Monday, November 2, 2009

Project Outline

If you are reading this blog you are interested in discussing the opportunity of creating a club/ restaurant space in China, with the goal of developing a global brand from this space. Thank you for your time.

The posts cover religion, health, astrology, architecture, food, design: much of Chinese origin. This information is for discussion only, with the potential to guide design and other business decisions if we do this thing.

The concepts and floorplans are again for thought provocation only. Please keep them confidential. Located to the right.


The Space

a modern restaurant, club, and theatre - within a large circular and domed planetarium -

floorplan: cross section

Deeply moving rooms of large scale Video Projections
Everything from Chinese Landscapes Video to Movie Screenings

Modern Water Adaptations

Collectively and subtley creating a theatrical and moving experience.

The Brand

The basic premise is that a Chinese based brand - authentically originating from China - and in the vein of Buddha Bar, Supper Club, Sushi Samba, Nikki Beach, Ministry of Sound, Tao, --- but actually based in authentic Eastern philosophy and design would have the potential to become a global property.

New Spirituality

The modern upwardly mobile individual is looking for spirituality, without all the zealousness or new age hype.
We create spritual entertainment. Spritual Decadance while providing the authetic principals if someone wants to explore.
Holistic partying - and taking care of yourself - the ying and yang. (see: Concepts: Ying and Yang)


One space in a major Chinese city could become a international destination and then the foundation for a media property: books, music, video, etc. presenting modern adaptations of Chinese philosophy in: design, food, health, spirituality, travel, music...

Thank you for taking the time to review these ideas. Click any image in this doc for a larger view.

floorplan: overhead

Monday, May 21, 2007

8 Pillars of Tao

1. The Tao of Philosophy

The Tao of Philosophy details certain fundamental and immutable laws of Nature and the Universe. It provides practical information on the handling of government institutions, promoting social harmony, and the cultivation of well being. It is likely that the Thoughts of Confucious were based largely on Taoist principals. The idea of the 'Superior Person', that is one who understands the cyclical and ever changing nature of the Universe and who acts in accordance with Natural law, is very common in Chinese philosophy. The Superior person is the quintessential Taoist.

2. The Tao of Revitalization

The Tao of Revitalization is a system of practices and exercises for healing and revitalizing the internal organs, balancing the body, promoting invulnerability to disease and immortality of the physical body. These exercises take three forms:

1. Concentrating on the internal organs themselves.
2. Concentrating on the energetic pathways known as Meridians (or Channels).
3. Cosmic or energy breathing exercises.

Most of these theories and practices survive to this day in the practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong, Acupuncture, and various other oriental meditative, healing and martial arts practices.

3. The Tao of Balanced Diet

There are two levels of diet in Taoist practice. One is normal eating and the other is the 'Forgotten Food' diet. In this practice the nutritive value of food is considered, as well as correct preparation, colour, seasonal considerations, healing properties, pH balance, tastes, and timely consumption all have an impact on health. Taoist guidelines, similar in intent to the Hebrew rules of Kosher, include practical ways of removing toxins, parasites and unwanted chemicals. The foods that we eat on a daily basis are considered to nourish us only temporarily. Not only do they nourish us but they also nourish the bacteria, viruses and parasites that share our bodies with us. This 'temporariness' is a very important concept, since these foods tend to go bad quite quickly. It is said that the difference between a nourishing food and a poison is about 3 hours. To this day, the typical Chinese meal is still prepared with these guidelines in mind and the treatment of disease with dietary changes is still a mainstay of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

4. The Tao of Forgotten Foods

While the Tao of Balanced Diet considers foods we like to eat, that look good and taste good, the Tao of Forgotten Foods survives to this day as the practice of Herbal Medicine. In this practice those parts of the plant, animal and even minerals, that we don't normally eat, are considered for their healing and restorative properties. The bark, roots, leaves, twigs of many plants and trees, animal and reptile parts and even certain rocks and resins have all been shown to have medicinal properties. In the Chinese Materia Medica there are over 10,000 entries. In the Taoist way, there is no clear cut distinction between what is considered food and what is considered medicine. Literally everything we put in our mouth affects the body in some way. In Taoist practice quite literally, 'you are what you eat.' Besides taste, nutritive value and medicinal property, Taoists assign relative strengths to foods. Eating 'strong foods' such as what comes from a tree or an animal known for its strength will pass on that Qi. Eating foods from a weak plant or animal will pass on weak Qi. As in all things Taoist, it is important to have a balance to these kinds of foods. Herbal or 'Forgotten Foods', when they are prepared properly, can last indefinitely. Unlike the temporariness of regular food, herbal food contributes to longevity. As well, germs and parasites are not nourished by Forgotten Foods and will flee a body rich in that Qi.

