Catmint Writing

Culture & Politics

Genghis Khan – Mongolian or Chinese?

According to the article below Mongolia and China are both claiming Genghis Khan. I follow the imperial way as it pertains to the Han dynasties because I am Han.

Article: Battle for Mongolia’s Soul

Do they need more territory as it is? No. I only care about China proper (See the China proper map) because that is the real Han territory. China proper is big enough as is – basically all of the Song territory. I’m even happy with just the Southern Song territory because that is not too small. I don’t care about Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang (East Turkestan). Trade? Sure. Doing business is fine. Cultural exchanges? Sure. That is fine too. Travel and tourism? Sure. As long as you keep the neo-nazi and terrorist groups at bay if I’m going to be a tourist and you want my tourist dollars for your economy. They can all become independent (and Inner Mongolia can reunify with Mongolia) and I don’t really care. Good luck to them. Some of them have formed terrorist groups (as long as they don’t attack me because I don’t really care if they want to become independent).

He is Mongolian – he wasn’t “Chinese” and there was no “Chinese” during the time of conquest even though he played a major role in “Chinese” history. According to the nationality law and in the eyes of Mongolians in Mongolia, even the ethnic Mongolians born in Inner Mongolia are not considered to be Mongolian nationals. They only consider people BORN inside their modern-day territory to be real Mongolians and it has to be to at least one Mongolian NATIONAL parent. But Genghis Khan was BORN in Mongolia’s modern-day territory. He was a Mongol who conquered the Hans and completely wiped out the Song Empire during the decisive Battle of Yamen in Sinwoi/Sunwui/Xinhui, Hoisan/Toisan/Taishan County. That’s the other city in my ancestors’ county. That’s like saying it happened in San Jose and I was in Santa Clara – both are in Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area. My ancestral city of Hoipeeng/Hoiping/Kaiping is NOT THAT FAR from where it happened. We were the last stand in the battle between the Han-led Song forces and the Mongol forces. The Song Dynasty ended in my ancestral county. There were a lot of refugees at the time who followed the imperial court there.

“China” and “Chinese” came into being during the Republican period with the KMT (Remember the five-coloured flag that preceded the white star and blue sky flag?). If I had lived before they did away with the imperial system, I would have said I am a Han. I would have no concept of “Chinese”.

So I say he goes to Mongolia. He is also a national hero there.

On Chinatown history:

This is true if you went to Chinatown and tried to look for work up to the 1970s. “你唔曉唐話,我幾好請你啊? [ni33 m22 hiau55 hɔŋ22 va325 ŋɔi33 gi55 hɔu215 tiaŋ55 ni33 a33] You do not speak Chinese [Taishanese]. How could I hire you?”

Please refer to the following links for more information about the Battle of Yamen in Sunwui (Xinhui), Toisan (Taishan) and the official end of the Song Dynasty.

An interesting video clip on the imperial descendants of the last Song emperor in Sunwui (Xinhui), Toisan (Taishan).

Joo Gi Hong (Zhujixiang) as the old halfway house for migrants from today’s Northern and Central China to Canton (Guangdong) province. Below is an excerpt from the article.

“From the Tang Dynasty (618-907) (唐朝) onwards waves of migrants came to northern Guangdong Province via the Plum Pass/Meiguan into Nanxiong County (南雄縣). Most of the officials’ families settled down in old Zhujixiang in Shashui Township (沙水鎮) and lived there for several generations. Many of the old buildings still remain and now contain small shrines in the front facing the cobbled lane. All of the original residences that probably housed officials are referred to by surname as Zuju (祖居)(ancestral home) or Guju (故居)(old home). In historical terms, Zhujixiang (珠璣巷) can perhaps now be labeled as a “half-way house” in terms of the migration of people from central and northern China toward the south over the centuries.”

“This place was quite unique, even for China, as it became a focal point of congregation in northern Guangdong Province for all the different clans that fled south which also included court officials during the waning years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) (南宋朝).”

Regarding the Mei Pass, the migrants would have passed through the Mei Pass to get to what is now Canton (Guangdong) province. It is our version of Route 66 or the Roman Roads. My ancestors would have passed through the Mei Pass (wherever they were originally from in what is now Northern and Central China) and then stopped by Joo Gi Hong (Ju Gei Hong or Zhujixiang) to get to Hoisan (Toisan or Taishan) County or Thlee Yeep (Sze Yup/Siyi or Four Counties) centuries ago. Some other people went to other cities and counties such as Canton (Guangzhou) or to Thlam Yeep (Sam Yup/Sanyi or The Three Counties), Joong San (Zhongshan), etc.

