Southwest China's Sichuan Province Thursday unveiled the signboard of China's first museum on antique book repairing, an endangered craft vital to the country's huge inventory of ancient texts.
The 1,100-square-meter museum in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, displays 500 artifacts that allow the public to better understand the craft's complicated procedures and behold the works of accomplished restorers.
It also features a demonstration zone for visitors to view the process, which includes over 20 steps from making glue to bookbinding.
Peng Dequan, who initiated the founding of the museum, said China is under strain to salvage many ancient books and documents that suffer from mildew, moths and other forms of damage.
Many skilled restorers, however, are elderly without successors, which prompted him to open the museum to promote the craft.
In China, books written or printed before 1912 featuring classical book-binding styles are classified as antique books. It is estimated that China has about 50 million antique books, among which the foremost 20 million have been protected, leaving a daunting task for book repairers.
Da Chen, the brilliant storyteller who drew from the hardships he suffered as a persecuted child growing up in the midst of China's cultural revolution to create the critically acclaimed memoir "Colors of the Mountain," has died at age 57.
Chen died of lung cancer on Dec. 17, his wife, Dr. Sun-Ling Chen, told The Associated Press on Tuesday from the family's home in Temecula, California.
His most recent book, "Girl Under a Red Moon," was published just three months ago.
Chen's breakthrough came in 1999 with the critically acclaimed, best-selling "Colors of the Mountain," in which he recounted the abuses he and his family suffered during the latter years of the country's Cultural Revolution.
It was a time when the Communist Party and its leader, Max Zedong, were cementing their grip on power following the country's 1949 revolution and Chen's family, who had been prosperous landowners, became pariahs, as did many others.
Chen was bullied in school and eventually kicked out to work in farm fields as a pre-teen while his father and grandfather, college-educated intellectuals, were tortured and sent to reeducation camps.
"He watched his father being hung up by his thumbs and beaten and his grandfather stoned frequently with rocks thrown at him by children," Chen's wife said. "He would undergo a lot of humiliation parades where they would throw fruit and other things at him. Frequently he was sent to labor camps where he worked with people twice his age digging irrigation trenches in the mountains."
Eventually a kindhearted teacher sneaked Chen back into school and, after Mao died in 1976, he was allowed to take the country's college entrance exam on which he scored among the highest in the country. He was admitted to the prestigious Beijing Language and Cultural University where upon graduation he joined the faculty teaching English.
After being offered a scholarship to Nebraska's Union College, Chen recalled arriving in the United States with little more than $30 and his treasured bamboo flute. He supported himself for a time as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
"He always said he was one of the best Chinese waiters in Lincoln, Nebraska," his wife recalled with a chuckle.
Soon after his arrival in Nebraska, however, he received a scholarship offer from Columbia University and headed to New York.
After earning a law degree, he went to work as an investment banker on Wall Street. That's when he also began to turn his hand to writing, inspired by the great thriller writer John Grisham.
He tried twice to write a legal thriller like Grisham's, recalled his wife who worked as his editor. She described the first effort as "awful" and the second as "mediocre."
It was after the second one, she told him, that he ought to start writing down those stories he'd told his family about his early years in China.
The result was "Colors of the Mountain," published to immediate acclaim.
A New York Times best seller, it has been published in seven languages and, like his other books, taught at schools and universities.
"Despite the devastating circumstances of his childhood and adolescence, Chen recounts his coming of age with arresting simplicity," Publishers Weekly said of the book. "Readers will cry along with this sad, funny boy who proves tough enough to make it, every step of the painful way."
Other works include "Sounds of the River," which recounted his leaving his poor south China town of Yellow Stone to attend college in Beijing.
In "Brothers: A Novel," Chen turned to fiction in addressing the Cultural Revolution, this time with the tale of two brothers, one born into wealth as the son of a general, another into poverty as the son of the general's mistress.
