YUAN DYNASTY CULTURE, THEATER AND LITERATURE

YUAN DYNASTY CULTURE


Yuan Empress

Yuan dynasty (1260-1368) culture and art reflects the artistic, ethnic, and cultural plurality of China under this short yet important period of Mongol rule. Beautiful paintings and ceramics were produced that continued trends that began in the Tang and Song Dynasties. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne — art forms that originated in Europe — became popular in China.

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Written Language: “The Mongols were great cultural patrons. They conceived, for example, the idea of a new written language that could be used to transcribe a number of the languages within the Mongol domains. Kublai Khan commissioned the Tibetan 'Phags-pa Lama to develop the new script, which came to be known as "the Square Script" or the 'Phags-pa script. Completed around 1269, the Square Script was a remarkable effort to devise a new written language. The Mongol rulers, however, did not foresee how difficult it would be to impose a written language on the population from the top down. Though they passed numerous edicts, regulations, and laws to persuade the public to use the new script, it never gained much popularity and was limited mainly to official uses — on paper money, official seals, a few porcelains, and the passports that were given by the Mongol rulers. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols <|>]

“Theater: The Mongol rulers were ardent patrons of the theater, and the Yuan Dynasty witnessed a golden age of Chinese theater. The theater at this time was full of spectacles, including acrobats, mimes, and colorful costumes — all of which appealed greatly to the Mongols. The Mongol court set up a special theater within the palace compound in Daidu (Beijing) and supported a number of playwrights. <|>

“Painting: The art of painting also flourished under Mongol rule. One of the greatest painters of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhao Mengfu, received a court position from Kublai Khan, and along with Zhao's wife Guan Daosheng, who was also a painter, Zhao received much support and encouragement from the Mongols. Kublai was also a patron to many other Chinese painters (Liu Guandao was another), as well as artisans working in ceramics and fine textiles. In fact, the status of artisans in China was generally improved during the Mongols' reign. <|>

“In addition, many Mongols continued to wear their native costumes of fur and leather, extravagant feasts in the Mongol tradition were held on Kublai Khan's birthday and the birthdays of other great Mongol leaders, and the sport of hunting, a quintessential Mongol activity originally designed as training for warfare, flourished. And when a Mongol princess entered her eighth or ninth month of pregnancy, she continued the custom of moving to a special ger (the traditional Mongol home) to give birth.” <|>

Good Websites and Sources: on the Mongols and Yuan Dynasty Wikipedia Yuan Dynasty Wikipedia ; Mongols in China afe.easia.columbia.edu Mongols Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Mongol Empire allempires.com ; Ghengis Khan, National Geographic National Geographic.com ; Wikipedia Kublai Khan Wikipedia ; Kublai Khan notablebiographies.com ; Good Websites and Sources on the Song Dynasty: Asia for Educators, Columbia University, Primary Sources with DBQs, afe.easia.columbia.edu ; Wikipedia Wikipedia ; San.beck.org san.beck.org ; BCPS bcps.org ; Good Websites and Sources on the Tang Dynasty: Wikipedia ; Google Book: China’s Golden Age: Everday Life in the Tang Dynasty by Charles Benn books.google.com/books; Empress Wu womeninworldhistory.com ; Good Websites and Sources on Tang Culture: Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org ; Tang Poems etext.lib.virginia.edu enter Tang Poems in the search; Tang Horses persiancarpetguide.com China Vista chinavista.com

Good Websites and Sources on Early Chinese History: 1) Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu; 2) Chinese Text Project ctext.org ; 3) Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization depts.washington.edu ; 4) Ancient China Life ancientchinalife.com ; 5) Ancient China for School Kids elibrary.sd71.bc.ca/subject_resources ; Good Chinese History Websites: 1) Chaos Group of University of Maryland chaos.umd.edu/history/toc ; 2) WWW VL: History China vlib.iue.it/history/asia ; 3) Wikipedia article on the History of China Wikipedia 4) China Knowledge; 5) Gutenberg.org e-book gutenberg.org/files ; Links in this Website: Main China Page factsanddetails.com/china (Click History)

