Kindle Ed $8.99 Paperback Ed $14.99

The untold spy story of WWI

In 1910 a proposed Alliance between Germany and France (See New York Times Article ) worried Britain so they sent someone to 'sniff around'.

The story is a personal journey of discovery set in the vibrant energy that is Zanzibar. Susan finds herself in the palace of the great Sultan of Zanzibar as private tutor to his children. She immerses herself in the heady experiences of that rich island. From making friends with her personal servant, Subira, to falling in love with Asim, a senior member of the Sultan's court. Susan delights in the discovery of Zanzibar and the discovery of herself. The only shadow being that she was recruited by British Military Intelligence as a spy. That compromises her love for Asim and will eventually cut the silken thread that is her journey into the exotic.

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The Lion Awakes - ARCHIVES
Nursery Rhymes

18 Things Uniquely Chinese

Source: Global Times


1) Bing Tang Hu Lu 



Candied haws on a stick: In winter, on the streets and alleyways of old Beijing, vendors call out, “bīng​táng​hú​lu”

The Spring Festival is the best time for selling candied haws. The traditional method of making candied haws is to string wild fruits on bamboo sticks and then dip them in malt syrup. The malt syrup turns hard as soon as it is exposed to the air, creating the crispy and sweet sugar-coated haws. The wild fruits used are mostly haws. (see also Beijing's Hutongs)

Crataegus   commonly called hawthorn, or thornapple, or hawberry, is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the family Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name "hawthorn" was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe, especially the common hawthorn C. monogyna, and the unmodified name is often so used in Britain and Ireland. However the name is now also applied to the entire genus, and also to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis. The name haw applies to the fruit, although originally it was an Old English term for hedge. (Wikipedia)



2) Abacus



Calculation using abacus



Abacus: The zhusuan, or Chinese traditional abacus, has been listed as a world Intangible Cultural Heritage, UNESCO announced December 4 in a meeting in Azerbaijan.

An abacus is essentially an array of beads threaded on string or held in grooves, with each row representing a different digit.

The zhusuan dates back at least 1,800 years, and was listed as a part of China's national-level intangible cultural heritage in 2008.

Chinese abacus operators can use the gadgets to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers with great speed, handling figures up to the tens of millions.




3) Backscratcher

rú​yì (according to one's wants/as you please)

Historically, intricately-decorated backscratchers were worn hung from the waist among the aristocracy. Though many backscratchers today come in plastic, most are still made from the more traditional wood and bamboo. They vary in length between 30 and 60 centimeters.

Ruyi, a long, S-shaped decorative object, was originally a backscratcher but later evolved
into a ceremonial scepter, ritual object and Buddhist talisman symbolizing power and
good fortune in Chinese folklore.


Backscratcher, scepter, talisman, conversation baton, Ruyi ritual objects symbolize power and good fortune.

The word ruyi has an auspicious meaning - "as you wish." It is often used with jixiang to wish someone happiness, good fortune and prosperity.

Ruyi is a long, S-shaped decorative object. Originally it may have been a backscratcher but evolved into a ceremonial scepter, ritual object and Buddhist talisman symbolizing power and good fortune in Chinese folklore. Buddhist saints are frequently depicted holding Ruyi.

Ruyi was also used as "conversation baton" held by rulers during official ceremonies.

Fashioned of many kinds of materials, including jade, Ruyi is shaped like a shallow S, with a long handle and larger head carved to resemble a heart, fist, cloud, lingzhi (ganoderma) fungus or other auspicious shape. The smaller end is also carved.


4) Folding Stool

The folding stool finds its origin 2,600 years ago in Zibo, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Qi during the Warring States (475BC-221BC). These portable, durable seats are primarily made of wood and fold easily. Due to its small size and light weight, they are often used by the elderly even today.



5) Bean bags (hacky sack)

Beanbags, filled with dried beans, rice or sand, resemble hacky sacks in their appearance. However, these traditionally homemade toys for children involved less kicking and more throwing. One traditional game involves dodge ball-like skills, where two players stand on opposite ends of a small group and attempt to strike one of its members by throwing a beanbag back and forth.



