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Sturgeon's House

Traditional Chinese Art, Architecture and Literature thread (and sometimes modern architecture): My forum sanctuary.

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So yeah, Basically I need a thread for actual serious posting, and one of a topic I find relaxing, so why not this?


My avatar I guess; Yuenü/The Lady of Yue. - Grandmaster hunter, swordswoman, archer, martial artist, and training officer during the Zhou Dynasty era.




The four dragon kings from ancient mythology.




Yuyuan Gardens in old Shanghai, although it appears a bit more modern, the site itself dates back to the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. I have alot of good memories tied to this place.



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Qin Shi Huang, AKA Ying Zheng and "The First Emperor", The man who united China after the Three Kingdoms periods to form the Qin dynasty and the first to take the title "Emperor" over "King", Note the beaded hat he always wore actually had a strange meaning behind it, It was called his "Veil of Stars" and worn to signify his divinity as he was seen as a son of heaven. The exact cause of death of the emperor isn't entirely known, but believed to be related to Mercury poisoning which he ingested in tonics believing it to be part of an immortality elixir he was seeking. (The true effects of Mercury were unknown at the time). Lastly, his tomb is interesting, no one has actually opened the final door out of fear that 1. It's cursed and 2. It's said to be heavily booby trapped, but it also states that his coffin floats on a shallow lake of pure mercury, and scans of the mercury levels at the sight reveal that the background levels of Mercury are around 100 times higher then usual (and that's without even entering the room), making that claim very oddly plausible.



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One of the very few depictions known of Ching Shih (AKA Ching I Seo) shown here in combat, Born 1775, Ching Shih had a rather rough upbringing, living much of her young adult life as a poor prostitute, so it probably came a shock when she would eventually rise to become one of the, if not the most feared and ruthless Pirate leader of all time, eventually rallying a force after her husband, her predecessor died large enough to not only terrorize merchants all over the South China Sea and the ruling Qing Dynasty navy at the time, but even rampage through the ranks of the British and Portuguese navies that were present during the period to the point they all got really frustrated of the losses and started hiring bounty hunters and privateers to help bring her down, all of which failed to do so. Her code was strict, ruthless, but fair and efficient regarding chain of command and looting rules/rights.


It's interesting to note, most famous Pirate Leaders die without ever leaving the life, either in battle or by the sheer fact merely being convicted as a pirate regardless of what you did in most places at the time was good enough to get you hung or beheaded if caught. Ching Shih was one of the few who managed to fade away after beating everyone in the South China Sea's ass to the point the Qing Dynasty offered to drop all charges against her and most of her crew in exchange for peace, she took it and retired from her life of piracy, with all her loot in tow and settled down after opening a gambling house with her new husband. She died in 1844 of unknown causes.



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Hua Mulan/Fa Mulan, basically the original tellings and not the watered down, bastardized western versions. Basically, the original tale of Mulan stems from a 6th century poem known as "The Ballad of Mulan", the original lyrics of which are mostly long lost unfortunately. What little is known of the original comes from the work of an 11th century archivist named Guo Maoqing who made an anthology of many very old works. The poem (or, what remained of it) was worked into 2 different plays centuries later, the first by famous painter, poet, and playwright Xu Wei (believed to be have born been circa 1521, very tragic life that I'll probably cover later with him.) known as "The Female Mulan" for short, but "The Heroine Mulan Goes to War in Her Father's Place." in it's full, 2 act name. This is generally what most retellings of her legend usually go on.


The second major appearance of her occurred in the 17th Century as a character in Chu Renhuo's novel "The Sui-Tang Romance", this version of the tale has a much more tragic ending though, with Mulan's father being long dead by the time she returns home from war, and Mulan being summoned by the Emperor to become one of his concubines, a fate she refuses so she commits suicide instead to be at her father's side again after so many years. Something tells me you won't see that ending in a Disney version.




Xu Wei's various work - Speaking of tragic endings, as mentioned above, despite being recognized today as one of the forefathers of Ming Dynasty era artistry, fate was unimaginably cruel to him during his life, Born Bipolar and never meeting his father in 1521, he was raised by his single mother until she died when Wei was only 14 years old when he was then an orphan, at age 21 he married his first wife who died of unknown causes only 5 years later, he failed his civil service examinations 8 times and never did pass it. this wouldn't be the end of his troubles however, In his youth he worked under the service of a General Hu Zongxian who took him despite this anyway, however, shorly into his service, General Hu was arrested on various charges, this sort of sent him completely insane and he nearly lost it entirely.


