Once upon a time a man named Huan Jing believed that a monster would bring pestilence to his country. After asking his co-villagers to hide on a hill he went alone to defeat the monster.
Later, people celebrated Huan Jing’s victory over the monster on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month as the Double Ninth Festival (Chung Yeung Festival).
Since then, the Double Ninth Festival observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar has become a traditional Chinese holiday. The Chung Yeung Festival is mentioned in writings even before the East Han period (25–220 AD).
Duality is found in many belief systems, According to the Chinese I Ching, or Classic of Changes, yin and yang describe how opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interdependent, and interconnected, in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other since they interrelate to one another. So, Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness equated with the Tao.
In the above diagram, Yin is the black side with the white dot in it, and yang is the white side with the black dot in it.
The relationship between yin and yang is often described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley.
Yin (meaning the ‘shady place’ or ‘north slope’) is the dark area occluded by the mountain’s bulk, while yang (meaning the ‘sunny place’ or ‘south slope’) is the brightly lit portion. As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.
According to the I Ching, nine is a yang number. Since the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or double nine) has too much yang the date is considered potentially dangerous. Hence, the Double Ninth Festival is also known as “Double Yang Festival” (重陽節).
To protect against danger, it is customary for the Chinese to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum tea, and wear the zhuyu (茱萸) plant, Cornus officinalis, a species of dogwood known also as Japanese cornel or Japanese cornelian cherry. Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing properties and are used to air out houses and cure illnesses.
On the Double Ninth Festival day, the Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their homage and respects by cleaning and repainting inscriptions. Incense sticks are burned. They lay out food offerings such as roast suckling pig and fruit, before the graves which are then eaten later after the spirits have consumed the spiritual element of the food. Chongyang Cake is also popular.
In mainland China, the festival offers an opportunity for the young to care for and appreciate the elderly.
In 1966, Taiwan rededicated the holiday as “Senior Citizens’ Day”.
Though Double Ninth Festival may have originated as a day to drive away danger, over time it has become a day of celebration like the Chinese New Year. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking. Mountain climbing races have become popular and the winners get to wear a wreath made of zhuyu.
The era of Song dynasty (宋朝) that succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Chinese history began in 960 and continued until 1279. There are two distinct periods in the Song dynasty – Northern and Southern.
During the Northern Song (北宋) period from 960 to 1127, the dynasty controlled most of China proper with the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) as its capital.
During the Southern Song (南宋) period from 1127 to 1279, the Song dynasty lost control of northern China in the Jin–Song Wars to the Jurchen Jin dynasty.
The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue national bank notes or true paper money, the first Chinese regime to establish a permanent navy, and the first to use gunpowder. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese found the true north using a compass.
The Qing Ming Shang He Tu (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; traditional Chinese: 清明上河圖) or “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is a scroll painting created by the famous Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145) alias Zheng Dao who lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.
This painting considered the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings dubbed as “China’s Mona Lisa” has a theme of the worldly commotion and the festive spirit during the celebration of the Qingming Festival. It encapsulates the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today’s Kaifeng and the life of its people.
This scroll painting is 9.76 inches (24.8 cm) in height and 17.35 feet (5.287 metres) long. It depicts the bustling and lively life and beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the river that meanders through Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty during the Qingming Festival. The two main portions in the painting are the countryside and the market in the densely populated city. It has more than 170 trees, 30 buildings, 814 humans, 8 sedan chairs, over 60 horses and other animals, 20 vehicles, and 28 boats.
The painting reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor in successive scenes and offers glimpses of the architecture and clothing of the Song period.
For centuries, the scroll painting was a pride of the personal imperial collections of the Chinese emperors.
The original Song dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” was a favorite of Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), also known as Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, he took it along with him when he left Beijing. It was then re-purchased and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.
The following video describes how the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” painting showcased the best of life in the Song Dynasty – one of the golden ages of China.
Remakes of the painting
Revered as a work of art, the scroll painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” inspired the creation of several works of art during subsequent dynasties. Court artists made re-interpretive versions of the painting by reviving and updating the style of the original. Even though each of these later paintings follow the composition and the original theme, they differ in details and painting techniques.
The Yuan version
During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) made a remarkable remake of the original,
The Ming version
Another notable remake painted during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) is 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and is longer than the original Song version.
Based on contemporary fashions and customs the Ming version replaced the scenery from the Song dynasty to that of the Ming dynasty with the costumes worn by the people updated and the styles of vehicles (boats and carts) changed.
