Births and Deaths – Part 1/2

August 12, 2011

If we study history, it does not take long to discover that all empires have births and deaths.

To name a few, the Persian Empire survived from 550 – 330 BC then fell to Alexander the Great as he built his vast but brief empire that survived from 346 to 323 BC.

After Alexander, there was the Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD in the West and 1453 AD in the East) and China’s Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) followed by other great dynasties such as the Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty until it collapsed in 1911.

There was also the Mongol Empire (1206 – 1368 AD) followed by the British (1583 – 1997, when the British returned Hong Kong to China).

The concept of an American Empire was born in 1898, after the Spanish-American War and the annexation of the Philippines to the US.


You cannot run an empire without money.

However, some historians claim the process of expansion and empire for America dates to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of the US.

Bill Bonner writes of America’s Imperial Suicide and offers compelling evidence that the sunset of another empire has arrived.

Bonner mentions that the end started under President Richard Nixon in 1971 when the US stopped backing the dollar with gold and replaced it with paper and the good intentions of a government that is now burdened by a National Debt well beyond $14 trillion.

Since the Chinese appear poised to become the next world empire, will they accept the crown or follow in the footsteps of Han Dynasty, which transformed itself into the Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming then Qing Dynasties by not attempting to swallow or control a vast global empire with constant expansion and intimidation of others on a scale equal to the Romans, the British Empire and the United States.

Are the Chinese wise enough to avoid the mistakes made by the others that have blazed this trail of empire before them?

Continued on July 13, 2011 in Births and Deaths – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

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The “Vanishing” Street Art of Chinese Calligraphy

June 19, 2011

Chinese calligraphy is not vanishing. What I’m talking about is demonstrated in the videos included with this post. In China, many artists use sidewalks as a canvas and a brush with water to paint the beauty of calligraphy. As the water evaporates, the art vanishes.

In fact, calligraphy is more popular than ever. After the Cultural Revolution, many people turned to calligraphy in the hope of finding solace in the calm repetition of its exercises. Then, in 1981, the authorities took the lead in setting up a Chinese Calligraphers’ Association, the first such nationwide body ever to be established in the country. Source: Fathom.com, The British Museum

Both a language and an art, Chinese calligraphy has been traced back more than 4,000 years to the crude form called “Jia Gu Wen” found on turtle shells from the Shang Dynasty.

Calligraphy first bloomed as an art during the Han Dynasty but by the time of the Tang Dynasty, it had declined as an art. Source: Chinese Calligraphy History

It would be difficult to talk about Chinese art without understanding Chinese calligraphy and its artistic inspiration. A painting has to convey an object, but a well-written character conveys only its beauty through line and structure.

In Shanghai on sidewalks, or Beijing at The Summer Palace, I’ve watched men with long handled brushes, as seen in the first video, using water for ink and concrete for paper. With grace, they exhibit the skills of a Rembrandt breathing life into the characters.

America’s so called street artists should copy the Chinese that practice calligraphy and trade in their cans of spray paint for brushes and water, which would save US taxpayers much money.

Lin Yutang writes in My Country and My People that Western art is more sensual, more passionate, fuller of the artist’s ego, while the Chinese artist and art-lover contemplates a dragonfly, a frog, a grasshopper or a piece of jagged rock—more in harmony with nature.

Owing to the use of writing calligraphy with a brush, which is more subtle and more responsive than the pen, calligraphy as art is equal to Chinese painting.

Through calligraphy, the scholar is trained to appreciate, as regards line, qualities like force, suppleness, reserved strength, exquisite tenderness, swiftness, neatness, massiveness, ruggedness, and restraint or freedom.

Maybe this helps explain why the Chinese are not as warlike as Christian and Islamic cultures.

This revised and edited post first appeared on July 3, 2010 as Caressing Nature with Chinese Calligraphy

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The “Mandate of Heaven’s” Gobal Revelation – Part 2/2

May 15, 2011

Global history shows that not all previous civilizations collapsed at the same time.

After the Western Roman Empire (500 AD) and the Han Dynasty (219 AD) were gone, the Byzantine Empire thrived in the Middle East for almost a thousand years (500 – 1453 AD), while the Tang Dynasty survived until 906 AD and the Yuan Dynasty (the Mongols) to 1368 AD to be replaced by the Ming then Qing Dynasties.

The British Empire survived until 1947 then vanished as an empire as the United States became a global super power after World War II.

However, many people are not aware of The Mandate of Heaven’s cycle, which leads to behavior that repeats the same mistakes that caused the fall of other civilizations.

American style democracy, capitalism, socialism, jet planes, the combustion engine, telephones, electricity, the Internet, and the iPad are not going to save civilization, as we know it today.

The reason for this is that human nature is what causes the downfall of civilizations.

