Youth guards secures the old Temple of Heaven, sharpshooters shoot down escaping Sparrows
From the Archives (Beijing Daily, April 20,1958):

shooting sparrow Translation of the article:

 Youth guards secures the old Temple of Heaven,  sharpshooters shoot down escaping Sparrows

 The old Temple of Heaven was yesterday shaked by  thunderous blasts in the dawn. Soldiers, workers and  commune members waved flags made of old worn-out clothes,  colorful silks and scarf’s, yelling and beating drums; banging  and firing off double bang fire-crackers, that one by one would  explode and create havoc in the sky. Where ever Sparrows  went shattering blasts would follow, not allowing them one  moment of peace.

 Some Sparrows flew high in the sky trying to escape beyond  the outer wall of the premises, but outside 8000 youth guards  were already in place. The youth guards yelled and scared the  wits out of the sparrows and some fell headfirst in to the  moat.

 Many sparrows just could not find any escape route, but flew  to and from their normal resting place at the South wall of the  inner complex, where the sacred herd* used to grass, but  here 30 first grade and second grade sharpshooters from the  police force were waiting. The eyes and movements of the  sharpshooters were quick and able, with every gun shot fired  several sparrows fell to the ground.

 He Shizhang killed three sparrows with one shot, Zhang  Shuwu also killed 6 sparrows in three shots. Within the four  hours of fighting in the morning these 30 warriors killed more than 110 sparrows. Shi Jinke shot the most.  He altogether shot 16 sparrows. Yesterday altogether 966 sparrows were killed, of these 40 percent died  of exhaustion

 *the animals of the sacred herd were used as offerings at the ritual ceremonies that took place at Temple  of Heaven during the dynasties



dashalanrJust South of Tiananmen square is the historical entertainment district of Beijing ‘Dashilan’ located. Parts of it has been restored or actually completely rebuilt. This has capped the place with a somewhat plastic design that seems to only ‘attract’ the huge amount of tour groups that are literally dragged there. But if you leave the main roads there is still ample prove of the amazing past of this area to be found.2

Dashilan has its origin from trade routes that were created when merchants travelled into the Mongolian capital of Dadu (name of Beijingduring Mongolian rule) some 800 years ago. Walking around the area it is immediately perceptible that many streets are not straight like most streets in old Beijing. This owes to the way settlements accumulated in this area along the trade routes just outside the city gates.

Later, during the Ming dynasty, Dashilan was incorporated into the city, when the Outer City Wall was built South of the original City Wall or Inner City as it is often called. When the Manchus took over the capital in 1644 and founded the Qing dynasty they decided to expel the original Han Chinese population from the Inner City to the Outer City.At the same time, entertainment establishments like brothels, teahouses, Beijing Opera theaters were, if not banned, then at least heavily restricted within the Inner City. This further added to the area just outside Qianmen Gate, becoming the most important commercial and entertainment center of town.

5 opium smokers ca 1900The name Dashilan means big fence and dates back to the Qing dynasty. It referred to the street gates of Beijing that was closed every night when a curfew was imposed. Visitors to the brothels and opium dens of Dashilan could literally get trapped away from home if they did not make it before the gates shot. Entering Dashilan from the Inner City was like entering another world. Many emperors found this entertainment paradise much more appealing than the strict ceremonial rules of the Imperial Palace, and there are many stories of the imperial escapades.

billeder fra kamera 059After the Second Opium War (1860), when the British and French won the right to settle in Beijing, the Dashilan area became heavily influenced by the new breed of foreign customers. Many shops targeted the westerners as their main customers with signs on the shop front in European languages. This affiliation to the foreigners prompted the so-called Boxers to actually burn down huge areas of Dashilan during the summer of 1900. The Boxers wished to rid China of the foreign devils and return to the old ways. But despite these efforts, the Boxers were not able to turn the tides of development.In fact foreign influence was just to become even more pronounced. After 1911 when the last emperor abdicated, the imperial building restrictions were lifted. This resulted in a thorough western style modernization of the area. Today it is still possible to find numerous ‘Art Deco’ facades in the area dating back to around the 1920s and 1930s.

After the Communist ‘Liberation’ of Beijing in 1949, the opium dens and the brothels were closed down gradually, but many shops dealing in silk, cloth shoes, knifes, medicine etc. were kept in the area. These old shops still exist today and they are not without a certain prevailing charm. Despite this it does not feels like the adventure really start till you venture in to the largely untouched hutongs around Dashilan Xijie. Here you can still find areas that have escaped the often well meant but largely destructive efforts of the present day developers.get of the plastic main streetbilleder fra kamera 040



Another eunuch commits suicide

From the archives (Shuntianshibao, Nov. 1924):


Translation of the article above:

Another eunuch commits suicide

In the Rong family mansion, at Maoer Hutong just of Dianmenwai, a eunuch named Wang was found hanged in an empty room, by a passerby. The closest police station was thereafter immediately called in order to have police officers inspect the place. It is said that the eunuch was hired by the Rong family after he was expelled from the imperial palace alongside the abdicated emperor (The head of the Rong family is the parents-in-law of the abdicated emperor). Nobody had expected that the eunuch was so aggrieved by the loss of almost all his possessions in the palace, that he would choose to commit suicide.


