Introduction to Qingming Festival: the Chinese Day of the Dead

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Day of the Dead or Qingming (清明节 Qīngmíng jié, literally “purity (of air) and light”) is one of the most popular traditional festivals in China. For thousands of years, on the occasion of this festival, which takes place at the beginning of the spring, the Chinese are accustomed to going to the graves of their deceased loved ones, a little like the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebrated in Mexico and South America. Both of these festivals have a long history of bringing together rituals and activities of different origins.

 

The Legend of Qingming

寒食节
The Cold Meal Festival

This holiday is also called the Festival of the Cold Meal. Where does this name come from? About two thousand years ago, Chong’er, son of Prince Xiangong of Jin, was expelled from his country for nineteen years. During his exile, he suffered many trials and most of his companions abandoned him one after the other, but Jie Zitui remained at his side as his  most faithful subject.

At the end of his exile, Chong’er returned to his country and ascended the throne, wishing then to reward his companions according to their merits. However, Jie Zitui was not interested in fame and fortune, so he took refuge on Mount Mianshan as a hermit with his mother. Wengong looked for them for several years, without success. Knowing that Jie was a dutiful son, Wengong  ordered for the mountain to be set on fire with the intention of forcing him to come down. However, Jie Zitui and her mother had preferred to die rather than be appointed high officials. Wengong, extremely sad, buried them on that mountain.

The day Jie Zitui chose to die rather than accept the reward became the Day of the Dead. In memory of his humility on that day, all families have a cold meal that was prepared the day before to avoid using fire. Over time, it has become a custom of the Day of the Dead.

 

Customs of Qingming

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Poem Qingming by Du Mu

The customs of the Qingming festival are varied and interesting. Apart from the sweeping of the tombs and the rejection of fire, there are other traditional habits such as flying kites, going on excursions to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of spring and playing on swings etc.

 

  1. Visit the Graves of the Ancestors

That day, the most important activity for the Chinese is to visit the tombs of their ancestors. After firstly cleaning the graves, offerings are prepared like food or a bouquet of flowers to express the nostalgia felt towards ancestors.

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The Visit of the Tombs of the Ancestors
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Offerings in Front of the Grave

 

  1. Go on An Excursion

The Qingming festival takes place in early spring. After visiting the tombs, it’s a good time to go on a mountain excursion with the family and enjoy beautiful spring landscapes.

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Go on an excursion with Family

 

  1. Fly A Kite

The ancients believed that if one wrote their illness on a kite and made it fly high before cutting the rope, the disease would fly away with the kite. It later became a common recreational activity.

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Painting: “The Kite and the Ten Beauties”

 

  1. Eat the “Green Ball”

Last but not least, a special green cake is often eaten at the Qingming Festival. Its dough is made of flour and herb sauce. The cake is stuffed with red bean puree or meat, so it is tastes sweet or salty.

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The “Green Ball” Cake

 

 

 

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 atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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The legend of the Chinese New Year or “Nian”

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Chinese New Year 农历新年 (Nongli Xinnian), also called Spring Festival 春节 (Chunjie), is the most important festival for Chinese communities around the world. The celebration of this festival lasts a fortnight, from the new moon to the first full moon of the year, which corresponds to the lantern festival.

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Have you noticed that the Chinese New Year, which begins the Year of the Dog this year, has already arrived? Have you ever wondered what is the origin of this traditional festival and its many customs? Here is a short video that will provide an overview of the origin of this festival through a Chinese legend:

After watching this cartoon on the “Nian”, do you find the monster terrifying or cute? According to Chinese legend, in the deepest corner of the world lies this frightening and mythical creature called “Nian”. He woke up each winter and became a real disaster for the villagers because he devoured and destroyed everything in his path. Yes, as you may have guessed, he must have had a ferocious appetite after having rested for a long time …

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Le Féroce  Nian

As a result, the poor villagers lived in anguish and even domestic animals were scared. Until one day, an old man traveling through the country explained to them that the monster was afraid of the noise and the red color. To drive the monster away, the people hurried to hang lanterns and red banners in their houses.