Well, Actually, he mostly did, he went completely paranoid after that fearing he would be next, his paranoia led to him killing his second wife whom he was certain was going to betray him. He was jailed but in a stroke of good fortune for once, his friend had quite the political influence and got him out of jail when he was 53, he basically spent the rest of his life devoted to the arts, and despite being extremely talented at it, he was never financially successful in his day and lived basically his entire live in extreme poverty. In a very odd twist of fate, he married a third time but this time his wife was killed by someone else. lastly on his journey of misery, he tried 9 separate times to kill himself with various brutal methods during his life and yet something just refused to let him die that way. He finally did die however well after he wanted to in 1593. That being said, He was a very talented man of the arts.


"Wang Xizhi Catching The Goose."









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The Nine Dragons - Basically, The Nine Dragons are seen as the sons of the Four Dragon Kings mentioned earlier and play very prominent roles in traditional Chinese mythology, they often share hybrid aspects with other animals in their depictions depending on which dragon is being depicted.


Anyway, the 13th century Song Dynasty painter Chen Rong made perhaps one of my favorite paintings of all time depicting them and their story, It's an incredibly long but narrow painting of them in various terrain of their dominions but a goddamn masterpiece, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston puts a date on their copy of the painting at the year 1244, which would be pretty accurate given the life of Chen Rong.


Note: As I said above, the painting is very long to the point it would break the forum tables beyond all belief full sizing it, click to see it a bit more clearly, or to truly see it, save it and use something like image viewer and zoom in.



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Various works of the painter Li Zai, while his exact birthdate isn't known, it is known he died in 1431, which would put his artwork in the timeframe of the early Ming Dynasty era.






The man riding the Carp is a depiction of the Taoist immortal Qin Gao.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Ancient structures time.


The Temple of City God/ of the City God (It's not a mistranslation, several religions in China have legends of a deity or divine entity that gives protection to the people of a city and it's ramparts.)


While there's a few temples to him, this one is based in Shanghai and originally dates back to the 15th century, though some renovation was required to keep it standing. They also took that opportunity to brighten the place up a bit, I honestly feel odd posting about this one in particular because photos alone can simply not do this site justice.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Gaming night at Khande's House!


Ancient Board Game Found in Looted Chinese Tomb


Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn't been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China.

There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was "decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns.


The artifacts seem to be part of a game called "bo," sometimes referred to as "liubo" the archaeologists said. Researchers who have studied the game of bo are uncertain exactly how it was played. People stopped playing it around 1,500 years ago and the rules may have changed during the time that it was played.

However, a poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:

"Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together, keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of 'five white!' arise" (translation by David Hawkes).

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  • 4 months later...



Painting depicting Hua Tuo (Also known as Yuenhua, lived from 140-208 with exact birth and death dates unknown), a very prominent and early physician from the Eastern Han dynasty, he was a pioneer of many medicinal and surgical techniques for his day, aside from being the first to use acupuncture as a method to deliver analgesic substances to patients, his most notable and hotly contested feat was being one to invent a precursor to proper anaesthetic that he referred to as "Mafeisan". (Well, that's the modern Chinese spelling anyway) Now while plenty of accounts from the time period reference it's use by him (Usually a powder or finely cut plant based substance dissolved in wine before being given to the patient), No one in the modern day actually really knows what it contains, most think cannabis in the form of Hashish based on translations and opium based products mixed with some other herbs (usually Jimson Weed/Devil's Snare and Chinese Monkshood, sometimes other variations of Monkshood), some think that Mandrake was the most active ingredient as opposed to Cannabis. regardless of what it was, this, among many other things he did made him greatly famous to the point his medical techniques spread to Korea and Japan aswell.


As for the painting, It's likely a copy, seeing as how the original was suggested to be made by the text in it some time during the Three Kingdoms period (shortly after his death) and it's sadly but likely long lost.

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A painting with a darker tone this time. Although this dates to around the 18th Century, the act depicted occured much earlier during the reign of The First Emperor.




Note that some dispute the historical accuracy of the following events, but it's uncertain, anyway... Basically, you all probably know that mercury poisioning, up until it's eventually fatal, will cause you to slowly lose your mind, this caused Qin Shi Huang to slowly lose his mental resolve and become increasingly tyrannical and irrational during his reign, one day, he started looking through all the various books and writings in China, one thing that particularly irritated him was the philosophy of Confucianism, which, to put shortly, he basically found to be a load of bullshit and a disease to the empire, so he made it forbidden, this scene is a depiction of him and his soldiers burning a cache of hidden writings (an Idea of how to purge documents once and for all given to him by one of his advisors, Li Si), and punishing the scholars who tried to hide them by throwing them down a really deep hole and burying the survivors alive. I guess the moral is, when the first emperor is pissed at your philosophy and his "immortality" tonics are rotting his brain, you damned well abandon it, or else.


He's often quoted as saying on the topic of attempting to cleanse the Confucianism philosophy the following.


"I have collected all the writings of the empire and burned those which were of no use."


Whether or not the event actually happened, or at least happened in the way it's depicted is up in the air as I said with historians, but it does tell a story, and a piece of art that tells a story is particularly interesting to me.

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