Culture

The Spectacular Stained Glass of Sainte-Chapelle

A rainbow of colors collide through the stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The tinted sunlight brings a jewel-like ambience to the royal chapel of King Louis IX, where 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments are reflected on the 15 13th-century windows. The 15th window tells the story of the Crown of

Stupendously Spanish: Seville’s Plaza de España

From around 1910 to 1929, the Spanish city of Seville made preparations to host the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The aim of the exposition was to demonstrate Spain’s cultural and socioeconomic wealth to the world.  All countries that exhibited at the exposition had historical links to Spain, such as the United States, Portugal, and Latin

Colombia’s Astonishing Las Lajas Shrine

It is 1754. A violent storm erupts over Ipiales in south Colombia, just seven miles shy of Ecuador. Amerindian Maria Meneses de Quiñones and her deaf-mute daughter Rosa frantically search for shelter, having been caught out in a canyon. Finding a suitable space, the two huddle together between two “laja,” two slabs of flat rock

The Enduring Architecture of Kyoto, Japan’s Ancient Capital

Between the 8th and 19th centuries, Kyoto, in western Japan, was the country’s capital. Built in 794, Kyoto was modeled on Chang’an, China’s Tang Dynasty capital, now known as Xi’an.  China also influenced Japan’s art and architecture. UNESCO has listed no less than 17 of Kyoto’s monuments that together express the general historical development of

A British Treasure: Westminster Abbey

The hallowed ground of Westminster Abbey holds a unique place in British history. It’s where coronations occur and the fallen and the famous rest and are remembered: namely, the Grave of the Unknown Warrior honoring all those who died in military conflict, with memorials to William Shakespeare, Sir Winston Churchill, William Blake, the Brontë sisters,

Diogenes of Sinope, the Dogged Cynic

The great ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470–399 B.C.) believed that self-sufficiency is the key to a good life. And that the good life is dependent on our virtue, which is well within our control. Socrates’s friend Antisthenes (455-365 B.C.) founded the philosophy of cynicism based on freedom as well as Socrates’s ideal of self-sufficiency, and on

Reflecting the Divine: Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France

The sun’s rays entering the nearly 27,000 square feet of stained glass windows of Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral create thousands of colored shards that bathe the interior in ethereal beauty. But beyond this earthly splendor, every one of the more than 175 glorious stained glass windows inspire and encourage worshipers to venerate the Virgin Mary and look

Beyond Music: The Tales of Maori Musical Instruments

“It was in the night, that the Gods sang the world into existence. From the world of light, into the world of music,” said Ngai Tahu tribal leader Matiaha Tiramorehu in 1849, as he relayed the Maori creation story.  Tiramorehu, of course, said the words in Maori: Kei a te Po te timatatanga o te

The Hongi: A Traditional Greeting Recaptured

Eyes closed, they touch nose to nose, forehead to forehead: The two embrace in a traditional greeting peculiar to the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori. The salutation is known as the “hongi,” typically thought of by non-Maori as simply the rubbing or pressing of noses, an intermingling, and exchange of breath, the “ha.” “Te

Japanese Cherry Blossoms: Spring’s Glorious Fleeting Celebration

Bright pink cherry blossoms against a brilliant blue sky is a sight unlike any other in the world. “Sakura” is the cherry blossom’s name in Japan. They flutter slowly to the ground as crowds mill about, taking in springtime’s beauty. Across the country, the atmosphere shifts. Buds bloom. Winter draws to an end. Just as

Stories from History: Dong Pu Made a Firm Resolution to Study

There was a man named Dong Pu during the Ming dynasty, who was slow when he was young. He could only remember a few lines even when he studied all day long. An elder in the neighborhood sympathized with him and told his father; “Your son is not so smart, why force him to study?

Qingming Festival: Tomb-Sweeping Day in Honor of Ancestors

Many Chinese will be visiting the tombs of their ancestors on April 4 to pay their respects, as the Qingming Festival, also called Pure Bright Day or Tomb-Sweeping Day, falls on that day this year. Qingming is an important traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the 15th day after the spring equinox. It’s not only a

Story From Ancient China: Giving up Credibility and Ruining One’s Life

Credibility is the basic principle of doing business from the ancient times to the present. Merchants who become wealthy must take credibility, reputation, and honesty as the important parts of business ethics. Some people, however, think differently. Yu Fu, a paint merchant from Kingdom Yue during the Spring and Autumn Period, was tired of living

Chinese Idioms: Vicissitude (成語故事:滄海桑田)

The idiom “Vicissitude” means that things in this world have changed a lot. It is originated from the book A Deity Passes on – Yuan Wang by Ge Hong from the Jing dynasty. Ma Gu said: “Since the reception, we have seen that the East China Sea has changed to a mulberry field three times.”

Several Stories about Tang Taizong (Part IV)

One day Taizong said to some officials: ‘I have read some profound articles written by Sui Yang Di.’ (A tyrant who craved luxuries. His unofficial name was Guang Yang. His father was Jian Yang, the first emperor of the Sui Dynasty.) ‘Why can he judge right from wrong in his articles but not in dealing

Several Stories about Tang Taizong (Part III)

General Shunde Zhangsun accepted a bribe of thin silk. Taizong knew it and said: ‘ Shunde has contributed a lot to the empire. I can share the whole wealth of the empire with him, but why he is so interested in wealth?’ Taizong did not punish him; on the contrary, he gave him ten bolts

Several Stories about Tang Taizong (Part II)

Once Taizong talked with his officials about how to stop robbing and stealing. Somebody suggested that a harsh law be established. Taizong said: ‘The reasons for people stealing or robbing are the heavy taxes, too strenuous public service requirements, official malfeasance, and suffering hunger and cold, all of which make people forget their sense of

Several Stories about Tang Taizong (Part I)

After Tang Taizong (second emperor of the Tang Dynasty; his unofficial name was Shimin Li) succeeded to the throne, some of the old officials who had worked for him for several years complained that they had not been promoted. Taizong told them: ‘The trust of an emperor by his subjects depends on his unselfishness. The

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