Mao Zedong’s Monsters and Demons 牛鬼蛇神

The two 1966 editorials from the People’s Daily reprinted here relate to the themes touched on in our discussion of the Ghost Festival. In the first, ‘Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons’, published on 1 June 1966, in effect declares all enemies of the Communist Party and its enterprise, including those who have survived from the days before 1949 living in the People’s Republic of China, to be little more than subhumans.… Read

Lu Xun’s Ghosts 無常、女吊

This section starts with two passages from the writer Lu Xun (魯迅, 1881-1936) on the subject of ghosts, death and revenge. Gloria Davies has kindly given permission for us to reproduce here her discussion of Lu Xun’s essay-memoirs ‘Wu Chang or Life-is-Transient’ 無常 (1926) and ‘The Hanged Woman’ 女吊 (1936) from her Lu Xun’s Revolution: Writing in a Time of Violence, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.… Read

Exorcism in the Garden 大觀園符水驅妖孽

The following episode is from Chapter 102 of The Story of the Stone: The Dreamer Wakes 萬境歸空, translated by John Minford, Penguin Books, 1986. Charms and Holy Water are Used to
Exorcize Prospect Garden 大觀園符水驅妖孽   Skybright’s cousin, Wu Gui, lived, it will be remembered, opposite the rear gate-house of the Garden.… Read

Weird Accounts 志怪

During the Six Dynasties [六朝, 220-589 CE] a new prose genre, the zhiguai 志怪 tale [or ‘tales of the strange and supernatural’], emerged clearly from the mass of occasional writings of China’s literati.… Read

Embroidery, a poem

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 ‘PK’, an abbreviation for pak-gai 撲街 in Cantonese, literally ‘hit the street’, or ‘fuck off’.… Read

The Seventh Night 七夕

Separation from loved ones, reuniting with old friends, the reunion of families, happy couples, the sorrow of missed opportunities, anger over frustrated missteps in life… . These are all themes in Chinese culture reflected in such expressions as: 生死離別、悲歡離合、陰差陽錯、 两地相思、 两地分居、月圓之夜、月圓花好, and so on.… Read

The Affinities of Art 藝海因緣

The following essay was circulated among friends on 26 August 2016, the day that Lois Conner formally presented a painting by the celebrated Hangzhou artist Zhang Peili 張培力 to the research centre that I founded at The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.… Read

Burn the Books, Bury the Scholars!

Over the past four days, Cambridge University Press (CUP), a venerable academic publishing house that operates under the aegis of the even more venerable Cambridge University, has been the focus of international news reports.… Read

༄༅། ཞོ་སྟོན། Yoghurt Festival

Zho ston ཞོ་སྟོན་, pronounced ‘shodun’, is a festival celebrated from the end of the sixth and during the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar (August). Monks of the Gelug School དགེ་ལུགས་པ་, the most famous of which is the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, were restricted to their monasteries during the previous month, supposedly to spare the lives of insects at the height of summer and, when the interdiction on movement was lifted, they would be greeted by lay people with gifts of yoghurt (zho ston means ‘yoghurt feast’).… Read

Other People’s Thoughts, IV

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

Remembering Igor — our secret history

This essay was written shortly after the death of Igor de Rackewiltz on 30 July 2016. It was initially circulated among friends and former colleagues. This is a revised version of that memoir and it should be read in tandem with Of Tartar Princesses, Poetry and Mongol Khans, also published by China Heritage.… Read

Of Tartar Princesses, Poetry and Mongol Khans

Igor de Rachewiltz — scholar, colleague, friend — passed away on this day one year ago. We are privileged to be able to publish the edited transcript of an interview that Igor gave to the editors of the journal Chinoiresie shortly before his death.… Read

The Great Wall: a wonder and a curse!

