Tags: Body & Mind, health, Science
London, November 26, 2011
Scientists have identified the gene responsible for controlling the length of time for which an individual sleeps and why some have their own internal alarm clock. Karla Allebrandt and her team from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich identified a gene called ABCC9 that can reducethe length of time we sleep.
The discovery is expected to explain why light sleepers, such as Margaret Thatcher, are able to get by on just four hours shut-eye a night.
The researchers then analysed their answers, as well as participants’ genes.
They discovered that people who had two copies of one common variant of ABCC9 slept for “significantly shorter” periods than people with two copies of another version.
Tags: classical music, Music, Science
String enthusiasts rejoice: In the near future you might be able to have your very own fungus violin, an instrument with a million-dollar sound but that will certainly not cost you a million.
While “fungus violin” might not roll off the tongue like “Stradivarius,” a sound test conducted in 2009 among an audience of experts found that the sound quality of a violin made from wood treated with a certain fungus rivaled, if not surpassed, that of one forged in the hands of the legendary Italian master Antonio Stradivarius.
The technology was developed by Francis Schwarze, scientist at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), with the help of Swiss violin maker Michael Rhonheimer.
Schwarze treated wood with the white-rot fungus Physisporinus vitreus, which destroys specific structures in spruce wood, resulting in a substrate with superior tone quality.
Before musicians can get their hands on these “biotech violins,” however, researchers first have to standardize a process to fungally treat wood on an industrial scale.
The project has support. “Using modern science to explain the technical details of the material properties is something I find enormously interesting,” said Walter Fischli, co-founder of the biomedical company Actelion and hobby violinist, in a press release.
Fischli’s foundation is funding EMPA’s “mushroom violin” project. “In my opinion it would have been unforgivable to allow such an interesting project – one that so ideally links science and the art of violin making – to wither for lack of funding,” he said.
With the new support, a team of interdisciplinary specialists will gather data on the acoustic properties of various types of wood and develop methods to measure fungal activity over the next three years.
- Spider Silk Structure Similar to Repeating Patterns in Melodies
- Violinist Impressed With Shen Yun Performance
David Kilgour’s and David Matas’ ‘Extremist’ Writings Banned in Russia Because of Criticisms of China26 December, 2011 at 22:49 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, persecution | Leave a comment
Tags: China, Falun Gong, human rights, Kilgour and Matas, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents
An appeals court in Russia has held that writings by former Canadian MP David Kilgour and prominent human rights lawyer David Matas constitute banned extremist literature that “can create for the readers a negative image of China.”
As a result, both men could be subject to criminal prosecution if they were ever to go to Russia to discuss their investigations of organ harvesting against executed Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese authorities, which are detailed in two reports and a book, Bloody Harvest.
Their writings are also subject to seizure by police, under the October decision by a court in Krasnodar in southern Russia, upheld on appeal this week.
Mr. Matas, legal counsel to B’nai Brith Canada and a leading advocate for laws against extremist hate literature in Canada and abroad, said it is “ironic” that he should be found by a court to have written extremist literature himself.
“In spite of the fact that I myself have become a victim, my position remains the same. The laws should remain, but they should not be abused,” he said in an interview Friday.
Mr. Kilgour, who was first elected as a Progressive Conservative MP for Edmonton, and later sat as a Liberal and as an independent, is among the longest-serving parliamentarians.
The law in question, Article 13 of Russia’s federal law 114, “On Counteraction of Extremist Activities,” bans the distribution of any material that is aimed at a list of banned goals, including terrorism, subversion of Russian security, “the excitation of racial, national or religious strife” and “the abasement of national dignity.”
Violating the law can result in seizure of unsold materials, and any organization that does so twice in a year “shall be deprived of the right to carry on publishing activity.”
This case dates to 2008, when Russian followers of Falun Gong learned some of their writings, which had been on display in a Krasnodar park, were added to a list of extremist materials kept by the Russian justice ministry.
These materials included Mr. Kilgour and Mr. Matas’ “Report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China.” Their investigation, first released in 2006 and updated the next year, was the basis for Bloody Harvest, published in 2009.
Falun Gong, a style of meditation with a spiritual component, like yoga, has been banned for more than a decade in China, which regards it as a dangerous cult. In their reports, Mr. Kilgour and Mr. Matas allege that hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been arrested, and tens of thousands executed, after which their organs were harvested for sale to Chinese patients and even so-called “transplant tourists.”