5. The Tao of Healing Art

The Tao of Healing Art is similar to the Tao of Revitalization, except the latter is for self healing while the former is for healing others. This art survives today as Tui Na (Chinese Massage), which is a fully developed practice and recognized branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Tui Na, as all the branches of TCM relies on a knowledge of Meridians and internal organs, theories of Qi, Yin/Yang, and 5 elements theory as outlined by ancient Taoists. Needless to say, Tui Na and Acupuncture are closely related.

6. The Tao of Sex Wisdom

In this practice, the ancient Taoists developed sexual practices that improved health, promoted longevity, increased mental powers and spiritual awareness, and practices for treating disease. In Taoist thought, semen is considered to contain a man's energetic essence. One of the more interesting practices is to separate orgasm from ejaculation. It is thought that if a man doesn't ejaculate or at least ejaculate often, his essence is preserved. This observation is born out in TCM practice. A man's essence is thought to reside in the Kidney organ system. Overindulgence in sex, by men, results in severe Kidney depletion with all the attendant signs and symptoms. This is actually not the case for women. In fact, sexual indulgence actually strengthens and revitalizes a woman. It is her monthly period and child birth that depletes a woman's essence.

There are also practices for using sexual energy for healing. This has a certain scientific basis since it is well know that sexual arousal produces large amounts of Pheromones and Endorphines, both of which are known to have pain killing and healing properties about 100 times more potent than any modern medicine. Even modern medicine is aware that masturbation to orgasm, especially for women is the best treatment for migraine headaches. The Tao of Sex Wisdom also includes techniques for harmonizing relationships and increasing spiritual realization.

7. The Tao of Mastery

The Tao of Mastery is concerned with one's own self-mastery. One gains insights into one's own nature and the relationships one has with his environment. Included in these practices are Numerology, Chinese Astrology, and Symbology used in a similar manner as their Western versions, to gain insights into one's own personality. There are also techniques for 'reading' facial features and finger prints. Directionology, has to do with organizing space according to natural laws in such a way as to foster harmony among groups of people. It is likely that practices such as Feng Shui arose out of this practice.

8. The Tao of Success

The Tao of Success is contained in the I Ching or Book of Changes. Proper use of the I Ching allows one to understand the elemental and cyclical forces of Nature as well as Social Forces. Knowing the absolute laws of the Cosmos and abiding by them allows the 'Superior Man' to develop successful strategies for overcoming adversity, gaining wealth, power and social position.

The Tao of Success is divided into three parts:

1. The study of symbols and signs that represent the never ending cycle of changes which occur throughout the Universe.
2. The Tao of Change, a detailed study of the 64 hexagrams that make up the Book of Changes and coming to understand the fundamental laws of Nature.
3. The actual practice of casting Yarrow Sticks or coins from which the 'Superior Man' receives advice on how to act in specific situations.

All Taoist thought is based on the writings of the Tao Te Ching, a very small book written by the great philosopher Lao Tse. It is probable that Lao Tse himself did not actually write the Tao Te Ching, but simply wrote down what was already ancient wisdom in his day. It is said that Lao Tse believed the language of wisdom to be silence. Accordingly, after writing his little book, the legend is that he never spoke another word for the rest of his life.


Generating Energy (Chi)

Chi (pronounced chee and also spelled qi or ch’i) is energy - the life giving energy that unites body, mind and spirit. Everyone has Chi. When you die, your Chi is no longer there.

Based on Five Element Theory, each elemental force generates or creates the next element in a creative sequence.

For example:

Water generates wood. Rain nourishes a tree.
Wood generates fire. Burning wood generates fire.
Fire generates earth. Ash is created from the fire.
Earth generates metal. Metal is mined from the earth.
Metal generates water. Water condenses on metal.
This creative process is illustrated:

Five Elements Theory

What Is Five Element Theory

Five Element Theory helps you understand how natural changes within your body and outside environment affect your health. To predict and understand these dynamic changes, ancient doctors studied nature to determine what universal principles existed that could be applied to health and well-being. Five Element Theory is what they came up with.

