Category Archives: Jinjing

Horseback Tea Trading Trail in the Mountains of Jinjing

After the Opium War beteeen China’s Qing Dynasty and the UK, the trade between two countries went to normal. After the Revolution of 1911, Qing Dynasty became history, the Republic of China was officially part of the world trade network. Jinjing’s tea, especially black tea was popular in the world, every family was involved in the business, every piece of land available in Jinjing and nearby towns was covered with tea plantations. Therefore the

Horse Back Tea Trading

appeared. I guess they were transported to Changsha Port, or probably Guangzhou Port as well. Horseback transpotation was faster and more reliable than the boat.

This is our summer camp, and we were talking and imaging that part of our history, full of dreams and glory.

Our ancestors had the chance to live a life of freedom and self respect, but that dream broke after the second civil war.

What is a traditional funeral like in a southen Chinese village

The above is a picture of the feast. Eight guests sit at a table, attendees are villagers, friends and coworkers, relatives.

All foods and furnitutes are.provided by a catering company in the town.

This kind of traditional souther China funeral typically last for two and half days, excluding the days waiting for the right date of burial.

These two lists of names tell the helpers what their jobs are. The deceased old lady is a neighbor of mine. So I am obligated to provide two days and half ti help, and my job is to clean the feast rooms and funeral service room. I have been assigned for the same job for quite a few years because I am jusy like my father who passed away, never disappoint people whenever a funeral or wedding needs our help. We are the most reliable family in the village in this category. But my father was a lot more skilled and experienced than me so he would always be helping in the kitchen. He would not do low level work like cleaning.

This is how we clean piles of dishes, normalky there are about six to eight people assigned for this job. On the other hand, I am always the only man cleaning the floors. They have to find someone reliable for that kind of solo work.

This is the garage and lobby of the house, at the moment there are a lot of gods in this funeral service room, including Mao.

This sentence in white ink is the next half of an antithetical couplet 对联, which is always shown on both sides of a door. This half Couple says that We cannot stop missing you, and your looks are still so vivid in our minds.

This is the first half of a couplet, it says, when we enter the coffin room, we cannot stop our tears, goodbye mother/grandma.

This is just one room of the feast, there are three temporary rooms, all together there were typically 40 tables of guests, about 300 guests and helpers.

I dont know who this figure is, he guards one of the doors to the coffin room. He is probably Guan Yu关公。

This is another guard. He looks like 张飞, another main role and warrior in The Romance of Three Kingdoms.

These red packets are firecracks. They are short, used to annouce another round of ceremony begins.

This is a bag of snacks, the shredded peel of grapefruit soaked in liquid sugar. I guess it is used to be dessert serving the gods.

These yellow papers are cash used in the lower world.

These two containers are full of gadgets that visitors will hold on hands while walking and grieving along side of the coffin. The leaders and singers will hold the two large ones, while guests just hold smaller sticks. I dont know what they stand for.

This red and yellow and black brush like gadget will be hold by the funeral leaders who are paid to organize all ceremones.

The basin is full of ash, it is used to burn the yellow paper cash by the visitors as a gift for the deceased to use in her new home, maybe buy a piece of furniture, or some land.

Rice, acohole and tea, brought by her offsprings, for the deceased to enjoy.

Twelve animals made of coloful dough, by a crew who made all these coloful ceremony decorations and gadgets.

This yellow man is leading the lady to her new home.

That is my neighbor, she is a Buddhist, used to pray on behalf of families in Jiuxi Temple, and get commission as her income. She died at the age of 86.

That is where the traditional musical band sit.

In recent years, there is an additional musical band in every funeral, and they have a local woman, sometimes a man too, singing on the last day. They also encourage guests to sing Karaokay.

This box is a gift from her neighew.

This is the spirit of tablet of a god called Lamp Messenger.

Ancestors of the Chen Family. Her husband is a Chen.

Below this glass the lady lies quietly.

That is the coffin, a freezer, something new as well.

This table is used to collect gift money/funerral contribution from each guest, each contribution will receive one or two packs of cigarates and a towl for return. The table normally has three people working there, one writes down the amounts and names, another takes the cash and the third gives a package as return.

These are wreathes from various families or friends.

This is called Golden Mountain, a god in the middle of a mountain. Normally it is a gift paid by the daughter or granddaughter, to her brother or father. In this funeral, I saw four of them. So her daughter and grand daughter both paid the paper crew on site to make a pair of these, the Gold Mountain, and the Silver Mountain.

Another god guarding the fourtune.

The third.

A photo from outside.

A few ladies are assigned to serve tea, when their husbands are not available.

Where a man is assigned to make boiled water.


The 10th course, bamboo shoots. The 9th course, salty fish. The main dish, fatty pork. Goat meat. SoupShrimpMushroomMain dish, small abalone. The first course, duck.

The Rocky Blackboard and New -democratic Revolution

Jinjing is the name of my town. There is a central park called ShiBiHu 石壁湖, which means The Lake of Rocky Wall.

Look at the photo above, there is such a rocky wall behind me and my students. What is special about it? It was used as a giant blackboard by the local scholars, mainly local teachers, to educate the Jinjing people about a new democratic revolution 100 years ago.

They used limewash and huge brushes to write slogans on this eall, such as: democracy, science, freedom, etc. These modern new words inspired more and more local youth to fight against the old system, and began to see a much wider horizon.

Stone Boat and Mysterious Carvings

There is a place near our town called Stone Boat 石船. There used to be a boat built up with pieces of rocks. Unfortunately the mysterious boat was destroyed by the local peasants during the Great Leap Forward Movement period in 1958. A local friend told me that people destroyed it just to get the rocks to build a foundation of a preliminary school.

At that time, old things were all regarded as useless and obstacles in our path to a bright future. I asked an old man living nearby if he had seen the boat, he said no but told me the size – about five meters long. So it was not small.

Why our ancestors built such a stone boat remains a myth because the place is no way near any river or lake allowing a boat to float.

The only explanation is the globle flood that appears in Bible and many early human legends. In China we had a lengend called YU大禹, he was a tribal leader who led the people to straighten the rivers and let the floods flow fastly into the ocean. I guess such floods existed in Jinjing and the entire Hunan Province, and the floods remained between the mountains for years, so people built such a stone boat to celebrate the success.

Just 50 years ago, many Hunan mountain towns and villages were still threatened by the floods, including the Ph.D Village and my town Jinjing, both are near a river. We have the reason to believe that our ancestors lived in similar situations, or worse, 5000 years ago.

Since the stone boat is at least ten meters higher than the nearby river, we assume the flood was massive and it could be caused by an asteroid hit somewhere on the planet.

But why didnt the locals care about the mysterious and precious antique stone boat in 1958? Well, that was Mao s order and persuasion. People had no respect to the old world. Mao destroyed everything which distract people s respect to build his very own shrine.

I can take you to look for this place if interested. There are still some mysterious stone carvings on the rocks, along side the boat site, in the valley.

People say the carvings are all symbols of fisherman. We have more of similar carvings near our village as well, also deep in the valley, also no way near a river, also about ten meters higher than the water level in a river in our town.