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Hopefully it will soon be easier for visitors to China to take the country's "national treasures" home with them. The announcement, which was made at a press conference last week at the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is in line with a State Council directive, which was issued earlier this month in a bid to promote more creativity among cultural heritage institutions. It is hoped that the guideline will boost the use of new technical approaches and improve design and marketing to improve museums' interactions with the public. The development of such souvenirs could also become part of the museum evaluation system, he says. The new move is undergoing trials at national and provincial museums before being expanded nationwide. Cultural souvenirs from museums are very popular on social media in China, which probably accounts for the boom seen at the Palace Museum. According to Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, the sales of its more than 8,700 types of souvenirs surpassed 1 billion yuan ($153 million) in 2015. Explaining why the museum has such large range of products, Shan says: "What matters to a museum is not how many visitors they have, but how close they are to people's daily lives. Separately, the total value of sales of souvenirs by 11 key public museums jointly built by the provincial and central authorities in China (with two of them stopping sales due to restoration work) was just 97 million yuan in 2015, according to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. Guan Qiang, the deputy director of the cultural heritage administration, says his organization will draft a national rule governing the business operations of museums to enable them to access markets more efficiently. And, with the first national general survey of moveable cultural heritage, which started in 2012, likely to be completed by the end of this year, Guan expects the establishment of a huge database will offer abundant resources for more cultural souvenirs to be developed.
In another development, the National Museum of China has launched a project to use cyberspace to boost its cultural souvenir creation process. The museum recently signed an agreement with online business giant Alibaba to build a platform called Wenchuang Zhongguo, which means "cultural creativity in China". Li Liusan, deputy director of the museum, says the new platform will share information on its collections with designers from Alibaba to help them develop different products.
The platform will be open to small-scale museums all over the country, which often have excellent collections that have the potential to be developed into popular souvenirs, but have no expertise to do so.
An offline business center will also operate in a pilot free trade zone in Shanghai to help the process, say Li. Despite the new emphasis on cultural souvenirs, Wu from the Ministry of Culture says the protection of intellectual property will be a priority. Giving an example of violations, Shan from the Palace Museum says that while the museum published only 285,000 copies of its desk calendars in 2015, there were more than 1 million copies sold. Separately, museums will be allowed to become shareholders in corporations using the intellectual property of their collections to develop cultural derivatives, says Wu. Later the boy, who used to look after cows on a mountain, became one of the most famous thangka painters and his works were celebrated even in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet autonomous region. Ten of his works are now on display in Beijing, the first time they have been taken out from the Shouning Temple in Luhuo county in Southwest China's Sichuan province, where they have been revered by followers for about 400 years.
The painter's real name has been forgotten because he was always known as a Buddha-turned painter, or Namkhagyan, which in Tibetan means sky painter as the colors of the sky in his paintings are unique. The lines and colors in Namkhagyan's thangka paintings reflect the spiritualism of the Tibetan people and the exchanges between Tibetan and other cultures, says Nyima Tsering, a well-known Tibetan painter from Beijing. As an exclusive Buddhist art form, thangka has many restrictions on subjects and how they should be drawn.
The Namkhagyan masterpiece on show, Nirvana, is different from the works of other painters who tackle the same subject. Losang Changchub says Namkhagyan's work is full of deities and Buddha figures while the works of other thangka painters are typically full of buildings surrounded by people dancing and singing.
Losang Changchub, who once worked for an art museum in Namkhagyan's hometown in Luhuo county, a Tibetan area in Sichuan, began to learn Namkhagyan style of thangka painting from a lama in 1980. He marvels at the master's technique of painting tiny figures, saying he has to use a magnifying glass to find the deities on Namkhagyan's scrolls.
For instance, there are almost 880 deities on Namkhagyan's 1.5-meter-high thangka work Nirvana.
Praising the master's effort, Losang Changchub says: "I think it's because at the time, the master could easily devote himself to painting and not get distracted by the outside world.
During the painting process, thangka painters were also not allowed any contact with women. As of now, Losang Changchub doesn't have any apprentice learning from him because he says young people may not be able to endure painting for three months to complete a small piece of thangka. Also on display at the exhibition are about 60 other thangka paintings done in the Namkhagyan style by his successors from his hometown, where thangka painting techniques are passed from fathers to sons. Song Bin, the organizer of the show, says the art of Namkhagyan's thangka has long been neglected due to its low exposure to the public.
