Raise the Red Lantern: a look at China’s concubine culture

June 18, 2014

This film was directed in China by Zhang Yimou in 1991, and it offers a view of life within a closed, culture of patriarchy (male dominated). The film is set in the 1920s during the Warlord Era, and it focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what’s going on—taking his pleasures when he feels like it.

Before 1949, women in China were the property of men who did what they wanted with that property.

China’s central government approved of the screen play but then banned the film for a time, because it paralleled the return the concubine culture in today’s China where wealthy married men support single women (the concubines) and often buy them apartments in trade for exclusive sex and companionship. But there is a difference. Today, in China, women are not the property of men as they were in 1920.

In fact, when my wife and I lived in Southern California, we ate at a small restaurant near our home. The owner was a former concubine of a wealthy Chinese man, who paid her off and sent her packing when she got too old. He used his influence and wealth to help her reach the United States while he went in search of a younger beauty to replace her. She used the money he paid her to leave to start a business in the U.S. She was lucky. Many modern-age concubines are just abandoned and have to find another master to support them and beauty fades.

_______________

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.

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


My Mother Would Have Burned This Book – Part 5/5

April 3, 2011

In China, the concubine is a trophy showing a man’s success. No major religion on earth has had a lasting impact on the Chinese culture in more than a thousand years.

In fact, the concept that lust is a mortal sin does not exist in China unless a Chinese has adopted Christianity as his or her religion.

That does not mean China is without morals but the moral codes of China exist without the sin of mortal lust as Catholics and many devout Christians believe. In fact, I’ve known mainland Chinese that are extremely moral and would put most Puritans to shame.

The idea to focus on Robert Hart’s struggles with his Victorian, Christian morals while living in 19th century China’s concubine culture sprouted when I first read his journals and letters published by Harvard University Press.

Other influences were Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and The Last Empress: A Novel, which go into detail about the lives of the more than three thousand concubines that belonged to the emperor.

After all, in 19th century China, the more power and wealth a man had, the more women he owned.

Another influence was the movie directed by director Zhang Yimou in 1991, Raise the Red Lantern, which “focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on — taking his pleasures when he feels like it.”

For anyone that might agree with “colorado outback” or my “mother” that My Splendid Concubine should be censored, burned or put on a “DON’T BUY LIST”, Amazon Kindle offers a free preview of the first few chapters as does the Websites for My Splendid Concubine and the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine.

Read the first few chapters of the novel free and learn if you agree with “colorado outback” that this novel is “soft porn” and should be banned. Why spend money for something you may want to burn unless you really want to burn it?

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page

_______________

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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


My Mother Would Have Burned this Book – Part 1/5

March 30, 2011

The reason my mother would have burned “The Concubine Saga” was because she grew up in a country with the soul of a church. After my mother died, I found a video collection of the Bible, an audio version and about thirty different published versions.

I didn’t know then that there was that many ways to speak for one God.

After my father died, mother spent her last decade to the age of eighty-nine studying the Bible several hours a day. This was her attempt to discover the answer to salvation that haunted her most of her life.

My mother loved to read other books too, as did my father, who was not a religious person. However, if my mother ran into a vivid sex scene in a novel, she threw the book in the fireplace.

Since I was born and raised a Catholic and when I was twelve my mother switched to the Jehovah Witnesses, I know why she would have burned my book.

To Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and most devout Christians of all sects, lust is a mortal sin.

In fact, Catholic Questions in a Secular World says, “The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.… Lust is the self-indulgent desire for gratification … without the sanctifying graces of marriage.”

When I was single in my thirties, I had a lusty relationship with a lawyer, who ended the relationship due to Christian guilt. She wasn’t a Catholic but she attended two different Christian churches on Sundays, and she made it clear that it was the guilt that drove her to stop seeing me.

By the way, the “Concubine Saga” is historical fiction about a real man that went to China in 1854, bought a concubine and stayed until 1908 to become the most powerful Westerner in China’s history and the only foreigner trusted by the Emperor.

To be continued on March 31, 2011 in Part 2 or View as Single Page

_______________

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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


The Qing – China’s Last Dynasty – Part 3/3

December 12, 2010

The last travelogue segment takes us on a tour of the Qiao family’s grand courtyard and residence located in Jinzhong, a prefecture in the center of Shanxi Province. Today, this prefecture is home to more than 2.5 million people.

The Qiao family complex shows the blending of the mansion’s practical functions, artistic design and ancient architectural techniques to create complex art in a simple plan.

The details show the glamour of China’s ancient residential house culture in northern China. Each engraving in the mansion is detailed artwork telling a story of life’s philosophy.

The narrator takes us on a tour of a Qiao family courtyard made famous by Zhang Yimou when he directed Raise the Red Lantern. Zhang Yimou won two awards for this 1991 film at the Venice Film Festival.

Raise the Red Lantern also turned the Qiao family’s mansion into a popular tourist attraction. The mansion covers 8,000 square meters (almost 10,000 square yards) of land with 313 rooms.

For security reasons, the roofs are connected.

To build family mansions of this size and scope takes generations of successful businessmen working together as a collective family unit.

However, if a family loses its moral compass, the fortune and land were often lost over time.

These mansions also represent the feudal culture of ancient China.

The last of the three mansions covered in this travelogue was the Chang Mansion, which demonstrates the poetry of a Chinese garden.

Large families such as the Changs built elaborate mansions and gardens. However, the mansions and gardens were built according to rules and guidelines.

Shaanxi province is considered a treasure trove of ancient Chinese architecture.

There are 106 family compounds similar to the four in this travelogue and some date to before the Sung Dynasty (960 to 1276 AD) representing about 70% of China’s surviving ancient wood built architecture.

Return to China’s Last Dynasty – Part 2 or start with Part 1

______________

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.


Farewell, My Concubine

April 2, 2010

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Farewell, My Concubine

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Ch’ing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Ch’ing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

______________

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.


Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

March 11, 2010

The Sent Down Girl was filmed in China and directed by Joan Chen. It is a Mandarin language film with English subtitles and was filmed on the hauntingly beautiful Tibetan high plains.

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of teens were sent from the cities to the country or camps to learn humility and a simpler, peasant life.

This movie stars Lu Lu as Xiu Xiu, a teenage girl and Lopsang as Lao Jin, a castrated Tibetan nomad who is assigned to teach the innocent teen how to handle and train horses.

Xiu Xiu

Lao Jin falls in love with his young charge but he is a eunuch. Then there is a local low ranking Communist official and others, who introduce Xiu Xiu to a brutal world of sex for favors. This movie was not a condemnation of Communist China. This example of sexual harassment can happen anywhere.

The movie was based on an award-winning novella banned in China because of political and sexual content.  This was the first film Joan Chen directed. She is best known for her role in The Last Emperor as one of the emperor’s wives.

Discover Farewell My Concubine

______________

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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


Raise the Red Lantern

March 4, 2010

This film was directed in China by Zhang Yimou in 1991, and it offers a view of life within a closed, dictatorial culture that starts in the home. The film focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on—taking his pleasures when he feels like it.

The central government in China did not approve this film since it parallels a return to a concubine society where men with new wealth stash women (the concubines) in different apartments. The more things appear to change, they don’t.

When my wife and I lived in Southern California, we visited a small restaurant near our home. The owner was a former concubine of a wealthy Chinese man, who paid her off and sent her packing when she got too old. He used his influence and wealth to help her reach the United States while he went in search of a young beauty to replace her. She used the money to start a business. She was lucky. Many modern-age concubines are just abandoned and have to find another master to support them and beauty does fade.

Discover more Chinese movies–Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

______________________________

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Where to Buy

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline