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National Greatness

Francis Fukuyama on 'The End of History?' twenty-five years later: "liberal democracy still doesn't have any real competitors," but to get there... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 15, 2014 - 29 comments

Prosperous Suzhou

Prosperous Suzhou (20,353 × 546 pixel JPEG) is a 1757 scroll painting by Xu Yang illustrating the everyday life of the city, including more than 4,600 figures and 400 boats. It combines Western perspective with traditional Chinese style, and is currently on display at the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting exhibition at the London V&A.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Nov 13, 2013 - 25 comments

Weilue: The Peoples Of The West

This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone. - A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE, Quoted in zhuan 30 of the Sanguozhi. Published in 429 CE. Draft English translation
posted by The Whelk on Sep 1, 2013 - 28 comments

The circuitous histories of hamburgers and ketchup

The history of the hamburger could be a relatively short story, or one spanning centuries and continents, depending on how far you disassemble the modern hamburger. If you look for the origins of ground meat between two pieces of bread, that's something American, but where and when exactly is the question. But how did we get the ground meat patty? You can thank the Mongols and Kublai Khan, who brought their ground meat to Russia. Oh, and don't forget the fish sauce! [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 19, 2013 - 35 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Hell of a handcart

"For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history." Low-tech magazine gives an illustrated overview of the history of the Chinese wheelbarrow. [Via]
posted by Abiezer on Mar 13, 2013 - 45 comments

echoes

A brief history of the Chinese growth model [note: not so brief] - "the Chinese development model is an old one, and can trace its roots at least as far back as the 'American System' of the 1820s and 1830s. This 'system' was itself based primarily on the works of the brilliant first US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2013 - 6 comments

Playing the ancient Chinese meritocracy game

Shengguan Tu (升官圖) "Promoting the Officials" is a Chinese board game " where players assume the of an aspiring mandarin, moving through the imperial examinations and through the bureaucracy, eventually rising to the “Da Nei” or inner sanctum Grand Secretariat in the imperial household. Along the way, players pay “donations” to higher ranked players in each department." It has existed in some form since the Tang dynasty (618 - 906 CE) at least and now it's a Flash game. Programmed by Dave Lyons who also wrote a quick introduction to the game, from which the above is taken.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 14, 2013 - 7 comments

Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354

"To the world of today the men of medieval Christendom already seem remote and unfamiliar. Their names and deeds are recorded in our history-books, their monuments still adorn our cities, but our kinship with them is a thing unreal, which costs an effort of imagination. How much more must this apply to the great Islamic civilization, that stood over against medieval Europe, menacing its existence and yet linked to it by a hundred ties that even war and fear could not sever. Its monuments too abide, for those who may have the fortunate to visit them, but its men and manners are to most of us utterly unknown, or dimly conceived in the romantic image of the Arabian Nights. Even for the specialist it is difficult to reconstruct their lives and see them as they were. Histories and biographies there are in quantity, but the historians for all their picturesque details, seldom show the ability to select the essential and to give their figures that touch of the intimate which makes them live again for the reader. It is in this faculty that Ibn Battuta excels." Thus begins the book, "Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354" published by Routledge and Kegan Paul. Step into the world of "the first tourist" who made his mark as the world's greatest traveler before the age of steam. [more inside]
posted by infini on Jan 12, 2013 - 21 comments

A Chinese Princess and a magic well

Historically, the city states of the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to regional kingdoms such as those of China and Siam. Closer relations with China were established in the early 15th century during the reign of Parameswara, founder of Melaka, when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) sailed through the Straits of Malacca. Impressed by the tribute, the Yongle Emperor of China is said to have presented Princess Hang Li Po* as a gift to Mansur Shah, then Sultan of Malacca (+/-1459 AD). Tradition claims the courtiers and servants who accompanied the princess settled in Bukit Cina, intermarried with the locals and grew into a community known as the Peranakan. Colloquially known as Baba-Nyonya, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, they retained many of their ethnic and religious customs, but assimilated the language and clothing of the Malays. They developed a unique culture and distinct foods. Nyonya cuisine is one of the most highly rated in the South East Asian region, considered some of the most difficult to master but very easy to love and enjoy.
posted by infini on Dec 24, 2012 - 25 comments

Corpora delicti

CSI: Parthenon: A questioner asks historians how a murder case would be solved and prosecuted in the era of their expertise. Answers for : Colonial Boston, Norman Ireland, 19th Century Imperial China, Ancient Athens, 14th-Century England, 13th century England, Victorian England, Rome. (Via Reddit's AskHistorians; whole thread.)
posted by Diablevert on Oct 27, 2012 - 18 comments

Mes Aynak

Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
posted by homunculus on Sep 22, 2012 - 14 comments

What Could Go Wrong?