Song is now preparing to set up a school in Luhuo county to allow more people learn Namkhagyan-style thangka. Many Chinese affectionately call Australia a big farmyard, with the state of Victoria at the front and center.
A one-day tour of Yarra Valley offers a good view of the superb local natural environment and its food, as well as a sense of how locals live off the land. The valley is roughly a one-hour drive from Melbourne, the second biggest city in Australia. The blue sky feels close above our heads, meeting the sea at the end of the horizon thanks to the vast flat landscape and impeccable weather conditions. Our first stop, at the Yarra Valley Dairy early in the morning, was very relaxing and intimate. The dairy was built on a 100-year-old milking shed on the farm, right beside a cheese factory.
He gave us a tour of the factory, which featured modern equipment and delicate manual work.
The cozy shop offers distinctive local wines and a range of delicious regional and specialty produce, including jams, delicate houseware and gifts.
Visitors can purchase and eat the goodies while enjoying the nice views of the farm and herds through the window. The dairy is a great stop for visitors to enjoy coffee, tea, biscuits and regionally produced ice cream. Our last stop at the Healesville Sanctuary turned out to be a great supplement to our wine-and-dine experiences. Iconic Australian animals like koala, kangaroo, platypus, dingo, wombat and emu can be seen there. We patted and fed the kangaroos, which were very friendly, and we looked at the cute koalas sleeping on a tree at close quarters.
Other highlights include letting parrots land on your arm to feed, and seeing platypus roll, dive and tumble in their tank. While the Yarra Valley offers a countryside experience, for those who long for the excitement of a modern city, Melbourne is just a one-hour drive away. The Eureka Skydeck 88, the highest point locally, is a thrilling and fast way to take in the broad landscape scenery of the city. We experienced altitude changes in our ears when taking the allegedly fastest lifts in the Southern Hemisphere. It takes less than 40 seconds to get to the 88th floor, where visitors can see Melbourne from glass windows on all sides. For daredevils, an observation deck - literally a glass cube that projects 3 meters out of the building, provides the experience of walking on the air above Melbourne. Restaurants, pubs and other entertainment facilities are usually packed, which makes it an ideal time to experience the vitality of the city's night life. The museum at the entrance of the town presents the culture and history of the first Chinese immigrants and their descendants in Australia. If time permits, the ancient steam train can take you through the lush woods and you can hang onto the window frame and stick your legs out. Locals half-jokingly tell us that they have to be extra careful driving back to their suburban homes to avoid running over the wild animals, which are big enough to overturn their vehicles if angered. There were 490,000 Chinese visitors to Victoria in the year ending December 2015, a 25.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to the local tourism authority. With the 10-year multiple-entry visa expected soon and the direct flights connecting major cities in China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, more Chinese are bound to visit in near future. About 1,000 exhibitors, such as tourism bureaus, travel agencies and airlines from 81 countries and regions as well as domestic destinations, participated in BITE. It was open to industry professionals and the media on the first day and to individual travelers such as Wu on the last two days.
Nineteen travel agencies from home and abroad provided discounted tourism packages at their booths, winning about 33,000 orders from visitors. Like her peers, she's most interested in Russia due to her generation's affection for the former Soviet Union. Visitors could experience the beautiful scenery of destinations via virtual-reality goggles in some booths.
Chinese tourism agencies offered discounts and held draws for prizes such as televisions to attract visitors. She says as summer vacation season is approaching, many parents brought their children to their booths, and their priorities were Disneyland in Europe, cruises and islands. The Beijing Utour International Travel Service had more than 400 itineraries and 200 professional consultants at BITE to assist visitors.
According to the company, BITE draws not only the middle-aged and the elderly, but also young people.
U V Jose Ias, director of Kerala Tourism from India, says the bureau mainly promotes the Kerala backwaters, a network of lakes, canals, and rivers that spread over Kerala state in South India, and the ancient regimen of Ayurveda. Options for tourists in Kerala include living in a wooden houseboat, a huge barge that moves slowly along the river. He also says tourists can join the snake-boat races that are held in August and September in the backwaters. The threeday Beijing International Tourism Expo drew crowds of visitors with interests in tourism packages to popular destinations around the world. Author Hong Ying says she only writes three types of novels - those that seek to understand and explore a house, a city and the world. In her latest novel, Mimidola: The River Child, by People's Literature Publishing House, a beautifully illustrated fantasy story for young readers, the mother is absent from the beginning, leaving a 10-year-old Mimidola to undertake adventures by herself.
She took five years to finish this book, whereas her earlier novels like K: The Art of Love, were done in months, she says.
The author also discovered her latent sense of humor through her latest novel, as she makes many jokes between the lines, a rarity in her previous works. Unlike Mimidola from Jiangzhou, a fictional version of Chongqing in Southwest China, the writer's memories of the 1960s and early '70s with her mother are painful.
Hong Ying left home at a very young and later to learned writing at Lu Xun Academy in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai.
She records those years in her autobiographic works, Daughter of the River in 1997 and Good Children of the Flower in 2009, both of which are available in multiple languages. Fellow author A Lai says, when the two novels were reprinted in April, he was astounded to read such a courageous and frank account of cruelty in the times of hunger and disasters that a generation of Chinese faced, but most other writers learned a "skillful way" to hide it.
It is her own daughter, Sybil, born in 2007, who gradually dispersed her childhood resentment and brought a new light into her life and writing, Hong Ying says. Mimidola was created, combining her daughter's positive, happy nature and Hong Ying's own wisdom and insights. She continued to cooperate with world-acclaimed illustrators for Mimidola, paying special attention to the paper used and the colors for illustrations, according to Zhao Ping from the People's Literature Publishing House. Though inspired by environmental problems, like the Beijing smog and social issues like missing children, Hong Ying says her book is really about parental education. In the novel, Mimidola is separated from her single parent, the mother, at the beginning of the story. Besides novels, Hong Ying also writes poems and she is currently working and directing the film adaptation of her novel The Lord of Shanghai.
Chinese author Hong Ying shifts her focus to children's books, and her latest novel is a fantasy about a 10yearold girl's adventures. But Murray Shanahan, a London-based cognitive robotics professor, disagrees with Kurzweil's theory in his more recent book, Technological Singularity.
But for Shanahan, it is a thing of the future that may or may not come, and in which human-level artificial intelligence is quickly followed by super AI.
It's a revolution that is expected to bring various benefits to society, but also possible threats that force us to think about moral problems in building super smart machines with or without a human heart.
A Chinese edition of Technological Singularity was recently published by China Citic Press. When British director Alex Garland was preparing for his later Oscar-nominated film Ex Machina, he came across Shanahan's previous book Embodiment and the Inner Life, which is about cognition and AI consciousness.
In his book, Shanahan prods readers to think about where humans are going as they face a future that may be totally incomprehensible based on our current knowledge of things. Although self-driving cars will likely cause unemployment issues, they are expected to be more energy-efficient and safer. A large number of people die or are badly injured in car accidents because of human error, but self-driving cars would be able to stop at short notice when sensing an obstacle, he says. Earlier this year, Google's AlphGo, a robot built with a deep learning system and a one based on trial and error, beat human players in the games of Go, a more complex game than chess, in which field robots have long beaten people. Although AlphGo is quite clever and even made creative moves in playing the games, it can't do anything else.
But the victory of machines raises questions such as: Are robots going to take over the world? Shanahan says we are still a long way from achieving human-level AI due to limited computational and cognitive powers as well as current machine learning technologies. Although he doesn't know by when it will come or what will mark its arrival, Shanahan is confident that technological singularity will eventually happen. British author Murray Shanahan says his new book on AI 'isn’t science fiction but speculation about the future'.
British archaeologists raised the curtain recently on a 16th-century theater that staged William Shakespeare plays like Romeo and Juliet and where the Bard of Avon himself acted in "London's first theaterland". The Curtain Theatre put on productions between 1577 and 1625 as one of the city's first two purpose-built theaters, but all traces of it were subsequently lost over time.
Its location in Shoreditch, east London - a vibrant party district dotted with restaurants, bars and clubs - was eventually pinpointed in a trial excavation in 2011. Researchers started a more detailed dig at the site six weeks ago and revealed their preliminary findings last week. The two predate the most famous theater associated with Shakespeare, The Globe, built on London's South Bank in 1599. Shakespeare's play Henry V had its debut at The Curtain, while Romeo and Juliet was also staged there. A ceramic bird whistle thought to have been used as a sound effect in that production has already been found, along with a bone comb and an iron token that may have been used as currency. The bard himself - the 400th anniversary of whose death is being marked this year - also starred in a production of Ben Jonson's Every Man In His Humor at The Curtain. Knight says that The Theatre, located 200 meters away, and The Curtain were the first purpose-built theaters in London, where performances previously took place at inns or royal courts. Having the plays staged in a dedicated theater for the first time would have allowed audiences to have a much more "immersive" experience than at an inn, she adds.
