The Peabody Essex Museum shows significant Chinese art Part 2

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The Yin Yu Tang Chinese house at The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachussetts. Photo by Rickinmar, via Tumblr

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a prosperous merchant named Huang built a stately sxteen-bedroomed home in China’s southeastern Huizhou region, calling his home Yin Yu Tang. This Chinese name implies the desire to create a home to shelter generations of descendants. In 1982, though, the last descendant left the village and it has now been removed, piece by piece, to the unlikely location of Salem, Massachussetts as a result of tha city’s close historic links with the China trade.

Originally, the home was oriented in the village according to well established principles of feng shui, to ensure a harmonious relationship with the landscape and it was constructed according to local traditions of building and local customs. Coins were placed under structural columns to bring prosperity to the home and its occupiers. The first floor bedrooms have intricately carved lattice windows that look out onto two fish pools in a central courtyard. Lots of small details in the building inform the viewer about the aspirations, identity and creative expression of the Huang family, as well as simply telling us about architectural style. There is a magnificent accumulation of furnishings which, again, tell us about things as varied as global trade and connections between China and America, finely developed personal taste and historical preferences.

Yin Yu Tang house Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum displays significant Chinese art Part 1

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Not only is The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachussetts (USA) possibly the oldest continuously operating museum in the United States, but it also has one of the best collections of Chinese artifacts anywhere in the world. Its holdings in total are some 1.3m. pieces. The present museum had its origins in the East India Marine Society (1799), founded by a Salem-based group of sea captains in the Eastern trade, and it inherited its collection of Far Eastern objets. Its collection wa merged with those of the former Peabody Museum of Salem and the Essex Institute which bnrought about the current curious-sounding nomenclature.

One extraordinary aspect of the Museum’s collection is its acquisition of complete historic houses and contents: it has set these, some 24 in total, in its own grounds, transplanted from their original sites. One of these houses is the home of the Chinese Huang family, a stately six-bedroom house from China’s south eastern Huizhou region known as Yin Yu Tang (we shall write about this remarkable preservation in the coming weeks).

Below we illustrate some of the outstanding exhibits within the Museum.


Detail of a large punch bowl made in China and given to the Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby in 1786. The Derby ship Grand Turk was only the third American ship to trade with China. In 1801 the punch bowl was presented to the East India Marine Society, which became the PeabodyEssex Museum where it is still on display today. Photo by Rickinmar, via


A blue and white Chinese export platter, date about 1740 and with a view of the 16th century English residence Burleigh House. From thecollection of The Peabody Essex Museum Photo by Rickinmar, via


Detail from a gouache painting of trade in Cantonese waters during the first half of the 19th century. The picture well captures the vigorous, breathless nature of the trade which took place with Europe and the US at that time. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachussetts.



Making sense of Chinese censers

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A valuable Ming censer in the form of a lion dog with a hinged head ca. 1620s  Photo courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

Chinese censers crop up on the market all the time: with dealers, auction houses and on exhibition. But what is a censer and why are some so much more valuable than others?

A censer is simply a bowl made to hold burning incense. It may be crafted from a wide range of available materials. The most popular forms are bronze, stone, porcelain, cloisonne, copper and, even, jade.

We think that the first vessels specifically designed to burn incense appeared during the Western Han dynasty (206BC – 8AD). These first vessels were often based upo traditional three-legged bronze ding or ceramic dou ware. Typically, they stand on a tripod base with two loop handles. These designs were often copied much later but many styles and shapes have been used historically, ranging from such simple bronze bowls to elaborate and highly decorated cloisonne vessels in the form of elephants or fantastic, mythical animals.

Mythical animals were very much favoured. During the early 1th century, during the Ming dynasty, censers were made in form of luduan or Buddhistic lion dogs, either with detachable heads or, less commonly, with hinged heads. The incense would be placed within the body of the beast and then set light. Smoke would then issue from the open, menacing mouth of the best.


An early 17th century bronze censer in the form of a luduan (Chinese unicorn) which was sold at TEFAF 2016 for a figure in the region of euros 20,000. Photo courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

More ordinary small censers might be used as hand warmers in winter, slightly larger ones for perfuming clothes or bed linen. However, most cencers would be used to burn incense at private (domestic) shrines as well as being a form of everyday fumigation at a time when unpleasant smells were, let us say, rather more pervasive.