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Lanterns and Red Couplets as Decorations Today

When the creature arrived once more to frighten the people in village , everyone made as much noise as possible by beating gongs and drums, as well as snapping firecrackers. Terrorized by the color red and the incessant noise, Nian fled and never came back. Therefore the New Year’s celebration is called Guo Nian in Chinese (literally “pass the year”).

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The Noises to Chase Nian

Nowadays in China, some traditions are still practiced like sticking red couplets on the entrance of the houses, with New Year’s greetings inscribed on it. The Chinese New Year has also evolved to adapt to the contemporary situation. To avoid the air pollution, children no longer crack firecrackers as fun in the cities. However, in some specific places, we can still watch beautiful fireworks while wishing for a prosperous new year.

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The Chinese New Year is a moment when everyone enjoys the holidays and family gatherings. “HAPPY NEW YEAR” in Chinese: 新年快乐 (Xinnian Kuaile) or 新年好 (Xinnian Hao) are exclamed to wish an excellent year that brings us joy, happiness, prosperity, love and good health!

 

 

 

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 atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Most Beautiful Water-Towns in China

Written by Juliette Qi

 

In eastern China, especially in Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province and Shanghai City, there are many towns and villages built around rivers. Many of these are surrounded by water, so that these cities are often compared to the Italian city Venice. It is not by chance that a famous Chinese proverb says “In heaven, there is Paradise , on Earth earth, there are the cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou. (上有天堂, 下有苏杭)

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Here is a short video about Zhouzhuang, a most famous Chinese watertown :

Canals and bridges

Water-towns are often furrowed by canals. These cities only reveal the true extent of their beauty during the spring and autumn months. In the Jiangsu Province, the capital city Suzhou is known as the Chinese Venice. The Venetian explorer Marco Polo himself gave it this nickname! Founded almost 2,500 years ago, Suzhou also has its Grand Canal, a route used for centuries to transport silk. Nowadays you can leisurely visit the city on a cruise. The beauty of its canals and bridges is renowned throughout China.

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Stone Arch Bridge

Nanxun is one of the most recommended small water-towns. Cannels, bridges, alleys and Chinese traditional old buildings that rival the contributions of Western architecture make Nanxun unique among the other cities presented here. Walking along the canals, under the centuries-old weeping willows,you will meet more locals whose families have lived there for generations than tourists.

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Bridges and Buildings with their Symmetrical Reflections

The historical town Nanxun does not enjoy the same degree of bustle as other water-towns like Zhouzhuang or Tongli. And that’s a good thing in some ways because it preserves a quiet atmosphere and allows it to remain, in our opinion, more original and more picturesque.

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Traditional Buildings along the Canal
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Wooden Bridge with Roof

Cultural and Natural Heritages

 

Zhouzhuang
Traditional Fishing Boats

The small old town of Tongli, surrounded by 5 lakes, is a classical ancient water-town established along the Yangtze River. The fishermen of Tongli go fishing in the surrounding lakes with cormorants, which is an ancient custom often documented by Chinese and foreign television programs. Most buildings in Tongli are located along the waterways, hence it also has the nickname “Little Venice of the East”.

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Covered Walks (left)

Halfway between Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, Xitang is known for its famous bridges, alleyways and covered walks along the canals (langpeng (廊棚 / lungpnng /) – Xitang is the only one of these cities to have these covered walks. Calm because of less commercialism, it is a prime location for photos. After a visit to the former residence of the Xue Family (the Fastener Museum), the art gallery for “sculpture of root” or the Western Garden, you can enjoy a fishing party with locals and dinner on a boat.

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Rain Season in Xitang

Xitang offers a landscape that has inspired many great Chinese painters. Some people think that the village is even more beautiful on rainy days.

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modern architecture with traditional style in Zhujiajiao

Only one hour’s drive from downtown Shanghai, the old town of Zhujiajiao is a good destination to enjoy the contrast between modernity and traditional architecture, take pictures and enjoy the 36 old bridges that connect the different neighborhoods of this small city which covers 1.3km² and offers a nice example of traditional Chinese-style residences.