Nevertheless, the plays, staged in the afternoon to make the most of daylight, would have had a lively atmosphere. The archaeological dig comes ahead of the site's development as a new retail, office and residential complex into which the remains of the theater will be incorporated.
As office construction booms in London, a string of such digs have unearthed the city's multilayered past in recent years.
These have included the excavation of a burial ground for victims of the Great Plague in 1665 next to Liverpool Street Station, one of Britain's busiest commuter railway stations. An annual list of the top archaeological finds in China is getting more public attention thanks to increasing media coverage of excavations of historical sites. The finds cover a time span that ranges from the Paleolithic period to the First Sino-Japanese War in the 19th century.
The final list was picked from 25 candidates, and included finds such as a Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) tomb identified as the burial site of dethroned emperor Liu He in Jiangxi province and a vessel identified as the famous warship Zhiyuan from the Beiyang Fleet, which sank in 1894 in Liaoning province. Also recognized were the Liangzhu cultural sites in Zhejiang province, which were discovered in 1936.
While finds from the Liangzhu sites have made the top 10 lists many times before, their latest claim to fame is the discovery of a hydraulic project.

The annual listing was launched in 1990 by the Beijing-based newspaper China Cultural Relics News, and the jury teams up archaeological authorities and scholars from leading museums and universities, such as the Palace Museum and Peking University, to make its final selection. An analysis of the 260 finds that have made the lists since it was launched in 1990 shows that finds from Henan, Jiangsu, Shandong and Shaanxi - all provinces boasting rich historical and cultural legacies - dominate the honor boards. Interestingly, finds from the well-known Sanxingdui site in Sichuan province, which covers a period from the late Neolithic Age and to the Bronze Age, have never made the list.
Among the finds which were in contention for this year's list were several building foundations and city walls, but they failed to make the cut.
Gao Dalun, who heads the research institute that made the finds there, says he is not surprised that the site lost out, because in recent years there has been a big jump in major archaeological discoveries in the country, making the competition to get on the list even fiercer. Giving reasons for this, he says: "The site covers about 25 square kilometers and we've only excavated fewer than 10,000 square meters.
The underwater archaeological excavation of the warship Zhiyuan was broadcast live on television. Also, carefully curated exhibitions of unearthed objects boost public interest in the finds. The Capital Museum is currently holding two exhibitions dedicated to the finds from the tombs of "Haihunhou" Liu He and Fu Hao at the Yin Xu relic site in Henan. Speaking of what could appear on next year's list, Li Shuicheng, a professor of archaeology from Peking University, says it's difficult to predict what will happen next year because, besides ongoing excavations, accidental finds can always change the scene. Researchers attribute the disappearance of the Neolithic Liangzhu culture, which dates back about 5,000 years in the Yangtze River delta, to environmental changes such as floods. The discovery of a hydraulic project at a site in Yuhang district, on the northern outskirts of Hangzhou, shows that people at the time were adept at building city-states and protecting them from rising waters.
The project, which is believed to be one of the earliest of its kind in China, comprises 11 dams that protected Liangzhu's ancient cities from summer floods. Yan Wenming, a professor of archaeology at Peking University, says the hydraulic project is one of the surprising finds of their excavations.
He adds that the project was built before the time of Da Yu, the founder of the Xia Dynasty (c. Another find relating to Liangzhu culture on this year's list is a settlement, which includes more than 280 graves, eight building foundations and other relics.
The finds follow four years of excavations at the border straddling the cities of Xinghua and Dongtai in Jiangsu. The tombs are arranged according to a highly stratified social structure, and contain burial objects such as pottery and jade. Most tombs also contain well preserved human bones, giving archaeologists a better chance to understand the burial customs, interpersonal relations and other aspects of life of the Liangzhu people.