Books: 1) Cambridge History of China Vol. 6 (Cambridge University Press); 2) 2) “Housing, Clothing, Cooking, from Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion 1250-1276" by Jacques Gernet (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962). 3) Schafer, Edward H. “The Golden Peaches of Samarkan,” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963; 4) The Culture and Civilization of China, a massive, multi-volume series, (Yale University Press); 5) Benn, Charles, “Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty,” Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002;You can help this site a little by ordering your Amazon books through this link: Amazon.com.

Websites and Resources: Mongols and Horsemen of the Steppe: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; The Mongol Empire web.archive.org/web ; The Mongols in World History afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols ; William of Rubruck's Account of the Mongols washington.edu/silkroad/texts ; Mongol invasion of Rus (pictures) web.archive.org/web ; Encyclopædia Britannica article britannica.com ; Mongol Archives historyonthenet.com ; “The Horse, the Wheel and Language, How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the Modern World", David W Anthony, 2007 archive.org/details/horsewheelandlanguage ; The Scythians - Silk Road Foundation silkroadfoundation.org ; Scythians iranicaonline.org ; Encyclopaedia Britannica article on the Huns britannica.com ; Wikipedia article on Eurasian nomads Wikipedia

Mongol and Chinese Ritual Culture in Yuan Dynasty


modern Mongol shaman

According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: “The Mongols conquered China by force, but the advice of Liao, Chin, and Sung Confucian officials persuaded them to construct religious and Confucian temples, to establish schools, and to re-institute the civil service examination. The result was the adaptation to and adoption of Chinese systems of ritual and music to create a dynastic system for the Mongols in their Yuan dynasty. Though Mongol nobility had their own traditional rites, dynastic ceremonies followed in the Chinese tradition in which revivalistic ritual vessels of bronze and ceramic were often shaped in imitation of ancient bronze ones to suggest the continuity of Confucian traditions.” [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/]

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Mongol Rituals: Though Chinese culture was valued and supported in many ways, as discussed above, this support was not at the expense of the Mongols' own native culture. That is, the Mongols did not abandon their own heritage, even as they adopted many of the values and political structures of the people they conquered and governed. In fact, the Mongol rulers took many steps to preserve the rituals, ceremonies, and the "flavor" of traditional Mongol life. For example, the ritual scattering of mare's milk was still performed every year; and before battle, libations of koumiss (alcoholic drink made of mare's milk) were still poured and the assistance of Tenggeri (the Sky God) still invoked. In fact, traditional Mongol shamanism was well supported, and shamans had positions at Kublai Khan's court in China.” [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols <|>]

Merging of Cultures Under the Golden Khans

According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: “Genghis Khan unified the Mongol tribes of the steppes in 1206, and he and his successors would thereupon establish one of the greatest empires in world history. The elite group of Mongol leaders belonged to the "Altan Urug", which means Golden Clan. This later would become a term for the imperial Mongol clan in general. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/]

“The system of rule that was established by the Golden Clan spanned Asia and into Europe. In the Mongol conquests, many artisans in foreign lands were captured and moved along with the armies. Artistic traditions originally from different cultural and geographic areas consequently experienced interaction and innovation within this open system of rule by the Great Khans. For example, as seen in "Portrait of Emperor Shih-tsu (Kublai Khan)", the artistic techniques to China's southwest blended with the tradition of painting and calligraphy in China proper to create a new style of Yuan imperial portraiture. Traditional painting subjects in China (such as hunting, hawks and falcons, and horses) also found new life and inspiration because of the Mongol rulers, who valued the hunt, horsemanship, and military prowess in their steppe heritage. Thus, an imperial manner of the Khans was invented in art through foreign influences and native re-interpretations. \=/