History shows that during the good times at the height of a civilization such as Rome or the Han Dynasty, most people take the quality of life for granted as if it will never end.  Once that happens, the end begins.


The Mandate of Heaven explained on a global scale by Warren Edward Pollock

In the video, Warren Pollack explains how the Communist Party returned China to stability after chaos and anarchy swept China after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. If the Party continues to maintain domestic stability and keep people working, China may survive as the civilization it is becoming for a few centuries before the next collapse.

Since Mao died in 1976, the internal goal of the People’s Republic of China has been domestic stability. With domestic stability, we see China returning to that period in the dynastic cycle where harmony and prosperity rules leading to a period of stability.

To understand what happened in China, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness.

Edward Pollock says, “If China stood as the world’s top country, it would not act like the United States, which has been irresponsible, lazy and greedy and engaged in robbery and cheating. They (US)  have brought economic recession to the whole world.”

If we look to the dynastic cycle as a guide, it would seem that the United States has entered the cycle’s stage of decay moving toward a collapse.

However, with the weapons of mass destruction that America has in its arsenal (more than any other nation even the USSR), could the US, like a drowning man, pull the rest of global civilization down with it?

Return to The Mandate of Heaven’s Global Revelation – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to iLook China, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


New Year’s Recap

January 1, 2011

There’s much about China that I did not know when we started this journey on January 28, 2010. 

We visited China’s early dynasties (the Xia, Shang and Zhou) before Qin Shi Huangdi became the first emperor and unified China.

Then we visited the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming and Qing Dynasties while learning of the chaos and anarchy between the dynasties.

We met Confucius and Wu Zetian, China’s only woman emperor during the Tang Dynasty.

We discovered China’s music, art and opera while meeting one of China’s national treasures, Mao Wei-Tao.

Learning about the 19th century Opium Wars started by the British and French opened my eyes to evils I had not known of.

What shocked me most was how the West forced China to allow Christian missionaries into China along with opium.

One reader challenged me in a comment saying that couldn’t be true then didn’t respond when I provided links to the evidence that missionaries and opium were included in the same treaty, which forced the emperor to accept against his will.

Then I sat spellbound as I joined Mao and the Communists on the Long March where more than 80,000 started out and about 6,000 survived — the only choice was to fight or die.

Along the way, I learned that Sun Yat-sen was the father of China’s republic and how Chiang Kai-shek started the Civil War in 1925 when he ordered his army to slaughter the Chinese Communists.

I didn’t know that the Communist and Nationalist Parties were the two political parties of China’s first republic and how it was the US supported Nationalists that fired the first shot that shattered Sun Yat-sen’s dream for China.

After the Communists won the Civil War in 1949, I saw the suffering and death from Mao’s mistakes during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that ended in 1976.

Then we learned how Deng Xiaoping saved China from the Revolutionary Maoists and launched the Capitalist Revolution, which led to the Tiananmen Square incident then China’s Sexual Revolution.

And there was my continued attempt to explain China’s Collective Culture. One comment basically said, “Yea, sure!” as if there were no such thing as cultural differences such as this.

We also were introduced to other Blogs about China such as the China Law Blog.

Of course, with more than a thousand posts in a year, what I have mentioned here is but a small part of the 2010 journey of China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The Origins and Meaning of Taoism – Part 1/2

December 5, 2010

Jean Delumeau, that narrator of the video, is an honorary professor of the College de France. He says by the time Buddhism arrived in China in the first century AD, Confucianism and Taoism had been widespread for several centuries.

Taoism was the popular religion of China while Confucianism was the official state religion of the Han Dynasty. In fact, the bureaucracy practiced Confucianism at work and turned to Taoist spiritual practices after work.

Even though Taoism and Buddhism have fundamental differences, Taoism helped spread Buddhism. While Taoism seeks the salvation of the individual, Buddhism seeks an escape from the cycle of personal existence.

However, certain practices of Taoism and Buddhism are similar, which are meditation, fasting, and breathing techniques.

The word “Tao” means both the order and totality of the universe and the pathway or road that allows the individual to enter into the rhythm of the world through a negation of self.

Two opposing but complementary forces of reality are fused in the Tao — Yin, which is passive, cold and feminine and Yang, which is active, hot and masculine.

The moon and the sun are the manifestations of Yin and Yang and all change is a result of these two dynamic forces such as day and night, the seasons, and life and death.

These two principals alternate in the five phases of a cycle, which are represented by water, fire, wood, metal and earth, which serve to define the five cardinal points, which are north, south, east, west and the center.

A contemporary of Confucius, Lao Tzu’s teachings were compiled in the fifth century BC into a collection called the Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing, which have had a great influence on Chinese thought and medicine.

