“First Emperor of China” Movie Review

June 7, 2010

Released in 1989 and narrated by Christopher Plummer, this version of the First Emperor of China is about half the length of the nine-part series, The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China (link to part 1), about Qin Shi Huangdi on YouTube.

 

This documentary was first seen on an IMAX screen, and it covers a few of the known facts about the first emperor’s life.  There is the attempted coup by a prime minister; the assassin with a poison knife; the conquest of six Chinese nations to unify China (too brief on detail); adopting one written language, which resulting in book burning and burying hundreds of scholars alive who disagreed with him; completing the Great Wall of China, and the creation of the Terra Cotta army that would guard his tomb.

Then there is emperor’s quest to live forever by consuming a form of liquid mercury, which shortened his life by decades—an example of how power corrupts absolutely making a man believe he was as powerful as a god.

This link will take you to the New York Times review, which said it was a painless history lesson full of vibrant period details but lacking human drama.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Tainting History

June 4, 2010

As a child, I had a fascination for Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.  Still do. I read everything I could about these men who built empires and yet I knew little because of the cultural filters the West puts in place for any history outside Christianity and Western Civilization.

Multi-story statue of Genghis Khan in Mongolia

In Reconsidering Genghis Khan, we discover how history written from a Western perspective was misleading.  Currently through November 1, Genghis Khan, The Exhibition is showing at The Tech Museum in San Jose, California. Prior to arriving in San Jose, the exhibition was on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science where it drew 175,000 visitors.

We now know that Genghis Khan was anything but the butcher and barbarian Western historians painted him as. Records from the period, many only now being uncovered, “give you a view of a person who is a superb organizer, a superb lawmaker, a fair and judicious ruler, somebody who supported women and gave women a lot of rights,” says William Fitzhugh, who is a consultant for the exhibition. “It’s wrong to say that Genghis created a democracy, but, for the time, he was remarkably enlightened.” Source: Mercury News

In fact, Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, established the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) in China and ruled as the Emperor from Beijing. (Genghis Khan statue )

Discover China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Kombucha Fermented Tea

May 30, 2010

Sometimes I wonder about the sanity of most Americans.  It seems they will drink or eat anything that arrives pretty on a plate or in a fancy bottle. I  read a piece this morning that said Lindsay Lohan and other Hollywood types like Madonna, Kirsten Dunst and Halle Berry are into this new (but old) synergy drink called Kombucha.

Kombucha Home Brew

No one knows for sure where this fermented tea originated but recorded history says it started in Russia during the late 19th century. Promotional material says the drink comes from ancient China or Japan. In fact, some say that kombucha, known as the Godly Tsche, dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and was “a beverage with magical powers enabling people to live forever”. Since the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, didn’t live forever, we can discount that claim.

I asked my wife about this tea and she said that as a child she saw it being fermented and that the stuff floating around inside the jar reminded her of dead cockroaches.  Once someone like Pepsi or Coke gets hold of something old like this there is no telling what kind of chemicals will be added. If you want to make this tea, click Kombucha Tea for the home brew recipe.

If you believe the health claims for this tea, you may want to learn about the Chinese “Chong Cao“. Remember, the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) hasn’t evaluated any of this stuff yet.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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The Earth was Flat

May 14, 2010

In 1610, Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius, the Starry Messenger, about discoveries he made with his new telescope. He was attacked for his theory because it seemed to contradict Scripture.  Because of this, in 1633, Galileo was tried and convicted of heresy.

Fifteen hundred years prior to Galileo’s discovery that the earth was round and orbited the sun, there is evidence that Chinese mathematicians had calculated the size of the earth on the basis that it must have been spherical (round). However, similar to Galileo, the Chinese people would continue to believe the earth was flat for centuries.  It is possible that when Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), China’s first emperor, had the great book burning, he burned the evidence of earlier Chinese mathematical texts.

