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The most awesome country in the world, except for it's horrible government as of 2019 which Ciro Santilli is trying to replace with democracy.
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Two things come to mind when Ciro Santilli thinks about his sinohpilia.
There is a strong "Ciro Santilli's knowledge hoarding" side to it. Ciro has decided that he has to know EVERYTHING about China. It's culture. It's people. It's art. And so once that has been decided, it becomes inevitable.
But of course, there is also the "which part of Ciro's inner being led to that hoarding decision" part of things. Mishima's quote often comes to mind:
Every night I return to my desk precisely at midnight. I thoroughly analyze why I am attracted to a particular theme. I drag it into my conscious mind. I boil it into abstraction.
Exoticism is undoubtedly part of it.
Maybe it has something to do with growing up observing 5th+ generation Japanese Brazilians immigrants, well, being Asians and crushing it academically. But also being quiet people, and sometimes misfits. I.e., nerds.
Maybe there is also someting to do with the influence Japanese anime, highly popular during Ciro's hildhood in Brazil. Ciro, unlike many of his friends, left that relatively early, as he got into the deeper pleasures of natural sciences and then more traditional Asian culture. But still.
And finally perhaps the correlation between sofware engineers and Asian fetish and the correlation between software engineers and Buddhism.
Related on

Chinese culture (中华文化)

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Chinese custom

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Things to do:
Video 1. Dragon Boat Festival race day in Hong Kong by South China Morning Post (2018) Source.

Chinese numbered list

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For some reason Chinese people (and their sphere of influence such as Japan) are obsessed by numbered lists, e.g. stuff like Four Beauties, Four Treasures of the Study and so on!
The concept does exist in the West (e.g. The Seven Wonders of the World), but clearly the Sinosphere is much more obsesse by it!
Figure 1. A modern rendition of the four beauties. Source. TODO we need a decent older one with CC BY-SA, and illustrating their attributes! Wikimedia failed me.
Figure 2. Source.
Video 2. Four Treasures of Chinese Study by a journey of culture (2022) Source. Over the top and likely without copyright.
Video 3. Four Treasures of the Study by Li's Ink World (2021) Source. A more realistic down to Earth one.

Chinese male ideal

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Chinese scholar

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On Wikipedia we only find the term Scholar-official. But the idea of the ancient Chinese scholar is a bit wider as a concept, and even people who were not trying to be officials could thrive to follow certain aspects of the scholar way of life.
The "Chinese scholar" is one of the traditional male ideals of Chinese culture.
Particular attributes the ideal Chinese scholar would have include:
It is in a sense sad (or awesome) that the computer has essentially replaced, or one may argue, enhanced beyong recognition, all of the traditional four arts, to the point that Ciro can't touch anything that is not a computer. Sometimes the old arts live on particularly closely though, e.g. in computer music, computer graphics and computer Go.
Video 4. Confucian Scholar's House by Asian Art Museum (2009) Source. The only video on YouTube showing the house of a scholar!? It is alas about Korean scholars, but the concept is basically the same.

Chinese art

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Chinese cinema

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Chinese cuisine (中国菜)

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One of the best in the world, but you need to know how to find real restaurants if you are not in China.
But worry not, Ciro Santilli has got you covered:
Some stuff at: but that is bound to die one guesses.
Chinese regional cuisine
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This classification is too restrictive, and too South-centered. But if is worth knowing.
Chinese food
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Figure 3. A traditionally shaped baijiu ceramic bottle. Source.
Figure 4. Century eggs. Source. One of the few Chinese things Ciro Santilli never got into!
Freshly made douhua is a blessing.
Figure 5. Source.
Figure 6. Source.
Zongzi (粽子)
words: 40
Eaten during Dragon Boat Festival, but can be bought year round.
Buy frozen. Pick the ones with meat and eggs!!! Boil.
Cost about 4 dollars for 2.
You can't eat them every day because too heavy, but they are so amazingly tasty!!!
Figure 7. Source.