The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. They were selected based on the observations of ancient oriental philosophers who theorized that the natural world embodied these elemental characteristics. Oriental Medicine uses this time-tested, diagnostic model to analyze how the various parts of a person's body and mind interact to affect health.

These relationships are illustrated in the Five Element Chart above, which shows how each element is related to specific aspects of your body and mind.
The above chart is a static illustration showing the different body/mind relationships associated with each organ. To get a sense of the dynamic nature of these interactions, let's look at how these elemental forces generate and regulate energy (chi) in nature, and by extension, in the human body and mind.

China in the New World Order

A New World with Chinese characteristics

By David Gosset

Not one single day goes by without news, debates and comments on China: business deals, trade negotiations, diplomatic summits, political events, state visits, financial ups and downs, societal trends ... the list goes on. Conferences, forums, seminars, provocative articles, new papers and the latest books keep China-watchers very busy; but confronting such a profusion, one risks taking short-term variations or insignificant fluctuations for long-term tendencies and losing any sense of pattern.

One question might help us to focus on what really matters: Are Westerners ready to adjust to the Chinese civilization's re-
emergence as one of the main sources of global order? In other words, is the West prepared for a world with Chinese characteristics?

This question reflects on qualitative dimensions (values and identity) more than on quantitative parameters. If, in the 21st-century global village, Sinicization does not mechanically mean de-Westernization - because of their purely quantitative territorial element, various national liberations did engender decolonization - it certainly means that the world society will have Western and Chinese characteristics. Complex and mainly invisible, these dynamics provide a stimulating framework to make sense of China's opening-up and globalization.

No 'China fever', no 'China threat' but a 'China factor'

Fourteen years after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the writer Lu Xun was asking: "When are we going to stop bringing new bricks to the Great Wall?" (May 11, 1925, Essays). A defensive construction built and consolidated through the centuries to protect the empire from the invasions of the nomads, the Great Wall could also be seen as the symbol of an immured Chinese mind.

Prague's genius Franz Kafka, who did not know much about China but experienced the depth of humans' labyrinthic soul, captured this aspect in his The Great Wall of China. In 1949, China recovered its sovereignty; in 1978, Beijing adopted the opening-up policy - today, the Great Wall is a tourist attraction.

In a process of unprecedented magnitude, one-fifth of mankind, different from the mainstream (the West), is entering the world stage. Czarist Russia's emergence in the 18th-century European system and the respective rises of Germany and Japan at the end of the 19th century were comparatively of far less magnitude. While Western scientific and economic modernity will continue to have influence on China - Beijing's overall strategic goal is modernization - the Chinese world will have considerable quantitative and qualitative impact on the global village - in its civilizational expression carried by the Chinese people, China cannot be diluted in the globalization process.

Americanization was a distinctive feature of the 20th century; the 21st-century global citizen's identity will have Chinese characteristics. The West, on the rise since the 15th century and which, through its American version, still dominates world affairs, will have difficulty conceiving and accepting that it will not anymore unilaterally dictate the global agenda; that it will have to adjust.

Can we non-Chinese look at China without passion? The Marco Polo syndrome - "one feels like in paradise in Quinsai" (today's Hangzhou in the province of Zhejiang) as reported by the citizen of Venice in his Description of the World - an ancestor of the "China fever", or the "yellow peril" announcing current hysteria around the "China threat" theme, do not facilitate our relation with the Chinese world.

In "Does China matter?" Gerald Segal asserted that "at best, China is a second-rank middle power that has mastered the art of diplomatic theater" (Foreign Affairs, September-October 1999). At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, Pei Minxin saw China as being on a "Long March to nowhere", stagnating in a "trapped transition" (Financial Times, February 24). In Chinese universities or think-tanks, it is not rare to meet Chinese scholars who deride the "China fever" of some Western - business, diplomatic but also academic - circles.

True, the People's Republic of China is a developing country that is, as such, facing considerable challenges. China's population - more than 1.3 billion - is approximately the population of the European Union plus the entire African continent, or more than four times the US population. If one focuses exclusively on what has yet to be done to catch up with the developed world or on the various visible signs of Westernization within China, the idea of serious Chinese influence on the global village can appear illusory.

