Han clothing movement

Source: Quartz (8/29/17)
Young people in China have started a fashion movement built around nationalism and racial purity
By Kevin Carrico


China’s mainstream majority is discovering its “traditional” attire. (Courtesy Kevin Carrico)

The Han Clothing Movement, a youth-based grassroots nationalist movement built around China’s majority Han ethnic group, has emerged over the past 15 years in urban China. It imagines the numerically and culturally dominant Han—nearly 92% of China’s population—as the target of oppression by both China’s minorities and “the West,” in need of revitalization to save China. Hoping to make the Han great again, movement participants promote the public wearing of an ethnic outfit that purports to revive a clothing style that is millennia old.

According to enthusiasts of the Han Clothing Movement, the dilemma of today’s China was on full display in the fall of 2001, when leaders from across the Asia-Pacific Region gathered in Shanghai for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting. Just a month after the attacks of September 11, this event’s theme was, appropriately, “meeting new challenges in the new century.” Unbeknownst to organizers and participants, however, one photo opportunity at this meeting was soon to produce a movement that would meet the new challenges of this new century by seeking answers from past centuries. Continue reading

Building cultural confidence

Source: Xinhua (5/24/17)
Political advisors discuss building cultural confidence

Yu Zhengsheng (C, back), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), presides over a meeting on how to build the country’s cultural confidence and tell China stories well, in Beijing, capital of China, May 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese political advisors met on Tuesday to discuss how to build the country’s cultural confidence and tell China stories well.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, chaired the meeting. Continue reading

China funds new garden in Washington

Source: Washington Post (4/27/17)
China wants a bold presence in Washington — so it’s building a $100 million garden
By Adrian Higgins

The Ge Garden in Yangzhou, which will be replicated in the National China Garden at the National Arboretum. (Courtesy of the National China Garden)

This summer, a construction team is expected to begin transforming a 12-acre field at the U.S. National Arboretum into one of the most ambitious Chinese gardens ever built in the West.

By the time Chinese artisans finish their work some 30 months later, visitors will encounter a garden containing all the elements of a classical Chinese landscape: enticing moongate entrances, swooping and soaring roof lines, grand pavilions with carved wooden screens and groves of golden bamboo. The grounds will boast two dozen handcrafted pavilions, temples and other ornate structures around a large central lake. Continue reading

China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau

Source: SCMP (4/22/17)
China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau
Survey to help draw boundary of 2.5 million sq km park scheduled for this summer
By Stephen Chen

Tibetan nomads ride a motorcycle on the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai province. Photo: AFP

China is considering turning the entire Tibetan plateau and surrounding mountains into a huge national park to protect “the last piece of pure land”, according to scientists briefed on the project.

Dubbed the Third Pole National Park because the plateau and mountains, including the Himalayas, have a natural environment that in many ways resembles polar regions, it would be the world’s biggest national park. The plateau covers an area of more than 2.5 million sq km, mainly in Tibet and Qinghai, dwarfing the biggest national park at present, Greenland’s 972,000 sq km Northeast Greenland National Park. Continue reading

China’s stone age skiers

Source: NYT (4/19/17)
China’s Stone Age Skiers and History’s Harsh Lessons
Cave paintings in the Altai Mountains may show the cradle of skiing is in China. But the ethnic minorities who live there worry the old ways are in danger.

Young skiers outside the village of Khom, in northern Xinjiang, China, last year. Fewer children are learning to ski in a region thought to be the birthplace of skiing. Credit Garrett Grove

Tucked beneath a shallow outcropping in the rolling lowlands of the Altai Mountains, four men glide along the shadow-pocked rock face, their faint silhouettes stalking a herd of unsuspecting ibex. To their left, a fifth swoops downhill, corralling the beasts with a spear in his hand.

His pigmented frame arcs from left, to right, and back again — a ski turn that may be the oldest ever recorded.

The hunters are part of a cave painting in the northern tip of China’s Xinjiang Province, a wedge of territory that pokes up between Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan to the west. According to Chinese archaeologists, the painting dates back more than 10,000 years — 2,000 more than the next earliest ski artifact on record.

Now, as the popularity of winter sports explodes in China, driven by President Xi Jinping’s decree that his country would have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts by the time it hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, ski tour companies have begun opening their doors in this remote region. The first heli-skiing and snowmobile-access tours started operating this winter in the nearby village of Khom, offering trips deep into the heart of the Altai. Continue reading

Michael Puett’s The Path

Source: The Guardian (3/26/17)
Can Harvard’s most popular professor (and Confucius) radically change your life?
Michael Puett’s book The Path draws on the 2,500-year-old insights of Chinese philosophers. He explains how ‘straightening your mat’ can help you break out of the patterns that are holding you back
By Tim Dowling

Professor Michael Puett

Professor Michael Puett: what we really are is ‘a messy and potentially ugly bunch of stuff’. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

The School of Life’s Sunday sermons could be described as lectures for people who don’t believe in God but still like church. They sing secular songs before and after the sermon (when I arrive, the large congregation at Mary Ward House in London is on the second verse of A Spoonful of Sugar), and everybody seems to share an abiding faith in the power of open-mindedness.

On this particular Sunday, the sermon is to be delivered by Michael Puett, professor of Chinese history at Harvard University, and is based on his book The Path, which applies the lessons of ancient Chinese philosophers to modern life. These philosophers may have done their best work 2,500 years ago, but they were trying to answer the same big questions we still ask. How do I live my life? How do I live my life well? Continue reading

Age of Empires exhibition

Exhibition Overview

Featuring more than 160 objects of ancient Chinese art, this major international loan exhibition will explore the unprecedented role of art in creating a new and lasting Chinese cultural identity. Synthesizing new archaeological discoveries with in-depth research performed over the last 50 years, Age of Empires will introduce a transformational era of Chinese civilization to a global audience.