In the original Song painting, the crew of an oncoming boat have not yet fully lowered their sails and are in danger of crashing into wooden the bridge.
In the Ming version, a stone bridge with a taller arch replaced the Song wooden bridge, and men ashore guide the boat under the bridge by pulling ropes tied to it.
The Qing version
On January 15, 1737, the Qianlong Emperor received a present of a version painted by five Qing dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao). This Qing remake is much larger – 36 feet (11 metres) long and 1 ft 1.68 inches (35 cm) high – and has over 4,000 people in it.
While in the original Song version, the leftmost side contains images of the busy city, the leftmost third of this Qing version depicts life within the palace, with buildings and people appearing refined and elegant. Most people within the castle are women along with some well-dressed officials.
In April 1742, a poem composed by the Qianlong Emperor was added to the rightmost end of the Qing remake. The poem reads as follows:
蜀錦裝金壁 – A wall of gold has been mounted on Shu brocade.
吳工聚碎金 – Craftsmen from Wu collect spare change
謳歌萬井富 – To pay tribute to the abundance of a myriad of families.
城闕九重深 – The watchtowers of the city rise to great heights.
盛事誠觀止 – The bustling scene is truly impressive.
遺踪借探尋 – It is a chance to explore vestiges of bygone days.
當時誇豫大 – At that time, people marveled at the size of Yu,
此日歎徽欽 – And now, we lament the fates of Hui and Qin.
In 1949, the National Palace Museum in Taipei received the Qing version along with many other artifacts.
Over the centuries, many affluent Chinese treasured the original Qingming scroll. Eventually, it returned to public ownership.
The original Song dynasty painting now kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the Qing version in the Taipei Palace Museum, are both considered national treasures and are exhibited every few years for brief periods.
The following video with narration in Chinese shows the different versions of the remakes of the “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” but uses the Ming version to explain the life of the Chinese then, in the near past, and now.
From May 1 to October 31, 2010, China hosted Expo 2010, a major World Expo, officially known as the Expo 2010 Shanghai China in the tradition of international fairs and expositions.
A 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version of the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” titled “River of Wisdom“, screened for three months was the primary exhibit at the China Pavilion. This elaborate computer animated mural about 30 times the size of the original scroll had moving characters and objects that made the painting come to life. It presented the scene in a four-minute day to night cycles. Those who reserved in advance had to queue up to two hours to see the 3D animated version.
After the Expo, the digital version was on display at the AsiaWorld–Expo in Hong Kong from November 9 to 29, 2010; at the Macau Dome in Macau from March 25 to April 14, 2011; and at the Expo Dome in Taipei, Taiwan from July 1 to September 4, 2011.
From December 7, 2011, to February 6, 2012, a digital reproduction was exhibited at the Singapore Expo titled “A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art“.
Many people feel that urine is not a proper subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.
For most people, urine is not a subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.
Yet, since the earliest days of medicine, urine has been a useful tool for diagnosis of diseases. Changes in its color, consistency, and odor can provide important clues about the health status of our body. Urine can reveal what we have been eating, drinking, and what diseases we have.
In Ayurveda system of Hindu traditional medicine, there are eight ways to diagnose illness: Nadi (pulse), Moothra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses.
Tibetan medicine approaches the diagnosis of illness through three methods: questioning (asking the patient), feeling (pulse diagnosis), and seeing (observing urine, tongue, eyes, and skin). The first urine of the morning gives indications of the hot or cold nature of a disease and nyepa imbalances. Urine is analyzed for its smell, steam, bubbles, color, and a sediment known as kuya, formed in the production of bile, appears as sediment in healthy urine.
In modern western medicine, the color, density, and smell of urine can reveal much about the state of our health.
Today I came across a humorous video on Facebook titled “How Yellow is Your Urine?” posted by my Taiwanese friend Angel Chen. I have included that video below.
The video is funny and at the same time educative. It stresses that the Taiwanese are “truly a ‘good’ bunch of workers.” It says that one of Taiwan’s wealthiest entrepreneurs often asks his employees: “How Yellow is Your Urine?” because he thinks that if an employee is truly hard at work, he would not have time to drink water, leaving more time to focus on his work. As a result, his urine would simmer inside his bladder to a beautiful amber color. And, he believes that a worker with potential bladder problems would be a good employee.