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Zhouzhuang : popular but more commercial

Zhouzhuang is one of the oldest water cities in China and therefore has an interesting architectural heritage. Its craftsmanship and folklore also add to the interest for tourists. Although it cannot be denied that the large number of visitors to this small town may be a detriment to the quiet contemplation it offers, it is unquestionable that the ancient houses, the water way and the old trees make Zhouzhuang a must-visit place.

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Historical Residences in Zhouzhuang

Over 1,000 families still live in residences built between the Ming and Qing period (1368-1911). Do not hesitate to take a ferry to discover these views from the water. For some tourists, the beginning of the day is a good time to enjoy the quietness, and spending the night there is also a plus.

 

 

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 atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Midsummer Health Preservation – Eat Cherries and Mulberries, Hang Wormwood

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

Every year around the 6thof June is MangZhong (the 9th solar term). From this point onwards, we enter the second phase of summer, Midsummer.  During this time, the yang qi between the sky and the earth is most prosperous and people are also at the peak of their growing capabilities.  Our new cells will grow very fast.  This is also a great time for us to repair our aging bodies and to delay the aging process.

Take good care of your heart during the summer as this helps to speed up your metabolism.  At the same time, cherries, known as a “heart care fruit”, are in season. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that the cherry is great for both your heart and blood.  Some Western nutritionists also refer to the cherry as the aspiring of the heart.

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Aspirin has an antithrombotic effect and can be used to treat cardiovascular diseases. It can also cause people to sweat, and long-term usage is therefore likely to cause a deficiency of the body’s yin. Compared with aspirin, cherries are even better.  They not only warm the heart, but also benefit your blood.  They help your body to produce more blood and also give your blood more energy. It is rich in iron which is very helpful for iron deficiency-based anemia.

In addition to eating cherries, you could also make cherry egg soup or cherry wine. These help to regulate different physical conditions.


How to make Cherry Egg Flower Soup

Ingredients:cherries, eggs, sweet glutinous rice wine (This is a traditional Chinese sweet soup, which should be available in Chinese supermarkets)

Method:Wash the cherries with salt water for 10 minutes and remove the stem. Put fresh water in the pot, add the cherries and a few spoons of sweet rice wine, and cook for a few minutes on a high heat. Pour the eggs into the pan and beat them until they become egg flower, then turn off the heat.

Effect: replenishes the blood, moisturizes the skin, conditions the body’s weaknesses and improves sleep.


How to make Cherry Wine:

Ingredients:500g – 1kg Cherries, 2.5kg low-degree wine

Method: Wash the cherries with salt water, put them in a clean glass bottle, pour in the white wine, cover it, wait for 10 days or longer and then enjoy!

Effect:Condition rheumatism, lower back pain and numbness of limbs.


By the way, not everyone is suited to eating cherries, because cherries have heating properties, and those who suffer from excessive internal heat and cough frequently should not eatn many cherries.  Eating too many cherries can easily lead to excessive internal heat. Please eat them in moderation!

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Hanging wormwood is also a midsummer tradition.  People think that wormwood can ward off evil and protect the peace. It has volatile medicinal ingredients that emit strong aromas which can sterilize the environment, prevent insect infestations, and purify the air.

In Chinese medicine, wormwood is a pure yang plant.  Moxibustion can open up the meridians and remove the body’s “cold” and “dampness”.  Using wormwood to boil water can also help to remove the “cold” and “dampness” of the lower jiao.

Summer is a period in which there are many pest infestations and many diseases are spread. The ancient Chinese people use sachets to prevent epidemics.  Putting a variety of aromatic herbs into sachets allows the strong aroma of the drugs to stimulate the body’s nasal mucosa which produces antibodies to help improve our resistance to diseases.  This helps us to fight against colds, rhinitis, a variety of respiratory infections, and can also prevent mosquito bites.


Homemade Sachet

Ingredients:dried tangerine peel, cloves (an aromatic flower bud used in Chinese medicine which comes from a tree in the Myrtaceae family), shan’ai (a Chinese medicine), moxa, cotton cloth and thread which is prepared in accordance with a ratio of 1:1.

