Match Made in the Stars: a Chinese Folklore Story

Written by Stefania Miletti

All of us have a soft spot for love stories. Let’s admit it, deep inside we all want to believe that true love concours all. This believe is deep rooted in all culture and has prevailed though time till nowadays. 

Well, the other day I stumbled across this fascinating story and wanted to share it, hoping that it will make you smile.

The cowherd and the weaver girl (牛郎与织女)

This is one of the most famous Chinese folklore stories, believed to date back to the 6th century B.C.

The two main characters, the cowherd and the weaver girl are stars, the first one denotes to the Altair star and the second one to Vega star. 

The two stars fell hopelessly and deeply in love with each other.

Unfortunately, according to the rules of the Heavens, for stars and deities it is forbitten to have passionate relationships. So, when the word of their tender love reached the Empress of the Heavens (plot twist: also the grandmother of the Weaver Girl) she was outraged and, as a punishment, she banned the Cowherd star to earth as a mortal. On the other hand, the weaver girl was bound to weave forever without rest. In fact, according to Chinese mythology, the clouds were “weaved” with magical silk threads of different colors according to the time of day or season.

But one day, thanks to the pleads of a group of fairies that wanted to pay a visit to the Bi Lian lake, the Heavenly Empress let the Weaver Girl join them. At the same time, the Cowherd Star, was reborn into a farming family, and was named the Cowherd. Unfortunately, after his parents died, he was left alone with his siblings, who treated him badly and after some time, they chased him out the house with only a cart and an Ox. Together with the old animal, the brave protagonist was able to overcome great hardships, and managing to rebuild their life and live happily in a tiny house.

What the Cowherd didn’t know, is that the Ox was no ordinary animal, in fact he was a Golden Ox star.

One day, the Ox spoke to the Cowherd, much to his surprise. The animal said to him: “You have to go to the Bi Lian lake today, there you’ll find fairies. If you steal the red dress, while they are in the water bathing, the fairy will become your wife”. The Cowherd, not quite believing what he had just heard, took the advice since he was feeling lonely and yearned a partner. 

He went to the lake, and hold and behold, he found the fairies. Once they were all in the water, he took the red dress. But the fairies, realizing that there was a human around, left the lake, all but the one whose red dress was missing.  Gathering his courage, the Cowherd walked forward and asked the Weaver girl if she was willing to marry him in exchange for her dress. The girl immediately realizes, upon seeing him, that he was her long lost love so, hesitantly, she accepted.

From that day, their life together was perfect. They had a daughter and a son and were really happy as a family. But it was too good to be true, their happiness was not long lived. In fact, when the Heavenly Empress heard the word that the two were reunited, she was simply furious! Blinded with rage she sent the heaven guards to retrieve the Weaver girl. 

Back on earth, the old Ox sadly passed away, but before he died, he spoke again telling the Cowherd to keep his ox hide because he will need it to fly to the sky.  Once the Weaving Girl heard this story, she realized that the old Ox was indeed the Golden Ox Star that was sent to earth because he tried to plead in favor of the Cowherd Star.

Unfortunately, the heavenly guards found the two lovers, they took the Weaving Girl and run away. But right when she was flying away, the Cowherd shouted: “Weaver girl, wait for me!”. When she looked back, she saw the Cowherd following her and the guards wearing the magical ox hide and carrying their two children, each of them in a basket. They came closer and closer, the Cowherd almost managed to catch up with the heavenly guards, when the Heavenly Empress appeared. Raging with fury with a wave of her hand, she created the Milky Way between the two spouses, creating an impassable barrier. 

Now the only thing they could do is gaze at each other for eternity, knowing that they are so close yet so far apart. They cried and cried, all of the celestial being felt sorry for them, hence a flock of magpies build a bridge between the lovers. Eventually even the Heavenly Empress pitied them and finally allowed the family, mother, father and the two little children, to stay in the sky and let them meet each other once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month.

