YIN ... YANG
The Development of Chinese Political Culture

Whether we were wandering through a hutong in Beijing,
exploring portions of the Forbidden City or sorting through the
wares of vendors, it became clear from the words of our guides
and from our own sense of Chinese behavior that this is a
nation that both practices its past and hungers for its future.

The Chinese are superstitious in ways that permeate virtually
every visual creation that they present.  Their behavior ties
itself intimately to the likelihood that everything they may have
done is cue and a key to that which they confront in the present
and that which may befall them in the future.

And why not?  If one is born into and raised within and dies
embraced by the rigors of farming, the unpredictability of
nature, the close gossip of the village and the limited
observations of the skies in darkness and in light, it is
inescapable to come to the rational conclusion that correlation
IS causation.  So, the keener one’s understanding of what to do
and what not to do, the more likely one is to have a better life.  

For better and for worse, the Chinese see alternative
possibilities in every action, every plan, every decision, every
behavior.  Amidst the popular views of the general population
this is sometimes just called YIN and YANG.

Yin is the force of completion and degeneration; Yang is the
force of creation.
HUTONG:
Ancient alleyways that are lined with homes and sometimes with courtyards of those
who are self-sufficent, but poor.

Life there is modest, but comfortable, reflective of Chinese values honoring work,
cleanliness, song, garden, superstition and an acceptance that things grow...and die.

In the past 15 years, many hutongs in Beijing were cleared to provide space to build the
Olympic Village and its accompanying sport facilities.  Yin, an old, marginal institution
came to an end; Yang, new buildings presented as modern China to the world.
 
WE RODE THROUGH OLD ALLEYS IN A BIKESHAW.

The more posts above the door, the more prestigious the residence.  This entry
into the courtyard offers two special features of Chinese symbolism: the lions
guarding the residence, and the threshold to block the bad winds of Feng Shui
and to retain the good spirits within the home.  

How does one tell a female lion from a male lion?  How can one tell if the lion has
seen the Emperor?  Answer down below.  

In the courtyard, there may be three generations living there at one time and the
location of each member/sex of the family is carefully prescribed by tradition and
belief.  Prime Family side faces South (warmed view in winter); oldest son's
residence faces East (he is the future). Oldest family members face West,
(setting sun); other sons face North (honoring parents).
Hutong Primary School.   Broadcasting Studio...quite an
educative resource for 3rd graders.
 
Other hutongs were cleared to make room for the Olympic venues.   
Hutongs have declined in number in Beijing from several thousand to
several hundred.  Yin-Yang.
STUDENTS WERE ON A FIELD TRIP, PERHAPS TO THE OLYMPIC
VENUES WHERE WE SAW  HUNDREDS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN.
CONFUCIUS
SHIH HUANG-TI
First Emperor of China
KUBLAI KAHN
Marco Polo host; creator of
Forbidden City.
HUANG DE
Legendary founder of Han people;
an image in the mists of Chinese
history, much as King Arthur might
be seen today.  The Han constitute
93% of the Chinese population
today.
HONGDU
Founder of the Ming Dynasty
CIXI
THE EMPRESS DOWAGER
"The Dragon Lady"
MAO ZEDONG
Founder of the Mao
Dynasty and the Chinese
Communist Party
WEN JAIBAO
Premier of China, 2009
EMPEROR'S FAVORITE
SYMBOL OF STRENGTH
GARDENS IN CHINA
Keeping a garden in China is a part of every household's instinct,
every landlord's pride, every national event's venue.  Whether one is
looking at the combination of stone, water, art, balance, harmony and
birds in the backyard of a hutong, or the underlying connections of an
Olympic Village, those elements are there.

It was certainly true for the great Summer Palace, an enlarged garden
that nurtured the spirit and eased the minds of Chinese Emperors,
particularly, it would seem, Cixi, The Emperess Dowager.  Another
garden that we visited was the Wu Garden, set in Shanghai.  It was
originally built to honor the landowner's mother and to provide respite
for his own retirement.

As the story goes, Wu had issues with the Emperor when he
reportedly built large dragons on his roof line and used the color
"yellow".  

Warned by friends at court that the Emperor was sending inspectors
to report these violations of form, he painted his yellow dragons black;
then, he declawed the dragons, one hook from each paw, and made
sure that the roof line decorations were small or, if not, that they were
of martial combat "defending the Emperor".  

Today, it is an exquisite example of a "medium" personal Chinese
garden, replete with fish, birds, stone, privacy, walkways and
sculptured art.  We were refreshed.  
SCHOOL EMPTY...CHILDREN ON FIELD TRIP.... FOUND THEM? ...AT OLYMPIC VILLAGE
Lions are powerful protective images in China, and there is a protocol as to how they are used
and what they mean.  Female lions have the left paw raised protectively holding in place a baby.  
Male lions have the right paw raised controlling the earth.  Each is protective of one another and
if the lion, either sex, is looking to the side, then it has not seen the Emperor.  If the lion is
looking straight ahead, it has seen the Emperor.
ELEMENTS OF A HUTONG: BIRDS, FLOWERS, GREENS, SYMBOLS, DOG,
CLOTHES HANGING AND GOOD BASIC KITCHEN.  
WU GARDEN ROOFTOPS
OTHER CORNERS OF THIS PRIVATE GARDEN
A YOGI BERRA PASSAGE: FORK IN THE
HALLWAY, TAKE IT.  WOMEN TO RIGHT;
MEN TO LEFT. YOU WILL END UP IN THE
SAME PLACE.
 
RULERS, SCHOLARS, BUREAUCRATS
WINDOWS FRAME THE SAME SCENE DIFFERENTLY
SYMBOLS AND EXHORTATIONS FOR
HAPPINESS
China has washing machines, but no dryers.  
Consequently, wherever one travels one sees
clothes hung out to dry...from apartment
windows in high rise buildings to the courtyards
of a hutong.  Saves electricity, gives a good
scent and is highly decorative.  It also gives one
a glimpse of color, fashion and clothing taste.
THE CHINESE LOVE BIRDS...IN A CAGE...IN A LOFT...IN FREE FLIGHT.  Look at the structure of
the birdcage on left and see if it doesn't remind you of the Olympic Stadium, which was called
by the Chinese, "The Birdcage", but renamed by western media as "The Bird Nest".
GREEN TECHNOLOGY PERMEATES THE ENTIRE DESIGN AND
FUNCTIONALITY OF THE WATER CUBE.