Method:Use the materials above to make a small sachet and place the items inside it as you like. It can be placed in your pocket, hung on the edge of your bed or in your car. If you carry it around often, you need to change the moxa and tangerine peel every month.


Every year on the 21stor 22ndof June, we enter the summer solstice (the 10thsolar term).  This divides summer into two parts.  From the summer solstice onwards, it is important to pay attention to nourishing the Yin of our hearts.  Insufficient heart Yin can cause serious irritations, insomnia, hot flushes, palpitations and heart disease. 2017052351435925.png

Mulberry is good at nourishing your heart Yin.  Eating it in summer is very helpful for fighting palpitations and insomnia. It can also help to delay aging. However, the period in which you can eat fresh mulberries in a year is very short.  You can buy a lot during this period as they are on sale everywhere in large quantities.  You can therefore make mulberry jam in bulk, save it and then eat it slowly throughout the year.


How to make Mulberry Cream

Ingredients:fresh black mulberry, brown sugar

Method:Beat the mulberry into a juice, put it in a pot and make it thick by heating it on a low heat, add the brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar has completely melted and then turn off the heat. Put the mulberry jam in a clean glass jar, refrigerate, and eat two spoonfuls per day.

Effect: nourishes the Yin of the body, anti-aging effect, helps to reduce palpitations, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus and menopausal syndrome, also leads to less whiteheads.


Did the summer heat make you feel uncomfortable? Use seasonal ingredients to recover!

 

 

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!

Health Preservation throughout the 24 Solar Periods: Key Points for Summer Health

Written by Gioia Zhang

 


For the past several weeks, Milan has finally been enjoying an uninterrupted sunny summer.  What is your city like?  Just know that the season of the year which best helps delay aging and get rid of disease is right around the corner!  By making some small changes we can considerably boost our physical fitness. Let’s do it together!


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A Season of Growing

The word “summer” means “big” in ancient China.  This is because summer is the season in which all things grow, including the human body!

Sufficient yang1 during summer helps to stimulate various growth functions in your body.  Sufficient sunlight can, for example, provide our body with enough Vitamin D.  It can help to maintain bone health, regulate the body’s immune system, and it can also help to prevent diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.  At the same time, summer yang can speed up the body’s metabolism, enabling newly generated cells to repair aging bodies and improving bodily functions which have begun to slow down.

Summer is also the season in which the most physical energy is exhausted.  The same with qi and blood2Summer yang brings both qi and blood to just below the surface of the body’s skin and leads to a relative paucity of these two substances in the body.  Therefore, it is necessary to get enough sleep during the summer months so that you can make sure enough qi and blood get back into the body and strengthen your organs.

yang1In traditional Chinese medicine, yang is the driving force behind the body’s metabolism and physiological functions, and it is a determinant of human reproduction, growth, development, aging, and death.

qi and blood2Qi and blood are the two basic types of substance in the human body. They play an important role in daily human activities. Qi plays a role in promoting the regulation and control of the human body.Blood has a supportive effect on the human body.

 

Condition your Internal Heat by Sitting up Straight and closing your eyes

The five elements of Chinese medicine believe that of the four seasons, summer is a “fire”, and of the organs, the “heart system” which is composed of the heart and the small intestine is also a “fire”. This means that summer is the most prosperous season of “heart-fire”.  This kind of “fire” in the body can bring warmth to the body as well as converting food into nutrients which are absorbed by the body and then used in order to provide power for growth.
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However, during the hot summer months, our “heart-fire” can be prone to overheating.  At this time, you may find that your tongue is sore and your urine is yellow.  You may also feel regular discomfort and have insomnia. So, how should we condition our heart-fireIn Chinese medicine, every day from 11:00 to 13:00 is the time for heart meridian circulation. If we find the time to sit and rest for a few minutes during these hours, we can assure that our heart is nursed back to good health.   During these hours, try to sit in a chair, straighten your back, place the palm of your hands on your legs, close your eyes, relax, and take a deep breath. Staying quiet for a few minutes will refresh you.

