Read more about the article The Taiping Rebellion – Part II
Zhen Guofan

The Taiping Rebellion – Part II

The Taiping Rebellion should have ended the Manchu rule over China in 1860. But it didn't. The Qing Dynasty held on to power, through no effort on its part. Instead, the Qing retained power because other people helped it, specifically a Chinese official Zhen Goufan and the British government. Zhen Guofan In my previous post I talked about the battle of Battle of Palikao, in which an Anglo-French military expedition annihilated the elite Manchu-Mongol cavalry army just outside the walls of Beijing, killing 10,000 while losing less than 10 men. Following the battle, the Manchu Emperor, Xiangfeng, fled the capital secretly and holed up in an old hunting lodge 150 miles northeast of Beijing. He did nothing more for the rest of his short, miserable life. At this point, the…

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Read more about the article The Taiping Rebellion – Part 1
Beijing City Wall 1870

The Taiping Rebellion – Part 1

Recently, I have been reading about the civil war in China which lasted from 1850 till 1864. Professor Stephen R. Platt has written an important and very readable history of the later stages of the rebellion called Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom. The Taiping Rebellion plays an important role in the story of Qiao's Grand Courtyard and is one of the most important events in modern Chinese history. Beijing City Wall 1870 (close to what Nanjing looked like in 1860) In short, the Taiping rebellion started in the far south of China, fairly close to Hong Kong by a man named Hong Xiuquan, who, while he showed great promise as a scholar, failed to pass the Imperial exam after numerous attempts and despite his decades making a modest living as…

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Read more about the article Qiao’s Grand Courtyard – A Detailed Review
Qiao Grand Courtyard

Qiao’s Grand Courtyard – A Detailed Review

Chinese TV series, 2006 - Highly Recommended. 45 Episodes (about 34 hours total viewing time). Qiao's Grand Courtyard is a TV series broadcast on Chinese state TV in 2006. Americans can watch it using's Prime TV service (yes, it has subtitles in English). Like most Chinese stories, the TV series is based on a real person and real events, though some creative changes were made by the writer and director to make the story more entertaining.  Qiao Grand Courtyard, as it looks today Qiao Zhiyong, our hero, is the second son of a wealthy Chinese businessman from Shanxi Province. He lived in one of the largest family compounds near Pingyao (now called the Pingyao Ancient City). Qiao Zhiyong was born in 1818 and died in 1907. For much of…

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Read more about the article Current Reading – July 2020
Books from July 2020

Current Reading – July 2020

At the moment I'm reading: Books from July 2020 Professor D.K. Jordan's web pages on Chinese culture. Specifically I was looking at his section on Mourning Grades. The reason why, is because in the TV series Qiao's Grand Courtyard, the main character is shown performing a mourning ritual for his wife's dead father. Apparently you should do this, but the exact degree and type of such mourning is not spelled out. I will have more to say about Qiao's Grand Courtyard in a future post. Confucian Ritual Music of Korea by Song Hye-jin. If you spend time in the Joseon History Museum in Seoul, you will find the room devoted to the traditional instruments, played for centuries at the yearly events. This book gives a detailed description of what the…

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Read more about the article Why Russia Owns Vladivostok
Map of Eastern Siberia

Why Russia Owns Vladivostok

The Chinese signed very few treaties with other nations before the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Generally, nations sent embassies to China and bowed down before the Son of Heaven, acknowledging the Chinese emperor as the most important ruler in the world, above all other national leaders. One of the very few treaties the Chinese signed with an equal nation, was the treaty of Nerchinsk, agreed to by the Qing under the Kangxi Emperor and the Russian Czar, Peter the Great in 1689. The two leaders did not meet, the agreement was made by two delegations with Jesuit priests acting as go-betweens and communicating in Latin. The border agreed to in 1689 was far north of the current border between Russia and China, specifically, the border was delineated…

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