Vortrag über Peking Oper

Wann: 15.00 – 17.00 Uhr, Sonntag, den 07. April 2013
Wo: Weibian Restaurant & Take-Away, Weststrasse 146, 8003 Zürich
Sprache: Chinesisch/Deutsch

Referentin: Man Cao, Pekingoper-Schauspielerin

Kosten: CHF 10.- ‚ inkl. Tee und speziellen Imbiss (Teigtasche, knackige Knödel, Lotussamen
& Lilie-Suppe etc.) vom Restaurant Weibian.
Anmeldung per E-mail: sprachklub.cuz@gmail.com
Bitte melden Sie sich bis 5. April 2013 an.

Link zur Einladung: Vortrag_Pekingoper

Spiritual life in China 1 Introduction

General Introduction

Spiritual aspects of life are ever present in the daily life of many Chinese people. The relatively short period of communist atheism could not change the age old practices. Today so called “normal religious activity” is tolerated, even protected, by the government. Article 36 of the Constitution of 1982 declares that “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief”.

There are 5 officially sanctioned religions or belief systems in the PRC: Daoism, Buddhism,  the Catholic and the Protestant Church as well as Islam. Confucianism is not officially regarded as a spiritual practice as such, although many people feel differently about it. Not officially sanctioned are the various “folk religions”.

yin yang emblem       Buddhist monkBaoding Church

Muslim woman  Confucius

I shall be writing separate articles about the above mentioned belief systems.  In this first article I will just try to give a short impression of what spiritual life in the PRC looks like today. This short introduction can only be of a very general nature as spiritual practices vary between regions, ethnic groups, villages, towns and cities.

If you ask a Chinese person “What is your religion?” he will give you a somewhat puzzled look: “What do you mean?”. This is because Chinese people live – and have always lived – in a culture of multiple belief systems that do not exclude one another, but are rather intertwined in the daily reality of the people (this, of course, applies to other Asian cultures as well).

Sure, people make a difference between a Daoist temple where they go when they need guidance concerning health matters and a Confucian temple where they may seek help when they have family problems. They also know that the Christian churches differ from the above mentioned not only thru the different building style and the way religious service is conducted. They are also known to be places where at Christmas time everyone gets little presents and something to eat and where western style Christmas decorations are never taken down. Furthermore, spiritual specialists e.g. “shamans” act as healers, soothsayers and priests not only in the far away countryside villages but also in big cities all over the country.

There is a lovely Daoist temple called the White Cloud Temple in Beijing. It has been carefully restored and is a peaceful oasis in the buzzing city. Tourists go there to marvel about the beautiful buildings and the exotic looking monks who go about their daily business of sweeping the ground and talking to visitors. Local people go there to worship and, as mentioned before, to discuss their health problems with the monks.

White Cloud Tempel

I was visiting the White Cloud Temple with a local friend when we saw two women burning joss sticks and bowing their heads in front of statues representing the pantheon of Taoist Gods. My friends asked them what they praying for. The younger woman told us that she was about to take an entrance exam to a university. Together with her mother she had been going thru all the spiritual institutions of Beijing to ask for spiritual support.  Just to make sure.

This is how many Chinese people feel about spiritualism. Each spiritual belief system represented by a temple, a church or a soothsayer’s room with the corresponding personnel has something different to offer to help them manage their daily life. Why not take advantage of  all of them?

Here is a link to a Zeit Online-article in German ReligionChinas Sinn fürs Unendliche

Sourses of pictures: www.buddhanetz.org ; http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Eclipse/Baoding/Baoding-Church-10-big.html ; http://www.flickriver.com/photos/mytripsmypics/8093027319/ ; http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/china/philosophy/confucius.htm   ; http://www.sacred-destinations.com/china/beijing-baiyun-guan-white-cloud-temple.htm )

The Fascination of Chinese names

When a new baby is born in China, he or she gets a name that no other person known to the parents has. The name is a combination of words or radicals that have a meaning, which the parents believe to be ideal for the baby. What an ideal name is like will be discussed later in this article.

A lexical category of names has not developed in Mandarin Chinese for the simple reason that the so called “name taboo” forbids the same name to be used more than once. Thus a Chinese proper name can be identified as a name only in a context; unlike words such as Marie or Thomas which in western cultures are immediately understood as proper names.

A further fascinating fact is that a Chinese person may have quite a few different names that are used in different contexts. The so call called “milk name” is used in the family and by close friends; the so called “official name” for official purposes. An artist may have more than one pen names and a distinguished older person a so called “respect name”. People, who deal with foreigners, take an English, Russian or German name to make communication easier. All this suggests that the self-identification of a Chinese person does not depend on his name to the same extend as it does in western cultures.