“At the same time, members of the Golden Clan were also actively forming an image of themselves as the new imperial elite of China. In the face of China's deep-rooted traditions in painting and calligraphy, the Yuan imperial clan and nobility gradually embraced the ideology and activities associated with upper class Chinese society. For example, Princess Hsiang-ko-la-chi would come to hold elegant literary gatherings and Emperors Wen-tsung and Shun-ti sponsored the connoisseurship and collection of painting and calligraphy at court and also used art as imperial gifts (as found in the Chinese tradition). Such activities not only reflected the growing sophistication of the Mongol elite in China, but it also helped them to gain the crucial support of literati groups who molded a new ideal in imperial form. Thus, the Golden Clan formed a court culture that reflected the encounter and synthesis of horseback peoples from the steppes with the brush-wielding Chinese from the Central Plains. \=/


Traveling by Gong Kai Zhong


Artisans in Yuan Dynasty China

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Traditionally, the Chinese prized the products produced by artisans — jades, bronzes, ceramics, porcelains — but did not accord the artisans themselves a high social status. The Mongols, on the other hand, valued crafts and artisanship immensely and implemented many policies that favored artisans. The benefits artisans gained from Mongol rule include freedom from corvée (unpaid) labor, tax remissions, and higher social status. Thus, artisanship reached new heights in the Mongol era. Spectacular textiles and porcelains were produced, and blue and white porcelains, a style generally associated with the Ming dynasty, were actually first developed during the Mongol era. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols <|>]

“The Mongols provided artisans with a higher status than was the case in many societies. Traditional Chinese officials, for example, had prized the goods made by craftsmen but accorded the craftsmen themselves a relatively low social status. The Mongols altered this perception of craftsmen and offered them special concessions and privileges In addition, the Mongols in China established a tremendous array of government offices to supervise the production of craft articles. About one half of the 80 agencies in the Ministry of Works during the Mongol era dealt with the production and collection of textiles. There were also offices for bronzes, and offices of gold and silver utensils. <|>

“The Mongols did not have their own artisan class in traditional times because they migrated from place to place and could not carry with them the supplies needed by artisans. They were thus dependent upon the sedentary world for crafts, and they prized artisans highly. For example, during Genghis Khan's attack on Samarkand, he instructed his soldiers not to harm any artisans or craftsmen. Craftsmen throughout the Mongol domains were offered tax benefits and were freed from corvée labor (unpaid labor), and their products were highly prized by the Mongol elite. The Mongol's extraordinary construction projects required the services of artisans, architects, and technocrats. When Ögödei, Genghis Khan's third son and heir, directed the building of the capital city at Khara Khorum, the first Mongol capital, or when Kublai Khan directed the building of Shangdu (also known as "Xanadu"), his summer capital, as well as the building of the city Daidu (the modern city of Beijing), all required tremendous recruitment of foreign craftsmen and artisans. <|>


horses by Ren Renfa


Art Pantronage of Non-Native Literati

According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: “After the Yuan government re-instituted the civil service examination system in 1315, many non-native scholars gradually became interested in Chinese literature, history, the Classics, and art. In particular, some new members in or associated with the ruling class participated in painting activities from the 1320s to the 1350s (when civil unrest erupted). With their support, the works of native Chinese painters crossed boundaries of ethnicity and gained wider audiences to form a new development in painting. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/ ]

“For example, the southern painters T'ang Ti (1287-1355) and Wang Yuan (fl. late 13th century-1st half of 14th century) received the support of Emperor Wen-tsung. Their style was related to the monumental "imperial landscape" manner of the Northern Sung (960-1126) to reflect the ideals of imperial stability and authority. These artists also created ideal images of a thriving and peaceful people under the emperor. In other cases of such patronage, the scholar Ts'ao Chih-po painted "Two Pines" for the Khitan Shih-mo-chi-tsu and "Mountain Peaks Covered in Snow" for the Tibetan A-li-mu-pa-la. Chao Yung (1290-1360), son of the famous scholar-official artist Chao Meng-fu, painted "Five Horses" for the Mongol general Pei-yen-hu-tu. \=/