Tags: quote of the day, Spirituality
Tags: ancient chinese poetry, Chinese culture, poem of Tang Dynasty
I got this beautiful gift from Lan Hua, who posted it as a comment on my “About me” page. I really appreciate this gesture since Li Bai‘s spiritual poems are my favourite ones among ancient chinese poetry.
Lan Hua wrote: Here is a translation of one of Li Bai’s spirit poems. The Madman of Chu appears briefly in the Analects and chides Confucius for thinking he can or should meddle in affairs of state.
A Song of Lu Mountain
I am the madman of Chu
Who sang for Confucius
And laughed at him too
All the while
In both my hands
A precious jade staff
Tightly I clasped
To Yellow Crane Tower
At dawn I departed
Onto the Five Sacred Peaks
Searching for Immortals
Far and wide
For an entire lifetime
Across Ming Shan
I have wandered there
Then across Lu Shan
Where I approached the Big Dipper
Through the nine screens
Traversing through clouds
Like wind through
A brocade clothe
Out of the shadows
And into brightness
I found a crystal clear lake
Its surface shimmering with
Dazzling colorful rays
And the gates of golden watchtower
Opened silently before me
Revealing in the distance
Two more enormous peaks
Down a winding path I strolled
Where there flowed a silvery stream
Under three stone bridges
It passed and then tumbled
Down a sheer precipice
In a misty waterfall
Obscure with a thick
Blue green haze
While on the skyline
Clouds glowed persimmon
Herald of the morning sun
And birds beat their wings
In endless flight on their way
To the state of Wu
Ascending these heights
What great vistas have I seen
Of Heaven and Earth
As well as places in between
A river that flows apart from
Space and time
Measureless and vast
Filled with whitecaps
Propelled ten thousand miles
By the relentless wind
Towards nine distant
Snow capped peaks
This is the song
Of Lu Shan
The spirit that
The mountain speaks
At leisure I gaze
At her rocky crags
As into a mirror
It’s my own heart
A thick dark green
Taking an extra dose
Of cinnabar tablets
Beyond this world
The heart stirs
Like a zither
Strummed three times
It trills from
First to last
And far in the distance
See the Immortals assembling
Filled with roseate inner light
In their hands they hold
To present the Jade Emperor
In the Imperial Court
Before crossing the void
Nine levels ascending
At last arriving
At the truth of Lu
Approaching utter clarity
Though the work continues
Best regards — Lan Hua
Tags: Culture, Science
Geologists have identified with much greater accuracy where some of the rocks used to build Stonehenge came from.
The smaller “bluestones,” believed to have been used to build Stonehenge’s first circle around 5,000 years ago, are made of various types of volcanic rock, including “spotted dolerites” and rhyolites. In the 1920s, scientists identified the Mynydd Preseli area in the Pembrokeshire hills of South Wales as being the source of these dolerites.
The research, by Dr. Rob Ixer of Leicester University and Dr. Richard Bevins of Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales), looked at the composition of fragments of rhyolite found around Stonehenge. The rhyolite had not previously been investigated in detail.
They discovered that the chemical make-up of the rock fragments was distinctly different to other rocks in South Wales and were able to locate their source to a 70-metre-long outcrop of rocks called Craig Rhos-y-felin near Pont Saeson, north of Mynydd Preseli.
The composition of the rocks changes along the outcrop, so the scientists were able to even more precisely identify the source as being the northeastern end of the outcrop.
“Being able to provenance any archaeologically significant rock so precisely is remarkable, to do it for Stonehenge was quite unexpected and exciting,” said Ixer in a press release.
The discovery means archaeologists can now excavate the site in the hope of finding evidence of human activity, which would confirm that the stones were quarried in Wales and transported the 150 miles to the site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire. An alternative explanation favored by some geologists suggests glaciers may have carried the rocks close to the site of Stonehenge during the Ice Age.
“Many have asked the question over the years, how the stones got from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge. Was it human transport? Was it due to ice transport? Thanks to geological research, we now have a specific source for the rhyolite stones from which to work and an opportunity for archaeologists to answer the question that has been widely debated,” said Bevins in the release.
“It has been argued that humans transported the spotted dolerites from the high ground of Mynydd Preseli down to the coast at Milford Haven and then rafted them up the Bristol Channel and up the River Avon to the Stonehenge area. However, the outcome of our research questions that route, as it is unlikely that they would have transported the Pont Saeson stones up slope and over Mynydd Preseli to Milford Haven,” Bevins commented in another press release earlier this year, when the team’s initial findings were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
“If humans were responsible then an alternative route might need to be considered.”
