The Chinese Clay Flute – A Comparison between the Xun and the Western Ocarina

By Sari Xu

(Let’s first compare the sound of an ocarina with the sound of a xun by watching the two video clips below!)

 

When first introducing the Xun to people outside of China, we always start by mentioning that the Xun is similar to the western vessel flute – the ocarina.  This does however lead to some problems and misunderstandings, such as people thinking that the two instruments have the same fingering, same structing and that knowing how to play one of them makes it far easier to play the other.  In fact, by comparing these two instruments, we will discover a myriad of fun facts regarding their similarities and differences, which will in turn help us to learn more about their playing techniques.

First of all, the Xun and the ocarina are made using very similar raw materials, namely clay.  Their crafting processes are therefore also very alike due to the pottery needing to be baked at around a certain temperature.  Their timbres are also similar due to the ceramic materials which they are both made from.  Both produce low notes in general and pieces played using both instruments convey a sense of loneliness, grace or harmony (they can of course also be used to express positive emotions, but this is not often the case).

So far it sounds like the Xun and ocarina do not have many differences apart from the shape of the instrument.  This is not the case and we will now take a look at their 4 main differences:

  1. Different Origins and History
  • While the ocarina originated in Italy and was invented by a baker known as Dunati in order to create whistle sounds, the Xun was first used in order to hunt wild animals back in the Stone Age, around 7000 years ago (link to the previous article). Compared to the ocarina which is around 3000 years old, the Xun is immemorial and has therefore had a far greater impact on the development of other clay instruments throughout the world, especially in China’s neighbouring countries.
  1. Different design and craftsmanship
  • Ocarinas are normally produced by injection molding in order to produce a standardized shape and structure. Xun on the other hand are always 100% handmade.  This makes the Xun a far rarer instrument due to the difficulty of finding a great craftsman, something which has definitely stunted any growth in popularity of the instrument.  Note that most Xun which are found online at a low price are not musical instruments.  They are mass produced and can only really be used for decorative purposes.
  • In terms of the shapes, most ocarinas are shaped like a handgun or submarine and have 4-12 finger holes. Nowadays the most popular pot Xun have 8 or 10 finger holes and can be found in a variety of shapes such as a gourd, brush pot or fish (link to 1st article about the different types of Xun).  Different shapes have a clear effect on the timbre and sound quality of the instrument.
  • Ocarinas are normally left blank or have a ceramic glaze on the surface. Some flaws are also added on purpose, such as small cracks on the front or back in order to give the instrument a particular look.  The Xun always contains traditional engravings.  By carving oracle bone scripts, poems, calligraphy, freehand paintings of bamboos or plum blossoms on the surface of a Xun, a sense of Chinese aesthetics is added to the musical performance.

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  1. Different playing techniques
  • An ocarina has a fipple mouthpiece, the entirety of which is placed in the mouth when blown. The mouthpiece of the Xun is a larger oval hole which functions like the mouthpiece of a flute.  By making a very similar flute embouchure (covering around 1/3 of the hole), the air flow gets through the cavity.
  • There is an air path already inside the cavity of the ocarina. It is therefore comparatively easier to produce your first note by blowing the fipple mouthpiece of the ocarina.  Playing the Xun requires a better control of the lips, embouchure, and air flow.  Beginners will struggle at first, but will reap great rewards through persistent efforts.
  1. One more fun fact about the materials used to make Xun
  • Despite the fact that nowadays the Xun can be made from black pot, red pot and white clay, it was originally made using stone and bones. They can also now be made using bamboo, wood, synthetic materials, and even coconuts!

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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The Tibetan People – an authentic Journey through their Lands and Culture

Written by Harry Wilson

Welcome to the third part of our introductory series to the ethnic minority groups of China.  Today we take a closer look at neighbouring Tibet and the wonderful culture of this underappreciated land. If you plan on visiting Tibet in the near future, this blogpost will serve as a guide for all things you might need before your trip, as well as an insight into some of the incredible cultural phenomena you will get to experience first-hand!