“The southern poet-painter Wang Mien (?-1359) also received the patronage of Mongol and Central Asian officials when he was in the capital at Ta-tu (Peking). Such examples demonstrate the importance of artistic patronage by non-native ethnic groups in China during the middle Yuan dynasty.” \=/

Heyday of Chinese Drama Literature in the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1369)


Puppeteers draw a crowd

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “The Mongol rulers were ardent patrons of the theater, and the Yuan Dynasty witnessed a golden age of Chinese theater. The theater at this time was full of spectacles, including acrobats, mimes, and colorful costumes — all of which appealed greatly to the Mongols. The Mongol court set up a special theater within the palace compound in Daidu (Beijing) and supported a number of playwrights. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols <|>]

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theater Academy Helsinki wrote: Northern China was under the dominance of the Mongol warlike nomad-civilization from c. 1215 onwards, and the whole country came under Mongol rule in 1279. During this new dynasty, the Yuan (Yüan), the Chinese themselves became despised in their own country. Lowest was the status of the inhabitants of the regions south of the Yangzi River, although the region had been both economically and culturally very important. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theater Academy Helsinki **]

The scholar-writers of the Yuan dynasty created high-quality dramatic literature, which is still regarded as classic and is still performed in various later styles. They are shorter than the earlier zaju plays. They usually consist of four acts and sometimes kinds of “prologues” or “interludes”, which, however, form an integral part of the whole. More role categories were employed by the Yuan dramas than the earlier zaju and nanxi traditions. **

They include: 1) Mo, or male characters: a) zhengmo (cheng-mo), singing male lead; b) fumo (fu-mo), supporting male character; c) xiaomo (hsiao-mo), young man; and c) chongmo (ch’hung-mo), a kind of narrator or a master of ceremonies. 2) Dan (tan), or female roles: a) zhengdan (cheng-tan), singing female lead; b) fudan, waidan, tiedan (fu-tan, wai-tan, ti’eh-tan), supporting female characters; c) laodan (lao-tan), old female character; d) xiaodan (hsiao-tan), young woman; e) huadan (hua-tan), coquette female character; f) chadan (ch’a-tan), intriguer. 3) Others: a) jing (ching), evil or comic characters; b) za (tsa), supporting minor characters, such as servants, crooks or children. **

An early 14th century temple mural shows a troupe of actors from the Yuan period. The stage has a silken back curtain and the actors wear handsome costumes reflecting their social status. The costumes are, however, not as pompous as the later Peking Opera costumes. The mural also depicts musicians among the actors, a flautist and a percussionist with his clappers. **

Scholar-Officials, Censorship and Yuan-Era Theater

20080217-mongol actor brook.gif
Mongol actor
Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theater Academy Helsinki wrote: “The institution of imperial examinations for scholar-officials, so crucial for the administration and cultural life of the empire, was abolished. Thus the scholar officials could no longer participate in the country's affairs. In former times the Confucian literati formed the elite, but now they were regarded as one class lower than prostitutes and only a grade higher than beggars. The foundation of Chinese society was shaking. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theater Academy Helsinki **]

Many of the frustrated scholar-officials focused their energy on the arts. The theatrical styles shaped in the Song dynasty became extremely popular. Through the theater one was able to explore matters common to all: the cruelty of the conquerors, the tragedies of the war, the separation of families or lovers etc. While reflecting the collective sentiments, theater was able to serve as a form of passive resistance. **

Censorship was, however, merciless. In order to avoid the death penalty, which was the result of any kind of direct criticism, the writers turned for their material to old stories from the country's long history or to popular legends and to early, simple plays. The underlying message was, however, clear to their audiences. **

