buddhist temple found in China.

Although China is known as the home of tea, it wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty that drinking tea became part of the culture when the Chinese also invented noodles.

A popular past time for both men and women during the Tang Dynasty was playing polo, which had been introduced from Persia.

Art, music and dance flourished in the Tang capital.  The political flexibility of the Tang Dynasty promoted social tolerance leading to stability.

Continued in Part 3 on March 23, 2018, or return/start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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The Power of One Man’s Dedication

March 20, 2018

In the seventh century, early in the Tang Dynasty, Hsuan-tsang (Xuangzang) entered a Buddhist monastery when he was thirteen. Later, he moved around China studying under different masters.

Finally, he went to India to study Buddhism at its source with Sanskrit masters where he  spent over ten years, wrote a famous book about his journey, and returned to China with over six hundred original manuscripts.


The first 2:3 minutes summarizes his life, and when he died, it was reported that his funeral was attended by one million people.

Hsuan-tsang spent the rest of his life with a group of translators rendering seventy five of the most important works into Chinese. All of this work was sponsored by the Emperor of the newly established Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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