An attractive very small cloisonne censer, probably used as a handwarmer or dressing table decorative item. Courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

What determines the value of a censer? Many of the simple but heavy bronze bowls, typically on tripod bases, bear Xuande marks. Such original pieces usually command high prices: later copies are not regarded as so valuable. Design is obviously a factor. Elaborate designs involving a high quality of craftsmanship will inevitably increase value. Rarity, of course, as with any article, also plays its part in determining value. Amongst the most sought after is the so-called ‘incense sphere’ consisting of a latticed metal orb that hung on a chain and opened in half along a centre hinge. The sphere surrounded a small cup that was suitably weighted to ensure the incense would not spill as it was carried.

Cambridge, Ely, Belton House (128)  A very rare Ming incense burner, blue and white porcelain in the collection of Belton House, Lincs.  Photo by Paul Harris

The incense itself was created using dried aromatic plants and essential oils and there were particular skills and special equipment involved in successfully burning incense. There was a large market for incense: by the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) incense sulture was common to all classes in China. Alongside flower arranging, tea-whisking and painting, incense burning was regarded as one of the Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar.

cloisonne vase mctears A gold-splashed incense tool vase used to store utensils used in the process of burning incense. Photo courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

Of course, not all censers are particulalry valuable and it is possible to pick one up at auction or via a dealer for just a few hundred pounds. 19th century examples like the fairly large censer illustrated below are usually available on the market.


A late 19th or early 20th century bronze censer with detachable head and crafted in the form of a fantastic animal. Photo courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland

Belton House contains little known Chinese treasures

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Belton House is an outstanding 300 year-old mansion located in Lincolnshire, England   Photo by Paul Harris

It is not known as being one of the foremost English country houses, but, in fact, Belton House, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, has been described as ‘the perfect country house estate’ and also harbours a very fine collection of Chinese treasures, some of them put together by the 1st Earl Brownlow during the early part of the 19th century.

He created a Chinese bedroom with 18th century Chinese wallpaper specially imported for the purpose. Brownlow’s passion for things Chinese was inherited from his 17th and 18th century ancestors, all of whom made significant acquisitions. The bedroom was designed by Jeffry Wyatt (also known as Wyattville). The wallpaper is important in historical terms and has been well catalogued by The National Trust who own and operate the property.

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‘Combined figural/floral wallpaper with small human figures and birds on an undulating foreground and much larger bamboo and flowering plants towering above against an originally pink background and with birds and butterflies among the branches. National Trust Inventory No. 433859

The birds include ducks, magpies, parrots and pheasants. The mannerist juxtapositioning of small-scale figures with large-scale flora was a relatively late development, seen in Chinese wallpapers dating from the 1790s until about 1840.4 A further note of fancy is evident in the climbing plant growing through the bamboo sprouting a variety of different flowers, a motif that may have been influenced by Indian chintz designs.5 A floral wallpaper with bamboo and climbers on a white ground, with a similar visual rhythm and some almost identical details, but without the human figures, is in the Ballroom at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Another very similar wallpaper, but with peonies along the bottom, is at Penrhyn Castle (cat. 34). In addition, a wallpaper fragment painted in a different style, but with a similar disposition of bamboo culms, is in a private collection in Bangkok.

‘The design is painted on paper, with Chinese numerals visible along the bottom of the individual sheets, presumably as an aid to the production process.6 Similar numerals occur on wallpapers at Belton (cat. 4), at Ickworth (cat. 19), at Nostell Priory (cat. 27), in the Ballroom at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, and at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire. In certain places butterflies cut out from other sections of wallpaper have been pasted on, especially along the joins between sheets. The wallpaper was pasted onto decorator’s lining paper, which in turn was pasted directly onto the plaster. The pink background of the wallpaper has largely faded to white due to light damage. Some areas have been affected by detachment from the wall, water staining and retouching. Conservation treatment by Catherine Rickman (1988) and by Sandiford and Mapes Ltd. (2002) has been limited to in situ surface cleaning, re-attachment of small lifting areas, reinforcement of tears and consolidation of some dark-green pigments in the bamboo leaves.