The latest findings are published in the annual journal Archaeology in Wales.
- Pre-Stonehenge Pits Hint at Ancient Sun Worship
- Stonehenge Architect Linked With Welsh Burial Cairn?
- Crop Circle Appears Next to Stonehenge (Video)
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents
Villagers show what life without the Party would be like
In Wukan Village in Guangdong Province, China, villagers have been protesting for months to have a say in their own affairs—to elect their own village officials and to refuse having their land taken away from them. When Communist Party officials at the county-level on Dec. 20 agreed, with important reservations, to the villagers’ demands, the temperature was raised in an ongoing conflict about the direction of the Chinese Communist Party CCP.
There are two political forces inside the CCP. The conservative faction, represented by Bo Xilai, wants to return to the time of Mao Zedong. The reforming faction, represented by Wang Yang, the Party head of Guangdong Province, hopes that China can gradually take the path of democracy.
If the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, is the CCP official who talks the most about democracy, Wang is the one who has done the most for democracy.
In Guangzhou on Nov. 18 hundreds of workers paraded on the street asking for higher wages. Wang sent police cars to escort them. This was unprecedented in the history of the CCP.
On Nov. 21, nearly 4,000 villagers in Wukan paraded to the Lufeng City municipal building. The acting Mayor of Lufeng City, Qiu Jinxiong, met with the villagers, interrogated and detained the village cadre whom the villagers accused, and promised a thorough investigation.
The villagers returned safely. Afterwards, Qiu recognized the legitimacy of the village council that the villagers had elected on their own, without the regime’s participation, and gave wages to the council representatives—1,000 yuan (approximately US$157.79) per month for two months for each representative.
The vice chairman of the council, Xue Jinbo, however, probably became a victim of the ongoing power struggle. He was arrested on Dec. 9, and his family received a notice two days later, saying Xue had died of heart disease. The family was allowed to view but not remove the body. It was covered with bruises, the skull and sternum were broken, and fingernails had been pulled off. Xue was apparently tortured to death.
We can guess that those who arrested and killed Xue Jinbo were not Wang’s people. They might be from the political and law enforcement system. Zhou Yongkang, the boss of public security, is a member of the conservative faction in the CCP. The conservatives may have wanted to intensify the intra-party conflict and challenge Wang Yang.
If Wang can stick to the path of peace, instead of armed repression, and pacify the people through compromise, he may increase his chances of being chosen in 2012 to join the Central Committee—the nine CCP members who rule China.
Wang seems to want the news to get out about events in Wukan. Foreign reporters were allowed to enter the village, which goes against the CCP’s time-tested playbook of repression. With the reporters present, Wukan became a show at which the whole world could witness Wang’s open-mindedness.
Nevertheless, Wang can’t make good on his promise of liberality. The success of the Wukan villagers will inspire all of the landless farmers in China to follow the Wukan example. They will also stand up to fight back, and the CCP’s regime will not be stable.
The CCP has no choice but to continue the policy of suppression, and this includes Wang. Sooner or later, notwithstanding the assurances just made to the Wukan villagers, Wang will still have to raise the knife. Not only Wang, but Party head Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao face this dilemma in dealing with the confrontation between the regime and the people.
Meanwhile, the experiment in Wukan is showing how unnecessary the Party’s rule is. The democratically elected village council has not only led the villagers to peacefully defend themselves against invasion by the police, they have also given help to the poor.
The whole village of over 10,000 people is in good order. There are no thieves and people don’t even close their doors at night. There are no more village cadres bullying villagers, and people help one another. All villagers discuss everything together. Under the “anarchy” of self-government, the management of everything is much better than in the past.
The people of China are watching and in Wukan they see clearly: Without the Communist Party, life is better.
Related Articles: ‘Young Enthusiasts’ Guide Chinese Village in Groundbreaking Protests
Tags: Chinese culture, Shen Yun
Unfound in the East, a glimmer of hope arises in the West
As Shen Yun Performing Arts continues its world tour showcasing the lost traditions of ancient China, in a four-part series The Epoch Times takes a close look at these arts, their current state in China today, their undeniable influence in our world, and the significance of their miraculous revival.
As world economies rise and crumble, and the balance of power seems uncertain, China has emerged as a prominent figure on the world stage. Once closed off to the curious eyes of the outside world, the most populous nation on earth has opened its doors a crack, enabling the world at large to see the state of a nation still pained by the policies of communism—policies that all but destroyed China’s ancient culture and traditions.
