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Five-fold Happiness

by: Vivien Sung

San Francisco CA: Cronicle Books 2002, $18.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-8118-3526-X


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2005 Issue: 12(2) page(s): 18

We found this book for sale in the Asian Art Museum, and are delighted we did. Its content revolves around the Chinese concepts of luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness, and wealth. Appropriately enough, longevity gets the longest amount of attention and has the longest list of items, twenty, listed under it. Luck has nineteen, happiness billed as 'double happiness' has eighteen, wealth fourteen, and prosperity includes just ten of them.

Each item, in the contents pages, is written in Chinese and English, and elsewhere, each is explained in detail. All are illustrated, and all are fascinating. Almost half are foods such as shrimp, oysters, fortune cookies, rooster, crab, sticky rice cakes, plum, peach, fungus of immortality, carp, lotus, date, tangerine, fish, and lettuce.

The color photographs by Richard Weinstein are more than lovely, the Chinese translations are in beautiful calligraphy, and the information is historically accurate and technically correct. For those planning ahead, this small-size volume packs lots of food and culture and if added to many of your upcoming gift lists, it will bring happiness to those who receive it.

                                                                                                                                                       
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