Before you head to Tibet, make sure to get your visa!  Tibet Entry Permits are required to enter the country if you are a non-Chinese citizen.  You don’t want to get off to the wrong start on your trip.  Probably the most important thing to know is that it is a good idea to get into good physical shape before your trip, as the average altitude is around 4500 meters (14700 feet) above sea level, so there’s a chance you may suffer from altitude sickness.  Despite the sub-freezing temperatures, many Tibetans go barefoot!!! Interestingly, the boiling temperature of water is so low at this altitude, that boiling water from a pot would not burn human skin!

Due to the average altitude of the country and its many plateau’s, Tibet has been referred to by many as “the roof of the world”, with its incredible vistas from the top of Mount Everest.

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A view of the mountains from an airplane – all credit to Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Tibet is also home to the world’s highest plateau.  The 37000 glaciers that accompany it provide water to more than HALF OF ASIA, which if you think about it, is truly incredible for a nation of its size and socio-economic position in the world.  Tibet has many incredible views, including Namtso (Lake Nam), which is commonly referred to as “Heavenly Lake” in European literature, as well as the Potala Palace.  The efforts required to deal with the altitude in Tibet will all be made worthwhile by the breathtaking (not that you need anymore breath to be taken away haha) views and cultural experiences!

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A Man spinning his Prayer Wheel in front of the Potala Palace – all credit to Damir Sagolj/Reuters

In the image above you get a chance to take a first look at the Potala Palace, formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.  Today, it is used as a museum and one of several World Heritage Sites in the country.  The palace contains over 1000 rooms, 10000 shrines and around 200000 statues.  If that doesn’t show you how much religion means to this country, then nothing will.

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A plethora of stones being engraved with Buddhist scriptures by a local craftsman

A lot of jobs in Tibet are religion-related, as religion is a daily, if not hourly practice.  Some jobs including carving stones with Buddhist scriptures, woodblock scripture painting and Thangka painting, a traditional form of Tibetan Buddhist painting, are an extremely important part of Tibetan culture.  Tibetans spend years mastering these arts and can spend months or even years on a single piece.  The carvings and paintings will often contain scriptures or the story of the Buddha in meticulous detail.

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Inside the studio of an expert local wood carver

Merit is of vital importance to Tibetan Buddhists and can be gained through participating in a variety of activities.  Tibetans spend much of their time praying, spinning prayer wheels (as seen above) and hanging prayer flags.  All these activities earn them merit.  It is also important for them to send their sons to monasteries, participate in pilgrimages, do good deeds and present gifts to lamas in order to further increase their merit.

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A highly detailed Thangka painting available at InteractChina

Still not convinced of the beauty of Tibet – take a look at this wonderful short video produced by the incredible team at National Geographic which gives great insight into the magnificent structure, the Potala Palace:

Want to learn more about Tibet, its culture and inhabitants?  Take a look at this extended documentary on the area:

Finally, if you were interested in the Thangka discussed in this blogpost, here is some more information including a link to our website where you can find out more!  Thangka are Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk and normally depict a Buddhist deity, scene or mandala.  They are usually kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, and when treated and kept correctly they can last in incredibly long time.  If your interest has been aroused and you would like to see some authentic Thangka, please visit our website – https://www.interactchina.com/thangka-painting

 

 

 

About Interact China

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!  
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

The History of the Xun – A 7000-Year-Old Instrument Rich in History and Culture

By Sari Xu

Although the above piece of music was originally a famous pop song released a few years ago, I believe that this cover version produced using a Xun actually did a better job of representing the myth in this song.  Because of its comparatively low and deep timbre, the Xun is always a symbol of themes like loneliness, heartbreak, desolation, and harmony.  This characteristic is not only due to the raw materials with which it is made (previously discussed here: link to previous article), but also due to the fact that the Xun dates back to the Stone Age.

During ancient times (around 7000 years ago), people often tied a stone or mud ball to a rope in order to hunt wild animals.  This kind of tool was named “stone shooting stars”.  Some of the balls were hollow, which meant they made many sounds when thrown. Most people found the sounds enjoyable and learned how to blow air into the balls. Gradually, the “stone meteor” became the musical instrument we know today as the “Xun”.

Picture1

Back in that time period, a Xun only had one finger hole and naturally could therefore only produce one note.  This remained the same until the Xia dynasty (2070 – 1600BC).  Archaeologists discovered vessel-flutes like the Xun in the graves of common people which date back to the Xia dynasty.  The instruments which they found had three finger holes and were able to produce the notes “Do”, “Mi”, “Sol”, “La” and “Fa”.  They were mostly made from bones and stone.