Liu He (92-59 BC), a dethroned Western Han emperor, is known to people today not only for his short-lived career as a ruler for only 27 days, but also because his well-preserved burial site was identified by archaeologists in March. The excavations started in 2011, and since then around 10,000 artifacts, including objects made of gold, jade and bronze, have been unearthed. Archaeologists say besides the eye-catching gold pieces, what also deserve attention, are hundreds of excavated bamboo writing slips that they have just started to decipher. The Dandong No 1 was at the bottom of the Yellow Sea for more than a century before underwater archaeological exploration helped locate the ship in April 2014. Archaeologists also identified it a vessel from the Beiyang Fleet of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), after their excavations revealed a large part of the ship's shell.
A broken ceramic plate helped confirm the ship's identity: It bears the ship's logo with zhi yuan written in the seal-character style of Chinese calligraphy. The warship Zhiyuan was sunk by the invading Japanese during a fierce sea battle on Sept 17, 1894.
Research will be carried out on the wreckage to uncover more details of the First Sino-Japanese War and the final decline of the Qing Dynasty. The Zhiyuan find also opens a new chapter in China's underwater archaeology, paving the way for more shipwrecks from the late 19th century and the early 20th century to be discovered and studied. Works from several centuries past will be part of Sotheby's semiannual offering of Chinese art, Lin Qi reports. Eleven classical Chinese paintings and calligraphic pieces, collected by a private library in Zhejiang province over a period from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to the time of the Republic of China (1911-49), will go under the hammer in Hong Kong on May 30.
A highlight is The Lotus Sutra, a calligraphic set of seven albums of Buddhism inscriptions written in gold on blue paper by an anonymous artist of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
The upcoming Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong features some of the country's rarest treasures, such as The Lotus Sutra (above and bottom) from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and an album of landscape paintings and calligraphy (below) by Shitao from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The Mi Yun Hall library was built on an accumulation of books by Jiang Ruzao (1876-1954), an entrepreneur in Huzhou, Zhejiang province. His son Jiang Zuyi (1902-73) extended the spectrum of the family collection to classical Chinese paintings, calligraphic pieces and other antique works of art. Jiang Zuyi remained an art connoisseur after moving to Taiwan in the 1940s, together with his family's cultural specimens. Items from the Jiang family's collection to be auctioned by Sotheby's Hong Kong also include Letters, four calligraphic scrolls of the Song Dynasty government official Zhang Wenjing. They not only provide reference to the development of Chinese calligraphy but also Song politics. An album of 10 leaves of landscape paintings and calligraphy by early Qing painter Shitao, the pseudonym of Zhu Ruoji, will also appear in the salesroom.
Measuring only 20 by 15 centimeters for each leaf, the works reveal his impressionistic brushstrokes and masterly use of space to present a feeling of solitude.
Sotheby's launched a sale devoted to classical Chinese painting as part of its autumn sales in Hong Kong in October.
The practice follows its launch of classical Chinese paintings sales in New York in 2011, which generated some high prices. Steven Zuo, head of Sotheby's classical Chinese paintings department in Asia, tells China Daily that the salesrooms in both New York and Hong Kong attract global bidders, while the Hong Kong auctions highlight the appetite of Asian buyers. The category of classical Chinese paintings, normally referring to works executed before the 20th century, has performed steadily in the market, while modern ink art has dropped in value amid a market reshuffle since 2014.
A calligraphic letter by Song politician Zeng Gong fetched 207 million yuan ($31.85 million) at a Beijing auction on May 15.
The most expensive classical Chinese ink art sold at auction so far is Di Zhu Ming, a calligraphic hand scroll by Song master Huang Tingjian that grossed 436.8 million yuan in Beijing in 2010.
Zuo says classical paintings, as an important bearer of Chinese cultural traditions, have a mature, stable collecting group. The classical Chinese art market doesn't create a lot of bubbles like modern and contemporary art because its "higher threshold" turns away speculators seeking short-term profits, says Tu Xin, a Beijing-based art dealer. Titled Time Speed, Xia Pengcheng's solo exhibition currently at Songzhuang village, an art district in Beijing's eastern suburbs, examines how people can achieve inner peace when living in a fast-paced environment. The show at the Fine Art Equivalence gallery displays dozens of calligraphic scrolls and abstract oil paintings he has executed over the past year.
Xia is viewed by critics as one of the most promising Chinese artists, as he extends one hand to modernize Chinese ink traditions and another to localize Western brushwork. Practicing calligraphy since he was 6, Xia is noted for handling the highly expressive kuang cao (wild cursive) style. Like many of his generation who were interested in Western art, Xia studied oil painting at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1990s.
