Monday, October 17, 2016

Traveling to Ancient China with Carole P. Roman

If you were me and lived in Ancient China, you would have been born
Han dynasty
Add to Google Calendar漢朝
nineteen hundred years ago in the year 150  AD.
You would have been born during the Han dynasty that ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD. A dynasty is a long line of family members that rule an area or region.
The Han dynasty was very important in Chicese history. It was one of the longest dynasties lasting over four hundred years. During its rule, the civil service was established, creating a strong and organized government. The Han Dynasty is often called the Golden Age of Ancient China. People were encouraged to write poetry and literature. Paper was invented making it easy to read. A type of fine china called porcelain was created and exported all over the world.

If You Were Me and Lived in...
Ancient China - Han Dynasty

By Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

It was while working on the university campus that I attended my first cultural program about Ancient China. I had enjoyed ancient history in school but seeing the clothing/costumes worn by the Chinese students brought me an admiration of the culture that I never lost. I started collecting painted porcelain plates, statuettes, even dolls and once had my bedroom completely furnished from that period. I still have the bed with the painted trees of the orient, but instead of just one room, I have scattered parts of the collection throughout the cabin--sort of like east meets west... I was happy to see that Carole Roman had created a book about this time... 

Admittedly I still am not enthralled with the muted artistic work used in this book and the quality of many of its pages, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this trip back in time and recommend it for all who have learned to read...There is sufficient content that can be a history lesson for the young and old. Some might consider it a refresher course but it is always a wonderful time to spend with your child, talking about how it was to live in ancient times...

If you were a boy, your parents might have chosen the name Pandi which meant seeking a little brother, or Yang, which was the word for ocean. If you were a girl your name might have been Mei which meant Plum or Lin for Jade.
Mostly, you didn't call each other by name. Your sisters called you "older brother," and you called them "First sister" and "Second sister."

I have used pictures of children celebrating New Year's to illustrate the type of clothes that were worn historically...

You might have lived in the Capital city Chang'an located in central China. It was founded by the first Han emperor, Lie Bang in 202 BC. Liu Bang was important because he was the first Chinese emperor who was a commoner. He was a politician and a strategist who led an uprising against the Quin dynasty.

There were more than 250,000 people living in the capital city and it was the center for China's development in economic, political, military and culture. It was the Silk Road that converged there from different countries and led to prosperity. Trade of products was an important activity but China primarily exported silk to European cities. The pictures included in the book are of what the town might have looked like with traders coming in on camels or donkeys and trading with a new class of people--merchants.

It was fascinating to learn about how making silk was discovered...

It was said that the wife of the Yellow Emperor invested silk three thousand years earlier. Her name was Leitzu. A cocoon fell into her cup of tea and unraveled. She noticed it was one long thread that was both strong and soft. She discovered how to combine the silk fibers into a thread and invested a loom to turn it into a soft cloth...
One of the attributes that I've found admirable is the Chinese devotion to their ancestors. In fact, the family would sometimes sit within the area of the ancestral shrine and first dedicated their meal and then enjoy the food there, normally prepared by the grandmother. Having always enjoyed eating at local Chinese restaurants wherever I've traveled, it was fun learning what the emperor might have eaten...I'd pass on a couple: bear paw and leopard, LOL. Since I had never been able to manage chop sticks, I was happy to learn that they were used mostly for cooking and food preparation...and Grandmother thought it was funny that families were trying to use them to eat with! Thank Goodness, 'cause I'd sure hate to depend on them to pick up even a grain of rice!

Much is included about home life and restrictions. For instance, the story centers around the son of the family, who would be expected to follow his father and grandfather to become a doctor. So it was the son that talked to his father about his first sister having a chance to learn, mentioning Cai Wenji who wrote beautiful poetry and had become known as a female Confucius... But that was not to be...

"At the time of my birth, the land was at peace,
      But later, the Han Dynasty fell into decline.
      Heaven is unkind, allowing wars, suffering, separation;
      Earth is unkind, that I should have to live at such a time.
      Weapons of war are everywhere, making the roads perilous.
      Soldiers and people fleeing to exile, suffering together.
      The land, billowing clouds of smoke and dust, is a prisoner of the Hu.
      Integrity and willpower have disappeared.
      I cannot accept the vulgar barbarous customs,
      Humiliated and abused, to whom can I turn?
      I sing to my hujia and qin,
      But no one knows my anger and my grief."

While I've emphasized the things that interested me in the book, there is still much more covered in the 76 pages. I do want to include one more fun thing--all of the world has at some time or another heard or used the phrase "Confucius Say."

The the little boy in the story, was criticized by his tutor about being slow with his work, he responded "it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop..." Well, we learn something new every day, don't we... LOL!


Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series. This year, Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis was named to Kirkus Best 2015. The entire cultural non-fiction series If You Were Me and Lived in... was named Best Series by Shelf Unbound.

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