Chinese names have always fascinated me, because they seem so rich in meaning and aesthetical values; they look like paintings, have a musical tone and they seem to carry a great deal of symbolic content. Such names are comprehensive symbols, which can be perceived with all the senses: they are visual and auditory and they can be smelled and even tasted.

Think of a little girl, who calls herself  香花  Xiāng Huā “fragrant flower”. A  lovely name makes the lady lovely.

Perhaps her name is  香花  Xiāng Huā “fragrant flower”.

康有为 Kāng Yǒuwéi “a promising, active and productive person”.

康有为 Kāng Yǒuwéi was a Chinese scholar, noted calligrapher and prominent political thinker and reformer of the late Qing Dynasty (Wikipedia). His name could be translated as “one who is promising, active and productive“. A powerful name makes the man powerful.

When naming a baby the parents often express their wishes for the future life of the child. They also may express their own wishes like the one of having a son, when they call their daughter  带弟  Dài Dì “bring little brother”.

I believe that people in western cultures often tend to measure a great importance to the symbolic meaning of Chinese names. The symbolism of a name is interesting to us because it is often missing in our own names. We seldom know where our names come from or what they mean. The historical origin and the etymology of western names seem not to bear great significance in modern times. Another important, but not so obvious, aspect of a Chinese name is the information the name may contain about the social background of its carrier.

I wrote my second Bachelor’s paper on Chinese names. If you’d like to read the whole text, here is the link A Chinese Name is an Act of Creation

For my German speaking readers here is a link to an article of mine that was published just before the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 Der Bund Artikel Namen . Scroll down the page to find my article.

Konzert des Chiao-Ai Chor

Am Sonntag, 24. März 2013 um 16.00 Uhr in der Petrus Kirche in Bern

singt der Chiao-Ai Chor schöne chinesische und japanische Lieder. Mehr Informationen können Sie aus dem angefügten Flyer entnehmen.

Der Chiao-Ai Chor ist ein hoch professioneller Chor, welcher ein vielseitiges und unterhaltsames Programm bietet.

Eintritt frei (Kollekte) / Kleiner Apéro nach dem Konzert

Link zum Flyer Chiao-Ai_concert2013_flyer

Die Terrakottakrieger des Qin Kaisers

Ein Besuch des Museumsdorfes 28 km östlich von Xian in der VRC  ist empfehlenswert und für westliche Individualtouristen absolut machbar, obwohl schon eine echte Herausforderung. Ins Museumdorf kommt man fast nur im Hotel gemieteten Auto mit Chauffer. Aber im Dorf selber kommt man zu Fuss überall hin und es ist nicht unbedingt nötig, dort einen Führer zu nehmen.

Jetzt kommen aber einige Krieger nach Bern ins Historische Museum:


“Qin – Der unsterbliche Kaiser und seine Terrakottakrieger

Vom 15. März bis 17. November 2013 können Sie im Bernischen Historischen Museum in der Ausstellung «Qin – Der unsterbliche Kaiser und seine Terrakottakrieger» die Geschichte und Zivilisation Chinas entdecken. Lernen Sie den Ersten Kaiser Qin Shi Huangdi kennen, der vor mehr als 2000 Jahren das chinesische Kaiserreich schuf. Erkunden Sie seine monumentale Grabanlage mit der berühmten Terrakottaarmee. Diese wurde 1974 entdeckt, gehört seit 1987 zum UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe und gilt als 8. Weltwunder.

Rund 220 faszinierende Originalexponate aus Museen und Archäologieinstituten in China vermitteln Ihnen nicht nur die Entstehung Chinas, sondern lassen Sie in die Welt des Ersten Kaisers und seiner Terrakottaarmee eintauchen.“ (http://www.bern.com/de/specials/Qin)

Link zum Museum:  Qin Austellung

China’s one-child policy

China’s one-child policy was implemented in 1979 to control population growth. However, the restrictions have never applied to all nationals of the People’s Republic. Ethnic minorities, rural couples and couples who are both only children themselves are allowed to have 2 children. Furthermore, multiple births are mostly regarded as a single child. Three children per family are allowed from May 2021.

Parents, who have more than the allowed number of children are punished by high fees and / or loosing various benefits. They may even lose their jobs. Forced abortions and sterilizations are brutal methods of executing the law. However, wealthy families can have more children, if they pay a special fee to the government, give birth in Hongkong etc.

The reality looks a little different. In addition to families that respect the law I actually know a couple of “normal Han-families”, who have found a way to go around the strict rules and have 2 or more children without being punished for it.

The negative effects of the policy, that should have been revised a long time ago according to many experts, are evident today. There are 15 – 20% more males than females today (depending on source). It is difficult for Chinese men to find a wife. This is evidently causing social problems. Another difficulty is that the working population has to support an ever growing aging population. Experts believe that simply not being able to afford more than one child is going to restrict the population growth in the future.

If you want to read more here is a link to a Guardian article on the topic China thinktank urges end of one-child policy .