Assignment 4 Generations

Joanne White – Group 6

Assignment 4 – Generations

 

For this assignment I decided to look a bit further into Factory working conditions in China and the effects they have on workers leaving their families behind. Focusing more to the point on why they do it. It seems to be the daughter/son’s responsibility to provide for the family when in poverty, even though the parents do not like to see their children leave. In some cases, it is merely a way of survival.

 China believes strongly in respecting your elders, as it is known that the oldest person in the family should receive the most respect and honor, as they pass their wisdom onto the younger generation. The Chinese also highly believe that their ancestors are always looking down on them and their actions, perhaps making them more respectful in a way. Caring for one’s family is one of the most important things in a Chinese person’s life. Retirement homes are highly uncommon and placing your parents into one see’s you being labeled as very uncaring and a bad son/daughter. Abandoning your family is one of the most dishonorable things you could do. Even with such degenerative illnesses e.g. Dementia, most people would rather hire a carer than leave a family member alone. Taking care of an ill parent is all the children’s responsibility and those who do not contribute are almost disowned from the family all together.

 

 

 

 

 

“According to culture and tradition, children have responsibility for the older members in the family. The word care here means that you as a child have to personally take care of your parents and not let the nurse in the nursing home take care of them. So, it is very common to see a grown adult living with his/her family.”

http://www.culture-4-travel.com/chinese-cultures-2.html

 Parents were cared for by all of their numerous offspring who relied on one another to work as part of a team but now China’s “one-child” policy is in order, social attitudes of China are changing.

“A family must have a son. Min’s mother had four girls before finally giving birth to a boy; in those early years of the government policy limiting families to one child, enforcement was lax in much of the countryside. But five children would bring heavy financial burdens as the economy opened up in the 1980s and the cost of living rose. As the second- oldest child, Min would bear many of those burdens”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Factory Girls – Leslie T. Chang

Therefore children of a family in poverty feel it is their responsibility to migrate to the city to work endless hours at a mass producing factory, lifting both themselves and their family normally still back in a rural area out of poverty. You hear a lot of horror stories from workers of these factories but the colleagues are still willing to put themselves through it to make their family proud. 

I watched two short documentaries called “Santa’s Workshop” and “A dollar a day: Made in China”, they focused on working conditions in a mass production toy factories and electronic factories in China

. One Swedish toy factory reports that 95% of their toys are manufactured in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong was part of the British economy before it was reunited with China in 1997 – “enjoying more freedom and democracy than the rest of China”. The reported asked the manager of the toy store what buyers are looking for with their products and he replied with “buyers are interested in pricing”. It seems that all the people involved in running these large businesses are only interested in the profits being made. The film shows a small clip of inside the factory where workers are dealing with hot plastic for nearly 12 hours a day. He mentions how hot the factory is and that it is difficult to breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

The whole factory economy seem very secretive in what actually goes on, limiting camera crew to only certain areas and not allowing them to speak to any workers. Looking around the factory they notices signs warning workers that film producers would be in that day. What are they hiding?

The subject of gender is brought up quite often in these programmes and it seems that it is mainly females working under these conditions. It is explained by some workers that sons normally stay at home while the daughters migrate to the city to provide earnings for the family. One boss of the toy company says that 90% of workers are female and this is “because they are easy to manage”. On “A dollar a day” one factory boss mentions how girls are more precise and easier to manage than boys. The workers migrate from rural areas usually because “they have no choice but to come here to get better wages”. Nobody working in the factory is local residents.

Employees in this factory get paid for how fast they work. Those who work the slowest earn about 300 Yuan a month, when the average makes 500 Yuan. They are under a lot of control and follow ruins obediently; any slacking can result in a fine or dismissal. Working with plastic often results in burns or cuts, as a lack of safety equipment is seen. Any major injury caused will not even see compensation being offered.

Although it is very difficult for workers to leave their family behind, living conditions are normally better at the factory (but not much).

“My parents sent me here because they didn’t have the money to buy a new house. I really hated my parents when I had to leave home”

 “The workers live in quarter, normally 12 to 20 a room”. And the only storage for personal items is on their beds.