The shape of the Xun and number of finger holes were standardized during the Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046BC) to that which we know today.  Most of the Xun from that time period had five finger holes and produced sound of a much higher quality. They were able to produce all the tones and half-tones in a single octave thanks to a better selection of raw materials such as pot, and even porcelain.

By the Zhou dynasty (right after the Shang dynasty, 1046 – 256BC), the Xun had become a common musical instrument and was played particularly frequently in imperial courts. The design of the Xun also varied according to different situations such as whether it was played for enjoyment or for a celebration.

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Later on, during the Qin (221 – 207BC) and Han (220BC – 200AD) dynasties, the Xun was altered yet again in order to have 7 finger holes and the two Xun were categorized into the Song Xun (颂埙) and Ya Xun (雅埙). While the Song Xun was the size of an egg and produced higher tones, the Ya Xun was larger and produced lower pitches.

The modern Xun is based on the 6-hole Xun model instead of the 7-hole model.  By adding two more finger holes on the front side of the instruments, musicians brought it back into the public eye after its disappearance during the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644).  This became one of the Xun we play a lot today and is called the 8-hole Xun.  Apart from this model, the 10-hole Xun is also very popular nowadays.  It was made as people wanted to extend the range of the instrument so it could reach the higher notes and therefore added two more holes.

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As one of the oldest musical instruments and the only existing clay instrument still being played in China, I believe that the Xun is far more than a musical instrument. It survived thousands of years and has witnessed millennia of Chinese history.  The Xun itself is therefore a myth which can be discovered by learning to play the instrument and its music.  I hope that this article has helped to give you an insight into the culture behind the instrument and inspired you to want to try learning to play the Xun!

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Comparing the Western flute with the Dizi and Xiao – Important Differences that You Must Know

By Sari Xu

Have you ever heard people referring to the Dizi or the Xiao as Chinese flutes? Have you ever tried to play a Chinese Dizi solo composition with a Western flute? Do you think the fingering techniques of the Western concert flute and the Dizi look very similar?

Yes, you might believe that as woodwind instruments, the flute, Dizi and Xiao have lots of similarities, and this is true. However, they also have different features and advantages that are worth mentioning related to their designs, structure, and playing strategies.

Appearance:

Apparently, they are made of different raw materials and look different. Modern flutes, and most of the woodwind instruments that we usually see in a Western orchestra nowadays, are made of metals such as nickel, brass, silver or gold. On the contrary, the Dizi and the Xiao, and most of the wind instruments in China are made of bamboo (or wood, as a high-end product line nowadays). This is the reason why the flute can generate louder notes than the Dizi, and the notes which the Dizi produces sound more tender and more natural than the flute. Also, due to their differences material-wise, the Dizi and the Xiao are 100% handmade and the quality of the craftsmanship largely decides the quality of the instruments, while the assembling of the flute requires help from machinery.

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Other than the quality of the craftsmanship, another factor that influences the timbre of a Dizi or a Xiao is the quality of the bamboo. The older the bamboo is, the better the tone will be, and the usage of a different part of a single piece of bamboo may result in the woodwind tone having a different quality. Bitter bamboo is most suitable for making the Dizi and black bamboo (or, purple bamboo) is the best fit for the Xiao. This variety between the quality of the bamboo decides whether the notes of an instrument will be tender or bright.

STRUCTURE:

Regarding the structure, both Western and Chinese flutes were unable to be separated into different pieces and only had holes on the pipe. This was until Theobald Boehm’s revolution, after which the modern flute began to have keys that cover each finger hole on the main pipe and a more comfortable embouchure hole on the head pipe. The flute can be detached into 3 parts, while most Dizi and Xiao are still undetachable or can only be detached into 2 pieces.

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE DIZI:

A fun fact about the Dizi (yes, only the Dizi, this does not apply to the Xiao!) is that it has an additional hole at the back of the pipe between the embouchure and finger holes, called “Mo Kong” (literally “membrane hole”). A special membrane called “Di Mo” (“Dizi membrane”), an almost tissue-like shaving of reed (made from the inner skin of bamboo cells), is glued over this hole. This membrane is really significant to the Dizi because the vibration it causes brings a distinctive resonating effect to the sound and makes the note louder while adding to it a unique nasal sound.

