Articles
Youth guards secures the old Temple of Heaven, sharpshooters shoot down escaping Sparrows
From the Archives (Beijing Daily, April 20,1958):

shooting sparrow Translation of the article:

 Youth guards secures the old Temple of Heaven,  sharpshooters shoot down escaping Sparrows

 The old Temple of Heaven was yesterday shaked by  thunderous blasts in the dawn. Soldiers, workers and  commune members waved flags made of old worn-out clothes,  colorful silks and scarf’s, yelling and beating drums; banging  and firing off double bang fire-crackers, that one by one would  explode and create havoc in the sky. Where ever Sparrows  went shattering blasts would follow, not allowing them one  moment of peace.

 Some Sparrows flew high in the sky trying to escape beyond  the outer wall of the premises, but outside 8000 youth guards  were already in place. The youth guards yelled and scared the  wits out of the sparrows and some fell headfirst in to the  moat.

 Many sparrows just could not find any escape route, but flew  to and from their normal resting place at the South wall of the  inner complex, where the sacred herd* used to grass, but  here 30 first grade and second grade sharpshooters from the  police force were waiting. The eyes and movements of the  sharpshooters were quick and able, with every gun shot fired  several sparrows fell to the ground.

 He Shizhang killed three sparrows with one shot, Zhang  Shuwu also killed 6 sparrows in three shots. Within the four  hours of fighting in the morning these 30 warriors killed more than 110 sparrows. Shi Jinke shot the most.  He altogether shot 16 sparrows. Yesterday altogether 966 sparrows were killed, of these 40 percent died  of exhaustion

 *the animals of the sacred herd were used as offerings at the ritual ceremonies that took place at Temple  of Heaven during the dynasties

 
Dashilanr

 

dashalanrJust South of Tiananmen square is the historical entertainment district of Beijing ‘Dashilan’ located. Parts of it has been restored or actually completely rebuilt. This has capped the place with a somewhat plastic design that seems to only ‘attract’ the huge amount of tour groups that are literally dragged there. But if you leave the main roads there is still ample prove of the amazing past of this area to be found.2

Dashilan has its origin from trade routes that were created when merchants travelled into the Mongolian capital of Dadu (name of Beijingduring Mongolian rule) some 800 years ago. Walking around the area it is immediately perceptible that many streets are not straight like most streets in old Beijing. This owes to the way settlements accumulated in this area along the trade routes just outside the city gates.

Later, during the Ming dynasty, Dashilan was incorporated into the city, when the Outer City Wall was built South of the original City Wall or Inner City as it is often called. When the Manchus took over the capital in 1644 and founded the Qing dynasty they decided to expel the original Han Chinese population from the Inner City to the Outer City.At the same time, entertainment establishments like brothels, teahouses, Beijing Opera theaters were, if not banned, then at least heavily restricted within the Inner City. This further added to the area just outside Qianmen Gate, becoming the most important commercial and entertainment center of town.

5 opium smokers ca 1900The name Dashilan means big fence and dates back to the Qing dynasty. It referred to the street gates of Beijing that was closed every night when a curfew was imposed. Visitors to the brothels and opium dens of Dashilan could literally get trapped away from home if they did not make it before the gates shot. Entering Dashilan from the Inner City was like entering another world. Many emperors found this entertainment paradise much more appealing than the strict ceremonial rules of the Imperial Palace, and there are many stories of the imperial escapades.

billeder fra kamera 059After the Second Opium War (1860), when the British and French won the right to settle in Beijing, the Dashilan area became heavily influenced by the new breed of foreign customers. Many shops targeted the westerners as their main customers with signs on the shop front in European languages. This affiliation to the foreigners prompted the so-called Boxers to actually burn down huge areas of Dashilan during the summer of 1900. The Boxers wished to rid China of the foreign devils and return to the old ways. But despite these efforts, the Boxers were not able to turn the tides of development.In fact foreign influence was just to become even more pronounced. After 1911 when the last emperor abdicated, the imperial building restrictions were lifted. This resulted in a thorough western style modernization of the area. Today it is still possible to find numerous ‘Art Deco’ facades in the area dating back to around the 1920s and 1930s.