The wallpaper hangs in the Chinese Bedroom. It appears to have been installed in about 1840 for John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow (1779–1853) and his third wife, Emma Sophia, née Edgcumbe (1792–1872). It is framed by a European paper border in two separate parts, comprising a latticework pattern printed in silver, now tarnished to black, on green machine-made paper, which is banded by strips of possibly machine-made paper block-printed with a representation of bamboo. The use of machine-made paper dates the production of the border to 1830 at the earliest, and it appears to have been hung at the same time as the wallpaper. The wooden cornice, dado and door surrounds are painted in imitation of bamboo, a Regency-period decorative conceit also seen at, for instance, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The curtains, bed hangings and seat covers are made of a European chintz with an orientalist design of vases filled with flowers which is probably contemporary with the wallpaper.’

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A special display area was constructed for the Brownlows’ Chinese porcelain collection Photo by Paul Harris

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Wrongly described in the National Trust literature as a lion dog, this is, in fact a luduan (Chinese unicorn) censer on display at Belton House. The horn of the luduan projects from the back of the head in Chinese lore.    Photo Paul Harris

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17th century Chinese dehua porcelain collected by Sir john Brownlow (1659-97) on display at Belton House   Photo Paul Harris

Chinese reverse glass paintings feature at Chiswick Asian sale

lot 121

Lot 121 An 18th century Chinese reverse glass painting of a beauty for sale at Chiswick Auctions May 16 2016

There are a couple of Chinese reverse glass paintings coming up for sale at Chiswick Auctions on May 16: one of these is particulalry interesting and is classifed as being that of a Chinese ‘beauty’ and referenced to the work of court painter to the Qianlong Emperor, Guiseppe Castiglione, and Bertholet’s book Concubines and Courtesans: Women in Chinese Erotic Art.

The auctioneer supplements the printed catalogue entry for the work (no. 121) with an interesting explanation. ‘Reverse glass paintings occupy a special position within Chinese art, crossing over the genres of Chinese export art, glass working, the painting genre of meirenhua (paintings of beauties) and erotic art. Generally associated with English country house collections throughought the 18th century and later, when their vibrant colours and exotic flavour made them the hight of fashionable sophistication and, indeed, both lots 120 and 121 were almost certainly produced for the export market. Lot 120 follows a European original [it depicts the Maddonna and child together with John the Baptist and is painted after a European engraving] which would have been reversed and meticulously painted in oils onto the glass by use of a Chinese brush by artists working in and around Guangzhou to serve the Southern Chinese ports and the [associated] export market.

‘However, since the point of its inception within China, reverse painting was very much an Imperial concern, with Chinese rulers themselves appreciating their exotic foreign characteristics. Huc (1858) mentions that Castiglione learned to paint in oils on glass in Le Christianisme en Chine, en Tartarie and Au Tibet. Amiot (1786) notes that the Qianlong Emperor commissioned Castiglione to paint large mirrors in Memoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les moeurs, les usages, etc. des Chinois, Vol.2.

‘Beurdely’s 1971 catalog raisonne of Guiseppe Castiglione does not include any examples of reverse glass painting. However, one painting in oils, plate 85, a portrait of a young woman dressed as a European Shepherdess, bears close compositional similarities to works on glass . . .  listed as being in the Imperial Palace Collection. . . the oil, said to depict the Qianlong Emperor’s favorite concubine, Rong Fei, presents a Chinese lady seated in a relaxed pose in loose flowing robes and staring directly at the viewer, all features shared with the beauty depicted in Lot 121. The erotic undertones of both paintings, explain why the latter painting was selected by Bertholet for inclusion with his book on the subject [Concubines and Courtesans: Women in Chineses Erotic Art]. The piece also fits into a wider category of beauty paintings which has experienced an expansion of academic attention led by James Cahill (2010) and the recent exhibition, Beauty Revealed (2013). Neither, however, addressed reversed glass paintings despite its contribution to the genre. Whilst primarily an export art, its Imperial patronage, technical sophistication and Chinese aesthetics demand that it receive closer academic attention within the canon of Chinese painting art.’

A magnificent 18th century European view of China


10 Audience of Chinese Emperor                        This intricately worked piece is “The Audience of the Chinese Emperor” (c. 1766), a small-scale hard-paste porcelain sculpture of a group of figures, from the Höchst porcelain factory. The German factory had been established in the late 1740s and employed a number of modellers before Johann Peter Melchior (1742/47-1825) became head of the sculpture workshop in 1767.