Chopin’s Nocturnes are for Women and Metrosexuals

This is definitely my favourite nocturne by Chopin.

Especially when it is performed by the highly evocative Yundi Li.

Oh my goodness! This is so emotional! I’m going to start weeping! *weeps like a crazy woman*

Chopin’s Nocturne in C Sharp Minor Op. posthumous comes in a close second for me.

You see? Chopin was a real metrosexual and a bit effeminate. You can tell if you listen to his famous nocturnes.

“I’m going to drink a glass of red wine, cut and eat my steak in dainty little bites, weep over my ideal love poetry whilst wiping away the tears with my square handerchief that I miraculously produce from my suit jacket, and sniff the fragrant red roses on my table while I gently hold your hand and gaze lovingly into your eyes.”

But I like it. Women and metrosexuals love Chopin.

World Music Appreciation

World music appreciation is a part of the London and Boston music education standards. Even Leehom Wang was influenced by Cantonese music.

Below is an erhu version of the Cantonese classic Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake by Song Fei.

Below is the Cantonese vocal version of Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake.

Even Lang Lang, an ethnic Manchu, performed our piece. I honestly think he has transported himself to another realm or dimension where he is looking at the beauty of the moonlight reflections on some hypothetical lake. Lang Lang’s facial expressions are a bit too theatrical for my tastes and I strongly prefer Yundi Li’s beautifully evocative playing instead.

There are many references about wine and admiration of the moon in Tang poetry.

On Berklee School of Music Grads

Americans always break the rules. Below is an example of Berklee grad, Leehom Wang, taking the classical (his favourite classical composer is Beethoven), American (jazz and R&B), and Cantonese musical traditions complete with the percussion and drumming in lion dancing and fusing them together (harmonizing them) to create something new. This is not easy. He’s a true musician. This is a very experimental piece – a 21st century masterpiece. A standard for those who aspire to harmonize world music styles with contemporary and classical music styles.

You know why I say it’s not easy? Try to harmonize the Chinese pentatonic scale with the Western scale. They are two completely different systems. So he would have had to transcribe the Chinese notes to Western notes before harmonizing them so that they don’t sound off. That’s what the Cantonese composers did. Not everybody can do it well.

RCM would have a hissy fit and throw a temper tantrum like a five year old who had been refused candy because they look down on contemporary and popular music and pay scant lip service to world music. But I love it because I broke out of my RCM cult-like mindset. So would London as they have already added world music and contemporary pieces to their syllabi and exam repertoires.

This is the Berklee (they are located in Boston – the birthplace of the American Revolution) philosophy, which is totally counter to RCM’s (Toronto) underlying focus on the European medieval/baroque/classical/romantic era tradition: “Founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music.”

Different schools. Different philosophies. Toronto’s RCM is more about following the rules, learning only to pass the exams (that they profit greatly from as RCM is loaded with money and teachers here who only teach the RCM curricula also profit from it as well so they refuse to teach the curricula from the other conservatories even if they are aware of them), and accreditation/credentials. Students wind up not truly understanding what they just learned – just enough to get a good mark on the exams to get the credentials. The European and American schools are more about instilling a love of music, musical experimentation, and innovation.

Berklee is known informally as the Boston Conservatory. See the link below for more information.

On Cantonese Composers

Below is a Cantonese classic by the Cantonese composer Peixun Chen (No. 1 from Four Piano Pieces based on Cantonese Melodies, Op. 5) that’s also part of the London ABRSM Level 8 Piano Practical Exam (Toronto’s RCM Level 10 Piano Practical Exam) repertoire. I now realize that the Canadian RCM curricula is too rigid, restrictive, stifling, and narrow. It is completely out of touch with reality, unwilling to modernize and consider other styles. Medieval, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic are not the end all and be all of music and they are perpetually stuck in a living time warp. Music is music regardless of where it came from. Even rap is a form of music and deserves to be studied seriously like how they would at progressive music schools such as Berklee School of Music (the Boston Conservatory) that produced music legends such as Leehom Wang. Unfortunately, this is precisely why there is a lack of musical innovation in Canada.

I know this because every Canadian music student has to go through the RCM system unless the music teacher has trained with other conservatories and knows how to put his or her students through alternative examination systems such as the ABRSM system in London.

ABRSM sends out examiners to over 90 countries every year and has international recognition.

Europe and the US are still leagues ahead when it comes to formal musical training in the Western tradition.

Please see the link below for more information about Peixun Chen.

