Culture

Yan Zhenqing, Ji Zhi Wen Gao (《祭侄文稿》, Eulogy for a Nephew), National Palace Museum. (Internet)

A eulogy, intimate memories and a flawed piece of calligraphy

Father-son relationships in traditional Chinese culture tend to be distant. Perhaps that is why Chiang Hsun remembers calligraphy lessons with his father as one of the most intimate moments they have shared. He goes on to study revered calligraphic works which are part of Chinese history, and finds in them precious moments of humanity expressed through the ink brush.
Chiang Hsun practising calligraphy. (Facebook/蔣勳)

Picking up an ink brush amid the pandemic, what do I write?

Chiang Hsun shares his memories learning calligraphy from his father, and muses that brush strokes on a page are more than beautiful reproductions of text — it is a living art form that, like a play or a film, has the power to move and even heal an audience.
A scene from Pai Hsien-yung's youth edition of The Peony Pavilion as performed in Esplanade, Singapore, in May 2009. (SPH)

Professor Littlewood and his love for Chinese opera

Cheng Pei-kai’s heart is gladdened when he witnesses his British friend’s pure fascination with Kunqu, the art of Chinese opera.
This photo taken on 11 March 2020 shows the exterior of Lin Heung Tea House when night has fallen. (HKCNA/CNS)

[Photo story] The Hong Kong eateries we will miss

The F&B industry has been one of the hardest hit as the world goes through these extraordinary times. ThinkChina winds through the streets of Hong Kong for a look at the eateries and restaurants that have (temporarily) lost their battles with the months of political unrest and the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
A Buddhist follower wearing a face mask prays under rows of lotus lanterns ahead of Buddha's birthday at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul on 23 March 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

Taiwan author Chiang Hsun: One humanity, one world

Officials at the Taiwan district office have been calling quarantined individuals every day to check how they are doing. A beneficiary of such acts of duty and kindness, acclaimed Taiwan author and art historian Chiang Hsun feels immensely thankful. He reminds himself that no one should feel lucky facing the pandemic, and all this is but part of the pains and sorrows felt by all sentient beings under this universe.
A staff member takes photos of cherry blossoms at Wuhan University, 17 March 2020. (STR/AFP)

[Photo story] Cherry blossoms are blooming in Wuhan, but is it spring yet?

In these days of Covid-19, the world needs hope. As spring descends and the world renews itself, the cherry blossoms in Wuhan — where the coronavirus was first reported — remind us to take heart that no matter how long it takes, this too shall pass. (Did you know that the cherry blossoms in Wuhan University were first planted by the Japanese army during WWII?)
A man wearing a face mask walks along a road in Beijing on 11 March 2020. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

Powerless, helpless and downtrodden: The state of Chinese literature in this pandemic

In today’s age where it seems that all great literature has been written, Yan Lianke has a modest wish for aspiring writers in China. He hopes that they will have the space to create works, unfettered by thoughts of going against the grain. He believes that creating a culture that allows for dissenting voices in literature is far more important and desperately needed than creating a single or a few accidental great literary works.
The entrance of Yuelu Academy.

Yuelu: 40 years of longing for a thousand-year-old Chinese academy

The cultural revolution had just ended when Cheng Pei-kai found himself in the chaotic streets of Changsha, with posters criticising Lin Biao, Confucius and even Deng Xiaoping plastered everywhere. He wanted to visit Yuelu Academy but his request was unfulfilled. More than forty years later, he finally made a visit. This institution that is regarded as one of the four great academies in ancient China ⁠— where exactly lies its charm?
Famous Tang dynasty poet, Du Fu. (Internet)

Du Fu and tofu are not the same thing

Not sure whether to laugh or cry, Cheng Pei-kai notes that cultural barriers are hard to break, not least when one tries to teach ancient Chinese poetry in English to a group of international students.