More than a decade ago, when my wife and I first published a pocket-sized English translation of the Chinese almanac for the launch of New York’s Museum of Chinese in America, we reached out to a prominent Hong Kong publisher who held the rights. He immediately insisted on meeting us, partly intrigued that such a vernacular publication was worthy of museum interest, but mostly because he was curious about who would willingly pay for his content.
“Oooh,” said the Brooklyn lady, rapturously to her companion, “Shirley, that would look great on you.” She was pointing at the dazzling 24-karat reindeer broach in the Metropolitan Museum’s 1975 show “The Gold of the Scythians”. Our fascination with the nomads of the steppe has only increased since then, while our knowledge about them has grown by leaps and bounds. John Man’s Empire of Horses is an attempt to evoke the glory and glamor of the Xiongnu empire, as he has done previously with the Mongol empire.
In the 1940s, a third of Baghdad was Jewish. Today, fewer than a dozen remain.
When Chi Pang-yuan was a young girl, her father Chi Shiying was wanted by warlord Zhang Zuolin and his son, Zhang Xueliang. The crime was siding with a rival general, Guo Songling, at a time when the Republic was still relatively young and northeast China in constant turmoil. For most of her childhood and teenage years, Chi Pang-yuan would frequently be on the move, between Manchuria and all the major cities along the Yangtze River: Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing and Shanghai.
There’s a common misconception that Tantric yoga is somewhat esoteric, or confined to Tibet. Yet in “The Extasie”, a poem written in 1595 or thereabouts, John Donne writes of a couple who become “by good love … grown all mind.” Buddha Sakyamuni is reputed to have said “If the body is not mastered, the mind cannot be mastered. If the body is mastered, mind is mastered.”
From being targets of American soft-power, a significant service export and a major financial prop for institutions of higher-learning suffering from uncooperative demographics and withdrawal of government funding, Chinese students in the US have recently come to be seen—in certain quarters, anyway—as vehicles for Chinese government influence. Yingyi Ma’s new study—based on data collected mostly in what were still the halcyon days of 2013-16—does not deal with these issues. But it attempts to explain what Chinese students in the US think about themselves and their journey, and might therefore usefully inform the rising debate.
Liam Wong’s debut collection of photography, the eponymously entitled TO:KY:OO, brings together several trends that someone more au courant with the cultural zeitgeist than I perhaps would have already been familiar with. I had, for example, to look up what “cyberpunk” actually meant and can’t myself say whether the photographs in this collection are “cyberpunk-inspired” or are instead influenced by other, more mainstream, traditions. I am perhaps on firmer ground saying that they are vibrant, pulsating and hypnotic.