However, if one considers the scope of post-imperial China's metamorphosis (the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century was followed by at least 300 years of disorder in Western Europe) the speed of its transformation since 1978 - per capita income increased 10 times and foreign trade has boomed from US$20 billion to the current $1 trillion - while keeping in mind the Chinese empire's past cultural, economic and political centrality in Asia, the question of the Sinicization of the world makes sense. It is not feverish speculation or another version of 18th-century European "chinoiserie" - reconstruction of China disconnected from reality - but a phenomenon already at work in the global community.

The presupposition of the "China threat" leitmotif is precisely China's capacity to influence on a massive scale our world system, but it is also assuming that this impact will be negative. Between two extremes, "China fever" or "China threat", the analyst should stay rationally within the limits of what can be called the "China factor": China's opening-up means, to a certain extent, Sinicization of the world, a process that has to be integrated and explained and not adored or condemned a priori.

In any case, let us not take short-term variations (positive or negative) for long-term tendencies. China's foreseeable future will be made of successes, failures and crises, but the play's plots will take place on a stage whose backdrop is Chinese civilization's re-emergence.

How could the global citizen be in any way Sinicized if tomorrow's China is radically Westernized?

Looking at the young people in Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen or Chongqing, it seems that Westernization is China's future. It gives Chinese students "face" to speak some English - more "face" if it is American English. On campus they practice sports popular in the West, and after graduation they would opt preferably for a career in a joint venture where the corporate culture is supposed to be Western - and the pay higher.

But it is necessary to put these trends into historical perspective. In China, where the present is to a certain extent history, snapshots can be misleading; discourses should integrate different "clocks" and be attentive, behind shorter developments or even ephemeral fashions, to very slow movements, what Fernand Braudel (1902-85) called the longue duree.

Past interactions between China and what was foreign to it show the unique resilience of Chinese civilization: it has the ability to change without losing itself; it could even be defined by this singular capacity of renewal. It is why China's unequaled civilizational duration stands as a challenge to Paul Valery's comment inspired by the European tragedy of World War I: "We civilizations now know that we are mortal."

The Yuan Dynasty (1277-1367) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were established respectively by Mongols and Manchus (about 2 million Manchus took power over 120 million Han Chinese in the first half of the 17th century). However, the only way for the "barbarians" - non-Han - to rule the empire was to adopt largely elements of the Chinese tradition. Immutable China is a myth - the long history of China is a succession of clearly distinct periods - but absolute discontinuity from one time to another is also a narrative. Revolutionary discourse on a new regime for a new China was the most abstract intellectual construction; in fact, China's history is a continuity of relative discontinuities - it combines permanent (Chinese characters for example) and changing features.

Buddhism and Christianity have also been testing Chinese civilization's capacity to absorb exogenous elements. Entering under the Han Dynasty (Eastern Han, AD 25-220), Buddhism penetrated deeply into the Chinese world under the Tang Dynasty (618-907); but this penetration has seen the transformation of original Buddhism to fit Chinese philosophical and linguistic context.

Moreover, Song Dynasty neo-Confucianism represented by Zhu Xi (1130-1200) was a magisterial reinterpretation of the Chinese classics in reaction against a Buddhist vision of the world. Zhu Xi's scholasticism has been the core of imperial state orthodoxy until the end of the examination system in 1905.

In the age of European expansion, Christian missionaries spared no effort to convert Chinese people. The Jesuits' approach initiated by Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was to engage as much as possible with China's elites; no one has ever understood the Chinese world better than the sinologists of the Company of Jesus, but genuine European intellectual excellence failed to change radically the Chinese mind. How can one seriously believe that current superficial material Westernization in China - related with food or clothes, the introduction of managerial skills, the instrumental use of English, etc - is going to affect essentially Chinese culture?

China's technical and economic modernization does not mean cultural alienation. China is once again translating into its own context foreign practices and theories. Democratization might be unavoidable for the Chinese world - in fact, the process has already begun - but it will be a democratization with high Chinese characteristics.

Some external forms of the translation process can be a surprising accumulation of heterogeneous pieces. Look at a Sichuan-cuisine restaurant with Rococo furniture or at a Shanghai middle-class home where reproductions of European impressionists co-exist on the same wall with Chinese calligraphy. The sociologist observing China's megasociety can interpret these unusual combinations as parts of a gigantic assimilation. One can also enjoy completed translations where the "original" fits perfectly in the evolving Chinese context; it is often the case in architecture, in urbanism or in design.

