Sinology Sunday: Tang Dynasty Funeral Address for a Donkey

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A painting by China’s most well-known donkey artist, Huang Zhou 

This  Funeral Address for Donkey 祭驴文 from the Dunhuang Library Cave made me tear up, so here’s the translation.

The scroll is dated to be from the 7th to the 10th Century and is currently at the British Library. See the original  here.

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Sinology Sunday: How do Chinese names work?

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While Wang Kai’s leading role in the Held in the Lonely Castle is most well-known as Song Renzong in Chinese,  his last name is Zhao and first name is Zhen.  Instead, Song Renzong is his temple name that translates into Emperor Renzong of Song.

Even for fluent speakers, watching an ancient drama can often be confusing because of how many names everyone has.   Here’s a mini-guide to the different parts of a Chinese name, starting with simpler modern names and moving onto complicated historical names. There’s also some information on non-Chinese names and how we at Cfensi translate names.

Chinese names are grouped into two – 姓(xing)氏(shi) and 名(ming)字(zi) . You can think of 姓氏 as last names that you inherit, and the later as given names. Nowadays , they’re shortened into  your last name 姓(xing)   and  your first name 名(ming).  Historically,  they were once distinct.

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Sinology Sunday: The Forbidden Palace launches their own iPhone game

The artwork and music are so gorgeous that you can just enjoy it as an interactive animated film

Inspired by The Thousand Li of Mountains and Rivers by Song Dynasty artist Wang Ximeng as well as creatures from The Classic of Mountains and Seas , The Forbidden Palace‘s  first app (in collaboration with Netease) is now available for free on Apple app stores world wide.

The click-and-point adventure game takes the player through four paintings, each exploring a different theme with a different legend. Despite simple gameplay, the artwork and music are gorgeous that you can just enjoy it as an interactive animated film.   Several of the stories are also quite creative. There’s also a mini-story for many of the story elements where you can learn about the objects and creatures and their legends. Plus, the translations are solid.

Search for “Ink,Mountains and Mystery” or 妙笔千山 in your app store. iPhones link here.

The premise of entering a painting is actually perfect for this particular painting. Painted by the then eighteen-year-old Wang Ximeng for the Song Emperor Huizong. His outrageous demands was appeased by the emperor earlier on, but eventually he angered the emperor and was sentenced to death. Before his execution, he asked to be left alone with his painting one last time. He entered the room that house the painting and was never seen again. Rumors has it he entered the world of his painting, and lives there still.

On top of that, the game also collaborated with several hanfu companies to release limited edition outfits based on the characters.

 

 

The Forbidden Palace launches their own makeup line

The Forbidden Palace Museum store transacted over 1 billion RMB last year, and yet it’s still coming up with new ways to take all my money

After fans repeatedly asking for an original makeup line, The Forbidden Palace Museum has finally delivered with two beautiful makeup sets and two single items with both packaging and colors by the Forbidden Palace itself and the museum’s collections. Each piece costs between 66 – 160 RMB and can be brought on their taobao store (which now takes foreign credit cards and ships abroad).

P.S. I know it’s not Sunday but this news was too exciting to wait.

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Sinology Sunday: 56 proposals across China

 

 

 

Couple  @三兽sanso and @小姬joy spent half a year traveling across China to take wedding photos in the style of all 56 officially recognized ethnic groups.  They usually asked locals  to help them get as authentic clothing as possible (some accessories they used are  family heirlooms, some are museum pieces) , although some are more  touristy costumes. They also said that given the choice, they usually opted for less religious clothing.

It’s really a pity that only like five of them are regularly represented in TV series. I would love to see more historical and modern dramas exploring their stories.

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Sinology Sunday: Traditional Chinese Cosmetics by Li Ziqi

Vlogger Li Ziqi uses traditional Chinese methods to make food, clothes, furniture, and cosmetics.

If you’ve ever wondered how those  pieces of paper used as lipstick in ancient drama works, here’s a video demonstration by Weibo star and vlogger Li Ziqi.   Li Ziqi is famous for using traditional methods to make mostly food, but she also occasionally does other videos like making traditional Chinese cloth shoes, paper, and even a swing. She recently signed a deal with the Forbidden Palace Museum for her own line of traditional snacks.

Sinology Sunday: Drinking games and Poetry Flows

A “streamline” banquet in The Story of Minglan

If you’re watching The Story of Minglan, you might be able to see a fancy way of dining that involves placing food on a table with running water. Did people really eat that way? Well, rich Asians are going to be crazy.

This style of eating has two potential origins. One is from a popular drinking game dating back to at least 353 AD called 曲水流觞,  literally “In the winding stream flows vessels of alcohol”.   In this  popular drinking game (among fancy people)   you place a cup of alcohol on a floating device in the “river”, and wherever the cup stops, the person has to drink and compose a poem. If you can’t compose a poem you have to drink three extra cups.  The most famous recorded of such was such an event in AD 353 held by calligrapher Wang Xizhi where he wrote the famous Lantingji Xu.   You can see a depiction of this in The Secret of the THree Kingdoms. This origin is very well-documented, and is actually popular, but it was usually used for drinking games only and not full meals.

 

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