 

Eat More Pungent Food and Dispel Diseases

0x1009a0a0During the summer, our pores are open more frequently.  This allows external evils to enter and invade our body.  Pungent tasting food helps to eliminate these evils from the surface and prevent them from entering the body.  Pungent food also has the same effect as diaphoresis and eating pungent tasting foods in summer helps the body to radiate heat. The qi and blood remain very close to the surface of the human body during summer.  Therefore, the spleen and stomach are relatively cold.  So, when cooking, add more green onions, ginger, garlic, peppers etc.  As well as being more appetizing, this helps to improve the functionality of both the spleen and stomach.

Taking advantage of this period of high metabolic rates can also help us to eliminate some of the “cold” and “damp” which has accumulated in the body during winter.  It can also help to alleviate respiratory diseases to which we are particularly prone in the colder, winter months.  Of course, eating too much cold food and excessive reliance on air-conditioning will put a huge burden on our spleens and stomach.  It will also hinder the elimination of pathogenic diseases in our bodies.

 

Skin Diseases Reveal the Status of your Internal Organs

1507171146041778-e1472101613535-400x400The health of our skin is an extension of the health of our internal organs, and we can tell by examining skin diseases if our internal organs need to be repaired. As the body’s yang qi floats on the surface of the body during summer, problems within the body are often reflected in the health of our skin.  For example, the “cold” and “damp” found in the body can cause sweat sores.  If the “cold” and “damp” are not removed in time, it will lead to the appearance of sweat spots and eczema.

If you happen to be affected by skin discomfort during summer, you should think about how you could take advantage of your available summer energy in order to help cleanse your body.  In the next article, I will introduce some health tips related to each solar term.

I hope you enjoyed this article and come back regularly to read the rest of the series!

 

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!

Top 6 Films to Get to Know Chinese Culture (II)

Written by Yuqing Yang

I hope the previous blog has already given you some insight into Chinese culture and history, so here is the other half!

 

~ Modern family relations (Family Drama) ~

推手 (Tui Shou; Pushing Hands)

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It is one and first of Lee Ang’s “Father Knows Best” trilogy together with the other two movies – The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994). The story is about an old Chinese Taiji teacher emigrating from Beijing to live with his son, American daughter-in-law, and grandson in New York. The title of the film is a pun. Pushing hands is part of Taiji routine, for which two persons have to learn to exercise and balance their power. It also perfectly parallels with the family relations between father and son, old and young, and East and West. Since the story is limited to a family, every detail and cultural subtlety has been taken care of. The content judging from personal, philosophical, and cultural perspectives is extremely rich.

 

 

~ Justice in a new era (Western/Comedy) ~

让子弹飞(Rang Zi Dan Fei; Let The Bullets Fly)

It’s an action comedy written and directed by Jiang Wen. Set in 1920s in Sichuan, a battle of courage and wits between bandits and corrupted governors takes place.  The cast includes all well-known names of the Asian film industry like Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Carina Lau. It is an ambitious project taken in China not only because of its unfriendly implication towards government also because of its western movie genre. Even till now, it is still one of its kind.

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~ Love in big cities ~

森林 (Chong Qing Sen Lin; Chungking Express)

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It is a romantic movie written and directed by the Hokng Kong director Wong Kar-wai. The film stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong, Tony Leung and Valerie Chow, exclusively pillars of Hong Kong entertainment industry. It consists of two separate stories about police officers’ breakups and encounters with drug smuggler and bar worker in Hong Kong. It is interesting that the title has nothing to do with the city Chongqing, merely referring to the concrete jungle main characters get stuck in. This movie perfectly captures fleeting moments in big and modern cities. Many of the actor’s lines have become catchphrases in the new generation and are still widely used and cited.

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I hope you would like some of them, and please let me know by commenting below if you want to get more recommendations or any thoughts you have!

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, 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!