The resilience of Chinese culture cannot be separated from China's demographic vitality; they reinforce each other in what constitutes a virtuous circle. The very fact that China is the most populous country in the world is highly significant. China's population has always represented a quarter to a fifth of the global population.

This constant feature of the Chinese world is linked with invisible and almost immemorial principles. The great and unorthodox Dutch sinologist Robert H Van Gulik (1910-67) concluded his work Sexual Life in Ancient China (1961) by remarks on Chinese vitality: "It was primarily the careful balancing of the male and female elements that caused the permanence of Chinese race and culture. It was this balance that engendered the intense vital power that from remote antiquity to the very present has ever sustained and renewed the Chinese race."

In the global community, fundamentally optimistic and life-oriented China will interact with various Western forms of nihilism; life will quietly prevail.

China and globalization

China absorbs, translates and regenerates itself vigorously. Last year, from Beijing to Singapore, Chinese people celebrated the 600th anniversary of the navigator Zheng He's (1371-1433) first travel. These celebrations of the Ming Dynasty explorer, Asia's Christopher Columbus, were also indicative of China's current mindset: Chinese people can also be extrovert and do not intend to witness passively, beyond the Great Wall, the reconfiguration of the world.

Forty years after the beginning of the Cultural Revolution nightmare, 28 years after Deng Xiaoping's decision to reform and to open the People's Republic of China (gaige kaifang), Chinese people are embarking on their "Age of Discovery" - which might well announce, as it did for 14th-century Europe, a time of Renaissance.

In January 2004, Parisians looked at a red Eiffel Tower in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, which coincided with the "Year of China in France". The event "China in London 2006" is the largest celebration of Chinese culture ever seen in the British capital. In 2007, Russia will hold its "Year of China". It seems that the world is preparing for a Chinese century. French journalist Erik Izraelewicz can write a book titled When China Changes the World (Quand la Chine change le monde, 2005). China is succeeding in having non-Chinese framing the debate in a way that is advantageous to it.

Already 30 million non-Chinese are learning Mandarin. Beijing has opened Confucius Institutes (following the example of the Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institutes or British Councils) both to teach Chinese and to explain Chinese culture throughout the world. Chinese is already the second language on the Internet, with more than 100 million Chinese netizens.

A global audience greets Chinese artists. Movie director Zhang Yimou, composer Tan Dun and cellist Ma Yoyo (born in Paris and educated in the US) are internationally acclaimed for their talent and creativity. Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Cheung have penetrated European or American imagination. Chinese design is enriching fashion. The idea behind Shanghai Tang founded by Hong Kong businessman David Tang Wing-Cheung is to "create the first global Chinese lifestyle brand by revitalizing Chinese designs".

Chinese brands such as Lenovo, Haier and Huawei are largely recognized worldwide. In the 2004-05 academic year, China sent more than 115,000 students abroad (62,000 in the United States). The World Tourism Organization predicts that by 2020, 100 million Chinese tourists will travel the world: the global tourism industry will have to adapt to Chinese characteristics.

China's direct investment overseas is rising rapidly. Up to the end of 2004, China made $45 billion direct investment in more than 160 countries; in 2004 alone, China's direct investment overseas reached $5.5 billion, surging 93% over 2003. The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo will reinforce this momentum. Almost exactly 100 years after of the end of the Qing Dynasty (1911), China will be once again at the center of Asia, and in a position to challenge US unilateral domination over a world system in search of equilibrium.

The Chinese world is not only made of the 22 provinces - nine of them more populous than France, with obviously many subcultures - five autonomous regions, four municipalities, two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau) of the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and the highly Sinicized Singapore - the city-state can certainly be considered a part of Greater China - but it also includes in its largest extension a Chinese diaspora active worldwide.

The "Sons of the Yellow Emperor" - in reference to Lynn Pan's History of the Chinese Diaspora (1990) - estimated at 40 million people, are not just about Chinese restaurants (although food and cooking are key elements of culture) or Chinatowns (perfect examples of Chinese culture resilience far away from the Yellow River or the Yangzi); the notion of Chinese diaspora indicates that China is not only a political entity related to a territory but, above all, a cultural expression already having global reach.

Co-architect of the 21st-century new world order?

For the West, necessary adjustment to the re-emergence of the Chinese civilization requires modesty and intellectual curiosity. Are we Westerners ready to learn from Chinese civilization as Chinese people are ready to learn from the West? This is the precondition of a genuinely cooperative relationship.

