Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.

Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.

“However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins.”

[via Fashionably Geek and Gizmodo]


Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat is an educational Canadian-American animated television series based on a 1994 novel by Amy Tan which aired on PBS Kids, produced by Canadian animation studio CinéGroupe and Sesame Street creator Sesame Workshop. In the series, which is set c. 1840, during the Qing Dynasty, Sagwa has fun in her day-to-day life while learning and teaching valuable life lessons. The show is notable for its setting and messages about family obligations and loyalty. It was also a huge ratings success for PBS Kids.

It aired for one season and 40 episodes, premiering on September 3, 2001, and was quietly cancelled in 2003.


The Greatest Pirate Who Ever Lived


In 1801, a pirate named Zheng Yi was busy raiding Canton. Aside from the prerequisite plundering and rum-drinking, he had given his men one specific order: to break into a local brothel and bring him the prostitute Zheng Yi Sao (郑一嫂), or “Zheng Yi’s wife”.

One might expect a sinister fate to have awaited Zheng Yi Sao upon her deliverance to the pirate captain (rape, swiftly followed by murder, being the most obvious). In actuality, Zheng Yi’s intentions were considerably more gentlemanly.

He intended to marry her. And recognizing that her current future prospects were rather limited, Zheng Yi Sao accepted.

But Zheng Yi Sao didn’t intend on spending the rest of her days as some plunder-hungry pirate’s eye candy. She wanted to become a pirate as well, and she did – one of the greatest pirates to have ever lived.

Read more

“Adjusted Rank” means what percentage of the world’s population were killed by a particular conflict or upheaval. In other words, the An Lushan Rebellion killed somewhere around 15% of the people alive in the world. World War II, for comparison, killed around 3% of the people alive in the world in 1940.

In the style of Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione),

The Fragrant Concubine

Italy/China: Qing Dynasty, 18th Century.

Oil on paper, framed; 27 by 19 ½ in., 68.6 by 49.5 cm.

photo: Sotheby’s.


This is another portrait of Xaing Fei, or Fragrant Concubine, the same woman who was painted in European plate armor for these portraits. Her story is fascinating, and more can be read about her at that link.

This painting was sold to William Haynsworth in 1987 for 1.2 million dollars.


John Thomson: Chinese Women, 1869-72.

John Thomson (1837-1921) was a pioneering Scottish photographer who, after traveling through various parts of Asia, settled in Hong Kong in 1868 and operated a studio there for the next four years. Using Hong Kong as his base, he traveled extensively throughout China and was the first known photographer to document the people and landscapes of China for publication in the western market. Returning to England, he published a four volume book entitled “Illustrations of China and its People” in London, 1873-1874.

Images courtesy of Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Woman’s Semi Formal Domestic Overcoat

Early 1900s

Qing Dynasty

In early 1900, it became fashionable for young brides to wear pastel shades on their wedding day, instead of the customary red-color garments. A narrower silhouette for jackets and the sleeves became fashionable, and front closures replaced right-side closure of the earlier period.



Woman’s domestic semi-formal coat.
Chinese (Han), Qing dynasty, late 19th century. China. Silk damask embroidered with couched gold and silver wrapped thread and silk floss, applied silk ribbon.

Han woman’s domestic semi-formal coat (ao) in lavender silk damask with woven designs of narcissus and peaches; neck, front, hem and sleeves edged with blue silk satin ribbon with peaches embroidered in gold couching and black silk satin ribbon with peonies, butterflies and phoenix; right side front closing with blue silk loops and knotted buttons. | MFA