To understand where a nation is going it is important to understand where it has been. People are becoming more aware that the China of today is neither the China of the past nor the one of the future. It is evident that the ancient traditions of this land are vast and rich, and their influence on our world is far-reaching.
To understand a nation’s artistic heritage is to understand the deepest values of its people. The thoughts and feelings conveyed in a brushstroke, musical note, or dance represent the ideals and attitudes interwoven into the fabric of a culture, something elusive to the written word.
China’s recorded history began more than 5,000 years ago, making it the oldest on earth. From the time of the first emperor, the arts have steadily evolved with each succeeding dynasty bringing new ideas, ideals, and forms of expression.
Throughout history each of the many ethnic groups in China were constantly refining their own unique contribution to the cultural heritage of the country.
The esoteric and deeply religious region of Tibet created a culture that has captured the world’s imagination for decades now, while the unforgiving natural environment of the Mongolian plains created a stoic people who developed a character and art reflective of the land that shaped them. Somehow the contrast and variety in culture is still unified and distinctly Chinese in character.
The pinnacle of China’s artistic and social development took place during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), regarded as China’s golden age. The arts flourished with a spirit of inclusion that strengthened the collective characteristic of China’s arts. The Silk Road reached its peak, and trade between the East and West infused different musical and artistic ideas into Chinese culture. Confucian thought existed alongside Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, making for a period of great moral and philosophical development.
Perfection of skill and moral cultivation went hand in hand, and in order to be proficient in any artistic endeavor great emphasis was placed on the cultivation of character. Whether it was dance, music, or calligraphy, a person’s nature was an essential part of the work. Nowhere has this been more emphasized than in the traditional arts of China.
The martial arts have perhaps been the most recognized export to the rest of the world, with Hollywood making good use of the visual spectacle of this art to capture the imagination of the West. Tracing its roots through history, the martial arts actually owe their formation and technique to Classical Chinese dance, the most profound art form that has emerged from China.
The gracefulness and technical brilliance of Classical Chinese dance surpasses the rigors of ballet and the martial arts. Classical Chinese dance goes beyond the mere technique and into the inner psyche of the performer. One could say it carries the essence of Chinese cultural expression in its movements, postures, and aesthetics.
The recent revival of China’s “lost culture” by New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has brought these ancient arts into light for the first time in our modern history.
The essential characteristic of Chinese traditional arts is the intention of connecting to the higher universe. The arts were not a means unto themselves, but a way of expressing and connecting to the divine, a concept deeply rooted in Chinese traditions. A vehicle of self-cultivation and liberation is not easily found in today’s world; however, these arts are nonetheless gaining a foothold once again thanks to Shen Yun.
- Where are the Ancient Arts of China? (Part 4)
- Where are the Ancient Arts of China? (Part 3)
- Where are the Ancient Arts of China? (Part 2)
Tags: Chinese culture, Spirituality
King Wu of Zhou was the son of King Wen of the Zhou Kingdom. In the twelfth year after King Wu succeeded to the throne, he started the Zhou Dynasty B.C. 1122–B.C. 222. The Zhou Dynasty was an important period of Chinese history. 37 emperors ruled for nine hundred years before the Zhou Dynasty was conquered by the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C.
Not only was the Zhou Dynasty the longest dynasty in Chinese history, but it was also the heyday of ancient Chinese civilization. Confucian and Taoist philosophies developed during the Zhou Dynasty have influenced generations throughout Chinese history.
At the beginning King Wu’s rule, he asked Jiang Ziya, his military advisor, if there were a way that was easy to preserve, simple to operate, and effective to use that would enable future generations to keep forever the national foundation created by their ancestors.
Jiang Ziya told King Wu that there was such a method in a book handed down from preceding kings, and that he should be very sincere and respectful before reading this book.
Three days later, King Wu wore a crown and stood upright facing the east. He respectfully requested Jiang Ziya to grant to him the book.
Jiang Ziya then started to read out: “Whoever is diligent in administrating the nation, respects heaven and gets rid of slothfulness and the desire for comfort, will prosper. Whoever neglects duty and covets comfort, that one’s affairs will decline. The affairs of one with a sense of righteousness more than personal desire will be successful; the affairs of one with a sense of personal desire more than righteousness will be thwarted. This is the way, which is easy to preserve, simple to operate, and effective to use, for future generations to follow forever.”