6) Washboards

xǐ​ yī​ bǎn

Washboard: Before China’s reform and opening-up in 1978, almost all Chinese washed their clothes on wooden washboards.



7) Embroidered pillow towel

During the 1970s and 1980s, pillow covers embroidered with peonies was one of the most common items found in a Chinese household. The covers were produced at a State-run cotton mill in Shanghai, and all bore the city’s embroidered name. Easy to manufacture, cheap and very durable, covers like these were favored as raw materials were relatively scarce at the time. (could not find picture of a towel from that time, this is what the designs would have been like)



8) Chinese Clay Medicine Cooking Pots

Clay pots such as these are used to boil traditional Chinese medicine even to this day. The commonly used red clay is still favored over other more modern materials, not only because of its even thermal conductivity, but also it does not influence the herbs’ medicinal properties.


 See Also Kaixin4China's 'The Chinese Approach to Health'


9) Chinese Cupping Jars

Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine still popular today, in which a local suction is created on the skin with small glass jars. Practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps) to create a vacuum inside the jar.



10) Bamboo Summer Sleeping Mat

These mats, often made of thin bamboo strips, are used as bedding during the summer, as they stay cool to the touch even on hot days. They are used widely today, are inexpensive, and roll up quite easily.



11) Rolling Walnuts

A practice with origins in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), rolling perfectly paired walnuts in the palm is believed to stimulate acupuncture points and have other medicinal benefits. They are also highly collectable, with well-rolled pairs priced into the hundreds of thousands of yuan.




12) Mosquito coils

An incense coil that when lit produces a common summer scent in China that repels mosquitoes and other bugs. The smoke, however, contains some toxic substances, such as formaldehyde and benzene.





13) Red Armband

Red armbands, a mark of the Red Guard during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76), are nowadays innocuously worn by elderly volunteers that help with neighborhood watches or other civilian positions. 




14) 二锅头


Red Star Erguotou

Erguotou lit. "head of the second pot") is a strong, clear distilled liquor. It is often inexpensive and thus particularly popular among blue-collar workers across northern and northeastern China. It is probably the most commonly-drunk baijiu in Beijing and is frequently associated with that city. Red Star (红星, Hóngxīng) is a popular brand. The most common brand is Red Star. Founded in 1949, Beijing Red Star Co Ltd was the first company named after its fermenting process, “twice distilled,” after the establishment of the new China. The iconic bottle design and label have also become strong cultural symbols.





Spirit usually distilled from sorghum or maize / white spirit /sometimes called 'white wine'

Baijiu  also known as shaojiu, is a alcoholic beverage from China. It is sometimes infelicitously translated as "white wine", but it is in fact a strong distilled spirit, generally about 40–60% alcohol by volume (ABV), and the world's most-consumed liquor.

It is a clear drink usually distilled from sorghum, although other grains may be used: baijiu in southern China often employs glutinous rice, while northern Chinese varieties may use wheat, barley, millet, or even Job's tears in place of sorghum. The jiuqu starter culture used in the production of baijiu mash is usually made of pulverized wheat grains.




15) 中药


Traditional Chinese medicine Pill

Traditional Chinese medicine pills are a mixture of multiple medicinal powders held together with refined honey, rolled into balls and stored in an inedible wax shell. They are usually prescribed for slow-acting medicines and nourishing supplements.



16) 饺子


Chinese Dumpling

Dumplings are said to have been invented during the Eastern Han (25-220), dumplings (jiaozi) are a common and traditional Chinese food which generally consists of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of dough skin and either boiled or steamed. Dumplings are the traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve, the evening before the Lunar New Year, and special family reunions. 

See also Kaixin4China's 'How to make Dumplings (Jiao zi)'



17) 档案


Chinese Portfolio

Every registered Chinese citizen has a personal file, or dang’an, that includes all important information about an individual, including education and career, as well as association membership, criminal activity and any other social accolade or infraction. Most citizens cannot see their dang’an, and access to them is limited.



18) 火锅


Chinese HotPot

Copper pots are widely used for cooking hot pot in northern China, a dish that dates back more than a thousand years.