After this story, the 7th day of the 7th month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, is known as “the Chinese Valentine’s Day” (七夕节) 








About Interact China


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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact Chinain 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 Fashionvia 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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Crying In Their Shoes: The Cruel Myth Of Foot-binding

Written by Maria Giglio

Have you ever seen a foot fitting in the palm of your hand that is not that of a child?

Female foot-binding is a practice as old as a millennium that used to be widespread among Chinese women until earlier 21st Century and was officially banned in 1912 by the Republic of China.   

You may wonder why the practice had been around for so long, and the answer is not that easy.  

In China, a lotus foot, as small as 3 inches, was considered a symbol of feminine beauty, sensuality and elegance.  

Fitting in the lotus feet 

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and took about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet were bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and took about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet were bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

After the treatment, girls had to walk for long so to facilitate the breaking of their arches so that heal and shoe would crush together to fit in smaller shoes.  

Origins of Foot-binding 

There are many versions about the origin of foot-binding. What is certain is that this practice was particularly popular during Song dynasty. However, a common belief relates the invention of foot-binding to the period of Tang dynasty, around the 10th Century and thus before the Song. Emperor Yu Li asked his concubine Yao Niang to dance on her toes on a six-foot tall golden lotus. Yao Niang binded her feet in white silk so to perform the dance which was so enchanting that every woman in Court had wanted to imitate her ever since. 

Historically, the first archeologic evidence about foot-binding in Ancient China dates to 1243, during the Song period, in the tomb of a 17-year-old girl named Huang Sheng.  

Meaning and spread of foot-binding 

Foot-binding had never been imposed by law. Then why did it last for so long in first place? As already mentioned, a lotus foot was an aesthetic requirement for a Chinese woman and soon became a status symbol. Women with bound feet were typically regarded as particularly attractive and seductive. This is also encouraged by the soft and slow way in which women need to walk because of the pain and uneasiness caused by the binding. 

Among many aspects, one important reason why foot-binding had been widespread until later years is its relation to Han culture. After their invasion of China in 1636 and the establishment of Qing dynasty, the Manchus imposed to the conquered their costumes and traditions and among made several attempts to ban foot-binding. Consequently, Han people, who also represent the majority of Chinese nowadays, kept practicing foot-binding as a way of resistance to the ‘barbaric’ oppressors who, on their side, stopped trying to ban it. 

During the Qing Dynasty and up until the 19th Century, bounded feet increasingly became a mark of beauty and turned into an advantage for finding a wealthy husband.

After the arise of many protests within the Chinese community, in 1912 the Republic of China officially banned foot-binding, but lack of enforcement and resistance didn’t stop it from being diffused until 1990s, when the practice had disappeared with the last generation of lotus feet women. By the end of the 20st Century all shoe factories in China had closed due to the lack of demand. The last factory, Zhiqiang in Harbin, was shut in 1999 with all the unsold stock being donated to the Heilongjiang Museum of Ethnography.       

Pleasure and Pain: Lotus Shoes 

Because of the pain caused by the broken bones and the awkward position of the feet, women could barely walk and so spent a lot of time home hand-sewing and embroidering to embellish their lotus shoes. 

But what did this footwear look like? As the name suggests, the lotus shoes recalled the shape of a lotus blossom with their cone shape. They were usually made of cotton and silk and enriched with fine embroidered or hand-sewn patterns, representing animals, flowers or ‘shou’, the symbol of longevity.  

The style and colour of lotus shoes varied according to the occasion. For example, while brides typically wore red shoes, the colour yellow was usually reserved to aristocracy, Imperial members, and in general wealthier classes. 

A painful expression of Chinese pride 

Nowadays, foot-binding is quickly stigmatised as an unnecessary and cruel practice aimed at perfect female bodies, compared to tight corsets. But the truth is much more complex than that, and the story of foot-binding tells us that there was a time when cultural identity would have been defended at any cost. 

Are you curious to see lotus shoes live? Check out the following collections around the globe: 


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. 

Shape

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! 

Pig-In The Chinese New Year: Happy 2019!

