Tag Archives: Chinese

The Giant Atlas Moth


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Giant Atlas Moth (Source: wwb.co.uk)
Giant Atlas Moth (Source: wwb.co.uk)

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The family Saturniidae, known as saturniids, include the largest species of moths.  They belong to the order Lepidoptera, with an estimated 2,300 described species worldwide. The saturniids include such Lepidoptera as the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) also known as the giant Silkmoth, the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis), and the regal moth (Citheronia regalis) also called the royal walnut moth.

While the saturniids are lightweights compared to other insects, they can grow to some impressive sizes. The adult saturniids are large in size, with their heavy bodies covered in hairlike scales and lobed wings. The hind wings overlap the forewings, giving the effect of an unbroken wing surface. They have small heads with reduced mouth parts. Some species are often colored bright, which may mislead first-time observers to refer to them as butterflies. Female are larger and weigh more than the males. In general, the males have a larger, broader antennae.

Today, I came across the above video of an Atlas moth, found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia and the Malay archipelago.

Atlas moths have large wingspans about 10 inches across (25cm). A record specimen of the tropical Atlas moth from Java measured 10.3 inches (262 mm), with a surface area of 62 square inches (400 square cm).

While skimming the internet, I came across the following lines in Chinese:

不知何時窗邊飛來這隻不速之客
展開的翅膀像是雙頭蛇
喜歡的人或許覺得牠很美
從小就對蛾類敬而遠之的自己
卻只敢瞇著眼睛不敢正視呢
– 蛇頭蛾, 三義

Bùzhī héshí chuāng biān fēi lái zhè zhī bùsùzhīkè
zhǎnkāi de chìbǎng xiàng shì shuāng tóu shé
xǐhuān de rén huòxǔ juédé tā hěn měi
cóngxiǎo jiù duì é lèi jìng’éryuǎnzhī dì zìjǐ
què zhǐ gǎn mī zhuó yǎnjīng bù gǎn zhèngshì ne
– shétóu é, sānyì

I do not know when the window flew only uninvited guest
Spread wings like a two-headed snake
Like people may think it is beautiful
I grew up on the moths themselves at arm’s length
But only dared to squint afraid to face it
– Snakeheads moth, Sanyi

Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóu é) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the  outer tips of the  spread wings  that look like a two-headed snake.

Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóu é) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the wings that look like the head of a snake.

Life Cycle of the Atlas moth
Mating

The Atlas moths are wobbly fliers. After emerging from the cocoon, the female does not stray far from her discarded cocoon. She seeks a perch conducive for the air currents to carry the strong pheromones released by her. The male Atlas moths sensing the pheromones with the chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae home in on the sexually passive female.

Embryo

After mating, the female Atlas moth lays many spherical eggs about 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves.

Larval stage

About two weeks later, dusty-green caterpillars adorned with fleshy spines along their backs covered in a waxy white substance hatch from the eggs.

Giant Atlas moth caterpillars (Source: cambstimes.co.uk)
Giant Atlas moth caterpillars (Source: cambstimes.co.uk)

The caterpillars feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus trees. Alternative recorded foodplants include leaves of apple, ash, cherry, lilac, plum, willows, and other evergreen trees.

Pupal stage

On reaching a length of about 4.5 inches (115 mm), the caterpillars pupate within a papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks.

Imago – the adult stage

After spending about a month in their cocoons, Atlas Moths emerge as beautiful, sexually mature winged creatures. Unfortunately, this imago stage is short-lived and the moths die within a week or two after spreading their wings.

The following video shows in detail the development of the Atlas Moths: the hatched larvae from eggs, the various stages of the caterpillar, molting,  pupating, and the emergence of the adult Atlas moth.

The cocoons of the Atlas Moths serve as purses in Taiwan.

Some sericulturists in India cultivate Atlas moths for their silk. Unlike the silk produced by the Silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), the brown, wool-like silk secretes as broken strands from the cocoons of the Atlas moth. This silk known as fagara silk seems to have greater durability.

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Chinese Kaleidoscopic Acrobatics


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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The logo for 2014 Summer Youth Olympics

In July 2007 the International Olympic Committee established the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), an international sports, education and cultural festival for teenagers.

On February 10, 2010 the IOC during their 122nd Session in Vancouver city elected Nanjing city in China, to host the second Summer Youth Olympic Games. The Games officially known as “II Summer Youth Olympic Games” were held from August 16, 2014 to August 28, 2014. In the logo for the Games, the colourful “NANJING” reflects the image of the gate of Nanjing and the features of some Jiangnan houses. The various colours symbolize the  energetic spirit of youth.

In whatever task the Chinese undertake, they exhibit their talent par excellence.

I wonder whether there is anything the Chinese cannot do!

At the opening ceremony of the II Summer Youth Olympic Games, about 500 Chinese youths performed a scintillating ingenious performance. They called the event “Dancing in the Sky.”

Nanjing Youth Olympics 2014 - 01

After forming a pyramid, 100 youths took to the air inside the immense sports stadium.

Nanjing Youth Olympics 2014 - 02

There, under the artificial stars they performed a breathtaking kaleidoscopic aerial acrobatic routine.