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has commissioned a Chinese shipyard to build Titanic II, a modernized replica of the unsinkable Titanic.
posted by swift on Apr 30, 2012 - 98 comments

Coming Up Like A Flower

" Thus in today’s China one confronts the paradox of a communist regime that is at ideological loggerheads with left-leaning intellectuals, but which finds pro-Western, liberal intellectuals on the whole quite congenial." Richard Wolin is Dreaming In Chinese...
posted by artof.mulata on Mar 26, 2012 - 12 comments

Barbarian from Beyond the Clouds Collects Tribute from Barbarians Beyond the Seas.

The Eunuch Admiral: A Ming cup leads to a Berkeley scholar and the marvelous tale of China’s greatest seafarer.
posted by Winnemac on Oct 22, 2011 - 14 comments

The Cartoon Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 6, 2011 - 29 comments

Opium => Silver => Tea

Recreate a part of history in High Tea, a game where you trade Indian opium in China to supply tea to England. Part of the High Society exhibit at Wellcome Collection. [more inside]
posted by mccarty.tim on Feb 13, 2011 - 39 comments

Amateur Films of 1920's China

When John Van Antwerp MacMurray was dispatched to Asia in 1925 as the American Envoy to the Republic of China, he brought a Kodak motion picture camera with him.
posted by Iridic on Dec 14, 2010 - 4 comments

A Compendium of Obscure Things

Res Obscura is a blog by Ben Breen, a graduate student of early modern history, which styles itself "a compendium of obscure things." Indeed, even the asides are full of wonder, such as the one about Boy, the famous Royalist war poodle of the English Civil War, which is but a short addendum to a post about witches' familiars. Here are some of my favorite posts, Pirate Surgeon in Panama (and a related post about 18th Century Jamaica), vanished civilizations, asemic pseudo-Arabic and -Hebrew writing in Renaissance art, and a series of posts about the way the Chinese and Japanese understood the world outside Asia in the early modern period (Europeans as 'Other', Europeans as 'Other,' Redux and Early Chinese World Maps).
posted by Kattullus on Sep 30, 2010 - 16 comments

毛新宇

Pudgy Mao Xinyu is the youngest major general in the Chinese army, perhaps due to nepotism.
posted by xowie on Aug 5, 2010 - 33 comments

An Obsolete Practice

The use of movable type in China is now a rare business. Invented in China by Bi Sheng during the Song Dynasty, movable type was created as a system to print lengthy Buddhist scripture. This traditional method has mostly been replaced by offset and digital printing, but lately, there has been discussion about collecting these existing artifacts and setting up printing museums or digitizing the complete fonts.
posted by netbros on Jul 3, 2010 - 10 comments

A Minute and 100 Metres Down the Road

A Minute and 100 Metres Down the Road. The soldier outside the station had one hand on the barrel and the other on the butt of his shotgun. There were two military trucks by the bus stop and two soldiers in the back-right seats of every bus leaving Urumqi station... I arrived via long-haul train, 40 hours and just under 4000km in a hard-seat, from Beijing, where rumours were circulating about the extent of the military presence, needle attacks, Uighur and Han street gangs, and the validity of the reports coming out of Xinjiang. After four days I left with more doubts about why ethnic tensions in Urumqi arose and how they could be resolved. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Jun 27, 2010 - 2 comments

Nixon in China, Houston Grand Opera, 1987

We've had excerpts before, but this is the full performance. Nixon in China, with music by John Adams, libretto by Alice Goodman and choreography by Mark Morris. Directed by Peter Sellars, conducted by John DeMain, and presented by Walter Chronkite. Houston Grand Opera, 1987. Parts 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
posted by Navelgazer on Jun 7, 2010 - 17 comments

腾蛇乘雾,终为土灰

Man from the Margin: Cao Cao and the Three Kingdoms You'll perhaps have read or watched reports that archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of Cao Cao (曹操) (of course, not everyone agrees with the identification). Warrior, strategist, statesman and poet, Cao Cao lives on in the cultural memory of China, a by-word for cunning and of course a central character in the great historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and hence also recent John Woo blockbuster Red Cliff. To understand the man in his historical context, there's little better in English than the 1990 George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Ethnology given by now-retired Professor Rafe de Crespigny, one of the foremost Western scholars of the Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms periods of Chinese history. He makes several of his vastly erudite essays on Chinese history available at the ANU's website.
posted by Abiezer on Dec 30, 2009 - 21 comments