 

 

 

Top 6 Films to Get to Know Chinese Culture (I)

Written by Yuqing Yang

When talking about Chinese films, first ones came to your mind might be Kung Fu and Hong Kong crime movies. Surely, they can’t be all what the Chinese style is about. From mythical ancient China to modern industrialized China, filmmakers have tried to capture these moments in all possible forms. Below is a list of films that will help you understand hopefully more about the Chinese culture and its aesthetics.

~ Ancient legends and mythologies (Animated Film) ~

海棠 (Da Yu Hai Tang; Big Fish and Begonia) – 2017

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To any fan of Ghibli films, the beautiful scenes in Big Fish and Begonia might bear a resemblance to those from Hayao Miyazaki. The movie itself, however, draws inspirations Zhuang Zi’s philosophy, the ancient texts such as Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shanhaijing) and In Search of the Supernatural (Soushenji). Set in a mystical undersea world, the magic-powered residents have to complete a coming-of-age ritual by transforming into a fish and traveling around the human world. The main character, Chun, is no exception. But she has involved herself in such an accident that she has to shoulder a responsibility to redeem a human soul. This movie is China’s best-animated film in recent years.

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One scene with the traditional architecture tulou (giant earthen round houses typical in Fujian Province)

 

 

~ Thousand years of kingship and traditions (Historical Movies) ~

末代皇帝(Mo Dai Huang Di; The Last Emperor) – 1987

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Don’t let the historical category put you off. The Last Emperor is a biopic directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and it focuses on the life of China’s last emperor, Puyi Henry since he was three. It faithfully captures the end of China’s kingship that lasts thousands of years. Living under the rule of the emperor slowly has become an inseparable part of Chinese consciousness. In this movie, the mysterious life of Son of Heaven in an apocalyptic time has revealed itself gradually in front of the audience. This movie is about a transitional moment, a bygone age, and a kind of mentality. It has won nine Oscars in 1988, including Best Director and Best Picture.

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The bright yellow that symbolizes the royal blood.

 

 

~ Striving towards modernity (tragedy)~ 

活着 (Huo Zhe; To Live) – 1994

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The film was directed by Zhang Yimou and staged by Gong Li and Ge You. it is based on the novel by the same title; the story traces the life of a married couple throughout chaotic years from the 1940s to 70s under Mao Zedong’s rule. The main character, Xu Fugui (Ge You), is born in a rich family, but he gambles the family property away. Fugui accidentally conscripts himself into the army and participates in Chinese Civil War, but upon his return, Fugui becomes handicapped. Soon it is already Cultural Revolution, Fugui’s son, Youqing, exhausts from hard labor and dies in an accident. Misfortunes as such keep taking place all the way into Fugui’s last years. Throughout the movie, it is hard to distinguish personal and political tragedies, but the ending is unspeakably powerful and fulfilling.

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(Full movie with English subtitles)

 

 

If you haven’t found anything special yet, make sure to check Part II!

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, 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!

 

 

 

Top 3 Chinese Myths and Legendary Figures

Written by Francesca Zhu

The Myth of Sun WuKong

Sun WuKong, also known as the Monkey King, was born on the Mountains of Flowers and Fruits. He was powerful and with a rebellious trait, and one day, he went to the Heavens and caused havoc. The Gods were so angry with him that they tried to burn him but instead the fire made him even more powerful. The Gods then asked help to Buddha. Buddha punished the fearless Monkey King by suppressing him under the Mountain of Five Elements where he remained captive for five hundred years.

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After centuries, a monk named Tan Sen was on his journey to the West with an important duty, to bring Buddha’s sutras to the East. One day, he passed by the Mountain of Five Elements. He freed Sun WuKong on the pact that the Monkey King had to be his disciple and had to help him collect the sutras. As such, the Journey to the West proceeded, with other new discpiples; Zhu BaJie, Sha WuJing and Bai Long Ma; who would later join one by one protecting Tang Sen from the dangerous demons of the West.

The adventures of Tang Sen and his four disciples are a recurrent theme in the Chinese folk culture. They appear in a multitude of cinematographic productions, from Chinese cartoons, movies, TV series to American screens.