Chinese literature (中国文学)

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Chinese poetry
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Chinese book
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In Chinese lit. just "Four Great Masterpieces".
Journey to the West (西游记)
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This is just the most charming of the Four Great Classic Novels.
The definitive television series adaptation is obviously Journey to the West. It just manages to capture all the charms of Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie.
Journey to the West character
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Only after Ciro became an adult did he finally understand that Sun Wukong was the basis for Dragon Ball as mentioned at: Figure "19th century illustration of the Journey to the West protagonist Sun Wukong". And that Sun Wukong was a million times more famous overall. Mind blown.
His given name "Wukong" literally means "the one who mastered the void" (Wu = Comprehend, Kong = void), so clearly a Dharma name. Edit: it is actually given in the novel, he was born without name. They seem to be Taoist however.
The family name sun1 孙 is the same character as "grandson", but most educated Chinese people seem to be able to recognize it as a reference to "monkey" from some archaic context not anymore in current usage.
Figure 8. 19th century illustration of Sun Wukong. Source.
Figure 9. 20 Sun Wukong depiction in Peking opera. Source.
Journey to the West adaptation
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The definitive Journey to the West adaptation.
The best Romance of the Three Kingdoms adaptation of all time? Mind blowing.
There seems to exist a version with full Chinese + English subtitles: official CCTV电视剧 (CCTV TV Series Channel) upload without Chinese + English subtitles.
Video 5. Title sequence of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (1994 TV series). Source. From this you can understand that the number os extras is off the charts!
Talks about rebellion of the oppressed (and bandits), and therefore has been controversial throughout the many Chinese dictatorships.
The book is based on real events surrounding 12th century rebel leader Song Jiang during the Song dynasty.
It is also interesting that Mao Zedong was apparently a fan of the novel, although he had to hide that to some extent due to the controversial nature of the material, which could be said to instigate rebellion.
The incredible popularity of the novel can also be seen by the large number of paintings of it found in the Summer Palace.
This is a good novel. It appeals to Ciro Santilli's sensibilities of rebelling against unfairness, and in particular about people who are at the margin of society (at the river margin) doing so. Tax the rich BTW.
It also has always made Ciro quite curious how such novels are not used as a way to inspire people to rebel against the Chinese Communist Party.
Full text uploads of Chinese versions:
Something along:
If two men are destined to meet, they will come together from thousands of miles apart. If they aren't, they will pass by in front of one another and never know about one another's existence.
TODO find Chinese.
Water Margin English translation
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Uploaded at: TODO legality? World Library seems like a legit website. Reads "Copyrighted materials".
Water Margin character
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The ball game is named cuju.
He is extremely despicable and petty, enjoys only useless things, and is vengeful and disloyal. Rooting for sport teams is stupid.
Surely his family name 俅 is a pun on the same sounding character 求 for ball.
Lance instructor of the 800,000 Imperial Guards (八十万禁军枪棒教头). TODO understand the "枪棒" part:
The adopted son of Gao Qiu wanted to fuck his wife, and because of this they frame him of planning to take revenge by killing Go Qiu, even though Lin Chong had decided not to take revenge to avoid harming his wife further.
They just keep trying to kill him, until at one point he just gives up and becomes a fugitive.
His story is well told in The Water Margin.
Usually called by others as 林教头 (lin jiaotou, literally Head Instructor Lin, but usually translated as just Instructor Lin).
Early on, he's usually called by others as Major Lu (魯提轄).
His original name is Lu Da 魯達
He then receives the Buddhist name Zhishen (智深, profound wisdom) during conversion.
Lu Zhishen scene
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Erniang is way more popular than her ranking in the 108 Stars of Destiny.
This is of course in part because she is one of the only 3 108 Stars of Destiny women. But her story about making human mantou is particularly fun!
She's also quite seductive, which gives directors a good opportunity for a bit of fan service. See e.g. for a still from The Water Margin showing some good cleavage for example.
He used to train the 800,000 imperial guard troops at the Capital, much like Lin Chong. He's not one of the 108 Stars of Destiny.
Water Margin location
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"The Capital" is what now is Kaifeng in Shandong, and it used to be the capital during the (Northern) Song dynasty.
In the novel it is simply often simply called as 东京 (capital of the East), which is now highly ambiguous term that can indicate several different historical capitals! Notably it is the name of modern tokyo.
The term "Mount Liang" generally refers to both the mountain and the surrounding marshy areas.
The novel always uses the term "梁山泊' (liang2 shan1 po1) to refer to the place.
Video 6. How did the Liangshan ponds form? by CCTV (2019) Source. Chinese only, but still fun to see the real place.
Water Margin scene
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Water Margin adaptation
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This will likely be the best TV adaptation of Water Margin for all eternity, until AGI deepfakes a better one.
Official CCTV YouTube playlist: No English subs however.
The music is amazing. A full playlist: This is the opening:
The only downside is the usage of slightly Supernatural Martial Arts.
It must be said that the series gets worse as it progresses. The best part of it is the backstory of individual characters, and how noble men are made fight their government. As things progress however, it becomes more of a mass battles thing, so less interesting. This is perhaps a problem of the novel itself, which an adaption cannot avoid. The good part basically ends with the end of Wu Song's story at episode 22.
One of the most amazing things about this series is learning about how people lived in the past. It feels very realistic. Some amazing details:
  • on the pharmacy, they used a leg powered grinder. Ciro Santilli's wife said she had actually seen one those in use in China
  • to indicate that something is for sale, the would attach some straws around it
  • it is totally fine to talk to an old person about giving them money to buy a nice coffin
  • some dudes drink baijiu from bowls. One wonders how much truth there can be in that.
Video 7. title sequence of The Water Margin. Source.
Features the amazing theme song "Hero song" (好漢歌) by Liu Huan (劉歡). Makes Ciro Santilli want to cry. Lyrics on mojim: The opening sentence is particularly remarkable:
The big river flows to the West
The stars in the sky gather with the Big Dipper
If you say we go, then we go. If you have me, you have everything
If on the road we see an injustice and someone shouting
When it is time to deal with it, we'll deal with it
We'll energetically rush through the Nine Provinces
The Big Dipper is reference is made in the novel itself as part of a dream one of the leaders of the rebellion has. The dream is a premonition of the number of men that will gather to plot to steal expensive birthday gifts corrupt officials are sending one another.
The song perfectly captures the camaraderie shown in the novel, the immediacy with which sworn brothers follow one another into the riskiest of tasks, and the fight against injustice, which is the central theme.
To get an idea of its popularity, Ciro Santilli's mother-in-law is able to complete sentences of the song by herself in her late 60's, and she isn't exactly a scholar! This was from before she stopped "having fun" (see also "No time for fun" from from the Orange Papers) and started watching nothing but Falun Gong media.
Video 8. Wang Jin beats Gao Qiu theme music from The Water Margin. Source. Chinese: 王进打高俅. One of the leitmotifs, played to great effect on the suona throughout the series in moments where the good guys have a victory, e.g.: Amazing, so moving.
Video 9. Ruan Xiao's Seven Fish song 阮小七渔歌) Source. Used when they show Liangshen at one point, this song is particularly cool. shows the scene where a closely related song is sang. Lyrics at阮小七渔歌/20358999 with all noises removed:
quick translation by Ciro Santilli:
The heroes cannot read诗书路
They only live at Mount Liang
Although he was born sloppy (lit. with a course leather body)
They only kill bandits, they don't kill people
The concept is a strong part of Water Margin.
The very first chapter opens with Grand Commander Hou disrespecting spirits by opening up a sealed tomb and unintentionally releasing 108 demons who presumably reincarnate as humans, a backstory to the events that follow years later.
This is well shown in the Japanese The Water Margin, but is skipped in the Chinese The Water Margin unfortunately.
The concept is also central to the Suikoden video game.
Actually, now that Ciro Santilli thinks about it, these were already likely meant as a "collectible" element by the author of the original book, as is strongly suggested by all the little illustrations of each character present on the Wikipedia page. Just like e.g. Catholic saints. It's Pokemon, but 2000 years earlier.
Ciro would notably feel many years later, that as he met random people online who were interested in improving eduction, or was otherwise networking to reach his goals, as if he were actually building up his 108 stars of destiny.
A central part, and perhaps the most interesting part of the novel, is how each character has been motivated by injustice to join the rebellion. This reminds Ciro of Final Fantasy VI
As mentioned at there are only 3 women amongst the 108:
  • 59 Hu Sanniang
  • 101 Gu Dasao
  • 103 Sun Erniang. She's the human flesh mantou lady!
Huainanzi (2nd BC, 淮南子)
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Another notable reference is in Lost Horse LLC, MacKenzie Bezos's charity instrument.
  • 塞翁 sai4 weng1 TODO his name?
  • 失马 shi1 ma3 lost horse
  • 焉知 yan1 zhi1 zho knows, literal
  • 非福 fei1 fu2: bad (or) good
Video 10. Zen master and the little boy scene from Charlie Wilson's War. Source. This is how Ciro Santilli first heard the old man lost his horse! The scene happens after the Americans seem to have had sucess in arming the Taliban in the 1980s to fight the Soviets, and then they decide to stop all monetary help to rebuild the country, which then leads to a terrorism threat many years later.
Video 11. The Blessing of Bad Luck by Pursuit of Wonder (2022) Source. A bit too long. But worth it.
Big collection of a bunch of ghost stories. 90% of them involve some dude dating a beautiful ghost woman or animal that can shapeshift as a woman.
Organized into 12 chapeters as seen on the Chinese wiki:聊齋志異#章節
Figure 10. 1935 edition of Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Source.
Sometimes you just know that your existence will be remembered for a singular reason. Better than not being remembered at all perhaps.
Figure 11. Source.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
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OK, the Good film tag might imply that you are a Sinophile.
The adaptation is very loose.
Figure 12. Poster of A Chinese Ghost Story.
Appears to be a small section from the Diamond Sutra. TODO find or create a video of it, it is just too awesome.
Outstanding scenery/filming locations and clothing! What are those places! Wikipedia says it was shot party in Shanxi.
Good music.
Appears to have widely modified the story unfortunately however.
They really love their pyrotechnics!