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At the advanced level, playing the Dizi is something which requires incredible skill.  An extremely advanced playing technique called “circular breathing” is widely used among professional Dizi players to produce a continuous uninterrupted sound. This sounds impossible for human beings because we have to breathe, right? However, by breathing in through the nose while SIMULTANEOUSLY pushing air out through the mouth, using the air stored in our cheeks, this becomes possible! (I imagine you are trying this skill right now in front of the screen.  Give it a try, but don’t push yourself too hard, this is an ADVANCED skill!!!)

To conclude, when comparing the Western flute with the Dizi and the Xiao, it is important to understand both their differences and their similarities. Because their fingering techniques, breathing techniques and embouchure techniques are all very alike, the skills are totally transferable. If you have expertise in playing the flute, it would definitely be much easier and require far less time to learn to play the Dizi and vice versa. That is why knowing about their differences is so crucial! Good luck with whatever you are learning to play!

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Xun – A Clay Flute: An Introduction to the different types of Xun

By Sari Xu

Picture1
The back of a glazed pot Xun

This picture above confused me for a while when I first searched the term “Xun” online.Is this a duck egg? A teapot? Or maybe a broken flower vase with two holes? But later on, after watching the video below, I discovered that this was the ancient Chinese instrument known as the Xun and it certainly can produce amazing melodies. Here is a picture of the front of this “egg” – it has 6 more holes!

 

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The front of a glazed pot Xun

Having been in use for around seven thousand years, the Xun is currently the only surviving example of Chinese traditional clay instruments (sometimes referred to as “earth instruments”). To be more specific, it is an egg-shaped globular, vessel flute with at least three finger holes (at most eight) on the front and two thumb holes on the back. While it looks very similar to the western ocarinas, it has an oval blowing hole at the top instead of a fipple mouthpiece.

Pot Xun:

Nowadays, what most musicians prefer and the most commonly used type of Xun, is the pot Xun, which is made from premium pottery materials such as red pot, black pot, etc. Different materials used to make Xun have to be baked at different temperatures, for example, black pottery provides strong water absorbency when baked at low temperatures; red pottery is usually baked at medium temperatures, producing a stable sound quality and water resistance; baking the pottery at the highest possible temperatures will produce the best rigidity and water resistance, but these Xun are not able to absorb as much water as the Xun baked at low temperatures.

 

As well as the material used, the different shapes of the Xun also affect the performance and functions of a pot Xun:

  1. Brush pot Xun – for Xun that are “taller”, they are referred to as “brush pot Xun” because the shape is similar to a brush pot or pen container. This kind of Xun is great for beginners, with a comparatively low price and easy to pick up.
  2. Ox head Xun – this type of Xun looks exactly like an ox head, and has a lower and deeper sound quality that is calming and relaxing.

 

  1. Gourd Xun – unlike the Hulusi, they are still made of pot, but are shaped like a gourd. Thanks to its shape, it provides a better performance at a higher pitch, but struggles at some lower pitches.
  2. Fish Xun – shaped like a fish, the fish Xun has a premium sound quality and sensitivity. Thus, they are usually considered a high-end product.
  3. Pear Xun – with only one inner cavity, a pear Xun looks shorter than a brush pot. This makes it harder for beginners to pick up because it does not have an insulation board inside of it like the other types of Xun, which reduces possible resonance. However, it also has a unique timbre that attracts lots of musicians.

 

 

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The inside of a Xun

 

Other than the most popular pot Xun, there are several other types of Xun:

Half-porcelain/ porcelain Xun:

They are not totally baked like porcelain, and usually have enamel (also called “glaze”) on the surface. With very similar characteristics to the pot Xun which are baked at medium temperatures, these Xun are also waterproof and have a stable sound quality, unaffected by water, changes in humidity or temperature. Porcelain Xun, on the contrary, function very similarly to the pot Xun baked at high temperatures and are completely unable to absorb water, while also having enamel on the surface.