After the Communist ‘Liberation’ of Beijing in 1949, the opium dens and the brothels were closed down gradually, but many shops dealing in silk, cloth shoes, knifes, medicine etc. were kept in the area. These old shops still exist today and they are not without a certain prevailing charm. Despite this it does not feels like the adventure really start till you venture in to the largely untouched hutongs around Dashilan Xijie. Here you can still find areas that have escaped the often well meant but largely destructive efforts of the present day developers.get of the plastic main streetbilleder fra kamera 040

 

 

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Another eunuch commits suicide

From the archives (Shuntianshibao, Nov. 1924):

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Translation of the article above:

Another eunuch commits suicide

In the Rong family mansion, at Maoer Hutong just of Dianmenwai, a eunuch named Wang was found hanged in an empty room, by a passerby. The closest police station was thereafter immediately called in order to have police officers inspect the place. It is said that the eunuch was hired by the Rong family after he was expelled from the imperial palace alongside the abdicated emperor (The head of the Rong family is the parents-in-law of the abdicated emperor). Nobody had expected that the eunuch was so aggrieved by the loss of almost all his possessions in the palace, that he would choose to commit suicide.

____________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 
Sai Jinhua-the Life and Legend of Beijing's Most Famous Prostitute

Saijinhua01

A hundred years ago, in a country on the verge of collapse, a woman from the shadows stood up and defended her Chinese countrymen. Abandoned by the imperial government, and occupied by western forces, the fate of Beijing was placed on the narrow shoulders of a common courtesan.

But who was this saint like figure? A plain prostitute or a Maria of the East? The lover of a German general? A brothel madam? An opium addict? Or a liar and a cheat?

 

To most Chinese the name of Sai Jinhua will ring a bell. They might not be able to remember the full story behind it, but the majority can recall something about an affair with a German general within the Forbidden City.

80 years ago this was totally different. Sai Jinhua was on everybody’s lips. The story of the courtesan who stood up to foreign occupiers, intrigued a whole nation. Sai Jinhua became a living legend, a symbol of resistance first against the hated eight allied nations who quelled the Boxer Rebellion and then against the Japanese.

Looking in to the story of Sai Jinhua it is very difficult to tell right from wrong. The story becomes particularly confusing because of the many different narratives. Some are interviews with the real historical person and some are pure fiction.

The early years

Saijinhua_Wedding

What can be established with certainty is that Sai Jinhua came from an area close to Suzhou in the South. Allegedly she was born there in 1874. Already as a juvenile she worked on a pleasure boat, a kind of floating brothel, entertaining wealthy customers in the canals. This was where she met her first husband, Hong Jun.

Hong Jun brought her into his home making her his third wife. He was an incredibly wealthy official of the imperial government and was more than thirty years older than his young bride. Not long after the wedding, Hong Jun was send to Germany to act as an ambassador, and Sai Jinhua followed her husband to Europe. It was highly unusual for women to be able to travel abroad, and the experience would leave a permanent impression on the young girl. In Europe Sai Jinhua learned German and gained a whole new perspective of the world. After three years in Germany (1889-1892) Sai Jinhua returned to China with her husband. But not long after the return Hong Jun died. Embarrassed by her being a prostitute and allegedly not willing to give her any share in the heritage, Hong Jun’s family expelled Sai Jinhua.

On her own again, Sai Jinhua turned to the one profession she knew: prostitution. Quickly she earned a name for herself as a high-class courtesan playing on her past as a wife to one of the most respected diplomats in the country. But the fame she gained from this affiliation was nothing compared with what would come.

Becoming a living legend

In the year 1900 Sai Jinhua had found her way to Beijing and opened a brothel at the infamous entertainment district, Bada Hutong.

This was the year of the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers, a sectarian band of Kungfu trained rebels, wanted to rid China of all foreign influence. Foreigners and anyone associated with them were literally getting killed in the streets. It was in many ways a popular revolt, even the imperial government sympathized with it. The rebellion did not end till an army of allied colonial powers forced themselves into China and occupied the capital.

Saijinhua02

The Imperial court fled and left Beijing without any constituted leaders. In this whole new environment Sai Jinhua got to play a role because of her ability to speak German.

Command of the German language was especially important because the supreme commander of the allied forces, General Von Waldersee, was German. Some sources question how much German she could actually speak, but it must have been at least enough to have a small conversation, because first hand sources describe speaking to her in German.

According to legend Sai Jinhua saved numerous Chinese from being beheaded and brokered deals with the occupiers by speaking to officers of the allied forces. This gained Sai Jinhua a reputation as a savior of the city, and brought thriving business to her brothel.

The story of the heroic courtesan saving her country men just seemed to grow stronger and stronger, already a few years after the Boxer Rebellion the first stories of Sai Jinhua were published. In most of them she was a pure angel, but in some she was accused of having an affair with General Von Waldersee inside the Forbidden City on imperial bed sheets. This relationship has never in anyway been proven.

