My list

As I mentioned in the post: Welcome to Beijing, the music video features quite a few interesting traditions and customs . I am trying to make a list of them with comments and links for further reading. The list is pretty long, I am updating it everyday.

1. 03′-mianren (Dough Figurine)

Dough Figurine (Miansu or Mianren) making is a traditional Chinese art form with a history longer than one (note: should be two to three)hundred years. It is a fairly simple art, somewhat similar to the gingerbread men making in the west. First the dough is molded into all kinds of shapes, with images of figures, animals, fruits and more; the shapes are then steamed in a bamboo steamer and then painted with pigments. These are not to be eaten! (retrieved from

My two cents: very complicated works may require pre-mold. And I guess they last much longer.

But the ones in my childhood memory are all kneaded on the spot with different colors of doughs. After one day or two, the water in the dough is gone, and it starts to crack…

2. 04′-the kite.

My two cents: Nowadays you see fancy kites made of fancy materials. My kites were all made by my father traditionally, with bamboo sticks and xuanzhi (a particular type of paper). It was crude, but equally fun. It seems all fathers have such a skill:-)

Flying kite is a spring activity. In the past, it’s not just for fun. People sent the kite into the sky and then cut the thread to let it fly away, for the purpose of praying that their pains and bad luck can go away.

3. 08′-Taichi.

My two cents: It’s a soft martial art–for ordinary people, don’t expect you can beat a 200lb man after practicing it. Similar to yoga, most people learn it as a morning exercise. My knowledge about the exercise–it’s an embodiment of several schools of Chinese philosophy, especially the Taoism.

Here is someone practicing one of the forms of the Taichi Chuan. Notice how the master’s practice expreses the integration of ‘softness’ and ‘hardness’, which is an important element of the philosophy.


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