Upon hearing what Jiang read, King Wu felt more respectful and convinced. He ordered these words be written on the mirror, washbasin, pillars, doors, and windows, so that he would warn and encourage himself with the words all the time.
Although he was the king and the emperor, King Wu could still ask a sage for beneficial advice to use as commandments to correct his conduct and thoughts; he thus strove to achieve a pure wisdom that allowed him to understand God’s will.
The Zhou Dynasty therefore lasted and reigned for nine hundred years, thanks to the emperors who kept the founder’s teachings, cultivated their moral character, respected heaven, and were compassionate to the people.
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents
Although the Chinese regime’s crackdown on independent candidates for the People’s Congress has escalated, the surge in independent candidates demonstrates China’s budding democracy consciousness.
2011 has been an election year for deputy positions in the People’s Congress at district, township, and county levels in China. The surge of independent grassroots candidates, many of whom have promoted themselves via microblogs, has garnered much domestic and international attention. However, the regime has been suppressing these independent candidates like never before.
He Huahui, Deputy Secretary of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee told Chinese media, this year 900 million citizens will vote for county level candidates, and 600 million for township level. According to statistics published in November, in the six provinces that have finished their elections, voter turnout was 90 percent. In Beijing alone, nine million people voted.
China’s election law stipulates that any Chinese citizen over 18 years of age can participate in the election and be elected as deputy to the local People’s Congress, as long as he or she can get at least 10 endorsements in their local district.
However, the communist leadership became nervous after several dozen people proclaimed their independent candidacy online. The head of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee stated in June, “there is no such thing as an independent candidate, as it’s not recognized by law.”
Yao Lifa, who was elected as a local People’s Congress deputy back in 1998 and has been advising others to run as independent candidates in China’s local elections, told New Epoch Weekly the number of independent candidates this year is the largest ever in Chinese communist 62-year rule. Yet, this year the communist party has escalated its crackdown on independent candidates.
In early November, before the local elections in Beijing, Yao said police came to take him away at 7:30 a.m. every day, and wouldn’t let him go home until 10 p.m.
Sun Guangwen, a retired professor from Shandong University who ran for People’s Congress deputy at Lichen District in Jinan City, Shandong Province, told Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio networks that on his district’s election date, Dec. 12, about 20 domestic security police showed up at his doorstep in the morning to block him from casting his vote. Earlier, on Dec. 9, Shandong University authorities confiscated his home of 26 years.
Sun said that the oppression began on day one after he announced his candidacy. Local authorities destroyed his promotional materials and posters, sent police to stop him from entering the campus, and threatened his supporters with forced labor terms.
Beijing police have taken nine independent candidates into custody and “disappeared” some of them in September. Some independent candidates said their names were erased from the ballot; some candidates’ websites and personal social media sites were shut down just prior to the elections.1
Voice of America (VOA) reported a story from Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, how one candidate lost her chance of running for office: the local election committee told her that they were out of candidate application forms—even before the deadline for submitting an application.
Of the 60 independent candidates in November’s local Beijing elections, none won a place.
On Nov. 15, one day before the elections, Zhang Dejin, from Shunchang County in Fujian Province, was told that his candidacy was canceled. In the few days before and after the elections, police closely monitored his residence.
As of now, only one independent candidate has claimed victory. In late September, Guo Huojia won a landslide victory in Nanhai District of Foshan City, in the relatively more liberal Guangdong Province. But local police summoned him immediately afterwards, according to VOA.
“Only a very insignificant number of independent candidates can win in the local elections, so they can’t really make an impact at all,” Ling Feng, a political and social commentator now living in Taiwan, told SOH.
But the surge of independent candidates demonstrates China’s budding democracy movement. And this year the communist Party is especially scared because of the changes taking place in Middle Eastern countries, where people didn’t used to have the right to vote, but are now starting to enjoy that privilege, Ling said.
The sheer increase in the number of independent candidates could lead to more demands for democracy and the threat of a jasmine revolution. There were about 100 independent candidates this year. The numbers could multiply and build up an explosive momentum that is too much for the communist party to handle, Ling added.
- Faces Change at Top of Chinese Regime in 2012
- Exiled Chinese Professor Promotes Party-Quitting Movement
Tags: reincarnation, Spirituality
If you have ever felt skeptical about the existence of a soul within any living body type that uses the body as a suit or costume to continuously interact within this reality for as many times necessary until the soul reaches the stage of spiritual evolution or awakening and graduates, this video, is only one of many that comes highly recommended.