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Porcelain Xun

 

Wooden/ Bamboo Xun:

These two kinds of Xun share the advantage that they do not weigh much, and are hard to break. But they don’t absorb any water and have a totally different timbre compared to the pot or porcelain Xun.

 

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Wooden Xun

 

Of the many different types of Xun on the market which we have discussed in today’s post, the pot Xun are the ones which are the easiest to buy as well as being the easiest to pick up for beginners.  The different shapes always provide a different timbre and trying out the different types of pot Xun and getting to know their unique features are a huge part of what makes learning this clay instrument so fun!

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (VI):Eliminate Diseases, Breathe from your Dan Tian

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

The Eighth Section:Stand on your Toes and stretch seven times to get rid of an Illness 

This action can improve your calf strength and your ability to balance. The slight vibration caused by the heel lowering helps to relax and reset the muscles and relieve muscle tension. 

Video 1

This is a simple and easy action that can be done anywhere. First you should lift your heels, stretch your neck backwards and keep your head up, looking straight forward. After a slight pause, lower your heels back to the ground.  You should feel a slight vibration. Repeat seven times. 

While doing this exercise, you should keep your shoulders relaxed and do not shrug. When lifting, raise the heel as much as possible, and maintain your balance when you pause at the height of the lift. 

 

Cool Down 

The function of this movement is to help your Qi return to dan tian, to relax your muscles, and to calm your mind. 

Video 2

The cool-down can be divided into the following detailed steps: 

  1. Rotate your palms so that they face backwards, lift your arms from the side of your body to hip-height; 
  2. Bend your arms, placing your palms on your abdomen, the male should first place his left hand on the abdomen with the right hand on top of it, the female should put her right-hand underneath; 
  3. Lower your arms back down to the side of your body.

Picture 1

During this cool down exercise, the Laogong Temples (acupuncture points in Chinese medicine) of the two palms were stacked on the Dan Tian (see the red dot on the diagram above) so that your body relaxes and you start to breathe from your Dan Tian.  It is generally believed that the benefits behind lowering your Qi back to your Dan Tian (often referred to as your energy center) are based on meridian theory.  It is believed that the human body’s Qi and Blood, which are distributed along the meridians, run into your internal organs and arrive at your limbs.  The Dan Tian is located in the center of the meridians.  It can regulate your Yin and Yang, help to ease communication between your heart and kidney (the functions of both affect the other in Chinese medicine), increase Qi and blood production, activate and improve the functionality of the eight extra meridians, restore physiological functions and promote body regeneration. 

That concludes our introduction to the eight silken movements!  I wish you well-being and happiness every day! 

 

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (V): Protect Your Waist,Increase Your Strength

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

The Sixth Section: Reach down and touch your Feet to stabilize your Waist

Picture 1

This action will help to prevent and treat some chronic diseases of the genitourinary system by swiftly flexing and stretching and stimulating the spine, Du Meridian1 and related acupuncture points. At the same time, you give your kidneys, adrenal gland, ureter and some other organs a good traction massage, and can improve their functions and stimulate their production rates.

Video 1

This section can be divided into the following detailed steps:

  1. Stand with both knees upright, point your fingertips forwards and raise your arms upwards. Straighten your elbows, have your palms facing forwards and look straight in front of you

  2. Bend your arms,lower your palms down to the front of your chest, your palms should be facing downwards and your fingertips should be facing each other;

  3. Turn your palms to face upwards, then move your hands outwards and pass them below your armpits.

4.Press your palms on the sides of the spine and move down to the buttocks. While bending down with your upper body, move your hands downwards along the rear sides of your legs and then slowly around to the front so that they end on your feet. Raise your head and look slightly ahead of your feet. Pause in this position for a few seconds. Try not to bend your legs at any point.

  1. Move your palms forwards along the ground, and then use the arms to drive the upper body up, straighten up your elbows with your palms facing forwards.
  • One repetition includes one complete movement upwards and downwards. Repeat the complete movement 6 times.

After six repetitions, bend your legs slightly and then lean forwards with your palms in line with your abdomen, face your palms downwards with your fingertips facing forwards, look straight ahead.

