Now readable in full on Danwei, and with a new update from the author two years on, “Out of Tibet” by Alec Ash is a chapter in the new book Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, edited by Angilee Shah and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, published by the University of California Press, © 2012 by the Regents of the University of California. Click here to buy the book.
Posts from the ‘Music, books and art’ Category
Shen Yuning is a lexicographer working on a Swahili-Chinese dictionary. He is currently studying African languages and cultures at the University of Hamburg and lives in Tanzania. Completing a comprehensive dictionary can be a tedious task, but Shen sees it as “a small personal initiative for translating knowledge.” Below he answers questions from Danwei on his project: Read more
Qian Xiaohong is a young woman from a village in Hunan who went to the boomtown of Shenzhen in the 1990s in search of work. She is bold and optimistic, if sometimes a little naïve, and has short black hair with just a hint of curl. She has the round-faced look of a peasant girl from a propaganda poster, but for her most defining feature: her breasts. Full and beautiful, they are much too large for polite society. Read more
It’s been an exciting two weeks on China’s microblog scene. Megablogger, rally racer, and novelist Han Han has been defending himself against science writer Fang Zhouzi’s charges that he didn’t write some of his most famous work.
Scholar Christopher G. Rea is the editor of a new book of translations of Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts: Stories and Essays by Qian Zhongshu.
Water calligraphy is a poetic activity that you can observe in many Chinese parks: Artists use a large brush to write Chinese characters using water instead of ink. Minutes after the characters are written, they disappear.
Media Artist Nicholas Hanna built a tricycle that writes Chinese characters on the ground as it moves.
His tricycle is part of an exhibition for Beijing Design Week: You can see it at the Northern Electric Relay Factory in Dashilanr, south of Qianmen gate. The exhibition opens 6pm on Saturday September 24, 2011, and runs until October 3.
The ruan (阮) or moon guitar is a four-stringed Chinese instrument similar to the pipa. It is also sometimes called the qin pipa (秦琵琶) and ruanxian (阮咸).
The most common ruan is the zhongruan (中阮) or tenor ruan. The bass ruan (大阮) is also fairly common; less frequently heard are the soprano (高音阮), alto (小阮) and contrabass: Diyinruan (低音阮) versions. Read more
Perhaps no musical instrument is more evocative of China than the erhu (二胡), but its origins are in central Asia: The erhu is one of several instruments including gaohu, zhuihu and jinghu that were historically known as “huqin” (barbarian’s fiddle) or “xiqin”.
The erhu became a common accompaniment to opera in the Ming and Qing dynasties. In the early 20th Century, compositions for erhu by Hua Yanjun (1893-1950) and Liu Tianhua (1895-1932) gave the instrument a respectable solo repertoire.
In this video Liu Hong introduces the erhu and plays the classic folk tune “Running River” (江河水).
I lived in the far west of China in Xinjiang from 2006 to 2010, and I was captivated by the musical heritage of the Uyghur people. Much of their history and entertainment revolve around gatherings of song and dance, and their most popular instrument is a stringed lute known as the rawap. Read more
‘Playing the pipa behind the back’ is a special kind of Chinese gongfu that expresses flying in heaven at Dunhuang. [See image of pipa player from Mogao caves at Dunhuang]
The road to industrialization with Chinese characteristics was taken by Mao Zedong after imitating the Soviets for 8 years, when he threw away the crutch and stood independently. The most unique aspect of that was the reverse method of strengthening agriculture in order to speed up heavy industry: this an example of ‘playing the pipa behind the back’ studied from life. Read more