Expelled

 

Sai Jinhua did not get to enjoy her success for long. Because in 1903 she was convicted of maltreating a prostitute in her brothel. Upon the sentence she was expelled from Beijing. She returned to the South and lived for a long time in Shanghai. She married twice but both of her husband’s died only a short time in to the marriage. After both of these marriages, the story repeated itself and just like after her first marriage she was expelled by the family upon the death of her husband.

Rediscovered

 

Saijinhua03Sai Jinhua returned to Beijing in 1918 with her third husband. After his death  she settled south of the city at Tianqiao, a poor area of mixed reputation. Nobody knew who this middle-aged woman was, because Sai Jinhua registered under a different name. But in 1930 she had become so poor that she could not even pay her rent. This made her apply for a kind of social support at the local police station, and this was how a journalist of a small newspaper realized who she was and published an article about her.

The story of her reappearance spread like wildfire. Sai Jinhua received both money, fruit baskets and other gifts from supporters all over the city. Even though she had been expelled from the capital in disgrace her reputation as a guardian angel seemed intact.

Poems and plays were written about her and the famous intellectual Liu Bannong wrote a book about her based on 10 interviews conducted with her at the 5 star Dongfang hotel.

One of the reasons behind this outburst of support was the Japanese threat. The story of Sai Jinhua - a common prostitute standing up to foreign occupiers could not help resonate in the environment of the 1930’s where a foreign power  once again stood on China’s doorstep. At some theaters the play about Sai Jinhua was even banned by the government for fear of enraging the Japanese.

The legacySaijinhua04

 

In 1936 Sai Jinhua died. She was buried in Taoranting Park as a national hero. After her death people who had known her published a number of accounts on  her, and not all of these publications portrayed the “real” Sai Jinhua in a favourable light, some even accused her of being a liar.

Despite of this the legend of the courtesan who stood up against foreign powers survived, and last year the theater play about her that was banned in the 1930’s premiered at Beijings Poly theater.

The role of Sai Jinhua was played by Liu Xiaoqing, an actor who infamously claimed to be the best actor in China in the 1980s, a time where this kind of boasting behavior was not looked lightly upon. Apart from this Liu Xiaoqing have also just like Sai Jinhua gone through several marriages and even served more than 400 days in prison for tax fraud. Having such a prominent yet controversial character play Sai Jin Hua vitalized the part, and proved that a story of a righteous selfmade woman, standing up against the norms of society, still have resonance in China today.

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外国人眼中的老北京
220px-Laoshe外国人眼中的老北京- 老舍眼中的照片

我们北京卡片收藏的北京的老照片,大部分是外国人拍的。我们收藏的照片大多数是1900年和1949年拍的。当时住在北京的外国人因为各种原因把自己的生活环境记录下来。但这并不说明中国人自己不拍照。

中国著名的作家老舍1936年就把上个世纪描写成照片的世纪。他在《照片》这篇文章里面写到"。。这个世纪整个的是"照相世纪"想想,你跳得出去吗?"

外国人在中国拍的照片跟中国人拍的区别很大,尤其是上个世纪。这主要是因为他们拍照片的目的不同。"记录"和"纪念"是两个概念。

来到中国的外国人希望把中国这个地方记录下来。回国以后就可以拿照片给自己国家的人看,让他们更好地了解中国。中国人拍照片的目的是完全不一样的。他们并没有向别人展示中国的必要。大部分中国人拍的照片是一种代表自己身份的照片。老舍为什么三十年代觉得跳不开,是因为那个时候中国社会上的机构,每个重要仪式都会拍照作为纪念。按老舍说的, 如果不愿意拍照,就不要上学,不要参加工作,不要结婚,差不多也不要出生。按老舍说的没有照片是没有办法的,只能冲着镜头说"茄子"。

不能把照片所记录的东西看成是一种客观的真相,而且照片也不可能是客观的。因为总是会有一个按快门的人,决定你在照片上面看到的东西。

看外国人在北京街道上拍的照片,很容易以为这些照片比中国人在照相馆里拍的更真实。这么想也不是完全不对,外国人拍的照片里面没有故意安排任何道具,但照片还是按外国人的想法拍的。如果是中国人拍,照片里面应该不会有这么多人力车,独轮车和骆驼。一个地地道道的北京人为什么要把这些天天都能看到的东西拍下来?!如果100年以前把照相机给北京人,让他们在街上随便去拍,他们应该会拍下一些完全不一样的照片,也许里面会有好多老外出现。因为那个时候外国人对中国人来说很神奇。

按老舍写的照片就是一种每个家庭都离不开的东西,因为没有比照片能更好地代表身份的东西。因为如果强上挂着比如国画,也许可人为了炫耀自己的文化水平,就会开始批评这件艺术品,但是如果挂着的是你家人的照片,客人就无法直接说好不好看或者挂这张照片对不对。照片完全是一种代表自己的东西,可以通过照片展示自己最好看的一面。不过,只有一种照片不要公开挂出来,就是自己跟其他女孩一起照的照片。这种照片最好藏起来。