The works in the exhibition—extremely rare ceramics, metalwork, textiles, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, and architectural models—are drawn exclusively from 32 museums and archaeological institutions in the People’s Republic of China, and a majority of the works have never before been seen in the West. Highlights include renowned terracotta army warriors and a striking statue of a seminude performer whose anatomical accuracy, unheard of in Chinese art, brings to mind Greco-Roman sculpture first introduced to Asia by Alexander the Great.


China’s defender of Dunhuang

Source: China Daily (3/9/17)
China’s desert warrior queen, defender of Dunhuang
By Xinhua

China's desert warrior queen, defender of Dunhuang

China’s desert warrior queen, defender of Dunhuang

If it had not been for Fan Jinshi and her team, the world cultural heritage at Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in a remote Chinese desert might have long been destroyed by sand, weather or humans.

Born and raised in Shanghai, Fan has spent half a century fighting an uphill battle to preserve the ancient Buddhist wall paintings at Dunhuang, in Northwest China’s Gansu province. Continue reading

Spring Festival Survival Guide

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (1/27/17)
Surviving Chinese New Year With the Family: A Musical How-To

《春節自救指南》- 上海彩虹室內合唱團 “A Spring Festival Survival Guide,” just in time for Chinese New Year’s reunions. Video by Rainbow Chamber Singers | 上海彩虹室内合唱团

BEIJING — Holidays can be joyful times, bringing together long-separated family members. They can also be the most dreaded times for precisely that reason. Things may go horribly wrong under the weight of mutual expectations, and escape is difficult. Continue reading

HK divided over Forbidden City museum plan

Source: BBC News (1/10/17)
Hong Kong divided over Forbidden City museum plan
By Juliana Liu, Hong Kong correspondent, BBC News

A man walks through a gate inside the Forbidden City in Beijing on 29 September 2016.

GETTY IMAGES: Items from the Forbidden City collection would be sent on loan to the museum in Hong Kong

The Forbidden City in Beijing has housed generations of Chinese emperors for hundreds of years. A museum since 1925, it now welcomes more than 14 million visitors a year, drawn to its ornate gates, inner palaces and nearly two million pieces of imperial art and antiques.

Those cultural treasures, however, have become the focus of a dispute in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Time to ramp up China’s soft power

Source: China Daily (12/27/16)
Time to ramp up China’s soft power
By Harvey Dzodin | chinadaily.com.cn

Time to ramp up China's soft power

A round table meet is held at the Ancient Town Summit 2016 in Guiyang on Dec 13. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]

China has already achieved better soft power success at home than before. Recently I attended the Qingyan Ancient Town Summit in Guiyang, Guizhou province. Progress in building attractions such as ancient towns is accelerating and China Development Bank even funds financially sound proposals.

Although we don’t think of the Forbidden City as an ancient town, it is the granddaddy of them all, and among the world’s most visited museums. Its dynamic director Shan Qixiang spoke about his successful efforts to make it more authentic, user-friendly, accessible and profitable. Continue reading

Giant rooster with Trumpian characteristics

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (12/29/16)
China Warmly Welcomes a Giant Rooster With Trumpian Characteristics


A giant rooster sculpture resembling President-elect Donald J. Trump outside a shopping mall in Taiyuan, China. The statue was built to celebrate the coming Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar. Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — President-elect Donald J. Trump’s golden quiff, bushy eyebrows and preening gestures were immortalized this week in China — though perhaps not in a way that he would like.

They appeared on a giant rooster statue, just above some three-toed feet and a blood-red wattle that hangs below a gilded nose and mouth. Continue reading

Macao gambling firms visit Jinggangshan

Curiouser and curiouser. I wish I could have put this in the chapter on red tourism in my museum book!–Kirk

Source: Global Times (12/14/16)
Macao gambling firms’ trip to red site met with amusement, anger online
By Zhang Yu

A group of some 60 staff members from Macao’s casino industry recently visited red site Jinggangshan for a one-week patriotic course, sparking discussions from mainland netizens over its significance.

Staff members of Macao casino companies pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs in Jinggangshan, East China's Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings

Staff members of Macao casino companies pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs in Jinggangshan, East China’s Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings

Every year, millions of visitors flock to China’s red sites to pay tribute to deceased communist leaders and learn about the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) revolutionary past. Continue reading

Poly Culture Group (5)

I touched on Poly Group’s role in the repatriation of the 12 bronze zodiac heads in an essay on the increasingly complex and oftentimes bizarre relationship between art, politics, and cultural consumption in contemporary China that was recently published in the Rocky Mountain Review

Green, Frederik. “The Twelve Chinese Zodiacs: Ai Weiwei, Jackie Chan and the Aesthetics, Politics, and Economics of Revisiting a National Wound.” The Rocky Mountain Review, volume 70.1, Summer 2016 (pp. 45-58).

Fred Green <fgreen@sfsu.edu>

Poly Culture Group (4)

I first heard of Poly when looking into the ugly demolition situation in Xian Village in Guangzhou’s Pearl River New City in 2010 and 2011. The “respect” shown to cultural items / relics unfortunately does not translate into respect for fellow human beings.

David Bandurski’s recent book “Dragons in Diamond Village” is a great read and a detailed study of the Xian Village situation, opening the discussion of this particular case involving Poly into the broader issue of urbanisation in china today (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/547007/dragons-in-diamond-village-by-david-bandurski/9781612195711/).

Kevin Carrico <kjc83@cornell.edu>