Seriously engaging China is to accept the very possibility of Sinicization. The West, in a position of scientific and economic superiority since the Industrial Revolution, is used to treating China as a product of orientalism. For the majority of Westerners, China is either a museum - hence the surprise of many foreigners in China: "I was expecting something else!" - or a classroom: one has to lecture Chinese people on more advanced standards. The West has to reflect on these prejudices and to look at China as a living matrix of a civilization that is already shaping our time.

If China proves to be an integrator factor in a world plagued by morally unacceptable exclusive globalization, if China proves to be a laboratory where cultures can cross-fertilize in a world threatened by hatred between civilizations, one should rejoice to find a co-architect of the 21st-century new world order.

David Gosset is director of the Academia Sinica Europaea, China Europe International Business School, Shanghai.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chinese Lunar Calendar

The Chinese calendar combines the lunar and solar systems together. The Year and Day cycles use the solar system. However, there are two different Month cycles in the Chinese calendar. One uses the lunar system and the other uses the solar system. In the lunar system of Month, the new moon day is the first day of a lunar month. The length of a lunar month is the length of time between two new moon days. The name of a lunar Month is taken from the solar system. The Chinese solar months are not like the months of a modern calendar. The Chinese calendar divides the year into 24 solar segments according to the sun positions on the tropical zodiac (Similar to western astrology). Each segment's name was given for ancient Chinese farmers' use. To understand the whole picture view the following chart.

More information here

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chinese Modern Architecture

China is using modern architecture to progress in the 21st Century.
It's a hotbed of innovative architecture, from diaphanous theaters to buildings heated and cooled by water.

View the latest Chinese architecture here

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Macau: New Projects

Project Maps for Macau
click to enlarge

Other places

Hong Kong

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chinese Astrology

Chinese astrology and constellations were often used for divination.

More than 3,000 years ago, Chinese people invented the 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches for chronological purposes. These signs are used to designate the hours, days, months and years. However, since most people at that time were illiterate, the signs were difficult to use. Later, to make things easier to memorize, people used animals to symbolize the 12 Earthly Branches. The animals in order are the mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Many Chinese people strongly believe that the time of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining that person's personality. Many fortune-tellers, when telling your fortune, say what they need to know is your exact time of birth. Then, whether you are successful in your life and career, or whether you will be happy is clear to the fortune-tellers.

According to one legend, during a Chinese New Year celebration, Buddha invited all the animals to his kingdom, but unfortunately, for reasons only known to the animals, a total of 12 turned up. The mouse was naturally the first, followed by the ox, then the tiger, the rabbit and so on and finally the pig.

Out of gratitude, Buddha decided to name the year after each of the animals in their order of arrival, and people born of that year would inherit the personality traits of that particular animal. These animals are also supposed to have some influence over the period of time they were named after.

It is essential in China that every person knows which animal sign he is born under. That is because it has been implicitly agreed upon that no important steps of life should be taken without consulting first the Chinese Zodiac. Some Chinese consider this superstition, but many truly believe that the signs reveal the hidden secrets of a person's character.

By the 5th century, the Chinese had cataloged 1464 stars.

In Beijing, there were about 5,000 stargazers.

Ancient astrologers could correctly predict when tides, seasons, and other things, just by looking at the stars and planets. One of the uses for astrology was for farming - the proper time to plant and harvest crops.

A lot of the Chinese looked to the stars, but some were drawn to the Earth, trying to solve riddles and mysteries of math. They did not know that everything was made from hundreds and millions of atoms, but instead they thought everything was made up of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. They looked at how these elements could change, and explained how nature worked in those terms. Wood goes through a basic change to become fire (flames), fire turns into the earth (ashes), earth makes the metal (iron and other metals) mined from the earth. Metal brings water (metal collects dew if outside over night). And to make the circle, water produces wood (wood plants need water to grow). The scientists did not think of the five elements as DNA, but more like changing things in nature; and that is how the Chinese viewed life and nature.


The roots of this interpretive art, are based deeply in the classical philosophy of Confucius, Lao-tse and the Yi Jing (I Ching). According to Chinese legend, the order of the twelve signs was determined by Buddha, upon celebration of the Chinese New Year (which falls on different dates, from mid-January to mid-February.) The Buddha invited all of the animals in the kingdom together for a meeting, but only 12 creatures attended.