Famous Yuan Dynasty (1279–1369) Dramatists and Plays

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theater Academy Helsinki wrote: "The names of about a hundred Yuan dramatists have come down to us, and the titles of seven hundred plays are known. The flourish of Yuan drama centred mainly in North China and the then capital, Beijing. The Yuan plays were written to be sung and acted. The language used was mainly the vernacular of its day but the sung “arias” employed sophisticated lyrics. 171 complete Yuan dramas are known today. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theater Academy Helsinki **]

The northern zaju was the style in which these four-act dramas were performed. The music also presented the Yuan zaju style, which unfortunately is lost. At the beginning, one of the supporting characters explained the plot to the audience, after which the leading actors appeared. Only the leading actors sang. Singing, acting, mime and drama merged together, forming an operatic whole. **


Pillow with scene from famous play

The most famous of the Yuan dramatists were “The Four Yuan-Period Masters”, Guan Hanqing (Kuan Han-ch’ing), Ma Zhiyan (Ma Chih-yüan), Bai Pu (Pai P’u), and Zheng Guangzun (Cheng Kuan-tsun). The earliest of them, Guan Hanqing, is regarded as the “Father of Chinese Dramatic Literature”. Another important Yuan period dramatist was Wang Shifu (Wang Shih-fu), who wrote the famous Romance of the Western Chamber, Xixiang ji (Hsi-hsiang chi). **

Guang Hanqing or the “Father of Chinese Dramatic Literature” often portrayed in his crime stories, as did also other Yuan dramatists, mistreated prostitutes and beauties in distress. One of the most famous plays of this genre is Guan Hanqing's Dou E yuan (Tou Eh yüan), The Injustice Experienced by Dou E or Snow in Midsummer. **

Most of the Yuan dramatists came, as mentioned, from the class of the scholar-officials. Bai Pu (1226–1306) was a son of an impoverished civil servant family. His best-known play is Wutong yu (Wu-t’ung yü) or Rain on the Pawlonia Tree. It tells the tragic story of the love of the Tang emperor Ming Huang and his concubine Yang Guifei amid the political intrigues and power play while the Tang dynasty was nearing its end. **

Besides historical stories, stories about the supernatural also often served as the material on which the Yuan dramas were based. One example of an early Taoist-inspired ghost opera is Qiannü lihun (Ch’ian-nü li-hun) or Ciannun sielu irtoaa ruumiista (synopsis). It was written by Zheng Guangzun (1280–1330) and is based on a story from the Tang period. Yuan dramatis could explore several story genres. Ma Zhiyuan is famous for his Taoist themes, but his well-known play Hangong qiu (Han-kung ch’iu) or Autumn in Han Palace, is based on an ancient, tragic love story with patriotic overtones (synopsis). It has been one of the most beloved Yuan dramas. **

Yuan Literature


History had traditionally been kept alive by the Mongols through oral epics, performed by nomadic bards, until writing was introduced in the Genghis Khan era in the 12th century. Because the Mongol Empire was so vast the Mongols were written about in many languages by numerous chroniclers of divergent conquered societies, who provided a wide range of perspectives, myths, and legends. Much of what has been written about the Mongols was produced by people who came in contact with the Mongols—often enemies or hostile neighbors of the Mongols, who generally did not have nice things to say and were less than objective—not the Mongols themselves.

The most well known Mongolian work is The Secret History of the Mongols. A Chinese copy was found by a Russian diplomat in Beijing a 1866. An original Mongolian copy has never been found. Much of what is known about the Mongols comes from this book, which has been dated to A.D. 1240. Its author is unknown.