Sai Jinhua-the Life and Legend of Beijing's Most Famous Prostitute


A hundred years ago, in a country on the verge of collapse, a woman from the shadows stood up and defended her Chinese countrymen. Abandoned by the imperial government, and occupied by western forces, the fate of Beijing was placed on the narrow shoulders of a common courtesan.

But who was this saint like figure? A plain prostitute or a Maria of the East? The lover of a German general? A brothel madam? An opium addict? Or a liar and a cheat?


To most Chinese the name of Sai Jinhua will ring a bell. They might not be able to remember the full story behind it, but the majority can recall something about an affair with a German general within the Forbidden City.

80 years ago this was totally different. Sai Jinhua was on everybody’s lips. The story of the courtesan who stood up to foreign occupiers, intrigued a whole nation. Sai Jinhua became a living legend, a symbol of resistance first against the hated eight allied nations who quelled the Boxer Rebellion and then against the Japanese.

Looking in to the story of Sai Jinhua it is very difficult to tell right from wrong. The story becomes particularly confusing because of the many different narratives. Some are interviews with the real historical person and some are pure fiction.

The early years


What can be established with certainty is that Sai Jinhua came from an area close to Suzhou in the South. Allegedly she was born there in 1874. Already as a juvenile she worked on a pleasure boat, a kind of floating brothel, entertaining wealthy customers in the canals. This was where she met her first husband, Hong Jun.

Hong Jun brought her into his home making her his third wife. He was an incredibly wealthy official of the imperial government and was more than thirty years older than his young bride. Not long after the wedding, Hong Jun was send to Germany to act as an ambassador, and Sai Jinhua followed her husband to Europe. It was highly unusual for women to be able to travel abroad, and the experience would leave a permanent impression on the young girl. In Europe Sai Jinhua learned German and gained a whole new perspective of the world. After three years in Germany (1889-1892) Sai Jinhua returned to China with her husband. But not long after the return Hong Jun died. Embarrassed by her being a prostitute and allegedly not willing to give her any share in the heritage, Hong Jun’s family expelled Sai Jinhua.

On her own again, Sai Jinhua turned to the one profession she knew: prostitution. Quickly she earned a name for herself as a high-class courtesan playing on her past as a wife to one of the most respected diplomats in the country. But the fame she gained from this affiliation was nothing compared with what would come.

Becoming a living legend

In the year 1900 Sai Jinhua had found her way to Beijing and opened a brothel at the infamous entertainment district, Bada Hutong.

This was the year of the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers, a sectarian band of Kungfu trained rebels, wanted to rid China of all foreign influence. Foreigners and anyone associated with them were literally getting killed in the streets. It was in many ways a popular revolt, even the imperial government sympathized with it. The rebellion did not end till an army of allied colonial powers forced themselves into China and occupied the capital.


The Imperial court fled and left Beijing without any constituted leaders. In this whole new environment Sai Jinhua got to play a role because of her ability to speak German.

Command of the German language was especially important because the supreme commander of the allied forces, General Von Waldersee, was German. Some sources question how much German she could actually speak, but it must have been at least enough to have a small conversation, because first hand sources describe speaking to her in German.

According to legend Sai Jinhua saved numerous Chinese from being beheaded and brokered deals with the occupiers by speaking to officers of the allied forces. This gained Sai Jinhua a reputation as a savior of the city, and brought thriving business to her brothel.

The story of the heroic courtesan saving her country men just seemed to grow stronger and stronger, already a few years after the Boxer Rebellion the first stories of Sai Jinhua were published. In most of them she was a pure angel, but in some she was accused of having an affair with General Von Waldersee inside the Forbidden City on imperial bed sheets. This relationship has never in anyway been proven.



Sai Jinhua did not get to enjoy her success for long. Because in 1903 she was convicted of maltreating a prostitute in her brothel. Upon the sentence she was expelled from Beijing. She returned to the South and lived for a long time in Shanghai. She married twice but both of her husband’s died only a short time in to the marriage. After both of these marriages, the story repeated itself and just like after her first marriage she was expelled by the family upon the death of her husband.