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Sun WuKong is probably the most popular character in the story; known for his power, braveness, repentance for his past and the willingness to become a better person under Tan Sen’s guidance. He is also featured in one of the most popular Japanese Anime that everyone knows about… that’s right, he is the undefeatable Goku in Dragon Ball. The synopsis of the anime is different from the Chinese myth but the character of Goku is indeed based on the story of Sun WuKong.

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The Myth of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a romantic one, on which the Chinese Valentine’s Day is based. It is said that the Weaver Girl was one of the seven angels that came from the Heaven to visit the Earth. During the journey, she met the Cowherd, a poor kind-hearted man, and the two fell in love with each other. The Weaver Girl stayed with the Cowherd on the Earth, they got married and had a boy and a girl. One day, the Mother Queen of Heaven came to know about the Weaver Girl and strongly disapproved the love between the two. She brought the Weaver Girl back to Heaven while the Cowherd chased after her. When he was almost reaching his wife, the Mother Queen used her magic hairpin to create a river separating the lovers. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl cried so much for losing each other that the Mother Queen was moved. She still didn’t allow the lovers to stay together but she allowed them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when a flock of magpies will form a bridge crossing the river letting the Cowherd, the Weaver Girl and the children to reunite.

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This day is also called Qixi in the Chinese culture, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, when young people appreciate the night sky with their loved ones. In fact, the Weaver Girl represents the star Altair, the Cowherd Vega and the river separating the two the Milky Way.

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The Myth of Chang E and Hou Yi

Once upon time, there were ten suns. It was so hot that all plants were burnt and people suffered drought. Hou Yi was an excellent archer, he took his arch and bow and shoot down nine suns only leaving one to provide light to people. Having saved the Earth, he was admired as a hero and many went to him to learn archery. To praise his bravery, the Gods gave him the elixir of immortality. Although Hou Yi wanted to become immortal, he was happily married with Chang E and didn’t want to be immortal without her, as the elixir was only enough for one person. So he just kept the elixir home.

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One day, a greedy scholar of Hou Yi decided to steal the elixir. He broke into the house where only Chang E was there. He forced her to give him the elixir and Chang E, not knowing how to fight him, drank the elixir herself. She immediately became an immortal and flew to the Moon. When Hou Yi was back, he was heartbroken. He laid out his wife’s favourite fruits and cakes in the yard as offerings to her. His neighbours did the same and soon it became an annual tradition. Today, we still pass on this tradition on Mid-Autumn Festival, when we paint and light on lanterns and make and eat mooncakes, remembering the tragic story of the Chang E and Hou Yi.

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Do you know any more Chinese Myths? If so, don’t hesitate to share them with us!

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, 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!

 

Chinese Lanterns, a Culture of Lights and Art

Written by Francesca Zhu

Chinese New Year has just passed and many have attended the dazzling celebrations either in China or in the Western China towns with the largest Chinese community, such as London. You’ve surely been to some Chinese festivals or at least seen on TV or social media. What caught your attention the most? For me, it’s the lanterns!

The common lanterns that we normally see are Red Balloons. Red symbolizes joy and good fortune. As such, these lanterns are largely used for festivities and weddings. In Europe, we can see them during Chinese celebrations and along the streets of China towns to wish wellbeing to all visitors. But there is so much more than that!

Red Lanterns

In China, a special occasion for exhibiting colourful lanterns is on the 15th day of the first Lunar month each year, that is the Chinese Lantern Festival, when people decorate houses and streets with red lanterns.

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Chinese lanterns come into many versions. You have certainly heard about flying lanterns, as known as Kong Ming Deng. These are made of thin paper and propelled by the hot air given by the flames. They are extremely popular on Mid-Autumn Festival, when it is custom for people to light a lantern up, make a wish and let it go high in the night sky, which will be then brightened with thousands of glowing wishes.

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Similarly, floating lanterns are well known, too. These are very popular on the Dragon Boat Festival, taking place near rivers and lakes. Lanterns of different shapes are released on the water creating an amazing exhibition. The most typical shape is the lotus one.

