Come Tease Me!

TeaserTuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Thanks to MizB for starting this meme (and many others as well)!

My teaser for June 10 is this:

“We have seen that Daoism provided a channel for that other, more romantic side of Chinese human nature which was not satisfied by the pedestrian code of Confucianism. Although the full range of developed Confucianism did take account of the spiritual aspirations of man, in much of its practice it was confined to an ethic handbook for the scholar official and had little message and no solace for the common peasant or small merchant, whom it counseled to behave well and keep to his subordinate position.”

This comes from page 75 of China: Its History and Culture, 4th Edition by W. Scott Morton and Charlton M. Lewis.

I’d recommend this book for people like me who don’t know much about China and want a general introduction that is not too long.  I like the way they organize the book.  As with most histories, it proceeds chronologically. But in addition to including the facts of changing dynasties, wars, etc., each chapter also includes a section on cultural developments (such as religion, art, philosophy, literature, etc.)

Click here for the Amazon description.

What about you?  What are you reading?  Feel free to tease me with a couple of sentences!


Help! I Married A Barbarian: Part III of Minnesota Couch Warmer’s Guide to China


Huns in battle with the Alans, 1870s engraving after a drawing by Johann Nepomuk Geiger (1805–1880). public domain

ImageWang Zhaojun
Artist: Zirun Feng
Year Created: 1990
Status: Available

You can purchase this art work here

The Chinese have spent a significant amount of resources throughout their history attempting to keep the northern barbarian hordes at bay.  The Great Wall of China was built for this purpose. Countless battles were fought for this purpose.  Another way the barbarians were kept at bay, though, was by buying them off.  Sometimes the Chinese rulers bought them with money.

Other times, though, they kept the peace by sending them a Chinese princess as booty.  W. Scott Morton and Charlton Lewis, for example, tell us that Xi-Chun was a Han Dynasty princess who lived around 100 B.C.  She was sent by Emperor Wu Di to be married to a chief of the Wu-Sun in the Ili Valley.  His people were considered barbarian, as was everybody else who was not Chinese.

Xi-Chun most likely had little say in the matter and she wrote this poem to express her misery.  (This poem has obviously been translated into English.)

  My family has married me off,
Alas! and sent me far,

To the strange land of the Wu-sun.
I’m now, woe is me, the king’s wife.

I  live in a tent, and a house wall
Have I exchanged for–felt.

My food is only meat;
Koumiss they give me to drink with it.

O, my heart burns since they sent me here;
I can only think of my home, over and over.

Could I but be a yellow crane,
Fast would I fly back to my own kingdom!

(68-69 Morton and Lewis: China: Its History and Culture, 4th Edition).

I know it was also common custom among the European royalty to marry off their daughters to other courts for dynastic reasons.  I wonder how many other poems (or stories or memoirs) of lament have been written by these lonely exiles.