Filed under Asian history

The Silence

The Silence

This is the second time Liam Neeson has played a 17th century Jesuit priest, but this is a far cry from his role in The Mission. The film opens with him watching his fellows being tortured for refusing to recant their faith. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield were his students, inspired to follow him to … Continue reading


Counting Islands

Counting Islands

Here’s an oddity from a few days ago in the i paper: Indonesia is to begin the mammoth task of counting all of its islands with the aim of protecting its territory and natural resources. The government has never had a definite number of islands that make up the vast archipelago, with estimates reaching up … Continue reading

Korean Exam Day

Here’s a piece for families dealing with teens hoping to get into a good university. In Korea they take the big exams very seriously. This is from yesterday’s i paper: Aircraft in South Korea were grounded and financial markets closed yesterday to recreate silence for students as they sat a gruelling 8 hour exam that can … Continue reading

A Chinese Artist at the Royal Academy, 1771

Once in a while I find mentions of exotic visitors to Britain who were honoured. I have no idea what this Mr … did, but he seems to have impressed the RA. This is from March 1771, The Leeds Intelligencer Yesterday Mr Chitqua, the celebrated Chinese Artist, embarked at Gravesend, on board the Grenvile East Indiaman, … Continue reading

Mao the Mass Murderer

Mao Tse Tung was once seen as the hero of the left in the West;  his Red Book was recently waved by an MP in Britain’s House of Commons.  But Chinese archives are now being opened, and Frank Dikoetter in the current History Today explains the great man now appears one of the great criminals. … Continue reading

Yoga in Prison

As British prisons are bursting at the seams, here’s an idea from India on how to reform offenders. This is from yesterday’s i newspaper: “A new policy introduced in a Western Indian prison mean that inmates can cut up to 3 months of their sentences – by doing yoga. Inmates at Yerwada Central jail in … Continue reading

A Miracle in South Asia

With all the terrorism in Europe in recent weeks, a rather extraordinary event passed mostly under the news radar. An election happened in Sri Lanka, and a bullying, corrupt leader was peacably replaced. Sri Lanka, the former colony of Ceylon, is rarely in the news, but it was home to author Arthur C Clark for … Continue reading

Jesuits and Clocks

The Catholic church has a history of giving scientists a hard time, but the Jesuits, founded by soldier Ignatius Loyola, were known as the Janissaries of Christianity, and openly embraced top quality child centred education, the theatre – they were pioneers in stage effects – and music and clockwork, all used for converting people. This … Continue reading

Fireworks & Diplomacy

On 15 April 1785 James Hanna sailed the 60 ton brig the Sea Otter from Macao heading for Nootka. This was the first non-Russian ship known to head for the North Pacific to collect sea otter pelts. They arrived at Nootka Sound on 18 August, and the crew of 20 traded with locals to acquire … Continue reading

Jesuits, Clocks and China

The church of Rome has tended to be anti technology, so it is perhaps a surprise that the Jesuits were keen to build and instruct potential converts with clockwork. This helped pave the way for Europeans to use jewelled clocks and automata as gifts for their leaders to get them trade and other concessions in … Continue reading