Chinese astronomy/astrology developed into a complex system entirely independent from Mesopotamian astronomy or astrology. The difference ranges from how the Chinese tracked objects through the night sky to the philosophical elements that made up the heavens, to their basic interpretation from what they perceived to be astrological predictions. However, the one thing both ancient cultures have in common is that they were both obsessed with finding out what made the heavens move and how their movement affected humans on Earth. Some of the earliest texts from Mesopotamia were stones inscribed with astrological data. The same can be said for the Chinese civilization. For example, some of the earliest written artifacts of Chinese civilization are found on so-called dragon bones, inscribed pieces of tortoise shell used by the ancients for divination.[1]

The most startling difference between Chinese and Western astrology is the method or system the Chinese used to track the planets throughout the night sky. Each civilization was able to distinguish planets from the other stars located in the sky, but the reference points found in the sky are much different. The Western (Mesopotamian-Babylonian-Hellenistic-etc...) stellar positions are found by reference to the ecliptic, known to the Chinese as the Yellow Path, that is, an imaginary line through the heavens traced by the Sun.[2] This may seem like the same thing, but the Chinese locate heavenly bodies with respect to the celestial north pole and the celestial equator (called the Red Path by the Chinese) rather than with respect to the ecliptic (termed the Yellow Path).[1]

As a consequence of the two different observational systems, two kinds of astrological interpretation sprang up. In the West, astrology is based on the computations of movements of planetary bodies along the ecliptic, or zodiac. In Chinese astrology, the "lunar zodiac" has prime importance. In this the sky is divided into 28 segments, each one representing a day of the moon's path through the sky.[2] This leads us to the fact that in Chinese astrology there are many stars and constellations of importance to the Chinese astrology that are irrelevant in Western astrology.[2] This being said, a Western astronomer would have a hard time recognizing a star map produced by a Chinese astrologer, even though its the same sky!!

A cultural and philosophical difference between the astrological systems of Western and Chinese astrology has to do with the classical elements. For example, the four classical elements of the Western World-earth, air, fire, and water-are comparable to, yet contrast with, the five elements of East Asian philosophy-earth, fire, water, metal, and wood. [1] The Chinese associate these five elements with the most visible planets- Saturn (earth), Mars (fire), Mercury (water), Venus (metal), and Jupiter (wood). These elements are a basis for the astrological predictions made about the future or divination. It is surprising how totally different civilizations happened to come up with almost the same fundamental elements of the Universe.

As mentioned above, in Chinese astrology importance is situated around the moon's motion through the zodiac rather than the motion of the Sun through the zodiac. The position of the moon for different days is referred to as the "lunar mansion" in Chinese Astrology. The 28 lunar mansions are particularly important for determine which action is most appropriate for a given day.[1] The lunar mansions are divided into 4 groups of 7 in relation to the seasons of the year. The groups are categorized as follows: The Green Dragon of Spring, The Black Tortoise of Winter, The White Tiger of Autumn, The Red Bird of Summer. The 28 lunar mansions constitute the oldest Chinese "zodiac". The Lunar Mansions form the traditional background for all of Chinese Astrology. However, I found it quite difficult to find an online source reliable enough to use with information about the 28 Chinese Mansions.

Sima Qian

Sima Qian, as well as his father, was a court astrologer (taishi) 太史 in the Former Han Dynasty. At that time, the astrologer was an important post, responsible for interpreting and predicting the course of government according to the influence of the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as other phenomena like solar eclipses, earthquakes, etc.

Before compiling Shiji, in 104 BC, with the help of his colleagues, Sima Qian created Taichuli (which can be translated as 'The first calendar') on the basis of the Qin calendar. Taichuli was one of the most advanced calendars of the time as it stated that there were 365.25 days in a year and 29.53 days in a month. The creation of Taichuli was regarded as a revolution in the Chinese calendar tradition.

Analysing information: Sima Qian analysed the historical records and sorted out those which could serve the purpose of Shiji. He intended to find out the patterns and principles of the development of human history by writing Shiji so as to find out the relationship between heavenly law and men. This is why Sima Qian adopted a new method in sorting out the historical data and a new approach in writing the historical record.

Sima Qian emphasised the role of men in affecting the historical development of China. It is the first time in Chinese history that men were put under the spotlight in the analysis of historical development. He also denounced superstition by condemning Emperor Han Wudi, who was extravagant in praying to gods. In addition, he also proposed his historical perception that a country cannot escape from the fate of "from boom to trough, and from trough to boom". With these in-depth analyses and insight, Sima Qian set an example for writing journalistic articles in later generations.