One example says, “The wise man does not seek to be known as a wise man but of his own free will remains in obscurity. Those who seek much knowledge enrich themselves daily. Those who seek Tao become poorer each day. Eventually, they become so poor they are incapable of action. Without action, nothing can be achieved.”

Learn more of Yin Yang

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


China’s Greatest Emperors

November 25, 2010

China’s longest lasting dynasties survived due to one or more great emperors.

After China was unified by Qin Shi Huangdi (221 – 207 BC), there were only five dynasties that survived for long periods — the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

Although China’s civilization survived, the country’s history is rampant with rebellions, palace coups, corruption among palace officials, and insurrections. Between the five longest dynasties, the country usually fell apart into warring states as it did after 1911.

The most successful emperors managed to stabilize the country while managing wisely as the Communist Party has done since 1976.

Emperor Han Wudi (ruled 141 – 87 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 219 A.D.) was fifteen when he first sat on the throne.

Wudi is considered one of the greatest emperors in China’s history. He expanded the borders, opened the early Silk Road, developed the economy, and established state monopolies on salt, liquor and rice.

After the Han Dynasty collapsed, China fell apart for almost 400 years before the Tang Dynasty was established (618 -906). The Tang Dynasty was blessed with several powerful emperors.

The first was Emperor Tang Taizong (ruled 627-649).

According to historical records, Wu Zetain, China’s only woman emperor also ruled wisely.

Emperor Tang Zuanzong , Zetain’s grandson, ruled longer than any Tang emperor and the dynasty prospered while he sat on the throne.

After the dynasty fell, there would be short period of about 60 years before the Sung Dynasty reestablished order and unified the country again.

The second emperor of the Sung Dynasty, Sung Taizong (ruled 976 – 997) unified China after defeating the Northern Han Dynasty. The third emperor, Sung Zhenzong (ruled 997-1022) also deserves credit for maintaining stability.

The Sung Dynasty then declined until a revival by Sung Ningzong (ruled 1194 – 1224) After he died, the dynasty limped along until Kublai Khan defeated the last emperor in 1279.

After conquering all of China, Kublai Khan founded the Mongol, Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367). Not long after Kublai died, the dynasty was swept away.

In 1368, a peasant rebellion defeated the Yuan Dynasty and drove the Mongols from China.

The Ming Dynasty (1271 – 1368) is known for rebuilding, strengthening and extending the Great Wall among a list of other accomplishments.

Historical records show that the rule of the third Ming Emperor, Ming Chengzu (ruled 1403 – 1424), was the most prosperous period.

After Chengzu, the dynasty would decline until 1567 when Emperor Ming Muzong reversed the decline.

His son, Emperor Ming Shenzong, also ruled wisely from 1573 to 1620.

After Shenzong’s death, the Ming Dynasty quickly declined and was replaced by the Qing Dynasty in 1644.

The Opium Wars started by England and France and the Taiping Rebellion led by a Christian convert in the 19th century would contribute to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

The Qing Dynasty was fortunate to have three powerful, consecutive emperors: Emperor Kangxi (1661 – 1722), Yongzhen (1722-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796). For one-hundred-and-thirty-five years, China remained strong and prosperous.

After the corrupt Qing Dynasty was swept aside in 1911 by a rebellion led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, China fell apart and warlords fought to see who would rule China.

When Sun Yat-sen died, the republic he was building in southern China fell apart when Chiang Kai-shek broke the coalition that Sun Yat-sen had formed between the Nationalist and Communist Parties. Mao’s famous Long March shows how the Communists survived.

Then Japan invaded, and China would be engulfed in war and rebellion until 1945 when World War II ended. After World War II, the rebellion between the Nationalist and Communists ended in victory for the Communists in 1949.

This victory was made possible because the Communists were supported by China’s peasants that hated, despised and distrusted the Nationalist Party, which represented China’s ruling elite.

The Communists gained the support of the peasants by treating the peasants with respect and promising reforms that would end the suffering.

Then Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution extended the peasants suffering.

However, since the early 1980s, the Communist Party has been working to fulfill the promises made during the revolution, and the lifestyles of China’s peasants are slowly improving.

There are many impatient voices in the West and a few in China that are not happy with the speed of China’s reforms or how the Party has handled them.

In fact, China has modernized and improved lifestyles in China since the early 1980s at a pace that has never been seen before in recorded history.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.

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The Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 3/4

September 25, 2010

Later, after the first Tang emperor, Taoism was removed as the national religion and all religions were treated equal.

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 palace/temple 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.

Chang’an, known as Xian when it was the capital of China’s first emperor, had an east and west market that sold goods from around the known world.

A popular past time for both men and women during the 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 Tang Dynasty – Part 4 or return to The Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.