In Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology and Taoism; The Kitchen God also known as the Stove God, named Zao Jun, Zao Shen, or Zhang Lang, is the most important of a plethora of Chinese domestic gods that protect the hearth and family. The Kitchen God is celebrated in Vietnamese culture as well. It is believed that on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, just before Chinese New Year he returns to Heaven to report the activities of every household over the past year to the Jade Emperor (Yu Huang). The Jade Emperor, emperor of the heavens, either rewards or punishes a family based on Zao Jun’s yearly report. Though there are many stories on how Zao Jun became the Kitchen god, the most popular dates back to around the 2nd Century BC. Zao Jun was originally a mortal man living on earth whose name was Zhang Lang. He eventually became married to a virtuous woman, but ended up falling in love with a younger woman. He left his wife to be with this younger woman and, as punishment for this adulterous act, the heavens afflicted him with ill-fortune. He became blind, and his young lover abandoned him, leaving him to resort to begging to support himself. Once, while begging for alms, he happened across the house of his former wife. Being blind, he did not recognize her. Despite his shoddy treatment of her, she took pity on him and invited him in. She cooked him a fabulous meal and tended to him lovingly; he then related his story to her. As he shared his story, Zhang Lang became overwhelmed with self-pity and the pain of his error and began to weep. Upon hearing him apologize, Zhang’s former wife told him to open his eyes and his vision was restored. Recognizing the wife he had abandoned, Zhang felt such shame that he threw himself into the kitchen hearth, not realizing that it was lit. His former wife attempted to save him, but all she managed to salvage was one of his legs. The devoted woman then created a shrine to her former husband above the fireplace, which began Zao Jun’s association with the stove in Chinese homes. To this day, a fire poker is sometimes referred to as “Zhang Lang’s Leg”. The origin of the Kitchen god differs. Another possible story of the “Stove god” is believed to have appeared soon after the invention of the brick stove. The Kitchen god was originally believed to have resided in the stove and only later took on human form. During the Han Dynasty, it is believed that a poor farmer named Yin Zi fang, was surprised by the Kitchen god who appeared on Lunar New Year as he was cooking his breakfast. Yin Zi fang decided to sacrifice his only yellow sheep. In doing so, he became rich and decided that every winter he would sacrifice one yellow sheep in order to display his deep gratitude.
F/4.5, 1/10 sec, ISO – 800, Photoshop CS6
Trees are significant in many of the world’s mythologies and religions, and have been given deep and sacred meanings throughout the ages. Human beings, observing the growth and death of trees, and the annual death and revival of their foliage, have often seen them as powerful symbols of growth, death and rebirth. Evergreen trees, which largely stay green throughout these cycles, are sometimes considered symbols of the eternal, immortality or fertility. The image of the Tree of life or world tree occurs in many mythologies. Sacred or symbolic trees include the Banyan and the Peepal (Ficus religiosa) trees in Hinduism, the Yule Tree in Germanic mythology, the Tree of Knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, the Bodhi tree in Buddhism and Saglagar tree in Mongolian Tengriism. In folk religion and folklore, trees are often said to be the homes of tree spirits. Germanic paganism as well as Celtic polytheism both appear to have involved cultic practice in sacred groves, especially grove of oak. The term druid itself possibly derives from the Celtic word for oak. The Egyptian Book of the Dead mentions sycamores as part of the scenery where the soul of the deceased finds blissful repose. In many parts of the world travelers have observed the custom of hanging objects upon trees in order to establish some sort of a relationship between themselves and the tree. Throughout Europe, trees are known as sites of pilgrimages, ritual ambulation, and the recital of (Christian) prayers. Wreaths, ribbons or rags are suspended to win favor for sick humans or livestock, or merely for good luck. Popular belief associates the sites with healing, bewitching, or mere wishing.