This young girl on a dollar a day had the intelligence to go to University but her family did not have the money for it. There is a clip where she gets the opportunity to phone her family and arrange a trip home, it is an upsetting scene:

“I miss you so much. I feel so homesick. I want to go home…”

The girl hasn’t even seen her brother in almost four year and it is an emotional time for all when the trip finally goes ahead. She cannot see herself at the factory forever, as she would like to eventually open her own small shop restaurant.

It is crazy what some of the young girls actually do and put themselves through just to help their family out. It really makes you wonder if the young society in Britain would do that for their family today.

Mahjong – the game that everyone in the East know

China is known to be having great influences in many different aspects around the world. When one tries to search on the Chinese invention history, he would not be surprised for how long as the list goes. Chinese innovation is evolving in diverse ways over different centuries. The diversities of China innovates are undeniable.

Despite the fact of Chinese success in innovation, some people may argue that China did have very little influenced over the field of Games and Recreations, as compared to its famous innovations in other aspects. However, it is now time to announce Chinese success in this area. One of the brilliant Chinese innovations is the games that we are playing in the daily life and cannot actually live without it – the poker card.

The Card game would not be unfamiliar in the west. Countless card games exist, using the playing cards which are identical in size and shape. However, many of us may not know that the first playing card is said to be appeared in the ninth century during the Tang dynasty (June 618 – June 907) in China.

The origin of playing card is hard to be determined, but it’s generally considered as originated in the 9th century from the “leaf game” in China.

The “leaf game” is divided into four categories according to the four seasons, while playing card that we have nowadays also have a similar saying. “leaf game” is not existed in the east anymore in these centuries, but it had generated into one of the favourite games among Chinese and Asian nowadays — Mahjong.

Mahjong means Sparrow in Chinese. Its name is said to be originated from an ancient royal granary. With an existing granary, bird suffering would be born. To encourage soldiers catching these unwelcomed birds, official position gave out bamboo chips as an award for counting rewards of caught sparrows. Soldiers use these chips as tools of the leaf game and later it has been developed as the official way of playing. The evolution of this stereotype is then named Mahjong, which is the meaning of sparrow.

The game is commonly played by four players on a specific table. Similar to the Western card game, mahjong is a game of skill, strategy and calculation and involves a certain degree of chance. Among Asia, mahjong is popularly played as a gambling game, though it may just as easily be played recreationally.



It is played with a set of 136 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols, although some regional variations use a different number of tiles. In most variations, each player begins by receiving thirteen tiles. In turn players draw and discard tiles until they complete a legal hand using the fourteenth drawn tile to form four groups of legal tiles and a pair. There are fairly standard rules about how a piece is drawn, the kinds of melds, and the order of dealing and play. However there are many regional variations in the rules; in addition, the scoring system, the minimum hand necessary to win varies significantly based on the local rules being used.

When we talk about Mahjong in Asia, most of them would regard this as a beneficial activity regardless of the age of the players. There are four namely advantages of playing mahjong:

1)    It is proved to be beneficial to good health. When one is playing mahjong, both hands is working on different tasks and his mind kept thinking about how to win the game in the same time. Overtime, hand and Brain Corporation can be trained up, and can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

2)    It can train up children’s early art education. When the adults are playing mahjong at home, kids can also learned the strategic way to play. The sound of mahjong crashing can also increase the sense of rhythm of children.

3)    For the goodness of mental health. The victory of mahjong changes in every round and it requires calm and understanding throughout all process. This can definitely train up the state of mind of one to join the highly competitive society, to prepare to join the life difficulties with a peaceful mind.

4)    It can also strengthening the time management. Mahjong in some ways emphasizes the importance of time. When the other players are waiting for you, this is the time to hurry up. Also, the fleeting opportunity to grasp the chance of winning the game would be a good and lively way to learn about the time management.



Above all, mahjong has been the major traditional game for recreations and there must be its own attractions for the huge numbers of active players. It would be recommendable to try learning this lovely battle and taste the feeling of this exciting game. There are many online mahjong systems in the internet now and it would be a good try to learn playing this complicated yet exciting game.