He also published several children's books, including, "Wandering Warrior," a fantasy story set in ancient China in which he said the 11-year-old protagonist was the kind of heroic young warrior he fantasized being.
His most recent work, "Girl Under a Red Moon," casts his real-life sister Xi Xi as the heroine during China's Cultural Revolution.
In addition to his wife, Chen is survived by a daughter, Victoria, a son, Michael, and four siblings.
Memorial services are pending.
Alliance Française de Dhaka’s musical event 'Cello-Piano-Audio 3' by renowned maestro cellist Philip Hazra and Russian pianist Yulia Evdokimova enthralled the classical music lovers on Saturday.
Despite the chill factor in the weather, classical music admirers joined the musical duet event which was held at the La Galerie in Alliance Française de Dhaka, Dhanmondi in the capital from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
The tracklist for the third edition contained a total of 12 tracks: Theme from ‘Love Story’ (Accompanied by guest pianist Zurafa Tasnim Heeya, originally composed by Francis Lai and Carl Sigman); ‘Prelude, Suite no. 1’ by J. S. Bach, ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’ by P. de Sellnville, ‘Traumerei’ by Schumann, ‘Symphony no. 40’ by W. A. Mozart, ‘The Swan’ by C. Saint-Saens, ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay/ Brooklyn Duo, ‘Sound of Silence’ by Paul Simon, ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘Game of Thrones’ by Ramin Djawadi, ‘Salut d'amour’ by Edward Elgar and ‘Thais - Meditation’ by j. Massenet.
“Although the weather is very, very cold- the musical duo turned the evening mesmerizing through their excellent instrument playing,” Bushra, an enthusiast in the audience, told UNB the event.
Cellist Philip Hazra has been promoting western classical music in Bangladesh for a long time through teaching Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass. As a maestro of violin and cello, he has been teaching at Alliance Française de Dhaka since 2007.
Russian pianist Yulia Evdokimova, on the other hand, has also been teaching piano in Bangladesh for the last twenty years and well-known everywhere for her magnificent piano recitation.
Bangladesh is getting ready to celebrate 2020 as ‘Mujib-Year’, the birth centenary of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman- and in order to celebrate the occasion with cultural festivity, a cultural workshop kicked off on Thursday at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
State minister for cultural affairs KM Khalid inaugurated the workshop at National Theatre Hall on Thursday at 12 pm.
The inauguration ceremony, presided by BSA director general Liaquat Ali Lucky, was also joined by the selected artistes of BSA, the workshop’s trainer and country’s renowned singer Sabina Yasmin and BSA’s music director Chandan Dutta.
“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the visionary of a culturally enriched Bangladesh, and it is our responsibility to pave him the glorious tribute he rightfully deserves on his birth centenary. This workshop’s aim is to ensure that adequate preparation” KM Khalid said at the event.
From the trainers, Sabina Yasmin said “It is our responsibility to adequately train all these promising performers so that they can deliver mesmerizing performance on the glorious occasion- and I am immensely happy and honored to guide them.”
Describing the musical preparation of BSA, Liaquat Ali Lucky said that in order to commemorate the father of the nation on his birth centenary in the upcoming year, BSA has already selected six hundred promising artists. Eminent singer Sirajus Salekin conducted a special, weeklong training workshop with the selected artists on mass-music from 2-9 Decemeber.
Following the seminar, Sabina Yasmin started the workshop with the attending artistes through chorusing the song ‘Jonmo Amar Dhonno Holo”. The performance was then followed by four other group songs led by Sabina Yasmin- “Shei Rail Line Er Metho Pothtar Dhare Dariye”, “Akash Vora Surjo Tara”, “A Mati Noy Jongibaader” and “O Jar Apon Khobor Apnar Hoy Na”.
Scarlet shackles sit peacefully on display in front of a sad, gray backdrop. The now rusted leg irons once locked human ankles during 18th century voyages from Africa to some European port, then to the Americas.