Tips:Apply proper force when you move your palms down along the back of the body. Loosen your shoulders when leaning forwards. Keep your knees straight. Let your arms drive the upper body up.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 2

  • When you move your hands down, do not bend your knees and do not bow your head;

Picture 3

  • Do not raise your upper body before your arm

 

The Eighth Section: Clench your Fists and Open your Eyes wide in order to boost your Qi

In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with the eyes. In this section, the movement of the eyes stimulates the liver. At the same time, the cooperation between the movements in this section stimulates the body’s major meridians. If done on a long-term basis, this exercise can strengthen the muscles and bones throughout the entire body.

Video 2

This section can be divided into the following detailed steps:

  1. Step to the left with your left foot, half squad your legs,and meanwhile,clench both hands into fists and place them in line with your waist you’re your thumbs inside and the eyes of the fist facing upwards,look straight in front of you.

  2. Punch your left fist forward at shoulder height,with the eye of the fist facing upwards,and then look at your left fist.

  3. Open your left fist,rotate your palm so that it is facing outwards and your thumb facing downwards,and then look at your left palm.

  4. Rotate your left arm outwards, bend your elbow slightly, and at the same time, rotate your left palm towards the left. When your palm is facing upwards make your left hand into a fist with your thumb inside. Look at your left fist.

  5. Retract your left fist to your waist side with the eye of the fist facing upwards, and look straight in front of you.

• The movement to the right should be the same as the movement to the left. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 3

Once you have completed three full repetitions, shift your center of gravity to the right, pull your left in so that you return to the original stance, your feet should once again be shoulder width apart. Meanwhile,unclench your fist,lower your palms to the side of your body, look straight in front of you.

Picture 4

Tips: when you extend your fist to punch, fix your eyes on it. At the same time, you should hold onto the ground with both feet. Adjust the height of your squad depending on the strength of your legs;when you retract your fist, clench your fist tightly.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 5

*do not bend your upper body forwards when you punch

*do not shrug your shoulders when you punch

  • when you retract your fist,please rotate your wrist and clench your fist tightly

Well, we are almost done with our introduction to The Eight Silken Movements. Have you been exercising in your spare time? How are you feeling? We would be delighted to hear from you in the comments!

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (IV): Relax Strained Organs and Reduce Your Heart Fire*  

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang 

 

Now it is time to introduce the Fourth Section: “Stretch Backwards for Physical Weakness and Sickness” 

Picture 1

Physical weakness and sickness (五劳七伤, the Five Lao and Seven Shang) refers to strains on your heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys and any one of the following seven emotions being impacted in a negative way: happiness, sadness, grief, fear, shock and longing. This section helps to stretch your chest and belly by rotating your upper limbs. Turning your head to the left and right can stimulate the Da Zhui acupoint and various acupoints on the back, which helps prevent physical weakness and sickness. In addition, it also improves blood circulation in your neck and brain and strengthens your central nervous system. 

Video 1

This section is divided into the following steps: 

  1. Straighten your legs and stretch them, lift your center of gravity while straightening your arms, fingers pointing downwards, eyes straight ahead.
  2. Open your arms out to the sides, palms facing outwards, turn your head to the left, pause for one second and look to the left behind your back.
  3. Bend your knees slightly, bring your arms back in and keep them by your hips, fingers pointing outwards, eyes straight ahead.
  • Doing this section once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition, three repetitions in total. 

Video 2

  • At the end of the third repetition, bend your knees slightly 

Picture 2

  • Tips: keep your chin tucked in, correct your head posture, relax and lower your shoulders, try to keep your body still during the head movement, make sure your arms go all the way back when stretching them out to the sides in order to get a full stretch. 

Try to avoid the following mistakes: 

Picture 3

  • Do not move the center of your upper body backwards and keep your head as still as possible during the body movement 

  • Try to move your head and open your arms to the fullest.  

We will now move on to discussing the Fifth Section: Move Your Head and Legs to Reduce Heart Fire  

Picture 4

Heart Fire is the result of excessive fire elements in your heart. This section intends to simulate your spine and governor meridian to purge this heat and reduce heart fire. At the same time, it will increase the flexibility of your neck, waist and hip as well as strengthening the muscles in these areas. 