Chinese traditional music

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This section is present in another page, follow this link to view it.

Chinese painting (中国画)

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Chinese traditional painting
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Some free online collections:
  • Smithsonian collection at a search for Paintings before 1800. Drill down further by "topic" e.g. "Mountains" or "scholar"
Unclear legality:
Figure 13. Early Autumn by Qian Xuan (13th century) Source.
Ciro Santilli's favorite. A mixture of painting and book.
Figure 14. Source.
Figure 15. Source.
On Baidu Baike:扇画/8486689
Chinese painter
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Politics of China

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Chinese policy

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Chinese government

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The enemy:

Chinese politician

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Chinese company

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Figure 16. Source.
TODO freely licensed image of sycees presented on a plate. This is how gifts/prizes would be formally handed in ancient China, possibly wrapped in silk to make it more discrete.

Chinese game

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Cuju (蹴鞠)

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Lit. "to kick (leather) ball".
Figures notbaly in Water Margin, where it is played by Gao Qiu. The novel also suggests that it was considered a lesser art, e.g. as opposed to the scholarly Four arts and the "proper" martial arts.
Figure 17. Source.
Video 12. Ancient Chinese Football Freestylers by Tifo Football (2021) Source. Mentions that it was popular in the Ming dynasty, but then, if you will, the ball fell off a bit.
Video 13. Bernardo cuju challenge by Manchester City (2019) Source.

Chinese garden (中国园林)

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Figure 18. The Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou. Source.
Figure 19. Round door at the Lingering Garden in Suzhou. Source.
Figure 20. Plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum Chinese painting by Zheng Xie. Source. This is an example of bird-and-flower painting, of which the Four Gentlemen are a common theme. TODO date.假山
The literal Chinese name says it all: "Fake Mountain". The stones evoke the feeling of the beautiful rock mountains of China.
The term "奇石假山" (qi2 shi2 jia3 shan1, lit. "weird shaped stone fake mountain") is also used, almost as a synonym by many people, since the stones are often chose in interesting shapes. Choosing the right stone is basically an art form in itself.
The stones used are generally limestone, which as a sedimentary rock is weaker, and more likely to be eroded into interesting shapes.

Chinese history

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Chinese dynasty

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Figure 21. Warring States period map c. 260 BC. Source.

Chinese measurement unit

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The actually had decimal time systems... why that didn't win!
Notably used for measuring gold and silver as a form of Chinese currency.

Chinese website

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Leading Chinese lyrics website:

Province of China (省)

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Literally: West of the Mountain.

Shandong (山东)

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Literally: East of the Mountain.

City in Shandong

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words: 8
Capital of the Northern Song dynasty. Features in Water Margin.

Demographics of China

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As of 2020 (TODO starting when) the Chinese government officially recognizes 55 minorities.
These minorities actually had different legal statuses, e.g. they were exempt from the One Child Policy.
Figure 22. Source.



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