Below is the original guzheng (Chinese zither) version of Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake – a Cantonese classic by the Master of Cantonese music, Lu Wencheng. This piece has been arranged many times for different instruments and even for vocals. Isn’t it beautiful? I can almost feel as if I am really by a lake and looking at the bright and shimmery reflection of the bountiful autumn moon on the watery waves.

Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake is a fine example of Southern guzheng. There’s also the Northern guzheng as there are two schools.

Below is a link to Lu Wencheng’s biography.

Peixun Chen transcribed Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake for the piano.

Peixun Chen is very traditional Chinese. He had surpassed Lu the Master without being unfilial and disrespectful by paying homage to his masterpiece through the piano transcription.


Breaking the Rules: A Jazz Piano Standard

Below is amazing American classic that’s now part of London’s ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music) exam repertoire. Unlike Toronto’s RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music), there is less emphasis on strict music theory requirements to complete the practical exams for the upper levels and beyond. Fewer rules mean fewer restrictions on innovation beyond classicism as well as personal expression and interpretation.

This is the man who started it all – George Gershwin. This is the man who started the jazz movement in the United States that soon overtook the world by storm. The jazz movement was pivotal in the development of contemporary and popular (pop) music in the United States and the rest of the world.

Below is Leon Bates’ amazing arrangement of the piece.

And who can forget Gene Kelly in An American in Paris? Gershwin transcribed the song for the vocals and the orchestra.

Gershwin also inspired the beginnings of Shanghai Jazz in 1930s Republican China.

The Seven Sisters Festival (Double Seventh Festival or Qixi Festival)

Remember the story of The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid?


The appearance of Altair and Vega (stars separated by the Milky Way)?


Here’s another lovely illustration for you to look at.


The festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar and is also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. It was traditionally celebrated by the Han Chinese and also by the Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese. Because the Gregorian calendar and the Chinese lunar are calculated, the festival different day in August every year.

Here’s a link with more information about the festival.

From what I have gathered in my open-source research, the Taiwanese seem to celebrate the festival in a more modernized fashion because the story and the traditions got lost over time due to people becoming a bit too complacent about it.

Below is an excerpt from the following blog entry.

“I asked a few couples on the street where Qixi originated from. Sadly, none of them can recall the full story. One young girl actually said, “It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, it’s good to receive and give gifts.””

On the other hand, it is interesting how a small minority of people are celebrating the festival in China today. I am under the assumption that the small minority that celebrate it in a more traditional manner are trying to reclaim what they believe had been lost during the Cultural Revolution. This seems to be only a very small minority of enthusiasts.

Below are some images that I found on the Internet of how a small minority of young people in China are celebrating the festival today.

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On the other hand, Hong Kongers celebrate it different from how my Taishanese paternal grandmother celebrated the festival. See the link below for more information.

My Taishanese paternal grandmother made “yon” (a Taishanese snack) shaped like swans laying eggs on the nest when we used to celebrate the festival at her home along with seven bowls of homemade black sesame seed paste to represent the Seven Sisters. I always wondered why they were shaped like swans. I recently discovered that Deneb is the tail end of Cygnus the Swan. But it could also represent the bridge of magpies in the story.

Curiously, Vega (the Weaving Maid star) and Altair (the Cowherd star) lie on opposite “banks” of the Milky Way (the Silver Lake) and Cygnus the Swan or the bridge of magpies lie on the Milky Way. Perhaps the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Hans saw the same stars in the Summer Triangle, but came up with different stories to remember it by.

The festival will fall on August 28, 2017 next year.  No matter how you choose to celebrate it wherever you are in the world, it is a beautiful story and festival.


On Imperial Era Vengeful Spirits and Remaining Apolitical

There are angry, depressed, and teary-eyed vengeful imperial era spirits/energy working in unison in our realm today regardless of their ethnicity. The excerpt below is eerily accurate about the state of affairs today. Both China and Taiwan claim to be the legitimate successors to or offspring of the Qing/Ch’ing Dynasty (they both use Mandarin as the official language) like the Manchu princes fighting for the throne during the Qing/Ch’ing era. I don’t dispute it when there are some enthusiasts who tell me that China and Taiwan “belongs” to the Manchus/Mongols. The concept of it is true at the very least. Look at the territories that both claim to be theirs and then look at the Qing/Ch’ing maps. Southern China including Hong Kong and Macau are derived from the Tang/Song Dynasties – they all speak Southern Chinese dialects/languages that are descended from the original Old and Middle Chinese and they all know that. We always call ourselves “Tang people (唐人)” instead of “Han people (漢人)”, but they are really the same thing. Or referring to Cantonese cuisine (粵菜) as “Tang cuisine (唐餐)” among ourselves. That is why there are separatist movements in the South whose geography is not completely unlike the territory under the Southern Song Dynasty and whose separatist movements are not unlike the Han rebel movements during the Mongol Yuan and Manchu Qing/Ch’ing Dynasties.