Written by Maria Giglio

As you probably already know, on Tuesday 5th February in China and among Chinese communities around the globe started the celebration of the new Lunar Year, aka Spring Festival. The festival will last for the next few weeks, following the Lunar Calendar. Each year is represented by a Zodiac animal and 2019 is the year of the Pig.

In the traditional Chinese Calendar years follow a sexagenary cycle named Ganzhi. This 60-year system is characterised by the combination between 10 Tiangan (heavenly stems) and 12 Dizhi (earthly branches). Each year is then determined by – and named after –a pair of stem and branch.

Each heavenly stem corresponds to one of the 5 Chinese elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water – each combined either with the Yang or the Yin polarity. Therefore, for each of these elements we have respectively: Wood (Yang) & Flower (Yin), Sun (Yang) & Fire (Yin), Mountain (Yin) & Soil (Yang), Metal (Yang) & Gold (Yin), Water (Yang) & Air (Yin).

The 12 Earthly branches instead correspond to the Zodiac Animals: Rat (鼠, shǔ), Ox (牛, niú), Tiger (虎, hǔ), Rabbit (兔, tù), Dragon (龙, lóng), Snake (蛇, shé), Horse (马, mǎ), Goat (羊, yang), Monkey (猴, hóu), Rooster (鸡, jī), Dog (狗, gǒu) and Pig (猪, zhū).

So, forget about the daily horoscope: the Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year based one!

Are all Pigs Equal?

We have already said that 2019 is the year of the pig, the last of the zodiac symbols. But what does it mean, and what kind of pig? Well, according to the sexagenary cycle, for this year the Earthly branch of “Hai” – the pig – is paired with the Heavenly Stem of  “jǐ”, the Yin Earth. So 2019 is the year of the “己亥” (jǐhài), the Earth Pig.

Along came the Pig

Why the pig is the twelfth and last element of the Chinese Zodiac? According to one version of the Chinese mythology, it is because the Jade Emperor called for a great race to the Heavenly Gate to select his 12 guardians. The rat, the first animal of the Zodiac, came first thanks to his cunning, outsmarting all the animals that ran faster than him. Due to his laziness and constant hunger, the pig stopped several times during the race to eat and rest. The legend holds that the Emperor was just about to close the race and proclaim the 11 winners when the Pig came snorting.

The Pig born identity

In Chinese horoscope there are 5 kinds of Pigs depending on the heavenly stem the sign is matched with: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

In general, the Pig born have a peaceful, generous and friendly personality. Pigs are also intelligent and particularly ambitious and passionate in pursuing their objectives. However, because they are very generous and naive, it is very easy to take advantage of them.

As to the Earth Pigs, extroversion is their distinctive feature among all others.

Thanks to his personality, the Earth Pig usually excels in many highly remunerative careers such as medicine, finance and law. Thanks to the fact that he is also very extrovert, the Pig easily succeeds in performing arts.

Past and future Earth Pigs

Because of the sexagenary cycle, the only other living Earth Pigs apart from 2019 babies are those born in 1959 and the next ones will be born in 2079!

Among the Earth Pig celebrities there are actress Emma Thompson, Dr. House Hugh Laurie and Rupert Everett.

Sadly you won’t find George Clooney, even though he definitely is a Pig lover.

Luck in 2019 for Earth Pigs… and others

Unlike the western Astrology, in Chinese Horoscope the birth sign year (本命年) is considered to be unlucky.

But seriously, this is not a Pig deal! In fact, this animal is traditionally associated with luck, thus entering the year of the Pig is seen to bring about fortune and wealth to everybody.

Having that in mind, there is nothing left but wishing you all an amazing 2019!

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 Ethnic Tribe Who Bears Their Ancestors’ Hair

written by Camille Boukortt

There are 55 recognised minorities in China and among those, the Miao people are some of the largest ethnic minorities with a population over 10 million people. However among this group exist many subgroups, including the Suojia, or Longhorn Miao people.