For more information about this subject: Reincarnation Proof
Tags: funny things
Commuters in Coventry, England could not have expected this from the forecast: a storm of fruit. More than one hundred small green apples fell out of the sky on the evening of Dec. 12, pelting cars and gardens in the small British neighborhood.
So far, no one has been able to confirm the source of the fruit. Some have reasoned that it was due to a weather anomaly, but the area was calm when the apples fell, according to the BBC Weather Center.
Meteorologist Curtis Wood told the BBC that because tornadoes in the UK are usually very weak, even if a tornado did catch the apples, the apples would have to be lifted from within a few hundred meters of where they ended up.
“The tornadoes don’t get very strong and they are not going to transport items very far,” he said. Yet there were no apple trees nearby the road where the apples fell.
“I know the area well and there are no apple trees around,” a driver told The Telegraph.
“I honestly don’t know where the apples could have come from,” said Dave Meakins, a resident whose front garden was littered with smashed apples, according to British media.
Furthermore, if it were only a weather anomaly, one would expect there to be a wide variety of objects falling, not just apples.
Interestingly, in each instance, only one kind of object would be found falling from the sky.
Tags: chinese art, Chinese culture, exhibition
Interesting exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City,
until January 2, 2012.
Ming-loyalist art at the Met: grace under fire
NEW YORK—If you are curious about the art of people protesting against the government in China during the 1600s, the paintings, calligraphies, poems, and carved objects, now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City may surprise you.
Walking through the exhibit The Art of Dissent in 17th-Century China, subtitled Masterpieces of Ming Loyalist Art from the Chi Lo Lou Collection, offers a subdued, peaceful, and contemplative experience.
Under siege by peasant rebellion and the invasion of the Manchus, the 300-year-old Ming Dynasty collapsed with its last emperor hanging himself in the gardens outside of the Forbidden City (the Imperial Palace) in Beijing in 1644.
Ming loyalists—government officials, scholars, and members of the imperial house—resisted the new Qing (Manchu) Dynasty, leaving their legacy in historically and artistically significant masterpieces.
In contrast with flamboyant, graphic depictions of violence that capture cataclysmic upheaval in Western art, these artists expressed dissent with subtlety. In muted palettes, tones of gold, brown, ivory, black, gray, and blue, the exhibit displays a beauty of orderly, artistic discipline and restraint. The works symbolize refuge in nature, moral virtues, and defiance through idiosyncratic styles.
Paintings and Carvings
Bada Shanren (1626–1705), born into Ming royal lineage, escaped persecution by becoming a Buddhist monk and later a painter. The Met’s gallery label notes his painting “Fish” expressed defiance with the animal’s menacing stare and bloated belly.
“Its upturned eye creates an image that is almost human. Seemingly suspended in midair with its tail half cropped, the fish may symbolize the displacement and bereavement of all native Chinese,” the label states.
Shitao (1642–1707), also of the Ming royal family, painted bamboo and orchids in a traditional manner of the imperial court. Created together with artist Wang Hui, Shitao’s “Orchids, Bamboo, and Rocks” hangs beside his ink on paper scroll, “Bamboo and Rock.”
The gallery label explains that bamboo represents integrity, and orchids symbolize purity. Thus, the paintings pay homage to transcendent ideals. In his second painting, Shitao creates depth, using leaves in varying shades of black, with grays receding to the background. The blowing leaves resemble dark birds in incessant flight.
To maximize the intellectual and emotional impact, set aside a minimum of two hours to view the art at an unhurried pace. Take the time to read the historical information in the galleries. Visually absorb and compare the different works of art. Distinctive styles of the calligraphies and landscapes will emerge with clarity.
Amelia Bryne and Peter Norrman, both filmmakers, came from Brooklyn, specifically to see this exhibit. With a background in cultural anthropology, Bryne gravitated toward the brush holders, brushes, water bowls, seals, and ink tablets. She enjoyed “thinking about the actual physical objects people used to make something.”
The ivory and bamboo brush holders showcase intricate, deeply chiseled engravings that cradle the delicacy of a miniature theater.
Gu Jue (late 17th century) carved a brush holder that depicts the famous poem “Ode to the Pavilion of the Inebriated Old Man.” The meticulously detailed scene shows pine trees, clouds, and the sky partially covering the thatched roof of a pavilion that shelters people. An almost 3-D, small diorama circles around the container.