Who the shackles held remain a mystery. But as a citizen of the United States, I've likely broken bread with a descendant of the woman forced to wear this instrument. Maybe my uncle fought alongside her kin in a war. Or it's possible one of her distant relatives is now be my relative.
These are the thoughts I entertain recently while walking through the reflective International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England. Founded in 2007 on the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade, the museum sits just a short walk from the dry docks where slave trading ships were repaired and fitted out in the 1700s. (And it's close by the The Beatles Story, the world's largest permanent exhibition purely devoted to the hometown band.) Once a major slaving port, Liverpool grew thanks to merchants' financial ties to the enslavement of people to the Americas.
Today, the building tells the story of the enslavement of people from Africa and how this British city benefited from human bondage. The Liverpool location reclaims a space once connected to worldwide human suffering and is similar to O Mercado de Escravos — the slavery museum in Lagos, Portugal, where the European slave trade began. But Liverpool's museum is much larger, more interactive, and more ambitious without being exploitative.
Inside, visitors immediately are taken on a meditative experience focusing on Africa before European contact. You are greeted by quotes of American abolitionists and civil rights leaders etched into stone walls before you see traditional masks from present-day Sierra Leone and Mali. There are vibrant textiles from Ghana, intricate headdresses from Cameroon and samples of Igbo wall painting from Nigeria. You can listen to samples of drum signals from the Republic of Congo or a Mbuti hunting song. The messages are clear: before enslavement, Africa was a diverse and complex continent with long artistic and religious traditions.
Next, visitors are whisked toward a room tackling enslavement and the brutal Middle Passage. Racial ideologies and Europe's unfamiliarity with the cultures of Africa sparked the slave trade which grew once European powers expanded to the Americas, the museum tells us. In this room, details of the voyage of the ship Essex are reconstructed. That's a slave ship that left Liverpool on June 13, 1783, just nine years after the American Declaration of Independence.
During the Middle Passage portion, visitors encounter shackles and chains used in forts and castles along the African coast to hold humans before their horrific journey. A small replica of a slave boat illustrates how captives were tossed into small compartments. Next to the ship are 18th-century whips and branding irons. Yes, these were used.
Then, there was resistance, liberation, and the long fight for civil rights. Surprising, I walked into an area dedicated to the African American heroes from Harriet Tubman to the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr. and Malcolm X. U.S. news footage from the 1950s and 1960s illustrates how the descendants of those who crossed the Middle Passage had to fight for human rights and against violence amid white supremacy — the ideology that launched racialized slavery in the first place. There's also photos of the civil rights struggles in the United Kingdom from London's "Keep Britain White Rally" in 1960 to the Toxteth Riot of 1981 in Liverpool over allegations of police harassment.
The museum ends with a space for changing exhibits related to the themes around modern-day slavery. During my visit in November, I encountered an exhibition called "Am I not a woman and a sister" — a moving image installation by England-based artist Elizabeth Kwant. She co-created the project with female survivors of modern-day slavery in partnership with Liverpool charity City Hearts. The project links current human trafficking to the story out of the Middle Passage.
In the U.S., journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has sparked conversations about the legacy of slavery in that nation's history with her interactive 1619 Project in The New York Times. It examines the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved people from West Africa on the present-day America's eastern shore. The project challenges readers to consider how their own lives have been shaped by the legacy of slavery and it is helping inspire activists in places like Albuquerque, New Mexico, to push for their own museum of black history.
Walking by an installation of former slave and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, I heard two young black women discussing the 1619 Project and how they didn't understand the criticism it faced for trying to reshape a narrative in the U.S. As we left the Equiano sculpture, we stopped at a display of a 1920-era Ku Klux Klan robe and hood from Port Jervis, New York. The outfit that was once used to terrorize blacks and Catholics stared back down at us. We were silent. But I could feel we were relieved the glass case surrounding it protected us. We were safe for now.
But were we?