I used not to know much about Chinese ethnic minorities, but when I started learning about them, the Longhorn Miao people left me a lasting impression because of their gorgeous and intricate headdresses. The latter are made with strings of wool and linen interlaced with the woman’s ancestors’ hair, and are passed down from generation to generation, making them an invaluable and precious legacy of one of the oldest tribes in mainland China.

Longhorn Miao Child wearing traditional Miao clothing

Centuries-Old Traditions

Miao people are known in Asia as the Hmong, meaning “free men”. They are ethnically different and linguistically distinct from the Chinese and the other ethnic groups in China and Southeast Asia.

The Miao appear in Chinese history as far as in 2500 B.C., being described as a rebellious tribe banished from China’s central plains around that time.

Miao people have their own language and although the younger generations also speak Mandarin, older tribe members do not understand it and are unable to communicate in that language. Even among Miao people, there are 5 different languages ! Each one of them is associated with a certain sub-groups. They are spoken languages as they had no official script until the mid-20th century, when they started using Chinese characters.

Instead, they wrote about their history and chronicles through their craft, on their clothes and every day items passed down from generation to generation.

Hair With Meaning

It is important to note Longhorn Miao women do not bear the heavy headdress on a daily basis, instead wearing the long hair and wool piece only during festivals or other special occasions.

Longhorn Miao mother helping her daughter put on her headdress

The tradition of wearing one’s ancestors’ hair comes from wanting to honour them beyond death, and wanting to preserve their image for posterity. The horn shape, however, has multiple supposed origins and meanings. One supposition would be that the tribe, living in the mountains, started wearing them to scare off dangerous animals to ensure their safety. Another theory says Miao people wore crossbows and bows behind their head as a send off ceremony after the King Miao died in the war, vowing revenge for their king. Later, these people would replace the weapons with wooden long horns as decoration.

Some say the moon-shaped horns represent Miao’s people worship of the moon, as they often sing to it at night.

Whatever the reason may be, the peculiar and gorgeous headdress is sure to attract curious looks from anyone unfamiliar with their customs !

two Longhorn Miao children

Preserving Their Culture

However, a lot of younger Miao girls and women keep their headdresses away, both for practical reasons due to the long time required to put them on, as well as the will to preserve their fragile family heritage. Nonetheless, globalization and modernisation even in the countryside has started a constant battle for the preservation of minorities’ culture, as those minorities do not have any incentive to learn about them and perpetuate them, and rather move to bigger cities or choose to work factory jobs that pay them more than selling their own produce.

Longhorn Miao mother and daughter

Supporting ethnic minorities is key when it comes to preserving their cultural heritage !

I hope this article has enlightened you about the beautiful culture of Longhorn Miao people, as well as made you want to learn more about them and support their cultural traditions and unique heritage.

 

 

 

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!


Tips For A Healthy Life: Qi Energy And How To Let It Flow

Written by Maria Giglio

We all know that modern Medicine is about blades and stitches, but to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM} blood is not the only thing that flows in our body. Healing is rather a matter of mind-body and Qi (氣). 

What is Qi? 

Qi is the vital energy flowing in the Universe and its parts, including men. It doesn’t start or end, it eternally transforms. 

Two opposites make one

Qi has a dual nature represented by Yin/Yang (陰陽) polarity. In other words, how could you know good without bad existing, or see the light if you had never experienced darkness?  

Keep balance  

Balance of the opposites is the key to keep Qi in harmony and live a healthy and happy life. As Ancient Greeks used to say, ‘Meden Agan’, nothing in excess.  

Zen remedies to disharmony

Disharmony can reveal both in physical and emotional forms. For example, emotional stress and air pollution are similar causes of excess in Qi. TCM offers different ways to practice control of Qi and keep a steady mind, like breathing techniques, feng shui, acupuncture, or tai chi

Mens sana in corpore sano 

TCM doesn’t offer a cure but rather methods to take care of ourselves. Whether it is by directing furniture towards east or taking 5 minutes to lie on the floor, we have the power to shape life as we want it.

After all, don’t you think it is exciting to feel that we are more than just flesh and blood?   

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!

