A Very Hong Kong Xmas

In the People’s Republic of China, Christmas is controversial. December the 25th might mark the birth of Jesus Christ, but for Communist nationalists the 26th of the month is remembered as the birthday of a different kind of savior, Mao Zedong. … Read

Hollow Men, Wooden People

The Hollow Men is one of T.S. Eliot’s most famous poems. It reads, in part: We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.… Read

Christmas Cheer: another letter from David Hawkes

In the 1980s, after completing his monumental translation of the first eighty chapters of The Story of the Stone 紅樓夢, David Hawkes retired with his wife Jean to an old stone farmhouse called Bryn Carregog (Stony Hill), in the mountains of Mid-Wales.… Read

Other People’s Thoughts, VII

Other People’s Thoughts is a section of the China Heritage site featured in our Journal. It is inspired by a compilation of quotations made by Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), one of our Ancestors.… Read

China Bound — meeting and eating

A Heritage Year Today, the 15th of December 2017, is the first anniversary of China Heritage. This publication and the enterprise it represents — The Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology 白水書院 — is a continuation, in a post-institutional environment, of our advocacy of New Sinology 後漢學 from 2005 and the creation of China Heritage Quarterly.… Read

Nanking Broken

Today marks the eightieth anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, now generally known as the Nanking Massacre. In The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography the historian Joshua A. Fogel writes: The Rape of Nanjing was one of the worst atrocities committed during World War II.… Read

Reaching Forty-five

Free of Doubts
Stymied by the Workings of Heaven
雖已不惑,知天命尚早 At fifteen I was determined to study; at the age of thirty my method was established; at the age of forty my mind was free of doubts; at fifty I understood the workings of Heaven; at sixty my ear was trained to understand the Way; and, at seventy, I could do as I pleased, confident that I would not transgress. … Read

China’s Art of Containment

‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’ opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York on 6 October. The show, which features work from the late 1980s up to (and in some cases beyond) 2008 — the year of the Beijing Olympics — was controversial.… Read

Who’s on First?

China’s Successive Failures In this age of deadly burlesque — one that brings to mind the 1930s and the atomised politics of great power conflict, class resentment, clashing ideologies, racism and economic injustice — it seems timely to offer a burlesque work from that earlier time.… Read

Other People’s Thoughts, VI

Other People’s Thoughts is a section of the China Heritage site featured in our Journal. It is inspired by a compilation of quotations made by Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), one of our Ancestors.… Read

The Unbuilt Wall of Sorrow

On the Centenary of the Russian Revolution   The 7th of November 2017 marks the official commemoration of the centenary of the Russian Revolution. *** This third instalment of The Best China section of China Heritage features another essay from the ‘Ways of the World’ 世道人生, a column by the Hong Kong writer Lee Yee 李怡 published by Apple Daily 蘋果日報.… Read

What’s New About Such Thinking?

The Best China, II China Heritage celebrated the 1st of October National Day of the People’s Republic of China by introducing the work of Lee Yee 李怡 (李秉堯), a celebrated essayist and political analyst.… Read

Ninth of the Ninth 重陽 Double Brightness

The 28th of October 2017 is the Ninth Day of the Ninth Month in the traditional lunar calendar 農曆九月初九. It marks the Double Ninth or Double Brightness Festival 重陽節. The Double Ninth, which follows shortly after the Harvest or Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節, is a celebration of the autumn, a season of late bounty, seasonal change, lingering beauty and finality.… Read

The Ayes Have It

On 1 April 1969, delegates to the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party convened in the Great Hall of the People on the western flank of Tiananmen Square. The hall was one of the Ten Grand Edifices 十大建築 hastily constructed to celebrate the first decade of the People’s Republic of China in 1959.… Read

The Same Fair Moon

千里共嬋娟 The Fifteenth Day of the Eighth Month of the lunar calendar, a day that in 2017 falls on the 4th of October, marks the Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節. A major public holiday in the People’s Republic since 2008, it is also known as 團圓節, the Festival of Reunions, a celebration of unity, togetherness, familial harmony and even conjugal felicity.… Read

1 October 2017 — The Best China

The 1st of October marks the founding in 1949 of the People’s Republic of China. Addressing a mass rally in the heart of Beijing on that day, the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong announced the establishment of a Central People’s Government.… Read

The Battle Behind the Front

Members of The Layabouts Lodge 二流堂 are among The Ancestors of China Heritage. The Lodge — a loose-knit group of artists, writers and translators, bons vivants all — was active in wartime Chungking.… Read

Other People’s Thoughts, V

Other People’s Thoughts is a section of the China Heritage site featured in our Journal. It is inspired by a compilation of quotations made by Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), one of our Ancestors.… Read

Envoi for Capital M 別了,前門米氏西餐廳

On Sunday, the 17th of September 2017, Capital M, a restaurant created by Michelle Garnaut in the Chinese capital city closed its doors for the last time at its unsurpassed Beijing venue: at Qianmen, on the southeast edge of Tiananmen Square (see the Capital M Announcement).… Read