Unlike Ban Gu's (班固) Hanshu (漢書), which was written under the supervision of the Imperial Dynasty, Shiji was a privately written historiography. Although Sima Qian was the Prefect of the Grand Scribes in the Han government, he refused to write Shiji as an official historiography. This is why Shiji not only covered those of high rank, but also people of the lower class so as to portray the darker side of the dynasty, and thus Shiji is regarded as a "veritable record".

I Ching

Carl Jung wrote, "The Chinese mind, as I see it at work in the I Ching, seems to be exclusively preoccupied with the chance aspect of events. What we call coincidence seems to be the chief concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed... While the Western mind carefully sifts, weighs, selects, classifies, isolates, the Chinese picture of the moment encompasses everything down to the minutest nonsensical detail, because all of the ingredients make up the observed moment.

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese oracle that provides an Oriental philosophical perspective to give insight on situations and problems. "I" means change. "Ching" means book. Therefore I Ching means 'The Book Of Changes'.

The I Ching is both a book and a method of divination that represents one of the first efforts of humans to grasp their relationship to nature and society. It is a book of wisdom that illustrates correct and balanced action in a multitude of situations. It is a chart of changes. The basis of the I Ching philosophy is that nothing is static and that our task is to adjust to the ebbs and flows of change.
The I Ching has evolved over the centuries and is a mix of Taoist and Confucian philosophy. It is possibly the oldest book in existence. Its origins date back about 5000 years to the time of the ruler Fu Hsi. Fu Hsi was said to have found the eight trigrams that form the sixty-four hexagrams on the shell of a tortoise. Fu Hsi is credited as being the first person to give some order to what was, at that time, an uncivilized culture.

The meanings evolved from then on but the book was used mostly for predicting natural events until King Wen wrote the first expositions on the sixty-four hexagrams about 3000 years ago. He wrote them while in prison from a vision on the prison wall. These were the first comments that included social and political connotations. Many renowned Chinese philosophers such as Lao Tzu and Confucius have influenced the I Ching through the centuries. Confucius was particularly dedicated to the study and application of the ideas in the I Ching.

Each inquiry to the oracle will result in a hexagram reading and possibly additional line readings. A hexagram is made up of two trigrams. There are eight possible trigrams: Ch'ien (Cosmos), Chen (Thunder), K'an (Water), Ken (Mountain), K'un (Earth), Sun (Wind/Wood), Li (Fire), and Tui (Lake). Each trigram is made up of three lines. Each line is either broken or solid, corresponding to the complementary forces Yin (negative) and Yang (positive). Every time a coin is thrown, one line of the hexagram is determined, thus, six throws decide a hexagram.

There are sixty-four different hexagrams, and each hexagram has six changing lines, any one of which may or may not apply for any particular reading. One method for casting the oracle is to use three Chinese coins for the throws. Each throw creates one line of the hexagram. One side of the coin represents a two and the other a three. These numbers are added to determine the result of the throw. Changing lines are created if there are any three-of-a-kind throws (a total of six or nine). The secondary reading can be thought of as changing from the primary reading and is only created if there are changing lines in the primary reading.
Solid lines are (Yang) masculine. Broken Lines are (Yin) feminine.

Mechanics of the I Ching process for quidance can be found here

China in Space

Information on Shenzhou and the Chinese Space Program

The space program of the People's Republic of China (PRC) began in 1956 with the cooperation of the USSR and continued as an indigenous nuclear deterrent program after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960. The Chinese space program was initiated at the behest of the Central Military Commission for fulfilling national defence needs. The potential military utility of space was the central reason for China embarking on its national space program since 1956. The programme was aimed at developing China’s aviation, guided missiles, rockets and missile defence needs. Thus, the first products of its space program were not Satellite Launch Vehicles (SLVs) or satellites, rather they were Ballistic Missiles like the Dongfeng-1 (DF-1), -2, -3, -4 and -5. Of these, the DF-4 and DF-5 became SLVs like the Changzheng-1 (CZ-1) and CZ-2 respectively.[1] Thus, PRC's first satellite, Dongfanghong I (The East Is Red I), was launched only two and a half decades later in 1970, making China the fifth space-faring nation. The manned space program began in 1968, and China became the third country to put a human in space in 2003.

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