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Chinese Pottery is one of the oldest in the world. Ceramics were used for making pots before bronze was invented. Vessels of clay were used mostly for rituals or for any other utility purpose. Thereafter Kilns were discovered in China. Chinese were one of the first people to use Potters wheels after a couple of years. The Neolithic Culture was developed soon after in China. Some of the Neolithic cultures are Miao-ti-kou, Lung Shan, and Yang-Shao. Various types of Vessels were used in Ancient China especially Earthenware Vessels which were usually handmade and had striations. The concept of using jars in funerals and also for pulling out drinking water from pools which were very famous in the ancient history of Asian countries was very well developed and in use in Ancient China. The Yang-Shao Water Vessels are very famous all over the world. Yang-Shao Culture was practiced in around 5000 BC and it corresponds to the modern Henan and Shanxi culture known today which was excavated in 1977. The Neolithic Culture belongs to 10,000BC. It was during this period that the Chinese Villages were first found. Introduction of different forms of art and architecture was at its peak in this period. In ancient China Pottery Carvings became very famous. The Credit of discovery of the fruitful uses of clay can be given to a great extent to Ancient China and its creativity. Different forms of Pots were made in Ancient China especially in the Ancient Chinese Villages. Different designs and motives were engraved on the pots in the Villages in Ancient Chinese Villages and sold in the Urban Markets. Chinese motives have been various famous all over the world and often the motives engraved on these pots show the ancient culture, tradition, history. It also is of a lot of evidentiary value. A few of the pots belonging to the Ancient Chinese cultures are also very important from the archaeological perspective. Although the Neolithic period was very famous however it has also come under scrutiny and dispute because of a lot of ambiguity which exists between facts and fiction. Clarification and classification between the two is very essential, however Ancient Chinese art and architecture as well as its inventions.
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A bicycle, often called a bike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A bicycle rider is called a cyclist, or bicyclist. Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century in Europe and, as of 2003, more than a billion have been produced worldwide, twice as many as the number of automobiles that have been produced. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for use as children’s toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services, and bicycle racing. The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright, or safety bicycle, has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. But many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for many types of cycling. The bicycle’s invention has had an enormous effect on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were initially invented for use in the bicycle, including ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, and tension-spoked wheels. From the beginning and still today, bicycles have been and are employed for many uses. In a utilitarian way, bicycles are used for transportation, bicycle commuting, and utility cycling. It can be used as a ‘work horse’, used by mail carriers, paramedics, police, messengers, and general delivery services. The bicycle is also used for recreational purposes, such as bicycle touring, mountain biking, physical fitness, and play. Bicycle competition includes racing, BMX racing, track racing, criterium, roller racing, sportive and time trials. Major multi-stage professional events are the Tour of California, Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España, and the Volta a Portugal. Bicycle use can be seen by the police for surveillance, while the military uses bicycles for scouting, troop movement, supply of provisions, and patrol. Bikes can be used for entertainment and pleasure, such as in organized mass rides, artistic cycling and freestyle BMX.
F/4, 1/10 sec, ISO – 800, Photoshop CS6
Rice (Malay: nasi) was and still is the most important staple food in Malaysia. According to Indonesian-born food and cookery writer Sri Owen, there is some evidence for rice cultivation found in the state of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo dated 2300 BC, and about 900 years of history for the state of Kelantan in West Malaysia. Today Malaysia produces about seventy percent of the amount of rice it needs to support itself, and the rest is imported. This is a matter of policy as the government believes that national resources can be used more profitably instead of attempting to achieve self-sufficiency with rice production; the prevalent attitude is that revenue generated from its industries enables the country to import up to half the rice it needs. Nevertheless, the government is fully committed and involved in planning, allocating resources and managing subsidies for the rice farming industry. The state of Kedah is considered the “rice bowl” (Malay: jelapang padi) of the country, accounting for about half of Malaysia’s total production of rice. Plain steamed white rice, to be served with side dishes of meat or vegetables, is typically prepared with an electric rice cooker at home. Some households and food establishments prefer to cook rice on a stove top with the absorption method or the rapid-boil method. Compressed rice, called nasi himpit, is another method of preparing and cooking rice: the rice is wrapped with fronds or leaves and compressed into the form of a cylinder, which is then cooked by boiling. The rice would compress and merge during the cooking process. Compressed rice is usually eaten cold with some sort of gravy, although it may be served warm in a broth or soup. A notable variant of compressed rice prepared by the Bugis community is burasak: rice is precooked with coconut milk before it is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until fully cooked. Besides the ubiquitous white rice, there are different types of locally grown and imported rice available in the market, and each type has a specific cooking method to bring out optimal results. Glutinous rice (Malay: pulut) is one example: because of its low amylose and high amylopectin content which results in a sticky texture after cooking, glutinous rice is prepared with different measurements and techniques and is not a suitable substitute for normal rice or vice versa. It is typically used for making snacks and desserts, but glutinous rice is also prepared as a savoury staple by indigenous peoples like the Orang Asli as well as the Dayak people of Borneo. Lemang is glutinous rice roasted in a hollowed bamboo tube, and is prepared for festive occasions like Ari Gawai, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, and Hari Raya Aidiladha.