Video 3

This section is divided into the following steps: 

  1. Move your center to the left, step to the right with your right foot while raising your  hands above your head. Bend your fingers, fingertips facing each other, eyes straight ahead. 
  2. Bend your knees and do the horse stance while lowering your arms. Rest your hands on your thighs slightly above your knees.
  3. Raise you center of gravity slightly, then move it so that your upper body leans towards the right. Bend over and look towards your right foot.
  4. Move your center of gravity to the left while moving your upper body to the right. Turn left, bend over and look down towards your right heel
  5. Move your center to the right and get into the horse stance while tilting your head backwards; straighten your upper body, tuck your chin in, eyes straight ahead.
  • Repeat the section to the right. Doing this section once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition, three repetitions in total. 

Video 4

  • After three repetitions, move your center to the left, take back your right foot, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, at the same time, lift both your arms above your head, palms facing each other. Bend your knees slightly, place your hands in front of your stomach, fingertips facing each other, eyes straight ahead. 

Picture 5

Tips: when doing the horse stance, your upper body should be straight; when you turn your body, make sure to stretch it lightly. 

This movement is very difficult, and you will exercise many joints and muscles. Please study the steps carefully and practice them multiple times. 

The human body is a marvelous system that links the heavens and nature. Regulating your meridians is crucial for your health, so try to do some stretching exercises during your work breaks. You can even do them while sitting on your chair at your desk! It will help to relax your muscles. 

*Heart Fire is a term used in traditional Chinese medicine and is used when someone is diagnosed with an excess of energy which can lead to disruptions in the patient’s health, be that physically, psychologically or spiritually. Emotional tension is the most common underlying factor in this condition. Click the following link for a fuller explanation of heart-fire, the causes and symptoms – https://healingpointacupunctureclinic.com/blog/heart-fire-summer-element. 

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong Eight Silken Movements (III): Fix your Shoulders and Back, Improve the Functionality of your Stomach and Spleen

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Today I will introduce to you the second and third stages of the Eight Silken Movements series. If you want to know more, please click the link below:

The second section: Stretch on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow

Picture 1

This movement is similar to shooting an arrow. You have to open your shoulder joints and chest outwards to activate the governor meridian and acupuncture points on the back. This helps to regulate the lung meridian (hand greater Yin), improve the functionality of the lungs and intestines, strengthen the muscles found in your lower body, improve coordination and balance, strengthen your forearms and hand muscles, and exercise the joints in your fingers and wrists. This exercise can also help to fix a hunched back and your shoulder posture to lessen neck and back pain.

Video 1

This section can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Move your center of gravity to the right, step to the left with your left foot and stand up straight, slowly straighten your legs and at the same time, cross your arms in front of you, with your left palm facing outwards and your eyes looking straight ahead.
  2. Bend your fingers on your right hand and pull your right hand to your shoulder, your left hand should form a Ba Zi palm, rotate your left arm inwards and push out to the left until you reach the height of your shoulder. At the same time, bend your knees until you are in the horse stance, hold this position for a while, look to your left.
  3. Move your center of gravity to the right, relax your hands, draw a circle with your right hand at shoulder height, push your palm obliquely.
  4. Move your center even further to the right, take a step backwards with your left food and stand up straight, at the same time, hold your hands in front of your stomach, palms facing up, eyes looking straight ahead.

Video 2

  • The movement to the right should be the same as the movement to the left. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 3

  • At the end of the third repetition, keep moving your center to the left, take back your right foot and stand straight. Bend your knees slightly and at the same time, lower your hands and hold them in front of your stomach, eyes looking straight ahead.

Picture 2

Tips: When you pull your hand to your shoulder, bend your fingers and close the gaps between them while straightening your shoulder. When you hold your hand in the Ba Zi posture, drop your shoulder and elbows, bend your wrists and straighten your fingers.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 3

  • Do not raise your shoulders.

Picture 4

  • Make sure that your waist is straight.

Picture 5

  • Do not spread your feet too wide in the above posture.

The third section: to heal your spleen and stomach, you have to raise your arms

Picture 6

This sequence of movements helps to improve the functions of one’s stomach, spleen, liver and gall bladder. By stretching one arm upwards and the other downwards, you can exercise your stomach and the middle Jiao accordingly. Simultaneously, this movement will stimulate the main and collateral channels of your back and upper body. This is especially helpful for people with gastritis and stomach ulcers. The third sequence exercises the muscles and joints found on your spine and increases their stability and flexibility, which could prevent neck and shoulder pain.