It is believed that this group was Melchior’s first work for the factory and its composition inspired by François Boucher’s oil sketch of 1742 entitled The Audience of the Chinese Emperor. It is likely that this group of figures was intended to decorate the table during the dessert course and would have been accompanied by additional single figures or smaller groups, all reflecting the popularity of chinoiserie themes in the second half of the eighteenth century. Dimensions: overall, 39.8 x 33.2 x 21.7 cm. Accession number: 50.211.217

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art via Orientally Yours (Tumblr)

John Henderson’s Chinese and Japanese collection

5 Henderson Collection

Two photographs of John Henderson’s collection of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and pottery, taken in London,England, ca. 1868 by Cundall & Fleming.

Henderson (1797-1878) was a London-based art collector and in 1868 donated a series of 20 of these photographs to the South Kensington Museum (today the V&A) as a visual record his collection that ranged from Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. he was a great benefactor and left both his collection and photographs of them to institutions like The British Museum and The Victoria & Albert. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and although he read for the bar (legal) he devoted his life to archaeology and the collection of works of art. His collections, in his lifetime, were held at 3, Montague Street, in London’s Bloomsbury district. He never married and lived until the ripe old age of eighty (not necessarily a result of remaining unmarried). Upon his death, his will decreed that most of his oriental collection went to the British Museum.

4 Henderson Collection

Source: Victoria & Albert Museum via Orientally Yours (Tumblr) Below: Iznik bottle vase in the collection of the British Museam


Cizhou ware can make a stunning study in black and white

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This is an example of stunning Cizhou ware with a design of peony flowers and leaves, produced using the sgrafitto technique. Song ceramics often take the names of their areas of production. The Cizhou kilns were located in Ci Prefecture, Hebei Province and Cizhou wares such as this bottle are typically thickly potted, boldly decorated ceramics that were made for popular consumption.

The light gray body of the vessel was first coated with a white slip, which was then covered with a black slip. After the outlines of the design were incised into the black slip, portions of the top layer were shaved away to reveal the white underneath. Finally, when the decoration was complete, the entire body (except for the foot) was coated with a thin, slightly whitish transparent glaze. The shape of this bottle is known as a meiping, and although Western scholars have described these vessels as vases, they were most likely bottles used for storing and serving wine.

They occasionally turn up at auction these days but good examples like this one will, inevitably, command big prices to match their outstanding appearance.

Northern Song (12th century), Dimension: 31.8 h x 21.6 d cm. Rockefeller Collection, Asia Society Museum in New York. Accession number: ASIA.1979.141

Source: Asia Society Museum via Tumblr Orientally Yours

Christies New York feature Zheng Xie and the art of Chinese calligraphy

This article was originally published by Christie’s New York as a taster for their sale on March 16 2016 in New York. The scroll illustrated below will be offered for sale. This analysis by Elizabeth Hammer helps us in the appreciation of Chinese calligraphy in general.


Zheng Xie (1693-1765) Calligraphy. Hanging scroll on paper. Estimate $60,000-80,000

Zheng Xie — The outsider who refused to compromise

Specialist Elizabeth Hammer offers an expert reading of the brush strokes in Calligraphy by Zheng Xie, an 18th century artist whose unorthodox and distinctive approach led to him being called one of the ‘Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou’

In China, calligraphy is traditionally considered the finest art form, as the artist’s goal is to express his skill, knowledge, personality and character all by using only line, ink tone and movement. Through this multi-faceted process, the calligrapher communicated with his viewer — with a message that continues to resonate today.

This powerful example of calligraphy by the erudite scholar-official Zheng Xie can, as we shall discover, be appreciated from a number of different vantage points.

Zheng Xie (1693–1765), Calligraphy. Hanging scroll, ink on paper. Estimate: $60,000–80,000. This work is offered in the Fine Chinese Paintings auction on March 16 at Christie’s New York


These charater demonstrate the varying thickness of strokes employed by Zheng Xie. 1 Short and stubby  2 Borad and thick  3 Open and expansive  4 Cramped and crowded 5 Some characters, like this one, are print-like  6Other strokes become abbreviated and cursive

  1. Visual impact

This hanging scroll is large, as are the characters written on it. The ink tone is uniformly dark and rich and the brush strokes are angular and geometric rather than graceful and elegant.

Chinese is traditionally read vertically from top to bottom, right to left; here, the characters are written in a set order of strokes, so that anyone who can write Chinese is able to follow how the calligrapher formed the strokes. In this way, we are able to trace how each stroke and character was formed and follow the creation of the composition in our mind’s eye.

Zheng Xie creates a strong sense of rhythm by varying the thickness of his strokes — some are short and stubby, and others are broad and thick; some are open and expansive, and others appear cramped and crowded. He also alternates between making some characters more print-like, while other strokes become abbreviated and cursive, adding dynamism and energy to the work as a whole.