Jewellery and traditional beliefs

Today, China is known for being one of the largest producers of pearls. It is a very ancient artistic tradition, but China began to use precious metals relatively late. Rare references for ornaments date from the Tang period (618-906). At the beginning of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), the Chinese showed great interest in jewellery influenced by Persia and India. Only toward of the end of the 11th century, we can see local characteristics. The most important type of jewel was worn on the head like tiaras and diadems. We can see many influences in Chinese jewels from the Himalaya region (Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan), where the traditional skills were trekked from village to village, tribe to tribe. The jewellery traditions of the Far East reflect this immense environmental, cultural and economic diversity. However, many jewellery traditions were stopped during the time of communism, where personal adornment was severely criticised by the government. Only official badges and medals were authorized, in order to show one’s pride and loyalty to the party. Since the end of Mao Tse Tung reign, the Chinese have recovered the skills and knowledge to make ancient and traditional jewellery work.

Punched work, pierced work, and filigree are characteristics of Chinese jewellery. Their jewellery is seen to provide power and strength to the wearer. Animals were representative and symbolic. For example,  the dragon symbolized power and good luck, the goldfish for abundance of gold, the phoenix for good fortune, opportunity and luck, and many others like bird, tiger, monkey, bat, peacock. Clouds, flowers and twigs were also symbols of good luck. Colours and semi precious stones were worn in order to give power, but also to cure some diseases, give longevity, and to be healthy.  The most famous stones used for many centuries are coral, turquoise and jade.

Hair ornament, gilded silver, turquoise, coral and seed pearls.

Hair ornament, gilded silver, turquoise, coral and seed pearls.

Turquoise is seen as a “living stone” that shares the ultimate fate of the mortal that wear it. Its colour symbolizes water, air and sky. This stone can counteract devil forces and make the wearer brave and invulnerable. In addition, seeing it in a dream may bring you good luck.

Coral is supposed to bring good luck, strength to women, and favourable effects on menstruation. The most desired variety is the Italian coral. It was brought by the Silk Road and was only worn by the wealthiest class. Marco Polo noted that Tibetans ranked coral among the precious stones and used it to adorn the necks of their women and idols.

Turquoise and coral were used to make amulet boxes in silver, gold or copper. Hidden spells or prayers in the boxes were used to appease evil spirits, while the decoration was symbolic to strengthen power content.

amulet box made with turquoise and coral stones

The blue turquoise colour was also given by enamel or by the very traditional Chinese process: using Kingfisher feathers. The technique, called tian-tsui, means “dotting with kingfishers” that involves using glue to adhere the feathers onto vermeil, or silver. The Kingfisher bird is highly esteemed by the Chinese for its colour and celebrated in poetry and song by Chinese from ancient times. Over the centuries, the Kingfisher’s blue colour feather became highly prized and extremely sought after as an inlay in decorative arts. Kingfisher feather were used by the Chinese to denote status, wealth and royalty. Today that tradition has disappeared; many birds were killed during the Qing dynasty just in order to collect their feathers and the skill of tian tsui has disappeared as well. But we can still see very wonderful pieces in museums.

hair ornament made with kingfisher feathers

chinese necklace and earings made with coral beads and kingfisher feathers

This portrait of the wife of a high dignitary is painted on silk. It was made during the 1st Ming dynasty (early 15th century). She’s wearing a traditional headdress, which constituted with phoenix, clouds and flowers. The red beads were probably coral and the clouds in blue are made with kingfisher feathers to symbolize air and sky. We can also see turquoise beads on the pendants and pearls.

Turquoise, coral and pearls are very famous in Chinese jewellery. But the most famous stone is obviously the Jade. Not only for jewellery making, also for decorative objects, dishes, vases, hair comb… We found utilization of jade as jewel since Palaeolithic (hunter-gatherers) period with perforated beads at Zhoukoudian. But it’s during the Neolithic period the “art of jade” have started, caring in the Zhejiang province (5000 BC). The massive production of finely polished pendants and beads were being produced in South-East China during the 3rd millennium before Christ.  In ancient time, Jade was most expensive than gold. For example during the Imperial China, the first prize for an athlete was jade, after gold for the second place and at the third place ivory.

