Dumplings served 1,700 years ago in Xinjiang

URUMQI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) – Dumplings, indispensable at lunar new year dinners in north China were already served 1,700 years ago in China’s far west.

According to an archaeologist from the Museum of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the three dumplings unearthed in the region’s Turpan area were determined to have been made during the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-589).

Archaeologists also found two complete dumplings made during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in Turpan. The dumplings were 5 centimeters long, 1.5 cm wide and resembled the new moon in shape. Further research revealed the dumpling wrappers were made from wheat flour and the stuffing was meat. Read more.

Shield-backed Bug Nymphs (Plataspididae)

Below: Recently Moulted Adult Bug (Plataspididae)

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Matured Adult Bug (Plataspididae)

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by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese true bugs and hoppers on my Flickr site HERE…..

Park Dae-im was drafted by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1934 and forced into prostitution in the service of the Japanese troops invading China. She was sent to a euphemistically-named comfort station in Mukden, now Shenyang, China, where she received a residence permit for foreigners, which she has kept with care as proof of her past.


Taoism Week!

Diagrams of the interactions of the Wu Xing, the Five Elements
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You’ve heard of the duality of yin and yang in Taoism. But it’s have you heard of the, um, quintality of the five elements, or the wu xing?

The Wu Xing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: Wǔ Xíng), also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. 

The “Five Phases” are Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ)

I’ve always been amused by how this overlaps but does not correspond with the four elements in Western alchemy: earth, air, fire and water. (It’s five if you count aether, of course.)

Stoltzius von Stoltzenberg
The Four Classical Elements
Bohemia (1600s)

And just as the four elements of Western alchemy weren’t associated with any one religion, the five elements of Taoism became pretty much pervasive in all of Chinese culture:

After it came to maturity in the second or first century BCE during the Han dynasty, this device was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought, including seemingly disparate fields such as geomancy or Feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy and martial arts. The system is still used as a reference in some forms of complementary and alternative medicine and martial arts.

Did I say Chinese? I meant East Asian. The Japanese days of the week are still named after the five elements.

Meanings of the Days of the Week

And there’s lists on Wikipedia that show the elements’ myriad associations:


So it’s always been a little weird for me that in The Last Airbender, a show so profoundly influenced by East Asian culture that it actually uses Chinese as its main written language, there are just four elements to be bent. Not five.

World Map from Avatar: The Last Airbender
US (c. 2006)

Ah well. That’s hardly worth complaining about. If I’m gonna be a pedant, I’d rather go the XKCD route.

Randall Munroe
XKCD: Elements
US (2011)

Chinese planisphere

Printed in 1819 by John Reeves at Canton, this chart of the heavens shows the star patterns or constellations known to the Chinese.  In China, 28 asterisms are recognised along the line of the zodiac, the Sun’s apparent path across the sky.  The rest of the heavens are divided into quadrants known as the Black Tortoise (North), Red Bird (South), Green Dragon (East) and White Tiger (West).   These differ from Western constellations in that the stars form patterns representing whole scenes rather than individual objects, animals or people.  This star chart has all the stars visible from China and therefore can be used as a planisphere to show the sky at any time during the course of the year.

Science Museum