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Spectrum of Chinese Culture

by: Slow Mong Lee

Selangor Malaysia: Pelanduk Publications 2006, Hardbound
ISBN: 967-978-080-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(2) page(s): 22

The fourth reprint of a 1986 first edition says it traces the roots of Chinese outlook, clarifies reasons behind rituals, offers close inspection about the value of 'face,' the need for arts, and helps understand how the Chinese conduct business. It does these and much more, as it dicusses a wide spectrum of traditional cultural practices and beliefs.

Culture is explored in retrospect, through family, life-cycle events, cultural fulfillment, worship, the calendar, and its festivals. joys in life includinmg eat and drink, other arts, and philosophy. It provides all of these and many others in words and black and white and color illustrations.

From teapots to trees, precious objects to Buddhist emblems, masks to men--real and philosophocal, there is much to learn. The author was born in Singapore, lived his formative years in China, and returned to the land of his birth to become a long-time civil servant there and in Malaysia. Among other things, he held the post of President for thirty-four years, and he found time to share heritage and understandings about Chinese life, religions, cultural practices, and a host of other things.

Ever wonder about China's patron God of trades and professions? This volume lists twenty-six of them from tailors to comb manufacturers. You may know what a funeral proseession looks like, even ancestral tablets. This volume has pictures of these, a tomb, funeral lanterns, and silk scrolls praising the deceased. A nian guo or New Year's glutinous rice cake and other New Year foods are shown and spoken about, as are firecrackers, and new clothes for this holiday. An illustrated version of the Maxims of Home Management fill more than a dozen pages, others provide man's guidelines in life, yet one more discusses fulfillment.

Read the text, view the photographs and other illustrations, and use this volume as a resource; it will please all. The last paragraph says "the Chinese stomach is the seat of learning and also the seat of emotions." Empty of full, devour this book's contents.

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