Saijinhua03Sai Jinhua returned to Beijing in 1918 with her third husband. After his death  she settled south of the city at Tianqiao, a poor area of mixed reputation. Nobody knew who this middle-aged woman was, because Sai Jinhua registered under a different name. But in 1930 she had become so poor that she could not even pay her rent. This made her apply for a kind of social support at the local police station, and this was how a journalist of a small newspaper realized who she was and published an article about her.

The story of her reappearance spread like wildfire. Sai Jinhua received both money, fruit baskets and other gifts from supporters all over the city. Even though she had been expelled from the capital in disgrace her reputation as a guardian angel seemed intact.

Poems and plays were written about her and the famous intellectual Liu Bannong wrote a book about her based on 10 interviews conducted with her at the 5 star Dongfang hotel.

One of the reasons behind this outburst of support was the Japanese threat. The story of Sai Jinhua - a common prostitute standing up to foreign occupiers could not help resonate in the environment of the 1930’s where a foreign power  once again stood on China’s doorstep. At some theaters the play about Sai Jinhua was even banned by the government for fear of enraging the Japanese.

The legacySaijinhua04


In 1936 Sai Jinhua died. She was buried in Taoranting Park as a national hero. After her death people who had known her published a number of accounts on  her, and not all of these publications portrayed the “real” Sai Jinhua in a favourable light, some even accused her of being a liar.

Despite of this the legend of the courtesan who stood up against foreign powers survived, and last year the theater play about her that was banned in the 1930’s premiered at Beijings Poly theater.

The role of Sai Jinhua was played by Liu Xiaoqing, an actor who infamously claimed to be the best actor in China in the 1980s, a time where this kind of boasting behavior was not looked lightly upon. Apart from this Liu Xiaoqing have also just like Sai Jinhua gone through several marriages and even served more than 400 days in prison for tax fraud. Having such a prominent yet controversial character play Sai Jin Hua vitalized the part, and proved that a story of a righteous selfmade woman, standing up against the norms of society, still have resonance in China today.

220px-Laoshe外国人眼中的老北京- 老舍眼中的照片




来到中国的外国人希望把中国这个地方记录下来。回国以后就可以拿照片给自己国家的人看,让他们更好地了解中国。中国人拍照片的目的是完全不一样的。他们并没有向别人展示中国的必要。大部分中国人拍的照片是一种代表自己身份的照片。老舍为什么三十年代觉得跳不开,是因为那个时候中国社会上的机构,每个重要仪式都会拍照作为纪念。按老舍说的, 如果不愿意拍照,就不要上学,不要参加工作,不要结婚,差不多也不要出生。按老舍说的没有照片是没有办法的,只能冲着镜头说"茄子"。






Yonghegong_Lama_Templeonline casino blackjack left; margin-right: 10px;" />在我的书架上有好几本我从来没有看过的书。这些书是因为各种原因摆在那儿。有的是朋友送的,有的是大学的课本,有的是从朋友那借的,还没还给他们。这些书都有一个共同点,我不是真正想看里面的内容!但除了这些书以外,我的书架上还有另外一种我从来没看过的书。最有代表的应该是我前几年买的全套《清代雍和宫档案史料》。 站在我书架上的这12本书,我确实很想看。我经常会拿一本下来翻一翻,但除了佩服当时的书法以外我是完全看不进去的。一个是我古文很不好(基本上不存在),另外书里面的档案资料很多不是用中文写的,什么满文的,蒙文的,藏文的都有!


看一个原来北京城的清代地图,就能看出来没有多少机构比雍和宫面积还要大。按中国藏学出版社1994年出的上世纪50年代写的《雍和宫志略》, 雍和宫清朝人数最多的时候就有超过800多名喇嘛。这是一个巨大的数字,说明雍和宫的地位当时应该很高。雍和宫里面的喇嘛都是外来的,很大的一部分是蒙古族,虽然雍和宫是一家藏传佛教的庙,但藏人很少,大部分的喇嘛是从内外蒙最强大的部落选出来的。


我们"北京卡片"收藏的北京照片大部分确实不是北京人拍的,很大的一部分是当时驻在北京的西方人拍的。这些西方人当然是按自己的想法把北京记录下来。他们注意的跟当地人注意的很不一样。但西方人拍的也有好多共同点,前门大街,前门城楼跟天安门城楼的照片等,一个可能是这些建筑确实比较突出, 另外前门楼跟天安门城楼正好在大部分西方人住的东交民巷旁边。他们的生活环境就是在那。看照片总是要提醒自己,看到的确实不是一种客观的真相。你是通过别人的眼睛看到当时的情景的。因为我们的照片很大的一部分是西方人拍的,所以很容易忘记我们只是从一个角度看到清代的京城。




东方饭店 -北京第一个中国人开的饭店
东方饭店 -北京第一个中国人开的饭店
























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