Lithographs from the Touchstone Studio

Envisioning Chinese Society in the Late Nineteenth Century: Words and Images from the Dianshizhai Pictorial Very nice online presentation of translated content from the famed nineteenth century Shanghai pictorial journal (China's first); Dianshizhai (点石斋画报) was modelled on Britain's Punch and produced as a supplement for Shen Bao subscribers. Flash is used so elements in the cartoons can be clicked for further information: a young woman repels a thief with martial derring-do; a customer bilks on the bill in a street eatery in Hangzhou; small-town society and politics with the muddle-headed magistrate; a non-performing temple bell offers a chance for sceptical commentary on religion; the gentlemanly pastime of cricket-fighting.
posted by Abiezer on Nov 17, 2009 - 4 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

... I go out at night and paint the stars.

Preserved in the cave excavations of Mogao and listing 1,339 stars the Dunhuang Star Chart is the oldest graphical star atlas known to exist. Dated to between 649 and 684 AD, it features two sections. The first consists of 26 diagrams of asterisms (including a recognizable Big Dipper and Orion) and the second contains 12 star maps each showing a 30 degree east-west section of sky in cylindrical projection plus an azimuthal projection circumpolar map. Star positions are accurate to within 1.5 degrees and it includes some stars in the southern sky. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on Jun 28, 2009 - 10 comments

Canadian War Posters

Canadian War Poster Collection at McGill University. And if that doesn't strike your fancy, the list of digital collections include such time-honoured favourites as Expo '67, and the award-winner for unexpected collection, Gynaecology in Traditional Chinese Medicine. (previously)
posted by flibbertigibbet on Jun 26, 2009 - 7 comments

Samuel Huntington Dies

Samuel Phillip Huntington, best known for his work "Clash of Civilizations," died on December 24. Previously on the blue (here, here, here, and here)
posted by Glibpaxman on Dec 27, 2008 - 20 comments

The Guqin Silk String Zither

Pronounced "chin" ("stringed instrument") or "goo chin" ("old stringed instrument"), the qin / guqin throughout its long history has been the musical instrument most prized by China's literati. They categorized it as one of their "four arts", collected it as an art object, praised its beautiful music, and built around it a complex ideology (compare its image in popular culture). No other instrument was described and illustrated in such detail, so often depicted in paintings, or so regularly mentioned in poetry. And its tablature documents the world's oldest detailed written instrumental music tradition, allowing both historically informed performance (requiring silk strings) of the many early melodies, and practical exploration of the relationship between Chinese music theory and music practice. The guqin silk string zither work of John Thompson. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 14, 2008 - 7 comments

Adam Smith in Beijing

Adam Smith in Beijing Embedded Flash film 1hr59mins "Is US power in decline? What are we to make of the rise of China? Will a possible equalization of North-South relations herald a more brutal capitalism or a better world? Giovanni Arrighi, Joel Andreas, and David Harvey give their perspectives in this forum, for a discussion of Arrighi's 2007 book Adam Smith in Beijing. The event, filmed in Baltimore, MD, in March of 2008, was organized by the Red Emma's collective."
posted by Abiezer on Nov 9, 2008 - 10 comments

The T'ang Dynasty

China's Golden Age.
posted by homunculus on Oct 18, 2008 - 27 comments

Historical Photographs of China

The Sidney D Gamble Photograph Collection at Duke University consists of about 5,000 newly digitised pictures, taken predominantly in China between 1917 and 1932. Browse by subject, category or location tags. Photos taken in 1908 are to be added in the future. [via]
posted by peacay on Jul 9, 2008 - 5 comments

The Caves of Dunhuang

Buddha’s Caves: The Caves of Dunhuang.
posted by homunculus on Jul 6, 2008 - 7 comments

Gasoline for that fire?