I have always felt hemmed in on all sides by the Great Wall; that wall of ancient bricks which is constantly being reinforced. The old and the new conspire to confine us all.… Read

Cutting a Deal with China

China Heritage was launched on 15 December 2016 at the conference ‘Political Enchantments: aesthetic practices and the Chinese state’. That conference, organised by Gloria Davies 黃樂嫣 and Christian Sorace with the support of the Australian Centre on China in the World, was held at ANU House in Melbourne, Australia.… Read

The Pity of It

‘Sinister, ugly, lurid, be their fame;
May their familiars grow to shun their name,
And their brood perish everlastingly.’ 慟聞曉波謝世噩耗 — 13 July 2017 Mourning Requiem Xiaobo  … Read

The Floating City 浮城

A novelist has recorded the following story: A man went to apply for a passport. The official asked where he wanted to go. He said it didn’t matter. The official gave him a globe of the world and asked him to make his choice.… Read

Twenty Views of Fragrant Harbour

‘Twenty Views of Fragrant Harbour by Lois Conner’ is the latest work in our ongoing consideration, and commemoration, of the British colony> territory> Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, 香港, literally ‘fragrant harbour’.… Read

Yau Ma Tei’s Hong Kong Rhapsody

As part of the official celebrations marking the twentieth anniversary of the 1997 hand-over, on 1 July 2017, Hong Kong and the world witnessed the head of China’s party-state-army 黨政軍 review troops of the People’s Liberation Army stationed in the former British colony.… Read

Cauldron 鼎

China Heritage commemorates the twentieth anniversary of mainland China extending suzerainty over Hong Kong with a series of translations, commentaries and art works. In the first in the series we start with a poem by the celebrated Hong Kong writer P.K.… Read


When Oliver Sacks learned that his ocular melanoma had returned after a period of what he called ‘intermission’, he said he wished for a ‘speedy dissolution’. In My Own Life Sacks describes the feelings experienced as a person gradually loses loved ones and friends.… Read

Elephants & Anacondas

This is the second of a pair of essays in China Heritage devoted to the codependent relationship between the party-state and Chinese artists and thinkers. The first is titled Less Velvet, More Prison.… Read

Less Velvet, More Prison

This is the first of a pair of essays in China Heritage devoted to the codependent relationship between the party-state and Chinese artists and thinkers. It is a relationship that dates from the 1950s, but one that has developed in symbiotic alliance with the Reform Era from 1978.… Read

Jao Tsung-I on 通 tōng — 饒宗頤與通人

In the 1920s, Chinese teachers of the liberal arts were at pains to oppose what was known as the ‘partification’ 黨化 of education. The imposition of partisan ideology through the promotion of political songs, nationalist narratives and party propaganda (in this case of the Nationalist Party 國民黨) would, they feared, inculcate a new orthodoxy as well as a slavish mentality among the young making them thereby easy targets for political manipulation in the future.… Read

More Light — translation as performance art

This latest addition to The Wairarapa Talks is an interview that John Minford, co-founder of our Academy, gave to a programme called ‘Ear to Asia’. The audio recording of the interview is available here, and a transcript is given below.… Read

Even More Other People’s Thoughts

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

Alleys End — Beijing hutong 衚衕

The writer and translator Linda Jaivin gave the opening speech at an exhibition of photographs of hutong 衚衕, the unique (and all-but-disappeared, or destroyed by restoration) alleys of Beijing, by the artist Xu Yong 徐勇 at the Vermilion Gallery in Sydney on the 4th of May 2017.… Read

The Gate of Darkness

As the legend goes, the reign of Sui Yang-ti [r. 604-618 CE] was a great heroic age. The heroes were destined to fight either on the side of or against the great emperor to come, T’ang T’ai-tsung.… Read

Child’s Play — 1st of June

International Children’s Day 國際兒童節, which is marked on various dates around the globe, was first declared as a national holiday in Turkey in 1929, although it had been celebrated from 1923 following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the founding of a modernising secular state.… Read

The Double Fifth and the Archpoet

The Fifth Month of the lunar calendar is seen as being a precarious time: the height of summer approaches and pests and pestilence threaten the wellbeing both of people and of crops.… Read

Memory Holes, old & new

The Fifth Lunar Month in the Chinese calendar is regarded as being a time fraught with danger and grief. The arrival of summer brings forth all kinds of noxious threat both to people and to crops; while there may be the promise of future bounty, an immediate danger is posed by the Five Poisonous Creatures 五毒: snakes 蛇, scorpions 蝎, centipedes 蜈蚣, toads 蟾蜍 and spiders 蜘蛛.… Read