Culture

The blooming Calophyllum blancoi. (Facebook/蔣勳)

Taiwanese art historian: Reflecting on the indigenous culture of Orchid Island

Catching sight of a rare native flower in bloom, art historian Chiang Hsun ponders beauty in diversity and the unique heritage of the indigenous people of Taiwan’s Orchid Island.
The late theatre pioneer Kuo Pao Kun, whose plays and teachings have shaped a generation of theatre makers in Singapore. (The Theatre Practice)

True gems: Singapore’s pioneers of the arts deserve more credit

Teo Han Wue laments that we are not doing enough to remember the remarkable contributions that Singapore’s pioneers of the arts have made. Singapore’s early artists and theatre practitioners were the avant-garde who went beyond the tried and tested in China or elsewhere. If we don’t remember our past achievements, how can we be inspired to produce greater things in the future?
A couple takes their wedding photographs on West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 13 December 2021. (CNS)

My longing for the elusive fish of spring

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai was looking forward to sampling seasonal dishes during his recent visit to Hangzhou. Alas, not all restaurants are well prepared enough to serve up every seasonal dish a diner desires. Better luck next time.
An illustration and text by the writer. (Lim Jen Erh)

My secret manuals of life

Former journalist Lim Jen Erh describes his habit of carrying a notebook with him and filling them with his thoughts and doodles. For him, this process is as rigorous and rewarding as writing “secret manuals” of life. Rather than finding secret formulas to live by, he composes them for himself, leaving a trail of clues to look back and ruminate on as life goes on.
 A miniature chicken rice stall photographed in Maxwell Food Centre in 2018. Singapore's hawker culture has been Inscribed in 2020 on the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (SPH Media)

Chicken rice for the Singaporean soul

With Singapore HeritageFest around the corner, ThinkChina’s Charlene Chow counts the ways she finds a friend in chicken rice.
Lion Rock in Hong Kong at sunset. (Photo: Nhk9/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cultural historian: A woman swinging on a branch and an abused tree

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai remembers the days when he lived at the foot of a hill in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Tong district. He enjoyed the serene calm and respected nature’s bounty, but he can’t say the same for some hill visitors who would ”abuse” the trees and take them for granted. Even giving trees will one day be worn out.
A girl wearing a costume of Netflix series Squid Game poses for photographs in front of a giant doll named 'Younghee' from the series on display at a park in Seoul, South Korea, 26 October 2021. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Lessons from Squid Game: Would you be slapped for US$10,000?

Art historian Chiang Hsun counts the ways that the hit Korean drama series Squid Game puts humanity to shame. The rich and powerful exploit the weaknesses of the poor while the ordinary man is given a choice but can’t help but choose the wrong choice each time. Life is one reckless gamble we willingly take, all for the chance of living a dream.
A delivery worker rides a vehicle pasts a JD.com advertisement with an image of freestyle skier Eileen Gu, at a bus stop in Beijing, China, 11 January 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

How do you romanise a Chinese name? Gu Ailing, Eileen Gu or Ailing (Eileen) Gu?

Translation studies professor Xiao Weiqing muses that the media and the Chinese Olympic Committee must have taken great pains to standardise and romanise Chinese names in their coverage of the Winter Olympics.
Teo Han Wue's black-and-white print entitled Pan Shou's Calligraphy. (Photo: Teo Han Wue)

Must one read Chinese to appreciate Chinese calligraphy?

Teo Han Wue has always believed that one need not be literate in the Chinese language to appreciate calligraphy. He was heartened that many others seem to share his view, going by how well-received a photograph of Singaporean poet-calligrapher Pan Shou’s calligraphy was at his solo photography exhibition recently. Without him regaling them with tales of Pan Shou, they found their own delight appreciating this artform through an image of an image.