 
雍和宫之谜
雍和宫之谜

 

Yonghegong_Lama_Templeonline casino blackjack left; margin-right: 10px;" />在我的书架上有好几本我从来没有看过的书。这些书是因为各种原因摆在那儿。有的是朋友送的,有的是大学的课本,有的是从朋友那借的,还没还给他们。这些书都有一个共同点,我不是真正想看里面的内容!但除了这些书以外,我的书架上还有另外一种我从来没看过的书。最有代表的应该是我前几年买的全套《清代雍和宫档案史料》。 站在我书架上的这12本书,我确实很想看。我经常会拿一本下来翻一翻,但除了佩服当时的书法以外我是完全看不进去的。一个是我古文很不好(基本上不存在),另外书里面的档案资料很多不是用中文写的,什么满文的,蒙文的,藏文的都有!

我是对雍和宫很有兴趣的,书架上的这些档案书并不是我唯一收藏的关于雍和宫的书,还有十来本关于位于北二环的这个老庙的书。这个兴趣具体来自哪我真不知道。但至少这跟宗教一点关系也没有。我自己以为我这个兴趣来自雍和宫很复杂的历史。雍和宫到底是什么?宫,王府,庙,学校?越看越搞不清楚。

看一个原来北京城的清代地图,就能看出来没有多少机构比雍和宫面积还要大。按中国藏学出版社1994年出的上世纪50年代写的《雍和宫志略》, 雍和宫清朝人数最多的时候就有超过800多名喇嘛。这是一个巨大的数字,说明雍和宫的地位当时应该很高。雍和宫里面的喇嘛都是外来的,很大的一部分是蒙古族,虽然雍和宫是一家藏传佛教的庙,但藏人很少,大部分的喇嘛是从内外蒙最强大的部落选出来的。

我很想知道这些游牧的孩子一来到北京会有一些怎么样的想法。因为很难想象两个区别如此之大的地方:宽阔的草原跟当时围着城墙的北京。外来的人经常会注意到一些本地人习惯了所以看不到的东西。

我们"北京卡片"收藏的北京照片大部分确实不是北京人拍的,很大的一部分是当时驻在北京的西方人拍的。这些西方人当然是按自己的想法把北京记录下来。他们注意的跟当地人注意的很不一样。但西方人拍的也有好多共同点,前门大街,前门城楼跟天安门城楼的照片等,一个可能是这些建筑确实比较突出, 另外前门楼跟天安门城楼正好在大部分西方人住的东交民巷旁边。他们的生活环境就是在那。看照片总是要提醒自己,看到的确实不是一种客观的真相。你是通过别人的眼睛看到当时的情景的。因为我们的照片很大的一部分是西方人拍的,所以很容易忘记我们只是从一个角度看到清代的京城。

如果那帮蒙古族喇嘛有过相机他们就会拍一些怎么样的东西,我真不知道,但我敢肯定他们会去拍一些西方人根本想不到去拍的照片。一个蒙人在清代时期,在去北京的路上从很远的地方第一次见到北京16米高的城墙会是什么想法。我就是不知道,但肯定有想法。

也许我书架上的《清代雍和宫档案史料》里面会有这帮蒙人的声音,但因为我水平太低,这些书目前为止只能站在这提醒我有这么一个历史等着我。

 

 
东方饭店 -北京第一个中国人开的饭店
东方饭店 -北京第一个中国人开的饭店

很多人知道北京第一个饭店是位于长安大街的北京饭店,但北京饭店并不是中国人自己开的,接待的客人大多数原来也并不是中国人。说到这就当然会很自然的问起:北京第一家中国人自己开的饭店是哪一家呢?

估计大多数的人都没法回答这个问题,我反正遇到曹鹏先生之前是完全不知道的。我是因为以前当过导游认识到曹鹏的。那个时候我跟旅行团经常住在虎坊桥附近的东方饭店,我们导游们觉得这里又破又烂并不喜欢住在这儿。(今天的东方饭店,因为全部都装修过,跟那个时候完全不一样了)。

六年之前我跟一个丹麦团刚入住了东方饭店后,就开始注意到一块墙上面写着"始建1918年"的牌子。饭店服务员后来告诉我东方饭店准备改成民国时期主题的饭店,我一听第一个反映就是有一点假,我住的这个破饭店怎么可能历史这么悠久?但详细问过前台的服务员以后,我就发现东方饭店确实是1918年建的,而且是中国人自己建的第一个饭店。也许我问得太多反正那个服务员最后把东方饭店文化部的经理叫过来回答我的问题,他就是曹鹏。

