Chinese culture

Mulan Annotated 6 - Ok, We’re Really Setting Off This Time

I actually forgot to write about porridge, OMG, porridge, before the military training montage, so here you go.

Mushu, I’m pretty sure porridge did not look like that in ancient China. I know it’s the team putting little jokes in the movie, but porridge did not look like that.

Also, what did I say about chopsticks? Come on, Disney. Come on. You don’t actually eat porridge with chopsticks. you won’t be able to scoop the rice. You use a spoon to mix everything and slowly start eating from the top, because everything else below it is way too hot.

Now that’s more like it!

Y’all know that porridge or congee is made from boiled rice and millet, and it’s a pretty easy thing to make. It was said that the Emperor Huang Di was the first one to make porridge, but other Asian cultures have their own version of porridge, too, and have their own recipes. 

Don’t really like it ‘cause it’s sick people food.

Strategising with maps is highly probable because Chinese people did start making maps and the earliest record of using them was in the Warring States period, but I am not sure if those little tokens to represent armies were used. If you watch any Chinese TV series or movie, they’re bound to appear.

As you can see, there are some gaps in my knowledge. Let me know if you have any info.

It’s highly unlikely that Chinese royalty would pose like this:

Only someone who has used a camera before would think of this, though I have to admit that the red stamp and the words do appear on some occasional portraits. The stamp is the seal of the artist. No idea what the word in the bottom right hand corner is doing. If you put it together with this character, 时, you’d get 准时 (zhǔnshí), which means punctual.

Also, more often than not, the background would have motifs that suggest what the person’s character was like. It looks more like this:

This is a portrait of the Daoguang Emperor in the Qing dynasty. There are some bamboo shoots in the background, which, according to this source,

“In traditional Chinese culture, bamboo is a symbol of … beauty. It represents the character of moral integrity, resistance, modesty and loyalty.”

It was definitely much more than aesthetics, for sure. Emperor’s portraits were always painted to show how wonderful or scholarly or learned they are, and reflected their own interests, too.

But I suppose that Chi Fu shaking hands with the Emperor was to show how much of a suck-up he is.

Nothing on this piece of paper makes sense, except for “Protect the South”, which I have boxed up. Come on, Disney. 

It is quite interesting though, because it is somewhat correct. The nomadic tribes from the north have always wanted more land and resources that the south had, if history is anything to go by. The south of China had (and still has) fertile fields that consistently produced abundant yields, which were advantageous over the nomadic way of life. It was difficult to grow crops up north, but far better to herd livestock to more fertile ground instead of settling in one place.

Anyway, where did Mushu get that panda? From the bamboo grove that he and Mulan were in? WTH?

Obviously this is for laughs.

Ok, so this part is the montage where they sing about a girl worth fighting for, but it may as well be an advertisement for China and its awesome natural landscapes. I mean, look! This shot is beautiful…

but Gui Lin is more beautiful in real life:

Source here. I’m pretty sure there was some photoshop going on, for sure.

Also, how does Ling’s armour have room for saucy pictures of women? The caption doesn’t make sense? 箩想女郎 (luó xiǎng nǚ láng) if I am not wrong, although I may have misread. 

Any ideas?

Thanks lovely readers who pointed out it’s dream girl: 梦想女郎 (Mèng xiǎng nǚ láng).

Here’s also some information about um, well, sexy pics in ancient China. There are no images, but the content is NSFW.

Naughty, naughty Ling indeed.

Ah yes. China is famous for its rice terraces.

This is the Yuangyang rice terrace in Yunnan, the south of China.

You can literally go to China to look at rice terraces. More info here.

You can also look at China’s beautiful waterfalls here.

Such beauty. Much majestic. Very wow.

And yes, the soldiers’ armour was definitely based off the terracotta warriors in Xi’An, China. Here’s a pic for reference:

Thanks, Wikipedia.