The Beijing-based artist in his 40s has been a student of eminent calligrapher Shen Peng since 2009. His desire to paint was reignited early this year when he drove by a stack of bicycle tires on the way to pick up his daughter. The largest of Xia's oil paintings on show occupies a whole wall at the gallery, measuring 8 meters in length and 3 meters in height. Adopting a simple palette, he seeks to present a state of solitude and simplicity with which he hopes to remind viewers of the paintings of Shitao and Bada Shanren, masters of the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
He believes the juxtaposition of his oil works with calligraphy will give prominence to Chinese artistic spirit that stresses innovation. Guang Jun, a professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts who taught Xia's class, says his creations on paper and on canvas both show an experimental attitude to connect Chinese and Western aesthetics with groundbreaking approaches. Bai Yefu, the curator of Xia's exhibition, says that standing before his artwork, people who are accustomed to a fast-paced society will want to slow down and refresh their minds with the beauty of colors and the free flow of writing strokes. Over little more than a decade, from 1831 to 1843, Fryderyk Chopin composed four ballades, a musical form he helped create by adapting the narrative sequence to solo piano composition. The four ballades are considered the finest of Chopin's works and mark the composer's musical evolution after he left his homeland Poland for Paris. Chinese pianist Li Yundi, who considers Chopin his favorite composer, played the four works as a young student more than a decade ago.
The youngest-ever winner at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in 2000 when he was 18, he returned to sit on the competition jury of the competition in 2015.
Li says he is experiencing a mature stage in his career and "now the timing is right to reinterpret the composer's four ballades". In his latest album, Chopin: Ballades, Berceuse, Mazurkas, he performs the Opus 17 set of four mazurkas, the lullaby-style Berceuse (Op 57), and all four ballades. When the pianist played the second ballade (F major), he pictured himself sitting near a lake at night, listening to a bell sounding from afar. The third piece (A-flat major) is the closest to a dance form among the four, while the F-minor finale, Li says, is the most technically challenging work - the composer's supreme masterpiece. After releasing the album internationally in February, the pianist kicked off a two-month tour in more than 20 cities across the United States and Europe. He will have nine shows in Japan by the end of the month, then return to China to play in six cities on the mainland in June and July, including a piano recital at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on July 13.
In September, Li released the album Chopin Precludes, which included studio recordings and performances that launched his ongoing project. The son of Chongqing steel workers, Li was introduced to the accordion at the age of 3, switching to the piano at 7. He graduated from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and won a string of competitions, including the Stravinsky Youth Competition when he was 13 and the Utrecht Liszt competition at 17 before his famous win at the Chopin event. In November, Li faced a storm of controversy over a performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Seoul Arts Center, where the pianist suddenly stopped as if lost in the middle of the performance. He later apologized for it on his Sina Weibo account, which has nearly 20 million followers, saying that the "mishap was caused by tiredness".
As a role model for China's 50 million youth studying classical music, Li says his passion for music will never change, although his ambition has expanded from being a great pianist to being a great pianist and a music educator.
Having given master classes worldwide during tours, he is also eager to popularize classical music in China.
In a first-of-a-kind festival, an alliance of the small companies is putting on performances across New York, hoping to reach new audiences but also to cross-pollinate by showing opera aficionados the breadth of offerings across the metropolis. The New York Opera Alliance chooses not to define "opera" or to set quality benchmarks, admitting to its fold any group that thinks it fits the bill and can chip in $75. The inaugural New York Opera Fest, which runs throughout May and June, features classics plus innovative fare including operas designed for video and pieces about sex education performed by Opera on Tap, which plays in bars and other public spots. One company, On Site Opera, will put on Marcos Portugal's version of The Marriage of Figaro inside an ornate house in Manhattan, which will serve as the count's palace with the audience watching inside. Jessica Kiger, the company's executive director and producer, says such on-location performances were complementary rather than a replacement for grand opera as seen at the Met. Kiger says on-site operas were also more fluid, with performers reacting more to the audiences and developing their characters. The rise of the opera alliance comes amid financial challenges for the Met and other major US music institutions that enjoy less generous government funding than counterparts in much of Europe. The New York City Opera, created as a more populist alternative to the Met, went bust in 2013 as it faced mounting debts.
But a group of philanthropists and businesses recently revived the "people's opera", staging Puccini's Tosca at a theater near the Met in Lincoln Center.