Chinese astronomer

In addition, older Chinese creation myths included details that accounted for the tilt of the earth and other astronomical facts.  Several existing, ancient Chinese applied mathematics texts prove the Chinese were the first to use some of the most basic and advanced mathematical principles and concepts utilized in modern times. Two of these texts are the Chou Pei and Chiu Chang.

Learn more about China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Haungdi by reading and watching this nine part series on his life.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Honoring the Dead

May 13, 2010

Ancestor worship may well be the oldest, unorganized religion in China. Take Tomb Sweeping Day for example. The practice that honors family ancestors started during the Zhou Dynasty and has been around for more than 2,500 years.

The first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi had not unified China yet. China was divided into several nation states governed by hereditary rulers and worshiping ancestors was important in maintaining a link with the past.

Today, many Chinese homes and businesses have a shrine set up to honor the ancestors. This shrine may have the name of the ancestor carved into wood or rock or there is a photo. Food is often left on the table for the ancestors. 

Honoring the Ancestors

Ancestor respect is also an important part of Confucianism and there is still an ancestor hall for Confucius in Chufu that is maintained by a direct descendant. Next time you are in a Chinese or Southeast Asian restaurant, look around and see if you can spot a shrine to the ancestors.

Confucianism and ancestor worship is not exclusive to China. After all, China was a super power in Asia for more than two thousand years and had a large influence over other cultures in the region.

Learn more about Confucius from this five-part series about the sage’s life.

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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. 

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Second China Quiz

May 8, 2010
The answers may be found anywhere in the first three hundred posts for this blog.  The first person to answer all the questions correctly will win a free copy of either My Splendid Concubine or Our Hart.

This prize will be open until the first person answers all the questions correctly. Write your answers in a comment to this quiz.  Make sure to number the answers so they match the questions and provide an e-mail address for me to contact you. Each question has a link that will take you to where you may find the answers.

China

1. What does the First of all Virtues mean?

2. What is the Chinese attitude toward health care?

3. What was the life expectancy for the average Chinese person before the Communists won China in 1949?

4. What was the debate on salt and iron about?

5. Chinese Internet users are _____________ as likely to have blogs as Americans. (fill in the blank)

6. (From Similar “Oily” Interests) What is Wahhabism and where does the money come from to pay for this?

7. What happened during Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring?

8.  What happened to Deng Xiaoping’s son when he spoke out against the Cultural Revolution?

9. What vital key does China hold for humanity’s future?

10. How does Communist China treat its minorities compared to the way minorities have been treated in the United States?

11. Who was Faith Dremmer and what happened to her?

12.  What did Peter Hessler say about happiness?

13.  How many of the world’s smokers live in China?

14.  What is the name of China’s Oprah and how large is her audience?

15. What is the difference between China’s labor laws and United States?

16. What did Lin Yutang say about the Chinese and Christianity?

17. What did the first emperor of China consume that contributed to his madness and death? (This answer is in one of the nine linked posts in a series about Qin Shi Huangdi.) Why did Qin Shi Huangdi do this? (must answer both questions for # 17)

18. When the “Cult of the Dead Cow” gains access to your computer, what do they do?

19. Which issue of National Geographic magazine provides proof that Tibet was part of China for centuries before Mao’s invasion and reoccupation?

20. What is the name of the all-electric car being manufactured in a joint effort between Chinese and California partners?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China – Part 9/9

April 23, 2010

In the seventh month of 2010 BC, the first emperor’s search for immortality has ended. At the age of fifty, Qin Shi Huangdi is dead.

While China’s first emperor is being buried according to his wishes, a power struggle rages outside the tomb. By tradition, the oldest son should have become the emperor but several ministers want a younger son on the throne. The others are assassinated and there is a slaughter.

The emperor is also not going alone into the afterlife. While his chosen successors are being assassinated, hundreds of his favorite concubines will stay with their master and die with him. The tomb’s designers and builders will be sealed in the tomb too. Everyone who knows the way dies.

Qin Shi Huangdi left a legacy–a unified nation with a single written language and a system of administration that is still used today.

You may return to Part 8, or start with The Man Who Made China, Part 1

View as Single Page

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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.