A Story About Courage And Love: Mulan, Origin Of The Myth

Written by Maria Giglio

Are you a big fan of Disney movies? I am and will never feel too old to freshen up some Classic from time to time. Mulan is no exception. 

About 20 years ago, way before Kung Fu Panda, another Chinese warrior broke into the movie scene, Mulan.  

As for many other movies, Disney takes inspiration from a folk legend for the script, the Chinese epic poem named Ballad of Mulan

The Ballad dates back to 500 A.D. but only became popular after its transposition in written texts during the late Ming. Just like in the movie, the story talks about a girl, Mulan, who goes to war disguised as a man.  

In a time when enemies are threatening invasion at the Chinese border, the Emperor calls for one male for each family to join the army. The call is not refutable.  

In the Hua family, the only man eligible is Mulan’s father Hu, since the other male, Mulan’s brother is just a kid. Hu is a decorated veteran, though too weak and old to survive. Concerned with her father’s fate, Mulan decides to replace her father and secretly leaves to join the army, pretending to be a man.

Incredibly smart and brave, not only Mulan succeeds to deceive her comrades until the end, but she also proves to be an excellent fighter and most of all a brilliant war strategist. 

Thanks to her skills, Mulan gains the respect of the Commander in chief and becomes his closest adviser, leading soon Chinese Army to victory. 

To show gratitude to Mulan the Commander offers her his daughter’s hand, thus forcing Mulan to reveal her real identity: possibly the most beautiful woman in China, whose beauty is only second to her braveness.

With Mulan release, Disney was trying to promote a brand-new idea of woman, thus breaking with a long tradition of harmless princesses waiting for rescue. In Mulan, the message is particularly powerful, since the story itself tracks the change of Mulan’s condition from innocent girl to strong woman. Rather than a dragon surrounding her tower, this new kind of woman has a dragon as a pet!

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!

Peeking into the Fascinating World of Chinese Bookbinding

Written by: Stefania Miletti

From the Mesopotamia clay tablets, in the 3rd millennium BC, to the modern books, humans have always found a way to transmit knowledge, stories and values through writing.

All over the world different bookbinding techniques were invented and modelled throughout time, and China is not an exception. Chinese history is full of different bookbinding types and techniques, with many inventive and fascinating styles, from the traditional and renown scroll, to the most unique and peculiar such as Scale Dragon binding or Pothi. 

Butterfly Binding

The Butterfly Binding (hudie zhuang), popularized during the Song dynasty, is the historic mark that ended the traditional usage of the scrolls, opting for the folded leaf book instead. Contrary to other techniques, such as the whirlwind binding, that presented some of the features of folded leaf books but with stronger influence from the scroll, the Butterfly Binding completely departed from the traditions and started a new wave for Chinese bookbinding.

Illustration of Butterfly Binding

The design was solid and rather simple, sheets of paper were folded together to make a single signature, where the last page was slightly glued to the first of the following signature, hence the sheets would be stacked together with the edges forming the spine. No reinforcement, such as carboard, wood or leather was applied, in contrast to western costumes.

The way in which the pages closed and opened, resembled a butterfly, giving this style its peculiar name.

Example of Butterfly Binding

The practical aspect of this technique was the easiness in the travel. In fact, the compact design made it easier to carry compared to the concertina or the traditional scroll. Moreover, it could increasingly hold more words than previous designs. More than for normal folks, this was extremely helpful for Buddhists that usually carried sutras with themselves. 

In Chinese culture rather often, different types of bookbinding techniques were associated with particular meaning and usage. For example, whirlwind books usually contained reference work, meanwhile the pothi and concertina were the chosen bookbinding method for Buddhists. On the contrary, similar to the scroll, Butterfly binding did not have any particular limitations regarding the type of users or content.

Chinese Pothi Binding

This fascinating and peculiar technique was originally invented and imported from India. The traditional Indian technique involved stacking on top of each other dry palm leaves that were cut into a rectangular shape. These were then stitched together with a cord and held into place by two ending wood peices that not only helped the structure, but also protected the fragile pages.

