Greeting the Renyin Year of the Tiger 壬寅虎年

Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium
Tiger Skins in the Year of the Tiger

拉大旗作虎皮

The writer Lu Xun used the expression 拉大旗作虎皮 lā dàqí zuò hǔpí, literally ‘drape yourself in the flag as though it were a tiger skin’, to mock people who put on a formidable show to disguise their lack of substance. Today, the expression is usually describes self-important bullies, scam artists and those who promote some great cause in the guise of advancing their personal interests.

The 2022 Year of the Tiger (1 February 2022 to 21 January 2023) is such a time of exaggerated claims, intimidation and hubristic overreach.

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‘The First Day’ 元日, a poem by Wang Anshi (王安石, 1021-1086) of the Song dynasty, is a famous and oft-quoted celebration of the Lunar New Year:

爆竹聲中一歲除,春風送暖入屠蘇。

千門萬戶曈曈日,總把新桃換舊符。

(The old year is seen out amidst exploding fireworks and with a hint of spring we welcome in the new with celebratory wine. Auspicious hangings appear at the front doors of countless homes, ready to greet the dawn of the First Day.)

In the 2022-2023 Year of the Tiger the last line of Wang’s poem could well be changed to read:

難把舊桃換新符
If the old remains in place, whence the new?

As prime minister in the Northern Song Wang is famous for his New Policies 新法, a suite of economic, educational and military reforms. Although his reforms were undone by factional infighting at court, Wang continued to enjoy a reputation as a major essayist and poet. His literary fame has remained intact and the millennium of his birth was celebrated in 2021.

Our Lunar New Year’s card features the work of Lois Conner. It was designed by Callum Smith. The Year of the Tiger is also an ideal time to enjoy ‘tiger skin cuisine’ 虎係菜, as introduced by Chef Wang Gang below.

— China Heritage
31 January 2022
Lunar New Year’s Eve
辛丑年腊月廿九除夕

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táo, as in 桃符 táofú, ‘auspicious door hanging’, in the hand of Wen Zhengming (文徵明, 1470-1559)

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Chef Wang Gang Makes a Meal of Tiger Skin
王剛的虎係菜