Characters that show  the varying thickness of strokes employed by Zheng Xie: 1. Short and stubby; 2. Broad and thick; 3. Open and expansive; 4. Cramped and crowded; 5. Some characters, like this one, are print-like; 6. Other strokes become abbreviated and cursive


  1. A poet at work

There are some who approach Chinese calligraphy as if it were a work of abstract art, without interest in the meaning of the composition. But the writers of these inscriptions were keenly aware of the meaning, and Zheng Xie was a poet himself.

This poem focuses on creating an atmosphere of quiet and calm at the end of a hectic day of government service. It tellsof a secluded spot in nature where the author retreats and what he finds there to enrich and comfort him:

Outside the city, where is the foliage most lush? / By the decorated walls where the settling sunlight filters through the pine forest. / A single note comes from the pure-sounding stone, and the sky seems like water, / At evening on the river the reflection of the moon is like frost. / The monks are calm at this remote place, and I often visit, / Floating like a cloud from my government office; I am pained when I must depart. / On the trellis are grapes like ten thousand pearls, / The autumn wind must have rememberd that this old man loves to eat them. (Translated by Jonathan Chaves)

Can this sense of quiet and melancholy be seen in the calligraphy? That is for each viewer to say.


Here boldness and strength rather than elegance, a stylistic form he learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043-1105)

  1. Imitation as a form of flattery

Chinese calligraphy and painting are learned by copying the works of past masters, their achievements providing a firm foundation from which one can build one’s own style.

Looking at Zheng Xie’s calligraphy, we see the firm, vertical strokes; the dramatic, flaring diagonals; and the preference for boldness and strength over elegance that Zheng learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043–1105), who was said to have wielded his brush as though it was a sword.

Here we see Zheng’s preference for boldness and strength over elegance, something he he learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043–1105)

His style is also characteristic of the clerical script used for official documents during the Han dynasty and which Zheng studied intently and favoured.


  1. A break with tradition

Zheng Xie was part of a group of Qing dynasty artists who turned away from the classical tradition defined by fluidity and refinement, based especially on the style of the ‘Sage of Calligraphy’ Wang Xizhi. Instead, these erudite artists sought out and studied old Han dynasty clerical script writings that were preserved on stone stele carvings and rubbings, which had been largely ignored in preceding centuries.

In this austere, bold and somewhat awkward style of the past, they found a new energy, innovation and fresh expressivity for their work. This trend gained momentum and was widely influential into the modern period.


  1. Personal character

For a work of calligraphy to be truly successful, it must reveal the personality of its writer — it is believed that an immoral person cannot produce a truly fine work of art.

Zheng Xie was born in the Yangzhou area and was reportedly impoverished in his youth. He learned to paint from his father and managed to study to the point that he achieved the rare goal of passing the highest level of the imperial examination system. From there, a career in the government was largely assured, and Zheng was appointed as magistrate in Shandong.

During his tenure, he was noted for his efforts to assist the poor, especially during times of disaster, through building shelters and distributing grain. However, these actions caused conflict with some of the wealthier citizens and his fellow officials.

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Zheng resigned from the government because he refused to curry the favour of his superiors

Finally, after 12 years, Zheng resigned from the government because he refused to curry the favour of his superiors. Instead, he returned to Yangzhou, then a prosperous community supportive of artists, and made his living by selling his paintings and calligraphy.

He is well known by his nickname, Banqiao, which literally means ‘Plank Bridge’ and evokes an image of rusticity and functionality. His distinctive and innovative artistic style, as well as his strong personality, marked him as one of the key figures of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou.


  1. Unique style

When we examine Zheng Xie’s unique brand of calligraphy, preferring awkwardness to easy refinement, we see a man who refused to play political games and compromise his principles. We see the energy that he used to take actions to alleviate the sufferings of others. We see his deep and original understanding of the past. In his unmistakably distinctive style, we also glimpse the unique character of someone who was called an ‘Eccentric’.