The reborn New York City Opera next month will reach a Spanish-speaking audience with Florencia en el Amazonas, a work of magical realism by Daniel Catan. Small companies have seen a growth of interest since the New York Opera Alliance was created five years ago as they benefit from unique characteristics in the metropolis - a huge potential audience and a cultural shift toward independent art.
Annie Holt, executive director of the alliance, says the festival's lively, small-scale productions may be more in line with opera as envisioned in the art form's formative years in Italy. More casual productions "are actually in some ways for me a return to the origins of opera, not a departure from it", she adds. Thirty-three families from Yuejiazhai, a village of the Yue family on the Thaihang mountain ridge in Pingshun, North China's Shanxi province, have lived in relative seclusion for hundreds of years.
Top and above: Villagers of Yuejiazhai, descendants of Southern Song Dynasty hero Yue Fei, have lived reclusive lives for hundreds of years on the Thaihang mountain ridge in Pingshun, Shanxi province. He was put to death, along with his eldest son Yue Yun, in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, in 1142 by the Southern Song ruler after being accused of being a rebellion plotter.
However, 27 years later, he received a posthumous rehabilitation and was portrayed as a national hero for his loyalty. The villagers say Yue Lin took 33 families with him, mostly relatives, servants and guards.
One night during their journey they camped under a big tree in a remote mountainous region. Yue Lin had a dream that night, in which the tree told him to settle under it and it promised to protect his people. The next morning, he decided to follow the instruction and the group began to build houses there using locally available stone. They also created terraced fields on the mountain slope and began to cultivate crops there. The tree is worshipped as the guardian angel of the village, and the spring is still a vital resource.
For more than 800 years, the village operated its own school, clinic, temple and village committee.
The local government started building a 20-kilometer mountain path connecting the village to the closest town in 1996, and the road, which includes a 50-meter tunnel, was completed several years later. Even the Mongolians, Manchurians, and Japanese, three main invaders and occupiers in northern China after 12th century, did not manage to get to the village.
If their ancestors knew about Yue Fei's rehabilitation 27 years after they settled there and left the area, many families would have become victims of the later wars, the villagers say. Speaking of how access changed things in the village, Zhang Haigen says: "We started learning about what happened over the past 800 years (history) only beginning from the late 1990s.
When the first visitors came to the village about 15 years ago, they were very interested in learning about us, and vice versa, says Zhang Haigen. The two-month bus journey will take the group through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
From Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the west to Shanghai in the east, the German visitors will see more than 20 Chinese cities. Nearly 26 million foreigners traveled to China in 2015, and some 5 million of them were from Europe.
Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai and the Yangtze River are traditional Chinese travel destinations for European tourists.
Speaking of what he wants to see, Schultz says: "Compared with modern cities, western China is more attractive for me. The China National Tourism Administration sees "Silk Road Tourism" as a new brand to attract foreign visitors, and have made this its leading tourism promotion theme for the past two years. He says that these new visa-application centers will "help us to cater to the growing demand, while making the application process easier for applicants". Tourist arrivals from China in January this year nearly doubled compared with January 2015, South Africa's Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said earlier this month. In China, South Africa has seen the benefits of the decision to allow travel agencies to apply for visas on behalf of travelers, Hanekom says.
Strict visa regulations introduced in 2014 led to a sharp decline in tourist arrivals in South Africa last year. In the Chinese kitchen, fresh eggs are a pantry staple, but you'll also find salted eggs and pickled eggs like the infamous black century eggs that have Westerners shuddering on sight. Century eggs are carefully cured for several weeks to several months so that the albumen solidifies into a dark, transparent, gel-like semisolid while the yolk hardens slightly on the outside but remains molten in the center. They are actually no more fearsome than potted eels or ripe blue cheese, and foolhardy participants who stuff whole eggs into their mouths on television episodes of Bizarre Foods or Extreme Food Adventures really deserve to have their palates pickled. These pickled eggs, so feared by the West, are treasured enough to be served at banquets in China, always daintily slivered and decorated.
The most common raw ingredient for pidan is duck eggs, valued for the size of the yolks and the generosity of the egg white. Its fearsome color is the result of a chemical reaction with the curing mix usually wood ash, salt and rice husks mixed with clay or lime.