我记得很清楚,那天第一次跟他见面。忽然有一个很谨慎的男人,从饭店平时见不到的办公室"蹦"出来,而开始把饭店的历史从头到尾讲出来。我并没想到东方饭店有这么多内容可讲,但让我最惊讶的是曹鹏一开口说话,我就完全能感觉出来,他不是讲别人跟他说的或者书上看到的内容,他讲的完全是从档案里查到的。

这是很难得的,因为说实话,我觉得中国大众读的历史书有一个很普遍的问题,就是大多数不会告诉你书里面资料的出处,很多历史书也会抄写别人写的,在这个过程当中历史就经常会变成传说。但曹鹏就不一样了,在东方饭店自己出的《北京东方饭店九十年》纪念册当中,他把每件事无伦有多大都详细的告诉你,是从那本书或者档案查到的。

跟曹鹏聊了五分钟后,就不觉得东方饭店是一家民国主题的饭店奇怪了。因为东方饭店确实跟这个时期有很密切的关系。

东方饭店本身就是民国时期(1918年)开的。在最早的股东当中有几个跟袁世凯的儿子袁克恒有很近的关系。

北京这家第一个中国人自己开的酒店位于民国时期的"新城"。北京政府成立后不久,京都市政公所(差不多可算是那个时候的北京市政府)实施了"香厂模范新市区"规划,这个新城14条街道是北京城第一个都有电线跟电话线的城区。东方饭店是"香厂"区很重要的部分。

按曹鹏说的中国有钱人选择住东方饭店有好多原因。一个当然是东方饭店设施好,在东方饭店每个房间都有电话,这是个连北京饭店都达不到的标准。汽车上其他的宾馆也没法跟东方饭店比,在北京1918年登记的154辆车当中有7辆是东方的。

但除了服务以外中国有钱人也有别的原因选择住东方饭店,按曹鹏说的很多中国人有一点儿不适应住法国人开的北京饭店,跟德国人开的六国饭店,而且跟外国人呆在一块儿有的中国人也会有一点儿自卑。东方饭店虽然是一家欧式饭店,更知道怎么接待中国人。可能是因为这个原因,一说起民国时期的名人,很多都住过东方饭店。比如像鲁迅,张大千,张学良,李大钊等等名人都住过这里。

 我那一天跟曹鹏第一次见面,跟他呆了一个下午,回到房间后我差不多有点儿晕。曹鹏给我讲了太多内容了,但我发现历史经常就是那样,如果把最表面上的那面拔掉,下面就会有好多原来根本想不到的东西!

 
八国联军做过好多坏事!
八国联军做过好多坏事!

——但烧掉前门城楼不是其中一件

有的时候历史书会忘记查看资料的来源,盲目的抄写别的作家已写的书,这样的书很容易发生错误,而且有的时候这些不准确的地方,连会变成根本没有历史根据的"传说"。谁烧掉了前门楼这个问题很有代表。

如果在书里面或者网上查看关于北京前门城楼的资料,就会发现好多地方说,该城楼1901年被八国联军烧掉了。这些书跟网页都有一个共同点:他们都不会告诉你这个故事的来源。感觉是大家习惯了这个说法,觉得没有必要去查看当时的资料。

但在文匯出版社2009年出的《绝版李鸿章》里面有六张'前门在燃烧'的照片。这六张照片是1900年6月16日拍下来的,这个时候八国联军还没进北京城(八国联军是8月14日才进北京城的)。如果还没到北京这八个国家的士兵就怎么烧掉前门城楼呢。

也许是因为义和团原来是对的。他们不是把洋人看成鬼吗?如果是这样,也许八国联军原来就有一种特别的功能,可以在很远的地方,烧掉北京的房子。

但按《绝版李鸿章》写的就不是这个样子的。这本书里面说前门城楼被烧掉的原因,就是因为义和团团民自己在前门前放火烧了卖洋货店,在这个过程当中前门大街(包括前门城楼)都被火烧光了。说明虽然八国联军后来做过好多坏事,烧掉前门城楼不是其中一个。

 
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说我爱北京天安门也许有点儿夸张,但说我依赖北京天安门一点儿问题也没有。因为在发展飞快的北京,我基本上只能想起北京天安门最近10年没有一个特别明显的变化。

  有人可能会觉得用依赖这个词不太好,依赖一般形容的是种很近的关系,但我自己并不觉得这样说奇怪,因为对我来说没有天安门城楼就没有北京。

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