Sunday, December 12, 2010

Then and Now

city and semi-desert, urban professional and pastoralistInspired by, but by no means claiming to be an accurate representation of, the architecture and landscape of Mali.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mount Penglai, mythical isle of the immortals

Penglai, Hourai
Mount Penglai (Japanese pronunciation 'Hourai'), or Penglai Island, is an isle from Chinese mythology. According to Shan Hai Jing ("Anthology of the Mountains and Seas"), an ancient book dating back to the Warring States era : "Penglai Mountain stands in the midst of the sea." Penglai is also mentioned in the Taoist classic Liezi (dating back to the Spring-Autumn/Warring States eras) as one of the 5 mythical islands of the Bohai Sea.

The popular legend of "The 8 Immortals Crossing the Ocean" was also set on Penglai Island.

Source: Baidu entry on Penglai Mountain

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zhuge Liang, husband of the inventor Huang Yueying

Zhuge Liang, Kong Ming
Zhuge Liang (181-234 CE), courtesy name Kongming, was a Shu Kingdom politician and military strategist during China's Three Kingdoms era. He is the putative inventor of the sky lantern, aka the Kongming lantern. (Sky lanterns were appropriated by Disney in the 2010 animated film Tangled.)

His wife Huang Yueying, an inventor of automata, was behind of one of Kongming's best known technological innovations, "wooden ox and flowing horse", a military transport used to supply the Shu Army. According to "The Corpus of Zhuge, Marquis of Zhongwu", compiled by by Zhang Shu of the Qing Dynasty:
"When Lord Zhuge dwelled in Longzhong, some visitors arrived. He asked his wife Lady Huang to make noodles. The noodles were ready within a very short time. The Marquis marvelled at his wife's speed, and later observed her work in secret. He saw multiple wooden people cutting noodles and milling flour at the speed of flight. He then supplicated his wife to teach her craft to him. Later he adapted her techniques to create the wooden ox and flowing horse."1
Similar accounts exist in the the Ming Dynasty work "Anthology of Zhuge of Zhongwu", and the 1709 "Compendium of Zhuge, Marquis of Wu."1

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obesity Awareness Poster Design

Obesity related diseases
Someone rightly pointed out that a couple more diseases are missing from the list. The omission was a design decision. Srsly, the list of diseases related to obesity is so long that I couldn't fit them all into the available space.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Li Ji Slays the Snake

Li Ji vs giant serpent
The tale Li Ji Slays the Snake (a more literal translation of the title is Li Ji Cuts Down the Snake) appears in "In Search of the Supernatural", a collection of ancient folk legends compiled by Chinese historian Gan Bao (?-336 CE).

Translation of original text:

In the Minzhong region of Eastern Yue, there was a Yong Mountain spanning a few dozen li. On its northwestern face was a crevice, in which dwelt a large snake about 15 to 18 meters long and more than 10 spans in girth. The natives were accustomed to fearing it. Many of Dongzhi County's governors and the mayors of its cities had been killed by it.

People sacrificed oxen and sheep to the snake, but received no respite. The serpent appeared in dreams to people and revealed to witches and wizards that it wanted to eat girls of about 12-13 years of age. The county governor and his district officials were troubled by this. But the severity of the snake problem persisted. Together, they procured a house-born slave or the daughter of a criminal, keeping the girl until the 8th month, at which time they delivered the sacrificial victim to the mouth of the snake's cave. The snake would come forth and devour the victim.

This went on year after year, until 9 girls had been sacrificed. There came a time when they sought a sacrificial victim in preparation for the annual event, but failed to find a candidate. In the Jiangle District lived a Li Dan who had 6 daughters and no sons. His youngest daughter was named Ji.