Video 4

This section can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Straighten your legs and knees, raise your left hand up with your palm facing upwards. Once your left hand reaches face-height, flip your hand around, keep raising it upwards and to the left. At the same time, lower your right hand to your hip with your palm facing downwards and fingers pointing forwards.  Hold this position for one second.
  2. Bend your knees slightly while also bending your left elbow. Lower your left hand, hold it in front of your stomach; flip your right hand around, hold both of your hands in front of your stomach, eyes looking straight ahead.

Video 5

  • Repeat the steps starting with the right-hand side of your body. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 6

  • At the end of the third repetition, bend your knees slightly, lower your right hand to the side of your right hit with your fingers point forwards and your eyes looking straight ahead.

Tips: Relax your chest and quickly stretch your whole body, straighten your waist, lower your shoulders, try to lower and raise both your arms.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 7

  • Do not hold your palms horizontally or point your fingers forwards.

Picture 8

  • Do not make your elbows too straight.

Picture 9

  • Make sure to stretch your body as much as possible.

According to Chinese medicine, the diseases you have relate to your temperament.  Therefore, if you are too worried and anxious, it is going to affect your stomach and spleen. So, please try to be as positive as possible in your day-to-day lives!

By the way, do not forget that you can always practice just a single section or one specific movement in the Eight Silken Movements. Enjoy this short pause in your busy life!

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Painting with Wings: The Chinese Kite

Written by Juliette Qi

 

History of the First Kites in China

 

1
Traditional  Kite in China 

The first kites date from the Warring States Period (ECB 475-221, also called the Eastern Zhou Dynasty). During this period, they were made of wood and were called Mu Yuan木鸢 (wooden kite). This kite prototype, or “wooden bird”, has its origin in the ancient text of Mozi (BCE 551-479), who was a philosopher a century after Confucius.

2
Flying A Kite

In fact, it was not until the Tang Dynasty (CE 618-907) that light kites made of silk and then paper (bamboo was a common material used for the support) made their appearance. It was at this time that kites went beyond their original military function and were instead used for recreation. Immediately, the artisans began decorating their creations in a more artistic way. During the Ming (CE 1368-1644) and Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasties, the production and flying of kites became an art form. The kite also became an elaborate object with a colorful decoration in the shape of a bird, flowers or flower buds and of course included elements of Chinese calligraphy. The Chinese kite, like the Chinese lantern and parasol, has become a means of artistic expression, usually with the predominance of literary themes.

3
Traditional Design “Swallow”

 

Weifang and the Kite Festival

The Chinese city Weifang, located in the Shandong Peninsula, has a special relationship with the kite. Weifang City is home to the International Kite Association and hosts the Weifang International Kite Festival every year from April 20th to 25th. Many interesting kites are presented on this occasion every year, which attract thousands of people from all over the world to the city to compete or to watch the performance of the majestic colorful kites. The China Highlights Festival Tour offers its guests a unique opportunity to enjoy this annual event with locals and kite lovers from around the world. The highlight of the festival is at the annual “Kite King” event. Obviously, the city of Weifang has a museum dedicated to the history of this activity.

H88A0096.MOV_20170216_155316.223

4_edited
Dragon Kite of Weifang

It was in Weifang in 1282 that Marco Polo is supposed to have witnessed the flying of a kite. According to Marco Polo’s diary, there was a tradition in the nearby city Weihai at this time for measuring wind direction and force with a kite to determine whether an imminent trip was a good idea. This was done by attaching a large kite to the stern of a sailboat that was freely anchored, so that the boat would move in the direction of the wind. Then, the kite was removed from the sailboat and was allowed to fly away. If the kite flew high and straight, it was a sign that the trip will be good and if not, it would mean that the trip would not be easy.

When he returned to Italy, Marco Polo brought a Chinese kite with him. Soon, thanks to the Silk Road, the Chinese kite became famous in Europe and then continued its journey from Europe to the New World. In the Pavilion dedicated to the ‘Conquest of the Sky’ at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, a plaque was erected on which is inscribed the following homage to the Chinese kite: “the earliest aircraft are the kites and missiles of China”.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!