On Yuan works in their collection the National Palace Museum, Taipei reports: The history "Secret History of the Mongols" records the conquests of Genghis Khan. "Yuan Dynastic Statutes of Government" is a compilation of Yuan dynasty statutes and decrees from various bureaus in the administration of the central government during the period of 1260 to 1322. "Complete Gazetteer of the Yuan" and "Tour of the Land Unified in the Yuan" from "New Complete Classification of Matters" provide a complete general record introducing the history, geography, sites, and figures of each area under Mongol administration in China. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/ ]

Writings by Non-native Scholars

According to the National Palace Museum, Taipei: “The Yuan was a multiethnic dynasty. Mongols and Central Asians moved into China proper and learned Chinese culture, becoming friends and students of Chinese scholars. This social and cultural interaction created literary and artistic exchange between members of different ethnic groups. The result was that non-native Chinese left behind many works written in Chinese during this period. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/ ]

For example, the Khitan Yeh-lu Ch'u-ts'ai was learned in the Chinese Classics and history as well as Buddhism. His works are found in "Collection of Writings by the 'Pure Hermit'". The Uighur-Turk Sa Tu-la was a famous poet of the Yuan and his fluent and elegant poetry is found in his "'Yen-men' Collection of Poetry". The literary Mongol T'ai Pu-hua (Tai Buga), who participated in writing the histories of the Sung, Liao, and Chin dynasties, left behind his "'Nostalgia for the North' Collection of Poetry". The Uighur-Turk Kao K'o-kung was gifted at poetry and painting, and he associated with such scholar-artists and connoisseurs as Chao Meng-fu and K'o Chiu-ssu. His poetry is found in "Collection of Poetry by 'Fang-shan'". The Central Asian Sheng Hsi-meng was gifted in writing and calligraphy, and his compilation of "An Introduction to and Discussion of Calligraphy" describes the history and classification of Chinese calligraphy as well as pointers for learning this art form. \=/

“Pandita is a Sanskrit word from India that means a scholar gifted in the "Five Studies", which include the arts of Buddhology, philosophy, music, medicine, and Buddhist painting and sculpture. For a student monk, Pandita was the ultimate title of praise.Tibetan Buddhist art was introduced to China proper in the Yuan dynasty during the rule of Kublai Khan. Two Panditas of the Sakya Sect, Fourth Patriarch Sapan (1182-1251) and Fifth Patriarch Phagspa (1235-1280), played essential roles in this respect. \=/

“The profound wisdom of Sapan centered in his Buddhist view of worldly matters, foreseeing that chance and the inevitability of history were governed by a "reciprocal fate". For this reason, he was chosen in 1247 to stave off the onslaught of Mongol armies on Tibet by meeting with the Mongol general Godan (1206-1251), son of the khan Ogotai. Although Tibet submitted to the Mongols, Sapan was allowed to rule as a Mongol official over the autonomous Tibetan region as Buddhism became favored under the Mongols. Consequently, the Sakya Sect for the next hundred years or so (1247 to 1349) enjoyed the highest authority in the Tibetan region. Even after the Yuan dynasty, emperors and empresses of the ages would "revere Buddhism, especially revering the Three Treasures (the Buddha, canon, and clergy)". They even became "benefactors" of Tibet, contributing monetary and human resources to support the region, thus supporting the vigorous development of Tibetan art. \=/

“The profound wisdom of the Pandita Phagspa centered on his understanding of the universality of art--one of the Five Studies--in the Buddhist faith. He realized the magical power that art possesses, and so he took with him the admired Nepalese artist Arniko (1244-1306) to the capital Ta-tu (Peking). Arniko, "with his heart as his master and guided by his spirit," fused Buddhism from the foothills of the Himalayas with late Buddhist art to form a new manner. With his unique "power" and "beauty" at creating art, he injected new force into the traditional Buddhist art of China. Within the short 90 years of Mongol rule, his influence left an indelible impression in China.With the "compassion" of these two Panditas, they took the "wisdom" of Buddhism and applied it to the world of politics, religion, and art outside of Tibet. Consequently, the arts of India, Nepal, and Tibet have resonated down to the present day through the duality of wisdom and compassion.” \=/

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ; Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu <|>; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/ Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated November 2016

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