Jade often has a green colour, but the most rare and luxurious one is the white jade.  Many colours can be found: pink, orange or light brown, blue, black. The different colours are created by different types of chemical components: the green jade contains chromium salts, the blue-green jade contains cobalt salts, the black jade contains titanium salts, and the pink jade contains salts of iron and manganese.

traditional jade bangle made in various colours

In ancient China, jade was used in rituals and sacrifices. According to ancient Chinese beliefs, the sky was round and the earth was square. A jade ornament with a round hole in the middle, called “bi”, symbolized the sky. A jewel of long hollow jade with rectangular sides, called “cong”, symbolized the earth. The bi was often placed with the corpse before burial as jade cicada was used to symbolize rebirth.

China, late Eastern Zhou dynasty or early Western Han dynasty 3rd – 2nd century BC Diameter: 5 1/8 inches, 13 cm Thickness: 1/8 inch, 0.4 cm

In the Han Dynasty, some leaders were buried in suits made entirely of jade. It was made of many pieces with various shapes, usually square, that were held together by thin threads of precious metal or silk, like the shroud of King of Chu. These extremely expensive structures were reserved only for elites. It is estimated that it took several years to achieve this kind of ritual costume that consists of 2000 to 5000 pieces! The Chinese believed that jade had magical properties and protected the corpse from decomposition.

jade shroud made with white jade and gold thread, Han dynasty.

Jade is still being used today, although the techniques have changed with technology the jade objects as talismans, “bi” or decorative objects are still used in Chinese culture, and popular with tourists as souvenirs.

Chinese Fairy Tales

A topic I thought would be interesting to review, with relation to China’s innovativeness is: Chinese fairy tales and how their style of writing and illustration differs from that of the fairy tales in the western world. I firstly discovered Chinese fairy tales when I was asked to illustrate one of a number of fairy tales for a client. The one I chose was called “The Tearful Gaze”  If you are interested in hearing the story, you can just type “The Tearful Gaze” into google and it should be the first link. Below are some examples of etchings and an embossing I made to illustrate key scenes from the story.

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The writings of stories such as these first began in the Wei and Jin Dynasties.  Buddhist superstitions were the inspiration behind the invention of stories of ghosts and Gods. Some of them show a fascination the Chinese had for the human language. Fairy tales were later on continued in the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Chinese fairy tales are certainly not short anecdote like stories. They are structurally well thought out with vivid characters and interesting plots.

Following my earlier research of the subject I discovered just how beautifully illustrated some of these wonderful stories are. It was then my challenge to produce a series of good illustrations in an appropriate media. In the end I chose etching, as it is a very beautiful old technique that produces the line I needed to fully express the emotion of the tale.

What I like the most about Chinese fairy tales is their ability to take your imagination to places it has never been. With British fairy tales the stories are always very similar. The Prince goes on a quest to save the damsel in distress and usually they end up happily ever after.

Subsequently, another form of Chinese storytelling I find Intriguing and worth discussing is, Chinese folktales. Post being recorded in writing, many folktales were so well known that they became proverbs (popular short sayings with teaching values). Some of these proverbs are extremely short stories with just the title and a few words, easy to recite and remember. In school, children are taught to remember them and recite them back to their teacher. Everyone in China knows these stories well, that you find they will often quote them in their writing and/or conversations. How did folktales take form?

“In ancient China, common folk did not understand science, such as the workings of nature and the causes of disasters or weather changes. Thus, it became natural for them to imagine causes for everything that affected their lives. So they made up stories, expressing their frustrations and hoping their lives would be better.”

The stories all portrayed a positive message whether they were about morals, spirits and ghosts with mortals, or combined history and mythology, it really doesn’t matter. They were all written to teach China’s important values and beliefs.

The most common theme of Chinese folktales is ‘Filial piety’, which means that it is the duty of the children to respect and obey their parents, and to take care of their parents when they grow old. This is not the theme of my illustrated fairy tale. However, it is a vital part of Chinese society. My fairy tale conveyed the importance of loving someone for who they are. Not just from their outside appearance. Other common teaching themes include; loyalty, justice, morality and conscience. I would suggest that you find a Chinese fairy tale that you like, see what category it comes under and learn from the message in the tale.