Appendix II: For the Dead are Many 冤屈難伸

The spirits of those who have died unnatural deaths, in particular those killed as a result of the machinations of others, the cruelty of government or malice of a system beyond their control are known as Victim Ghosts 冤鬼 or 冤魂, short for 冤屈鬼魂.… Read

Demons Demonise Demons 妖魔化妖魔

Demonisation has been a feature of religious and political life in many societies over the ages. The ‘People of the Book’ (أهل الكتاب ′Ahl al-Kitāb; עם הספר Am HaSefer) — those who identify with the body of writings in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions — were masterful in demonising other belief systems, and persecuting their adherents.… Read

P.K.’s Strange Tales 也斯聊齋

Leung Ping-kwan 梁秉鈞 was a prominent Hong Kong poet and essayist, better known in his home city as Yah-see 也斯, Yesi in Mandarin. To most of his friends he was simply ‘P.K.’,… Read

Sun Yat-sen’s Shade 革命尚未成功

The Analects Fortnightly 論語半月刊, a magazine founded by the essayist and translator Lin Yutang (林語堂, 1895-1976) in 1932, promoted the concept of humour 幽默 (a neologism in Chinese of Lin’s invention), while also publishing essays and art work that reflected the urbane, as well as the often scurrilous, world of Shanghai letters.… Read

Spooks in the Bamboo Grove 竹林魑魅魍魎

Xi Kang (Ji Kang 嵇康, 223-263CE) is renowned as one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove 竹林七賢. His ‘Letter to Shan Tao’ 與山巨源絕交書 is one of the inspirations behind the creation of China Heritage, and it features in the essay On Heritage 遺 on this site.… Read

Betwixt & Between 陰陽界

This essay was written to accompany an installation at the Drill Hall Gallery of The Australian National University in March 2003, coinciding with the Qingming Festival of that year. It is reprinted here, on 5 September 2017 — the Fifteenth Day of the Seventh Month of the 2017 Year of the Rooster — coinciding with Ghost Festival, another occasion on which objects for the afterlife go up in smoke.… Read

Spectres in the Seventh Month

The Fifteenth Day of the Seventh Lunar Month 七月十五 is called variously Zhongyuan 中元節, Half Month 七月半 and Ullambana (उल्लम्बन; 盂蘭盆節, or simply 盂蘭節). It is a juncture during which elements of Taoist and Buddhist belief mix, both for the salve of the quick and the uplift of the dead.… Read

Appendix I: Ghost Logorrhoea 鬼話連篇

Sixty Common Ghostly Words and Expressions 扮鬼臉、魔鬼 、冒失鬼、搗蛋鬼、搗鬼、膽小鬼、短命鬼、替死鬼、牛鬼蛇神、厲鬼、各懷鬼胎、搞鬼、孤魂野鬼、鬼、鬼把戲、鬼魅、鬼門關、鬼迷心竅、鬼斧神工、鬼胎、鬼頭鬼腦、鬼臉、鬼靈精、鬼鬼祟祟、鬼哭狼嚎、鬼哭神號、鬼話、鬼話連篇、鬼畫符、鬼火、鬼魂、鬼混、鬼計多端、鬼見愁、鬼主意、鬼使神差、鬼子、鬼才、鬼祟、活見鬼、攪鬼、酒鬼、見鬼、泣鬼神、吸血鬼、小鬼、心懷鬼胎、裝神弄鬼、神不知鬼不覺、神差鬼使、神出鬼沒、水鬼、人不知,鬼不覺、人小鬼大、死鬼、餓鬼、疑神疑鬼、妖魔鬼怪、有錢能使鬼推磨、東洋鬼子。 *** Ghosts in What Classic? In What Classic? 何典, a novel discussed at length by Christopher Rea in An Age of Irreverence, numerous ghosts/ gui are named.… Read

A Wisp of Smoke 一溜煙兒

The following interview, conducted by Sang Ye 桑曄, first appeared in China Candid: the people on the People’s Republic, edited by Geremie R. Barmé with Miriam Lang, University of California Press, 2004.… Read

Rhapsody for a Skeleton 髑髏賦

The long, ornate, rhapsodic fu 賦, in so far as it had an ancestor, derived from the shaman-chants of the South. Its lexical richness, euphuism and hyperbole suited an expansive, adventurous age in which Chinese armies penetrated deep into Central Asia and Chinese merchandise regularly found its way into European markets, but were deeply disturbing to right-minded Confucians, and therefore, ultimately, to the writers themselves; so that, amidst all the self-confident exuberance, a note of guilt and unease kept stealing in.… Read

Hymn to the Fallen 國殤

From the ‘Nine Songs’ in The Songs of the South 楚辭九歌國殤, translated by David Hawkes, who says this ‘is surely one of the most beautiful laments for fallen soldiers in any language.’… Read