F/5.6, 1/10 sec, ISO – 800, Photoshop CS6
Irrigation is the artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall. Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed or dryland farming. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Archaeological investigation has identified evidence of irrigation where the natural rainfall was insufficient to support crops. Perennial irrigation was practiced in the Mesopotamian plain whereby crops were regularly watered throughout the growing season by coaxing water through a matrix of small channels formed in the field. Ancient Egyptians practiced Basin irrigation using the flooding of the Nile to inundate land plots which had been surrounded by dykes. The flood water was held until the fertile sediment had settled before the surplus was returned to the watercourse. There is evidence of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet III in the twelfth dynasty (about 1800 BCE) using the natural lake of the Faiyum Oasis as a reservoir to store surpluses of water for use during the dry seasons, the lake swelled annually from flooding of the Nile. In sub-Saharan Africa irrigation reached the Niger River region cultures and civilizations by the first or second millennium BCE and was based on wet season flooding and water harvesting. Terrace irrigation is evidenced in pre-Columbian America, early Syria, India, and China. In the Zana Valley of the Andes Mountains in Peru, archaeologists found remains of three irrigation canals radiocarbon dated from the 4th millennium BCE, the 3rd millennium BCE and the 9th century CE. These canals are the earliest record of irrigation in the New World. Traces of a canal possibly dating from the 5th millennium BCE were found under the 4th millennium canal. Sophisticated irrigation and storage systems were developed by the Indus Valley Civilization in present-day Pakistan and North India, including the reservoirs at Girnar in 3000 BCE and an early canal irrigation system from circa 2600 BCE. Large scale agriculture was practiced and an extensive network of canals was used for the purpose of irrigation. The irrigation works of ancient Sri Lanka, the earliest dating from about 300 BCE, in the reign of King Pandukabhaya and under continuous development for the next thousand years, were one of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. In addition to underground canals, the Sinhalese were the first to build completely artificial reservoirs to store water. Due to their engineering superiority in this sector, they were often called ‘masters of irrigation’. [By whom?] Most of these irrigation systems still exist undamaged up to now, in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, because of the advanced and precise engineering. The system was extensively restored and further extended during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu (1153–1186 CE).
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Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the “true grasses”, of the family Poaceae (also called Gramineae), as well as the sedges (Cyperaceae) and the rushes (Juncaceae). The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns (turf) and grassland. Sedges include many wild marsh and grassland plants, and some cultivated ones such as water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) and papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus). Uses for graminoids include food (as grain, sprouted grain, shoots or rhizomes), drink (beer, whisky, vodka), pasture for livestock, thatch, paper, fuel, clothing, insulation, construction, sports turf, basket weaving and many others. Graminoids include some of the most versatile plant life-forms. They became widespread toward the end of the Cretaceous period, and fossilized dinosaur dung (coprolites) have been found containing phytoliths of a variety that include grasses that are related to modern rice and bamboo. Grasses have adapted to conditions in lush rain forests, dry deserts, cold mountains and even intertidal habitats, and are now the most widespread plant type; grass is a valuable source of food and energy for all sorts of wildlife and organics. Graminoids are the dominant vegetation in many habitats, including grassland, salt-marsh, reedswamp and steppes. They also occur as a smaller part of the vegetation in almost every other terrestrial habitat. Many types of animals eat grass as their main source of food, and are called graminivores – these include cattle, sheep, horses, rabbits and many invertebrates, such as grasshoppers and the caterpillars of many brown butterflies. Grasses are also eaten by omnivorous or even occasionally by primarily carnivorous animals. Grasses are unusual in that the meristem is located near the bottom of the plant, hence can quickly recover from cropping at the top. In the study of ecological communities, herbaceous plants are divided into graminoids and forbs, which are herbaceous dicotyledons, mostly with broad leaves.