April 18, 1980: Rhodesia is renamed Zimbabwe after it is granted black majority rule. [more inside]
posted by allkindsoftime on Apr 18, 2008 - 60 comments

vintage images of the Far East and Asia

Images of Asia l India then and now video l Historical Chinese Postcard Project: 1896 - 1920.
posted by nickyskye on Feb 8, 2008 - 9 comments

1930s Japanese Air Raid and Civil Defence Posters

The Japanese National Archives have a nice set of late 1930s, pre-World War 2, civil defence posters, created in response to their hostilities with China: General Air Raid Defence; Blackout Control; Fire Protection; and Gas Attack. via Airminded, an excellent blog on "Airpower and British Society 1908-1941, mostly." [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Jan 26, 2008 - 13 comments

The Rise of China

The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive? "China's rise will inevitably bring the United States' unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China -- but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Dec 29, 2007 - 29 comments

南巡

Recording the grandeur of the Qing [Flash; browser re-sizing; Flash-free topic index] Gorgeous and rich resource introducing multiple facets of Qing history via a study of the spectacular painted scrolls that recorded Kangxi and Qianlong's inspection tours through the south of their Empire.
posted by Abiezer on Nov 6, 2007 - 18 comments

pretty bottles

The art of perfume and snuff bottles: Chinese snuff bottles and more, a variety of types, painted inside and about that technique. About snuff and its use in China. Images on Flickr, at Christie's. Perfume bottles, the history of perfume bottles and perfume. Beautiful glass bottles painted inside by disabled Burmese artist, U Nyo Lay.
posted by nickyskye on Jul 1, 2007 - 12 comments

The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square

17 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre: The Tank Man [Video Link] Long, but worth it.
posted by Flem Snopes on Jun 9, 2007 - 31 comments

Interesting times

Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security "By far the most ambitious and integral project in the burgeoning field of cold war history"
posted by Abiezer on May 7, 2007 - 3 comments

To remember history

Although I Am Dead (YouTube) (Parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) Compelling documentary by Hu Jie (胡杰) on the death during the Cultural Revolution of Bian Zhongyun (卞仲耘), recalled by her now octogenarian husband. He photographed her corpse after she was beaten to death by Red Guards, students at the middle school of which she was deputy principal. The film's inclusion in the documentary section of YunFest has apparently led to the authorities shutting down the event. (Via)
posted by Abiezer on Apr 5, 2007 - 19 comments

Japanese Medical Prints

Japanese Medical Prints. Part of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, at the Kansas University Medical Center, and donated by Dr. Matthew Pickard. The digital collections at the Clendening Library also include Florence Nightingale's letters, old school Chinese public health posters, and images from old medical and natural history texts.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Jan 4, 2007 - 5 comments

Ain't no Mao no mo'

Mao who?
posted by mr_crash_davis on Sep 1, 2006 - 36 comments

All Roads Lead to The Middle Kingdom

Some Romans may have lived in ancient China. A few Chinese citizens today in the Gansu province have curly blonde hair and European features. It seems possible now that captured Roman soldiers settled in parts of China. We also know that China and Rome weren't completely isolated from one another. Of course, not everyone agrees.
posted by clockworkjoe on May 2, 2006 - 44 comments

The Return of Jerry Moses and the Jewish Migration to Shanghai

"Ala ZongGoNin! Ala YouTaNin!". Jerry Moses last walked on Gaoyang Road in 1947. It was called Chaoufoong Road then, and it was home to many of the 18,000 European Jewish refugees who had sought refuge from Nazi Germany in Shanghai's Hongkew District (today known as Hongkou) during the run-up to World War II. He casts his gaze at the lane, his brow loosens and he begins to nod. "This is it, this is it," he says softly. "I know this is it." One week into his first visit to Shanghai in almost 60 years, Moses has found his third home in an exile that lasted from 1941 to 1947. He strides into the space, his manner now much closer to that of the 12-year-old boy who had left than the 70-year-old man who has returned. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 19, 2006 - 13 comments

Anti-Japan protests in China

Reports of recent Anti-Japanese demonstrations in China lack any details about the content in the disputed history text books. Is it related to the Nanjing Massacre, which Iris Chang wrote about in her much contested book "The Rape of Nanking"? The Chinese government is certainly not acting as a shining example of upholding human rights by any means, but does that deprive its people from the right to have part of their history at least adequately remembered ? And is the Chinese Government using this collective wound to further its own national interests such as keeping Japan from joining the UNSC?
posted by threehundredandsixty on Apr 16, 2005 - 52 comments

Robot Friend Ancient Music Fish

With My Special Partner, I can drink my way back to the 7th Millenium BCE for ancient music, and the fish’ll tell me how to get home.
posted by dfowler on Apr 13, 2005 - 13 comments

A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization

A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization.
posted by hama7 on Jan 31, 2004 - 8 comments

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