Due to the fact that folk tales have been written over a number of centuries, they reflect different times and different areas of the lives of the Chinese. Thus, they have much historical value. They are entertaining and educational. That is why they have survived for so many years and have such an important role in Chinese culture.

My Chinese Paper Craft: New Year Animals

These are a few examples of some of my experiments with Chinese craft. Hope you enjoy.

Blessings under the sissors

WELL DONE everyone with the ShuangXi today! I found some interesting articles about Chinese paper cutting art, enjoy!

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The paper-cut is one of China’s most popular and characteristic folk arts. It takes paper as the material and scissors or engraving knives as the tool. The tradition can be traced back to the 6th century. However, it probably emerged even a few centuries earlier.

In Chinese culture paper-cuts symbolize the idea of blessedness, luck and fortune. In the past, paper-cuts were sometimes used for religious purpose, serving as decorations for sacrificial offerings to the ancestors and gods. Nowadays most Chinese families use them as window decorations for entrance gates, windows, walls, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns.

During some important festivals, such as China’s traditional Spring Festival, it is very significant to paste some paper-cuts on entrance gates. They are supposed to bring good luck for the family. Besides, paper-cuts are also used for decoration on presents or are given as presents. Some paper-cuts are specially made into embroidery base patterns used in decorating clothes and lacquer work.

The paper-cut art has been widely spread and of a long history. It has exerted an influence on decorative patterns, shadow plays, printed cloth, embroidery and paintings. Folk paper-cuts outline the natural forms by way of employing characters, symbol and implication to constitute beautiful patterns. As a form of folk art, it occupies a significant position in the folk activities, with quite a few popular forms as follows:

Window paper-cutting

Window paper-cutting, or window flowers, refers to the type of paper-cutting works pasted on windows as an ornament. In North China, farmers’ houses are mostly windowed with wooden squares. It is commonly seen that a layer of white leather paper is pasted on the vertical squares, rectangular squares or geometrically patterned squares. In case of some important holidays, such as Spring Festival, instead of the old leather paper, new paper-cutting work is pasted as a symbol of bidding farewell to the outgoing year and ushering the New Year in. The fauna and flora, figurines as well as a series of theatrical tales can all become the themes of the window paper-cuts.

Gate label

It is a type of paper-cutting works that hang on the gate sills. It is also called “hanging label”, “hanging money”. It is in the form of flag with big head, double size and lower part as tassel. It is engraved on red paper or multi-colored paper, with geometrical patterns. Embedded with figures, flowers, phoenix, dragons and the other propitious characters, the gate label must be hung in series when hung up.

Festival paper-cutting

It is used to decorate the household appliances and indoor furniture, such as teapot, soapbox, basin, and dressing mirror. It takes the form of circle, rectangle, peach, pomegranate and other propitious patterns. The auspicious themes and red color imply happiness.

Gift paper-cutting

Gift paper-cut is attached to cakes, birthday noodles and eggs. In Shandong Province, people attach it onto the “happy egg” to celebrate a baby’s birth. Tortoise-patterned paper cuts symbolic of longevity are commonly seen in the countryside of Fujian Province.

Paper-cutting flower bundle

This kind of paper cutting has a layout pattern. It takes a form of a circle-shaped flower with two or four even sizes. The paper can be folded up and cut into a flower bundle in two or four even sides. This pattern has its great merit in decoration.

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The origin of this thousand-year-old custom is said to come from an ancient tale: there used to be a sun in the sky giving people light and warmth until one day, a hug golden raven ate it and spit out 9 suns which started to burn the earth. A man named  Houyi bravely took the mission to shoot off the raven and gave the people on earth a bit breeze, he then took the heart of the raven to make a new sun which still shines today. It is the new year’s day when people have sunrise again, so they celebrated by putting red, roundish papercut on windows and walls which symbolize the sun 🙂

refrence:

http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/16Traditions4927.html

http://baike.baidu.com/view/62479.htm