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I am sorry if it's inappropriate,but I am very curious about the writing on these two reverse glass paintings.Could I ask your help in translating and identifying the language?
Thanks a lot in advance.

24 March 2012 @ 09:48 pm
I am an undergraduate studying International Affairs and Humanities at Florida State University.
I am currently taking Chinese classes as part of my course of study. I am very interested in the study of East Asian and Central Asian history, as well as Asian religions. This is a large part of the reason I chose my major (both of them). So far I've been able to tailor my schedule in a way that has allowed me to take more than a few classes in these fields. I am hoping to eventually work on a DIS project in the field that I can get published in a research journal. After I graduate I am hoping to work for the Peace Corps in either Mongolia or China.

I joined this community in hopes of being able to learn something new, as well as to share any newspaper or journal articles that might be of interest. =)
28 April 2011 @ 05:19 pm
“New route from Toyama province, Japan through Russian Far East to Mongolia through Chinese North East will be established for an export and import transportation” reported “Yomiuri Shim bun” daily newspaper April 25, 2011. One of the reasons to open the route is the necessity of used Japanese cars in Mongolia reported. Before any Trans activities were through Port of Tianjin, China to and from Japan. The first experience of new route was in 2009 from “Fushiki Toyama” Port through Vladivostok to Novosibirsk, Russia to deliver used cars and food products to Mongolia. This route was successfully done; the transportation period of goods was decreased from 10 days to 3 days. Due to the notice by officials of Toyama province from “Fushiki Toyama” Port will be shipped to Vladivostok then delivery through Siberian railway to Ulan-Ude, Russia. On the way back goods from North East province of China will be delivered to Far East by train and then shipped to “Fushiki Toyama” Port. Total expenditure of the Development project for this route estimates 19.5 million yens. 

www.infomongolia.com   New route from Japan
26 April 2011 @ 04:55 pm

Famous economist, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy of Peru Hernando de Soto is visiting Mongolia by the invitation of Mongolian President’s cabinet. Hernando de Soto’s institute runs successful business of increasing living standards of poor class by registering their assets in many countries of the world. In 2010, he visited to Mongolia for a research work. Hernando de Soto paid visit to Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj and reported about the results of his research and discussed about implementation of full scale project. And also, he met with Government officials and talked about improving in the asset registration system.  www.infomongolia.com


02 March 2011 @ 01:02 pm
I'm working on 寶卷 (baojuan), a genre of Chinese religious literature. Recently I've begun to venture out of my comfort zone of late Ming, early Qing printed texts into the handwritten baojuan of the late 19th century.

Need some insight on a variant character. Yes, I've already pored over the variant character dictionary, but I'm just not seeing it in there. I'm really hoping someone here takes one look at this and thinks something like "thian_un, how could you be so dim?? It's obviously X!"

Pesky character circled below. Click for larger, more readable version.

10 February 2011 @ 12:44 pm
If the evening is still, in the moonlight that fills the window I long for old friends or wet my sleeve with tears at the cries of the monkeys.* Fireflies in the grass thickets might be mistaken for fishing-lights off the island of Maki; the dawn rains sound like autumn storms blowing through the leaves. And when I hear the pheasants' cries, I wonder if they call their father or their mother; when the wild deer of the mountain approach me unafraid, I realize how far I am from the world. And when sometimes, as is the wont of old age, I waken in the middle of the night, I stir up the buried embers and make them companions in solitude.
*This paragraph is full of allusions to old poems which it would be tedious to explain.

Kamo no Chomei: An Account Of My Hut, translated by Donald Keene.

"Tedious?" Let us be the judge of that and for heaven's sake annotate!!! At least I think I get the monkeys allusion from Gustav Mahler's "Lied von der Erde":

Das Firmament blaut ewig, und die Erde
wird lange feststehn und aufblühn im Lenz.
Du aber, Mensch, wie lang lebst denn du?
Nicht hundert Jahre darfst du dich ergötzen
an dem morschen Tande dieser Erde!
Seht dort hinab! Im Mondschein auf den Gräbern
hockt eine wild-gespenstische Gestalt.
Ein Aff' ist's! Hört ihr, wie sein Heulen
hinausgellt in den süßen Duft des Lebens!

[The heavens are ever blue and the earth will long stand fast and blossom forth in spring. But thou, O man, how long wilt thou live? Not hundred years may'st thou enjoy thyself with all the rotting trifles of this earth! Look down there! In the moonlight on the graves there crouches a wild and ghostly form - it is an ape! Listen, how its howling rings out amidst the sweet scent of life!]
04 February 2011 @ 09:02 am
In India, barefoot boys hold up parasols/umbrellas to keep the rain and sun off the women;
In Japan, the women hold up parasols/umbrellas for each other.

[...] Frois is not talking about women in general, but the women in Japan who have a similar social position to those served by others in India or in Europe (though not yet for umbrellas). Japanese ladies could do things for themselves. While some nobility did have help in Japan for almost every aspect of their lives, including "fart-cut-nuns" (hehiri-bikuni) who took the blame for their social indiscretions - i.e., the responsibility for their literal and figurative farts! (maybe I am fooled by fanciful literature on this, but it is too good not to mention!) - even such pampered courtesans = women living in court would usually fan themselves, something not true in much of the world. In Japan, only the Emperor's dog had someone to fan his flies away and put bits of ice in his mouth, according to A Diplomatist's Wife in Japan, Mrs. Frazer, who sighed "I wish some kind fairy would fan me all day and put bits of ice into my mouth!"

(Topsy-Turvy 1585. The famous tract by Luis Frois S.J., listing the 611 ways Europeans* & Japanese are contrary, translated and essayed by Robin D. Gill.) I really recommend this book. It's hilarious.
*The example above is the only one that compares Japan to India instead of Europe.
22 January 2011 @ 11:45 am
This looks like an amazing online archive of early classical Chinese texts.

The Chinese Text Project is a web-based e-text system designed to present ancient Chinese texts, particularly those relating to Chinese philosophy, in a well-structured and properly cross-referenced manner, making the most of the electronic medium to aid in the study and understanding of these texts.

Lots of features, including:
  • Ancient text database
  • Integrated dictionary
  • Word lists
  • Parallel passage information
  • Scanned source texts
  • Commentary display
  • Discussion forum


Check it out here:
08 January 2011 @ 02:53 pm

I recently became interested in Ukiyo-e and came across the three prints above by Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770), Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) and Chikanobu (1838-1912).

1. Do they indeed all depict Sakurahime ("Princess Cherry") committing suicide at the Kiyomizu temple? Because that's the information I got about the last one. The second one was just labelled "femme samurai", the first one came without any information at all, apart from the artist's name. And is the story old enough that it can possibly be the subject of the first picture?

2. Is there a good source for tales like that for newcomers like me? I've read A.B. Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan", Yei Theodora Ozaki's "Japanese Fairy Tales", Lafcadio Hearn's "Kwaidan" and "In Ghostly Japan", and I am in the middle of F. Hadland Davis's "Myths and Legends of Japan". I really like the simple style of all of these books, but I'd love to have something a little more comprehensive.

Thanks in advance!