The Gorkha Kingdom conquers the Kathmandu Valley and unifies Nepal
9.6MILLION (14% of total) making bowls again despite years of retirement due to bad health and failing strength. Having been in the business for 63 years, she can’t bear to give up her Chinese heritage.
Since arriving on Thai shores in the 17th century, Chinese immigrants have assimilated with local Thai in a remarkably smooth manner, resulting in years of intermarriages between the two ethnicities. Yet the Chinese aspect of this mixed cultural identity is beginning to fade in the city’s capital: Practices like baat- making and worship rituals face extinction, thanks to infrastructural redevelopment and a lack of successors to continue the trade.
Like Ban Baat, another of Bangkok’s oldest Chinese communities – Charoen Chai – may soon go, as plans to develop the railway line across the Chao Phraya river and Charoen Krung Road wipes out the historic Chinatown district, where the older generation of Thai Chinese buy joss papers and other items for traditional celebrations and rituals. During the New Year, the area’s temples, like Wat Mangkon Kamalawat and Wat Leng Noei Yi, are filled with worshippers intent on dispelling bad luck. And Charoen Chai specialises in Chinese food: streets upon streets of bakeries, dessert shops, and roadside stalls hawking the popular Jubkang noodles – a favourite for Chinese labourers in the olden days thanks to the massive portions and tiny price.
But all this may become a thing of the past once the railway plans for Bangkok begin in the coming years, and landlords start raising prices or making plans for redevelopment of the land. Facing insufficient support from the government, these communities and their uniquely Thai-chinese practices have already begun to disappear from the places they’ve resided in for centuries – and once they go, there may be no return. ag These ancient alms bowls take up to three days to make in a traditional process dictated by Buddhist teachings Artisans determine the size of the bowl by selecting the right size of sheet metal
The edges are serrated in order to fit together, like a jigsaw
The pieces are lined up, and then welded together
The bowl is hammered out from the inside
After polishing and varnishing, the baat is complete
When she finished praying, my grandmother kowtowed three times to the Buddha. As she stood up she slightly lost her balance, which was easy to do with bound feet. She reached out to steady herself on her maid’s arm. General Xue and her father had just begun to move forward. She blushed and bent her head, then turned and started to walk away, which was the right thing to do. Her father stepped forward and introduced her to the general. She curtsied, keeping her head lowered all the time.
As was fitting for a man in his position, the general did not say much about the meeting to Yang, who was a rather lowly subordinate, but my great-grandfather could see he was fascinated. The next step was to engineer a more direct encounter.
A couple of days later Yang, risking bankruptcy, rented the best theatre in town and put on a local opera, inviting General Xue as the guest of honour. Like most Chinese theatres, it was built around a rectangular space open to the sky, with timber structures on three sides; the fourth side formed the stage, which was completely bare: it had no curtain and no sets. The seating area was more like a café than a theatre in the West. The men sat at tables in the open square, eating, drinking, and talking loudly throughout the performance. To the side, higher up, was the dress circle, where the ladies sat more demurely at smaller tables, with their maids standing behind them. My great-grandfather had arranged things so that his daughter was in a place where General Xue could see her easily.
This time she was much more dressed up than in the temple. She wore a heavily embroidered satin dress and jewellery in her hair. She was also displaying her natural vivacity and energy, laughing and chatting with her women friends. General Xue hardly looked at the stage.
Around 50th century BCE
ȑȑearly Austronesians live in Taiwan and nearby south China
Around 40th century BCE
ȑȑthe Formosan languages are spoken widely across Taiwan
Around 20th century BCE
ȑȑaustronesians migrate to Southeast Asia and as far as Polynesia
ȑȑchinese settlers arrive and intermarry. Mandarin displaces Formosan ȑȑformosan languages are officially recognised in Taiwan, with laws to preserve and revive them
Kai bought a skirt. Paiwan language (Icu a kun ni Kai.) What is this? Tsou language (Cuma na eni?) I like this girl. Puyuma language (Sagar ku kan dini na bu labu layan.) Dongi ate this taro. Amis language (Kumaenan ni Dongi kuni a tali.)