This bit resembles a few of the Buddhas who hang around certain parts of China. Let’s take a look:

Here’s one from the Yunguang Caves. Source here.

And here’s a more famous one:

The Leshan Buddha at Mount Emei. Source here.

But wait a minute! The monk’s hands are all wrong. 

There are various hand gestures that one takes when meditating to improve certain aspecst of oneself. You can read a bout it here.
12 Tips for Chinese Etiquette and Culture
Developing insights into the Chinese etiquette and culture will help you avoid miscommunication. Just one rule: Do as the Chinese do when in China,

Chinese Meeting Etiquette / 

Chinese Chatting Etiquette / 

Chinese Dining Etiquette / 

Chinese Gifts Etiquette 

are all included here:

Chinese Mermaid  -《 鲛人 》-  Jiaoren

The Chinese mermaid is called 鲛人/jiāorén. In addition to their beautiful appearance, they are also outstanding craftspeople. According to “In Search of the Supernatural/搜神记”, a 4th-century compilation of legends about ghosts and spirits, jiaoren lived in the South Sea, spent their days weaving cloth, and if they cried, their tears would turn into pearls. (x)

Photo by 老妖_Choco; Hanfu (han chinese clothing) from 司南阁/Sinange.

Painted Eyebrow Trends in Tang Dynasty

This is a chart showing different eyebrow trends in the Tang Dynasty. It’s based on a chart in Chinese Clothing by Hua Mei and Gao Chunming (2004), on pg 37. I wanted to create a chart that had the eyebrows on faces.

Interesting notes

“Women of the Tang Dynasty paid particular attention to facial appearance, and the application of powder or even rouge was common practice. Some women’s foreheads were painted dark yellow and the dai (a kind of dark blue pigment) was used to paint their eyebrows into different shapes that were called dai mei(painted eyebrows) in general. There were literally a dozen ways to pait the eyebrows and between the brows there was a colourful decoration called hua dian, which was made of specks of gold, silver and emerald feather.” (5000 Years of Chinese Costume, 77)

“…during the years of Yuanho in the reign of Xuanzong the system of costumes changed, and women no longer applied red powder to their faces; instead, they used only black ointment for their lips and made their eyebrows like like the Chinese character ’八’.” (5000 Years of Chinese Costume, 77)

The black lipstick style “was called the ‘weeping makeup’ or 'tears makeup’.” (Chinese Clothing by Hua Mei, 37)


Yixing clay is a type of clay from the region near the city of Yixing in Jiangsu province, China. Its use dates back to the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). From the 17th century on, the Yixing wares were commonly exported to Europe. The finished stoneware, which is used for teaware and other small items, are usually red or brown in color. They are known as Zisha ware, and are typically unglazed. 

The term “yixing clay” is often used as an umbrella term to describe several distinct types of clay used to make stoneware:

Zisha or Zi Ni (紫砂 or 紫泥 ; literally, “purple sand/clay”): this stoneware has a purple-red-brown color.

Zhusha or Zhu Ni (朱砂 or 朱泥; literally, “cinnabar sand/clay”): reddish brown stoneware with a very high iron content. The name only refers to the sometimes bright red hue of cinnabar. There are currently 10 mines still producing Zhu Ni. However, due to the increasing demand for Yixing stoneware, Zhu Ni is now in very limited quantities. Zhu Ni clay is not to be confused with Hong Ni (红泥, literally, “red clay”).

Duan Ni (鍛泥; literally, “fortified clay”): stoneware that was formulated using various stones and minerals in addition to Zi Ni or Zhu Ni clay. This results in various textures and colors, ranging from beige, blue, and green (绿泥), to black.

Yixing teawares are prized because their unglazed surfaces absorb traces of the beverage, creating a more complex flavor. For these reasons, yixing teawares should never be washed using detergents, but rather with water only, and connoisseurs recommend using each tea vessel for one kind of tea (white, green, oolong, or black) or sometimes even one variety of tea only.

Picture credits: 台湾 玉凡轩