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Fishing is the activity of catching fish. It is an ancient practice dating back at least 40,000 years. Since the 16th century fishing vessels have been able to cross oceans in pursuit of fish and since the 19th century it has been possible to use larger vessels and in some cases process the fish on board. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, and netting, angling and trapping. The term fishing may be applied to catching other aquatic animals such as shellfish, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not usually applied to catching aquatic mammals, such as whales, where the term whaling is more appropriate, or to farmed fish. In addition to providing food, modern fishing is also a recreational sport. Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back at least to the Upper Paleolithic period which began about 40,000 years ago. Isotopic analysis of the skeletal remains of Tianyuan man, a 40,000 year old modern human from eastern Asia, has shown that he regularly consumed freshwater fish. Archaeological features such as shell mildens, discarded fish bones and cave paintings show that sea foods were important for survival and consumed in significant quantities. During this period, most people lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and were, of necessity, constantly on the move. However, where there are early examples of permanent settlements (though not necessarily permanently occupied) such as those at Lepenski Vir, they are almost always associated with fishing as a major source of food. The Neolithic culture and technology spread worldwide between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago. With the new technologies of farming and pottery came basic forms of the main fishing methods that are still used today. Oppian of Corycus, a Greek author wrote a major treatise on sea fishing, the Halieulica or Halieutika, composed between 177 and 180. This is the earliest such work to have survived intact to the modern day. Oppian describes various means of fishing including the use of nets cast from boats, scoop nets held open by a hoop, spears and tridents, and various traps “which work while their masters sleep”. Oppian’s description of fishing with a “motionless” net is also very interesting: The fishers set up very light nets of buoyant flax and wheel in a circle round about while they violently strike the surface of the sea with their oars and make a din with sweeping blow of poles. At the flashing of the swift oars and the noise the fish bound in terror and rush into the bosom of the net which stands at rest, thinking it to be a shelter: foolish fishes which, frightened by a noise, enter the gates of doom. Then the fishers on either side hasten with the ropes to draw the net ashore. In traditional Chinese history, history begins with three semi-mystical and legendary individuals who taught the Chinese the arts of civilization around 2800–2600 BC: of these Fu Hsi was reputed to be the inventor of writing, hunting, trapping, and fishing.
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Kitchens in China are called (厨房, 膳所). More than 3000 years ago, the ancient Chinese used (ding 鼎) for cooking food. The ding was developed into the wok and pot used today. The earthenware pot, which was commonly used by most people, (砂锅) sand pot is still used in all kinds of cooking or medicine brewing. Many Chinese people believe that there is a kitchen god (灶神) who watches over the kitchen for the family. The kitchen god returns to heaven to give a report to the Jade Emperor (玉皇大帝) annually about this family behavior. Every Chinese New Year Eve, families will gather together to pray for the kitchen god to give a good report to heaven and wish him to bring back good news on the fifth day of the New Year. The most common cooking equipment in Chinese family kitchens and restaurant kitchens are woks, steamer basket, and pots. The fuel or heating resource was also important technique to practice the cooking skills. Traditionally Chinese were using wood or straw as the fuel to cook food. A Chinese chef had to master flaming and heat radiation to reliably prepare traditional recipes. Chinese cooking will use a pot or wok for pan frying, stir frying, deep frying or boiling.
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Brisbane city is one of my favorite and colorful city and it is more affectionately known as “Bris-Vegas” due to its cosmopolitan lifestyle. The indigenous name for Brisbane is “Mian-Jin” meaning “Place shaped as a spike”. The Downtown Brisbane was recognized as the world’s best downtown precinct by the International Downtown Association beating some of the most glamorous cities of the world in the year 2003. The Queen Street Mall, one of the best pedestrian shopping to me and it was built to deliver the ultimate shopping experience. This mall extends approximately 500m and has more than 700 retailers over 40,000sqm of retail space which houses six major shopping centres. Recently I had read a spooky article about the “Haunted Brisbane Arcade” and the story was saying that the Wide-eyed shop-keepers and awe-struck shoppers have reported ghost sightings in the elegant Brisbane Arcade. These stories even made their way to the media where stunned witnesses relayed their ghost sightings in front of millions of viewers. Even security guards stationed at the Arcade have substantiated these sightings with their own accounts of catching glimpses of a mystical beauty walking along the gallery level and mysterious footsteps being heard after dark in the staff-only quarters. Some argue it is the ghost of a former shopkeeper who continues to maintain vigilance at the arcade after her death. While others opine that it is the ghost of Mary McIntosh, wife of the notorious Patrick Mayne, eternally walking the building as punishment for her family’s sins. Whatever the truth may be, these stories only add to the allure of the Brisbane Arcade. So next time you step into the arcade, keep an eye out for a mysterious female figure in black lurking in the dark corners trying to stave off any unwanted attention.
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