You have to be crazy if you think there is not something there.

The KMT being infiltrated by double-agents that is not unlike the Ming Dynasty traitors. Even now I think there are double-agents in that party in Taiwan. They need to examine themselves. Mao using Qin Shihiangdi’s methods to create a new writing system and to carry out the Hundred Flowers Movement and Cultural Revolution. Chinese people immigrating abroad in perpetuity due internal problems not unlike the Toisanese migration during the late Q’ing/Ch’ing era and well into the 20th century. The civil war era refugees are like the southward and overseas migrations during the Mongol invasions during the Southern Song era. I do feel like as do some of the other enthusiasts that there is some sort of imperial curse from all the Han and non-Han dynasties for doing away with them completely. We are cursed to always fight among ourselves and never be truly unified under any form of republican-style government because we did away with the imperial system completely. This is very, very creepy and eerie. I am not following any of modern-day territories. It is best to follow the imperial culture and ways – food/drink (cuisine), the religions, the festivals along with the dress, philosophical ways of being, etc.

No matter what they become or how bad they get, that love is unconditional like that of a parent because the monarchy is above politics. It wouldn’t have mattered if the last dynasty was Han or not, that love is unconditional. The people who lived through the dynastic period consider themselves to be above politics – China, Taiwan, Southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau are their children depending on which period you are talking about. Just ignore them and their crazy rants because they will always fight like siblings. Take the culture out of its political context, keep the spirit of the 2000 year old imperial tradition alive, and keep progressing onwards. That’s the only way to maintain one’s sanity in the crazy world we live in today. There is still a sense of stability in following the imperial way regardless of which dynasty came to power. You can’t go wrong with the imperial way. After all, it has worked for 2000 years.

Only those who have experienced civil war, loss of peace and stability, physical destruction, the death of close family members attributed to the war, and the psychological trauma of loss of country first-hand with their very own eyes would truly understand.

People who advocate war today need to really see how destructive it is to society. My late maternal grandfather always said to us that young people today have never experienced war.

Below is an excerpt from Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls with my comments:

“During the coming months, many people visit, and I listen to them speak highly of my father-in-law, calling him a successful Gold Mountain man, but when I look at him during these final days, I see only a ruined man. He worked so hard, only to lose his businesses and property in China and almost everything he’d built for himself here. Now, in the end, he has to rely on his paper son for his housing, food, evening pipe, and copies of China Reconstructs that Sam buys from under the counter at the shop on the corner.

Father’s only consolations in these final months, as the cancer eats his lungs, are the photographs I cut from the magazine and pin to the wall next to his recliner [My Commentary: No politics – taking them out of their political context as the political editorials mean nothing to people like him, especially when he is part of the last generation to have lived through a dynastic period and babies born during the last few years do not count as they have no memories of it, so those babies are Republican babies who only have formative memories of the Republican period and thereafter]. So many times I see him with tears running down his sunken cheeks, staring at the country he left as a young man: the sacred mountains, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City [My Commentary: He left China as a young man when it was still under the Qing/Ch’ing Dynasty, made money during the Republican period, and died shortly after it became Communist]. He says he hates the Communists, because that’s what everyone has to say, but he still has a love of the land, art, culture, and people of China that has nothing to do with Mao, the Bamboo Curtain, or fear of the Reds. He isn’t alone in his nostalgia and desire for his homeland. Many of the old-timers, like Uncle Wilburt and Uncle Charley, come to the house and also pore over these captured images of their lost home; that’s how deep their love of China is, no matter what it’s become [My Commentary: Again, politics mean nothing for dynastic people like these old uncles]. But all this happens very fast, and too soon Father dies.”

To that end, I also suggest that the young and independence-minded Hong Kongers who advocate war to leave the civil war generation (the “Old Seafood”) in peace. Please show some respect because you are just as bad as the Red Guards.

Old Hong Kong in Love is a Many Splendored Thing

Hollywood’s dramatized and romanticized account of the Eurasian physician, Han Suyin, who worked in Old Hong Kong during the Chinese Civil War.

Note: The backdrop in Love is a Many Splendored Thing is real.

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