Zheng’s signature illustrates his distinctive style of calligraphy and the unique character of a man who was called an ‘Eccentric’

Since the Song dynasty, the connection between calligraphy and painting has been often expressed. Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) explicitly used calligraphy brushstrokes to form the various elements of his landscape paintings. Zheng Xie embraced the same idea, but it was his calligraphy that was informed by his paintings — he derived his calligraphy brushwork from the strokes he used to paint the orchids and bamboo that he is best known for today.

christies sale catalog

 With thanks to Christie’s New York


Shifu Yan Lei: a monk and the art of Kungfu

26  Shifu Yan Lei

Shaolin Kungfu and Qigong is not reserved for monks apparently, it belongs to all of us. Young or old, we all have a mind and body that can be trained. You can enjoy inner peace, and optimal health, fitness and flexibility every day of your life. So says monk and martial arts expert Shifu Yan Lei.

“I help you unlock the peace and strength that is already within you.” – Shifu Yan Lei

Shifu Yan Lei was born in 1973 to a traditional family in the Xinjiang province of China. The son of a fisherman, he is the youngest of seven children.

“It was a struggle for my parents to look after seven children. I was constantly hungry. I was very naughty as a child; always skipping school and getting into street fights.”

He began his martial arts life at the age of fourteen when he travelled to the other side of China to train in the Shaolin Temple in Henan province.

“Temple life was very hard and sometimes I hated it. I had to get up every morning at five-thirty and prepare my teacher’s breakfast and bring him water so that he could wash himself, and then I would take the boys running up the mountain. But looking back I feel happy. Temple life gave me a strong focus. I stopped fighting on the street and trained every day, honing my Shaolin skills.”

His Master, the Shaolin Abbot, Shi Yong Xin gave him the name Lei – meaning thunder – and he became a 34th generation fighting disciple. When he was eighteen he travelled to different Kung Fu schools to learn additional Kung Fu and Qigong skills from famous masters.

“Because I was young my main interest was in fighting but the more I studied the more I realised that in order to do physical exercise you need to look after your internal organs through the practice of Qigong. This will give you a longer martial arts life. I then went back to the Shaolin Temple to read all of the ancient books they have on the subject.”

At the age of twenty-eight he was invited to the West to teach authentic Shaolin martial arts.

“Shaolin has become famous but unfortunately a lot of what is taught is not authentic. The Buddha said, “Question everything I say. Test it for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.” This is the same with Shaolin. Try it, see it works for you, once you see it working then you can give your full commitment but be wary of claims people make. There are a lot of so-called secrets about Shaolin but the only secret I have found is that you have to train consistently.”

Shifu Yan Lei specializes is famous for his Iron Shirt Qigong, which was tested by scientists at the Science Museum.

“I use my Qi to defend myself from kicks or bricks, you can use your Qi to defend yourself against ageing and ill-health.”

Shifu Yan Lei is the author of Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity, and the new book, Instant Fitness: The Shaolin Kung Fu Workout, he is among the most respected and sort after teachers of authentic Qigong and Kungfu. Thousands of people all over the world have benefited from his Shaolin Warrior series of DVDs, which offer a graded path to mind and body wellness. He teaches private classes and seminars around the world. He also plays a martial artist in the feature film The Turtle And The Sea.



The Year of the Monkey is upon us!



A stylised bronze monkey made by the Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng (2004)

Collection of Paul & Sulee Harris

The Year of the Monkey is upon us and we take this opportunity to wish our many hundreds of thousands of readers who come to this site every month a most prosperous, happy and successful year!

The new Lunar New Year will end the year of the sheep, a less desirable birth year according to Chinese astrology, and usher in the year of the monkey.

The lucky zodiac combined with the new government policy have many predicting a bumper year for babies in China. In Beijing alone at least 300,000 newborns are expected – a 20 percent jump from the 250,000 average in recent years. German fertility drug maker Merck, has seen a boost in sales on the mainland.


Traditionally, the monkey is considered to be very lucky and amny parents have deferred the opportunity to have children during the last year, The Year of the Sheep..


it is estimated that in Beijing alone more than 300,000 children (20% extra in terms of  population demographics) will be born this New Year, or at least before the end of it!


Monkey children are said to be smart and joyful, also energetic. Accordingly, they will likely cause much extra work for their long-suffering parents!


We are not altogether sure what thos is all about . . .

year of the monkey

A most ancient view of the monkey: Yi Yuanji’s ‘Monkeys in a Mountain Landscape’ painted around 1000-1054.


Is this a rather grumpy, elderly monkey? Make your own mind up. It is downloadable from

Zhu-Zhanji-Gibbons-at-Play, 1427 Xuande Emperor

This is an early 1th century view of the monkey painted by the Emperor Xuande.