Example of Indian Pothi

On the contrary, the Chinese pothi did not use the same prime resources, due to the fact the materials used by the Indians were not generally available in China, while bamboo, wood and paper were more common. This is why the Chinese pothi, also known as “Fanjia Zhuang” (sandwiched Sanskrit binding) denoting the method used and the language used by the Indian pothi, or “Beiye Jing” (palm leaf sutra) indicating the prime material used in the Indian pothi, was predominantly made with paper.

Example of Chinese Pothi

The type of paper used, due to the thickness, made the structure stiffer and ensured the durability and quality of the book. Contrary to the Indian pothi, the Chinese one is considerably larger and presented only one thread hole for the binding. However, different from the Indian pothi, it is believed that no protective wood or protective layer holding the sheets together was used in the Chinese pothi, which, consequently, contained only loose sheets stacked in the right sequence.

Since the pothi was brought to China mainly by Buddhists, it had maintained the religious usage, meaning that it was mainly used for religious purposes.







About Interact China


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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact Chinain 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 Fashionvia 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!

Qi And Chic: Feng Shui For A Life Full Of Energy

Written by Maria Giglio

Why moving furniture gives you thrills? Ask the Universe.  

Feng Shui (风水, literally wind and water), the traditional Chinese geomancy, teaches how to set up our living space so to keep the Universal energy, Qi, in balance between its opposites Yin and Yang, and thus live better. 

Want to know how? Here are some tips! 

Take a compass

Suppose you have a compass. At the centre, you have Yin and Yang. Each direction instead represents an Earth element and an aspect of human life.

Colours matter 

Colours channel energy. Want the sun to shine in your social life? Use bright colours like yellow to grant the right amount of Yang in your living room.

In bed instead, opt for darker tones to help you relax or use red to enhance passion.  

The right spot 

Want to get that promotion or have more love in your life? Put them in the right place!

Place your kitchen stove to South to Fire up your meals. Point your bedroom to Southwest to improve relationships.

Mirror, mirror…off the wall! 

Mirrors reflect Qi energy and double it up, so they are perfect for hallways or small spaces.  Don’t put a mirror in front of your front door: it would reject good luck. 

In bedroom, avoid placing a mirror facing the bed. As it reflects the personal energy of the sleepers, it bothers their rest. Also, by doubling up love luck, it enhances the chance of infidelity between lovers.  

Natural Decoration 

Don’t take the use of plants for granted. As plants are full of Qi on their own, they can help or stop the correct flux in the house depending on their position. 

If you enjoyed this very short guide about Feng Shui and want to learn more, here are some readings for you: 

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!

Lacquered Handicrafts and their Maintenance

Written by Juliette Qi

 

It is in China that we found the first uses of lacquer, nearly 1000 years BC and today it is one of the most representative materials of Asia. Lacquer is a resin extracted from a tree called the lacquer tree (there are several varieties). Several layers are applied, sometimes tens of layers, on the surface of the wares(funds means surface ) generally prepared. Its beauty comes from its smooth and pleasant feel and the look of depth created by its slight translucency.

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Lacquer is harvested from the sap of the lacquer tree: an incision is made on the bark at the base of the tree, a container is placed underneath it and is filled with sap. The sap is very sticky and shiny. The process is long and inefficient. The lacquer process from start to finish is an essential component of Asian culture. The realization of a lacquered object requires a lot of time and patience, it follows extremely meticulous and careful steps.

console-chinoise-un-tiroir-laque-noire To learn more about the history of this craft and its artisans, I recommend you watch this documentary “THE GREAT SHOKUNIN”:

 

Pearl lacquer Chinese furniture

The characters and decorations in nacre (mother-of-pearl) are composed of several elements that must be arranged and assembled according to the characteristics of the material piece of furniture itself (I mean in order as in in the right pattern), such as a Chinese curved entry piece. The sense of detail is very important for the decoration of mother-of-pearl elements. Mainly women are chosen for this job which requires a lot of attention to detail. Here, a Chinese piece of furniture that is covered with mother-of-pearl.