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Why are lanterns special? What makes them fascinating is their art and craft nature. The ability to make a traditional lantern is a combination of Chinese painting, paper cutting, paper arts, paper carving, embroidery and sewing, all handicrafts reflecting the Chinese culture. In the past, intellectuals even composed poetry on the body of the lanterns. Thus, besides their use during traditional festivals and as decorations, Chinese lanterns embed hard work, eye for details, and artistic and poetic meaning.

Which are the different styles of lanterns?

Zou Ma Deng Lantern is one of the most innovative. There is a shaft within the body of the lantern, fitted with paper vanes. The flames create a current of heat that rotates the shaft and sets a paper cut-out, usually a paper horse, in a round motion.

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Beijing style lanterns were originally decorations for royal palaces. The skeleton is made of wood and covered with glass and cloth. Some more refined versions of this are made of rosewood and patterned silk, which requires long hours of work.

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Suzhou style lanterns might have simpler raw materials than the Beijing ones but they have various shapes, such as birds, flowers, fish, towers, and even human beings. They are surely the most sophisticated and the most complex in terms of handicraft. On a yearly basis, all sorts of lanterns are displayed on the Yangtze River creating a life size shiny painting.

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Chinese Lanterns in Europe

No matter where you are, I believe there are occasions to admire this side of Chinese culture. As a big metropolitan city with a large Chinese community, London hosts several events and festivals. Just in December, I went to the amazing Magic Lantern Festival outside the city. Needless to say, the artists have perfectly combined Chinese tradition with western themes, ending up with an admirable result.

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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 12 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, Tailor Shop, 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!

Not Just Sunflower Seeds – Hidden Culture Behind China Contemporary Arts by Ai Weiwei

Written by Yuqing Yang

 

It is well known that the artist Ai Weiwei is a Chinese dissident, an activist for humanity. Most of his works are seen as a rebellion towards the Chinese government. This is typical Ai Weiwei perceived under a projected European understanding. The hidden cultural context behind his works is largely ignored.

 

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Ai Weiwei, 2012, photo Gao Yuan, courtesy of neugerriemschneider

 

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957, and his father Ai Qing was a famous poet. Ai Weiwei was young when his father was forced into hard labor during the cultural revolution, and this experience marks the generations of strives for artist freedom in his family.  Ai Weiwei also recognizes this kind of creativity in adversities in one of his interviews with BBC.

However, the audience in the West has generally ignored his cultural upbringing. The work Sunflower Seeds would be a perfect art work to reflect such cultural insights. Sunflower Seeds simply is made of one hundred million porcelain pieces in shape pf sunflower seeds, which are ubiquitous in Chinese daily lives. As Ai Weiwei further explains, “sunflower seeds are the most common object in China, no matter where you are, or poor, or rich, in remote areas or in the city.” His work is undoubtedly closely related to the Chinese people.

 

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As shown in the documentary film made for Sunflower Seeds, this huge amount of porcelain sunflowers was handmade by 1,600 craftsmen in Jingdezhen, a renowned town for its traditional porcelain production over 1,700 years. This is the hidden story behind Sunflower Seeds. The cohesive and enduring Chinese culture is embodied by the cooperation and compassion among the skilled workers and hand-making in a communal environment. That is why Sunflower Seeds is indeed “a piece of art which contains one hundred million pieces of art.”

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Ai Weiwei has observed the relationships between individuals and entirety during the production process. During the cultural revolution, it was common to see Chairman Mao surrounded by sunflowers as sunflowers were the symbol of people. The people were identical and characterless. However, when producing porcelain sunflower seeds, everybody took a different role; while producing at home, some tended the children, some cooked the meals. Together they formed a harmonious community.

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Porcelain, as a medium that connects thousand years of Chinese history, is also a cultural symbol here. Sunflower Seeds is likewise more of a cultural art work instead of a political one. It is another side of the “Made in China” phenomenon.

 

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Sunflower Seeds (detail), 2010. Ai Weiwei (b.1957). Temporary installation at the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, London.

 

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, 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!