Tradition

The Dajia Mazu's litter arrives at a small temple in Xingang, Chiayi, allowing locals to pay their respects and celebrate the sea goddess’ birthday. (SPH Media)

Taiwanese art historian: The joy of sharing food in old Taiwan

Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun reminisces about the good old days of simple food and heartfelt folk religious festivals, where regular households threw banquets and opened their doors to friends and strangers. It is in those vignettes of daily life that all of Taiwan’s generosity, harmony, magnanimity and acceptance are on display.
Traditional Chinese dancers in full costume. (iStock)

How the Chinese learned dance and music before there was YouTube or TikTok

Former journalist Lim Jen Erh reflects on two boxes of old books he chanced upon, containing dance manuals and guqin scores. Before the advent of technology, these old volumes were the only way to pass on such knowledge and instructions, which makes them invaluable today.
Plain porridge with pickled lettuce is enough for a hearty breakfast. (iStock)

Pickled vegetables, fermented beancurd and stinky egg: An art historian's love of preserved foods

Ensconced in Dapu village in Chishang, a Hakka enclave where air-drying is a common way to preserve food, art historian Chiang Hsun muses about the ways that Chinese and others around the world have ingeniously learnt how to preserve food for long periods of time from methods ranging from pickling to salt-curing and air-drying. In food preservation as in life, time builds character and patience often yields rewards.
Showcasing rare masterpieces of Chinese ink, the Xiu Hai Lou Collection includes breathtaking pieces by major artists such as Ren Bonian, Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong and Zhang Daqian. (National Gallery Singapore)

Singapore’s Xiu Hai Lou Collection and what it tells us about late 19th-20th century Chinese art

Private collector Yeo Khee Lim (1917-1998) amassed one of the earliest and most comprehensive collections of late 19th-20th century Chinese art since he started collecting them in the 1940s and 50s. The stories in the collection — of literati painters, the Shanghai School, the Lingnan School, the Teochews and the Nanyang painters who passed through and lived on our shores — have been told before in exhibitions put up by Yeo himself and later by the National Gallery and others. But in a recent NTU conference on the life of Yeo Khee Lim, the importance of the prized collection comes back to the fore.
This Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense handout picture taken and released on 24 August 2022 shows a US-made 155mm howitzer firing during a drill at Penghu islands. (Handout/Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense/AFP)

Cross-strait reunification is not a precondition for China’s national rejuvenation

The Chinese government should not cave in to nationalist voices keen on equating reunification with China’s national rejuvenation, says East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore. Given the strength of the PLA, neither the US nor its allies are keen or have the capability to engage in a direct conflict with China. Rather than overreacting at every premeditated provocation, the mainland should have confidence in coming to a common understanding with Taiwan and work on improving its international image.
Office workers wearing face masks at Raffles Place, Singapore, on 6 September 2021. (SPH Media)

What does multiculturalism mean in Singapore?

As Singapore celebrates its 57th national day, Zaobao senior correspondent Chia Yei Yei shares her thoughts on the importance of understanding one’s ancestry in defining one’s identity. In a multicultural country, a Singaporean’s identity goes beyond that of merely being Chinese, Malay or Indian.
A roadside offering of iced gem biscuits. (Photo: Terence Heng)

Lasting ties: Food for the departed

In life as in death, food brings people together and is a means to commune with one another, as seen in rituals during the seventh lunar month or Hungry Ghost Festival. Perhaps in feeding the spirits of the dearly departed, the unknown and indeed their own, people are reminded that an ending is not the end and that the bond between the living and dead is never broken.
A screen displays a CCTV state media news broadcast showing Chinese President Xi Jinping addressing world leaders at the G20 meeting in Rome via video link at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, 31 October 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Xi Jinping's misguided return to ideology

East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore argues that two contexts made Xi’s resurrection of ideological orthodoxy almost inevitable — Leninist party rule and China’s rise on the global stage. But Xi’s return to ideology may be to China’s detriment, as it could reverse achievements of the reform and opening up era, and also set China on a collision course with Western liberal democracies.
How does a cup of HK$68 milk tea taste? (iStock)

Song dynasty emperor's brewing secrets in a cup of HK milk tea

As far as a passion for tea goes, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai meets his match in a tea shop owner in Sham Tseng. The tea connoisseur is an alchemist almost as he varies the ingredients and brewing methods to concoct the most memorable teas.