This is the first time a creative performance, such as this has been performed anywhere in the world.

Here is a video clip of their awe-inspiring performance.

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2014 Summer Youth Olympics  (en.wikipedia.org)

Aladdin Was a Chinese, Not an Arab!


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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When you hear the name Aladdin (Arabic: علاء الدين‎), immediately what comes to our mind is the story of a youth and the wonderful magic lamp. It is one of the best known Middle Eastern folk tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights which is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706 – c. 1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment.

The story of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” was not in the original collection of “The Arabian Nights“. There is no evidence among the Arabic sources for the magical tale.

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Presumed Portrait of Antoine Galland (1646-1715) by Philippe de Champaigne.

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Antoine Galland, a Frenchman, translated “The Arabian Nights” into French. He called his book “Les Mille et Une Nuits“. He incorporated the tale of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” in his volumes ix and x, published in 1710.

In his diary, in the entry made on March 25, 1709, Galland wrote that he met the Maronite scholar named Youhenna Diab (“Hanna”). This scholar was brought from Aleppo to Paris by Paul Lucas, the celebrated French traveller. Galland says he heard the story of Aladdin from Hanna.

According to Antoine Galland, Aladdin was a Chinese, not an Arab.

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Aladdin in the Magic Garden, an illustration by Max Liebert from Ludwig Fulda's Aladin und die Wunderlampe.
Aladdin in the Magic Garden, an illustration by Max Liebert from Ludwig Fulda’s Aladin und die Wunderlampe.

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The story is set in China, and Aladdin is a Chinese youth. Most of the characters in this Middle Eastern tale have Arabic names. The emperor in this tale seems more like an Arab ruler than a Chinese emperor. There is a Jewish merchant who cheats Aladdin after buying his wares, but there is no mention of Buddhists or Confucians. This suggests that the storyteller had only a sparse knowledge of China. He was unaware of the existence of the New World. To him, Aladdin’s “China” was “the Utter East” and the sorcerer’s homeland in the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) was “the Utter West”.

Some commentators suggest the story was set in Turkestan that encompasses Central Asia and the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang.

I believe the narrator of the Aladdin tale had without qualms used an exotic setting as a common storytelling device.

Here is the story of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” in a summarized form:

Aladdin, an impoverished youth, lives in a Chinese town. A sorcerer from the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) approaches Aladdin and his mother. He introduces himself as the brother of  Aladdin’s late father Mustapha the tailor. He promises Aladdin’s mother that he would set up the youth as a merchant.

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The Sorcerer tricks Aladdin into believing that he is his true Paternal Uncle. (Aladin - illustré par Albert Robida - Paris - Imagerie merveilleuse de l'Enfance - Illustration de la page 4)
The Sorcerer tricks Aladdin into believing that he is his true Paternal Uncle. (Aladin – illustré par Albert Robida – Paris – Imagerie merveilleuse de l’Enfance – Illustration de la page 4)

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The sorcerer’s real motive was to retrieve a wonderful lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave with the help of young Aladdin. He lends Aladdin a magic ring for protection.

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The Sorcerer traps Aladdin in the magic cave. (Aladin - illustré par Albert Robida - Paris - Imagerie merveilleuse de l'Enfance - Illustration de la page 1)
The Sorcerer traps Aladdin in the magic cave. (Aladin – illustré par Albert Robida – Paris – Imagerie merveilleuse de l’Enfance – Illustration de la page 1)

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As soon as Aladdin retrieves the lamp from the cave the sorcerer double-crosses him and traps Aladdin in the magic cave.

Fortunately, the sorcerer’s magic ring is with Aladdin. When Aladdin rubs his hands in despair, he rubs the ring inadvertently. A jinnī (or “genie”) appears and takes him home to his mother. Aladdin gives the dirty lamp to his mother. When the mother tries to clean the lamp, a genie more powerful than the genie of the ring appears and declares that he is bound to do the biddings of the person currently holding the lamp.

With the help of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful. He marries Princess Badroulbadour, the Emperor’s daughter. The genie of the lamp builds Aladdin a magnificent palace more luxurious than that of the Emperor.

The sorcerer returns. As Aladdin’s wife is unaware of the lamp’s importance, the sorcerer tricks her to part with the old lamp by offering to exchange “new lamps for old“.

The sorcerer then orders the genie of the lamp to move Aladdin’s palace along with all its contents, including the princess, to the Maghreb.

Aladdin gets help from the lesser powerful genie of the magic ring. The genie transports Aladdin to the Maghreb where he recovers the wonderful lamp and kills the sorcerer in battle. Aladdin then asks the genie of the lamp to move the palace along with all its contents, including the princess, back to its proper place.

The sorcerer’s more powerful and evil brother disguises himself as an old woman known for her healing powers. The princess falls for his disguise and commands the “old woman” to stay in her palace to cure anyone who falls ill.

The genie of the lamp warns Aladdin about the sorcerer masquerading as the ‘old woman’. Aladdin slays the imposter. Aladdin succeeds to his father-in-law’s throne and everyone lives happily ever after.

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