Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Significants of Themes

The greatest Olympic of all came & went. People around the world were glued to the idiot box for 2 whole weeks. And no doubt, the highest number of viewers around the globe was during the opening & closing ceremony.

We sure did enjoy the colourful & artistic display the Chinese showed to the world. But did we understand why they particularly showcased what they showed us?

Fou Drums - ancient Chinese container for wine.
In the Qin Dynasty (200BC), people started to hit the Fou to express welcome to friends, especially from far away. It was a joyous occasion to have friends from far away visiting. Drums were used in Xia Dynasty to imitate sounds of thunder. There were a total of 2008 drummers in the ceremony in Beijing.

Invention of Paper
AD105 is often cited as the year in which papermaking was invented. This historical event was reported to the Chinese Emperor by an Imperial Court official. Ancient paper pieces from the Xuanquanzhi ruins of Dunhuang in China's Gansu province apparently were made during the period of Emperor Wu who reigned between 140BC and 86BC.

Invention of Gun Powder
Many historial materials indicate that gunpowder first appeared before the Tang Dynasty (618-907). From 300 to 650AD several recipes were written about inflammable mixtures. Some historians date the invention of gunpowder at 850AD when a Taoist book warned of three specific elixir formula as too dangerous to experiment.

Invention of Silk
About 2700-2650BCE the Chinese began making silk. According to Chinese tradition, the part-legendary emperor, Huang Di, invented the methods of raising silk worms and spinning silk thread. But the same tradition credits not Huang Di but his wife Lei-tzu, with discovering silk-making itself, and also the weaving of silk thread into fabric.

Invention of Compass
The earliest reference to a specific magnetic direction finder device is recorded in a Song Dynasty book dated 1040-44. There were some controversies. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compass.

Invention of Movable Print Blocks
Pi Sheng, during the Ch'ing - li period, Sung (1041-1048) invented the proto-type of movable print blocks, 300 years before Gutenberg.

Corbel System: Tou-Kung
See Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China: Building technology, interlocking bracketing system to support corners of buildings without the need for nails.

Admiral Zheng He (Ming Dynasty) 1371-1433AD
Almost a century before Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas and Vasco da Gama's in India. All the ships of Columbus and da Gama combined could have been stored on a single deck of a single vessel in the fleet that set sail under Zheng He. He led 7 great western maritime expeditions, traversing the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean into the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and reaching as far west as the east coast of Africa.

Confucius - Analects
Recited : "Within the Four Seas, all men are brothers".

Guqin - Father of Chinese Music Instrument)
Not to be confused with guzheng which has movable bridges. Legend has it that the qin, the most revered of all Chinese musical instruments, has a history of about 5,000 yrs. This legend states that the legendary figures of China's pre-history - Fuxi, Shennong and Huang Di, the "Yellow Emperor" - were involved in its creation.

After reading this, I feel even more proud of what was displayed in Beijing. My total respect for the Chinese of the world. I salute you.

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