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The different colors and pigments are arranged to color the nacre. When we look at the equipment used in the fabrication, we’ll find it is far from an industrial process, rather the highest quality of local craftsmanship in the most noble sense of the word. For example, the lacquered jewelry boxes concentrate a lot of techniques onto a small surface.

 

Maintain Your Lacquered Objects

To use and keep your lacquered objects for a long time, we have put together the following set of special tips for you:

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  • Never place the object near a heat source or in a place that is too cold
  • Maintain it with a non-aggressive foam cleaner (like a foam cleaner? Yes, and can you replace the Franch Brand with some American Brand if that make more sense?) such as O’Cedar or Pliz (available in supermarkets)
  • Wipe only with a soft cloth slightly dampened with fresh water
  • Keep the object away from sharp objects or cutting objects
  • Lacquered vases cannot hold water
  • Food contact with your trays or plates should be avoided
  • Never put the object in the microwave, or even use it to hold hot dishes

 

 

 

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!

The Culture of Chinese Antique Furniture

Written by Juliette Qi

 

As a country with a long history and refined civilization, China has a real taste for brightly colored furniture, which is heavily influenced by and involved in oriental and Asian traditions. Indeed, Chinese furniture exhibits both the common characteristics of Asian furniture and the main characteristics of traditional Chinese culture.

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Ancient Chinese furniture is often crafted based on the necessary conditions of Yin and Yang, a Taoist belief. Thus, its design is optimized not only for practical use but also to ensure a better Fengshui, a chance in life or spiritual protection according to the folk belief (this idea comes from an ancient belief). That’s why the color red is ubiquitous in Chinese furniture as we can see in the wedding cabinet, it represents positive energy. Copper or brass is widely used on sections of furniture which can be opened/closed due to its power to chase bad minds away.

Ancient Chinese furniture, which was intended either for the imperial court or ordinary people, was enhanced by cabinetmakers with excellent natural materials and with great care, extended and refined based on the traditions of previous dynasties dating back thousands of years.

 

Three Characteristics of Ancient Chinese Furniture

First of all, the job is always executed to perfection. The structure of the furniture is strictly adhered to and highly methodical while the lines are very smooth. Their splendor and clear colors (of what?) are realized by the delicate sculpting of the furniture and the repetitive varnishing, which occurs 7 times in total.

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The Details of Careful Engraving

 

Secondly, the shapes and variety of models are totally unique throughout the whole world. There are more than 100 variations, like the imperial bed that was made over the course of a thousand days of work; There are also all sorts of dining tables, desks, chairs, wardrobes, buffets, screens, dining racks, buckets and benches. These are valuable works of art and are to be appreciated by everyone.

Last but not least, the decorative patterns on the windows or doors have very specific powers. According to Chinese legends, they are able to hunt down evil spirits and bring good luck to the family.

 

Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Styles of Chinese Furniture

Southeast China has a temperate and mild climate. The generous nature there offers a very flowery and green spring, at the same a very rich and varied harvest autumn time. Thus, from the first imperial dynasties until today, these very favorable conditions make the region the “land of fish and rice”(like the land of milk and honey) – the major financial assets of ancient and agricultural China. This cultural subtlety gives cabinetmakers in the region a favorable condition for sumptuous and extremely varied creations. Furniture facades often describe a scene of life or nature: the flight of birds, flowers, plants are the most common decorations .

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Tea Table with Bird and Flower Motifs

 

In contrast, northern China is cold, dry, and sometimes arid. The people there are simple, honest and frank. The furniture looks like its users, it is rustic and solid, but very practical.

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Furniture and decorations are seen by Chinese families as signs of wealth and they really appreciate their furniture. To equip their places, they choose the raw materials used to create their furniture with the greatest care – wood, bamboo etc. They also invite experienced cabinet-makers to come to their homes for a few weeks. These traveling cabinet-makers, admired by all, are housed fed and laundered and perform their craft to the highest standard, each with his own style, leading to a wide variety of creations.

 

 

 

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!