Another popular staple is the salted egg, a pure white delight that is as visually attractive as its cousin is not. Eggs from either chicken or duck are carefully wiped clean with Chinese liquor and placed in bottles of saturated brine. Salted or cured, it is the rare Chinese kitchen that doesn't have a store of several century eggs or a carton of salted eggs.
Fresh eggs have special meaning to the Chinese, and many rural families still keep chickens so they have a steady supply.
The birth of a child or a grandchild is celebrated with the delivery of hard-boiled eggs to friends and relatives, often dyed a brilliant red in honor of the occasion.
Eggs are also a part of the bride's dowry, sent by her family on the wedding day to her husband's home as a sign of her potential fertility.
Birthdays are also marked with noodles and eggs all over China, and even as an ethnic Chinese growing up abroad, I remember my grandmother making a bowl of vermicelli for me with a large egg on top, dyed bright red, of course. On the banks of the West Lake in Hangzhou, tea-infused eggs are sold as snacks and they are made with the region's famous longjing, or Dragon Well, green tea. Savory steamed eggs are a Chinese specialty, with the most delicious made with equal parts beaten eggs and rich meat stock. You cannot mention custard without talking about the delightful desserts from Guangzhou - the custard filled tarts, sweet milky custards, steamed eggy sponges and those breakfast classics from Hong Kong, egg-battered French toast drizzled with condensed milk. Eggs are also indispensable for the thickening of those rich Chinese broths like the hot and sour soup full of shredded meat, bamboo shoots, wood-ear mushrooms and with a beaten egg dropped in at the last moment.
They are also used in batters for deep-fried foods, or to enrich gravies for braised meats. To slice the egg, I normally use a thin thread, or unwaxed, plain dental floss without mint. Mix together 2 tablespoon black vinegar (balsamic vinegar works) and 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
Place the tea and tea leaves in a pot, add a piece of star anise, a stick of cinnamon and either some cloves or cardamom.
I find the flavors and colors improve if you also break the membranes so the tea infusion can penetrate. You can reuse the tea sauce to cook more eggs when the first batch is finished, but remember to either add more tea or soy sauce to adjust the seasoning. If you have any questions, contact the NC Department of Revenue Taxpayer Assistance Division Toll-Free: (877) 252-3052.
What makes this recycling program different from past recycling programs is that the cleaner is not required to restrict which poly type products can be deposited or required to go through the returns to take out small pieces of paper or other items that a typical consumer may deposit in the bins. I come from a 20 year background of Sales and Financial Services and I dona€™t even remember how many countless conventions I have attended over the years. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Cindy Cheatham, Shallotte Cleaners, in the loss of her stepbrother, to W. Congratulations to Millie Thomas, daughter of Marvin and Robin Thomas, Swannanoa Cleaners, Asheville, and to Elizabeth Cheatham, daughter of Allan and Cindy Cheatham, Shallotte Cleaners, Shallotte, on their graduation from high school. Matt Sigmon of Matt Sigmon Productions gave a good talk on a€?Why You Shoud Have a Presence on the Web.a€? If you dona€™t have a website, he can get you started. Lastly, Bill Bohannon, owner of Hollin Hall Dry Cleaners in Alexandria, VA, gave a very interesting talk on cost analysis. Dancing and bidding continued furiously until the Silent Auction closed at 10 pm and the compilation process began so that the winners could pay for and claim their prizes Sunday morning.
It was truly difficult for a lot of us to give up the beach to shower and dress for the Sunday evening festivities.
Following a brief intermission, we benefited from a recently discovered talent of NCALCa€™s newest member (yep, he joined Sunday night), Alan Hargis, who is a licensed auctioneer. Chris Edwards, NCALC VP Governmental Affairs, reported that the DSCA Stakeholders Meeting was held June 2, 2011. Ita€™s hard to attend a show in the middle of the week, but fortunately I was able to because of my wonderful co-workers. Kreussler K4 Solvent a€“There was a lot of excitement around the Kreussler booth because of the new K4 Solvent.
Electrolux a€?Lagoona€? Wet Cleaning system has an exclusive endorsement from Woolmark if you use their complete cleaning and finishing equipment. Spector Textile has designed some new route bags, marketing material to capture new customers, and promotions for new route customers. CompassMax Maineline, a pos software company, demonstrated new updates to their software with assembly integration enhancements, mobile coupons, smart phone applications for employees or customers, and cloud computing hosting services.
GreenEarth Cleaning has been around, but what was interesting to me was the professional marketing program that comes with being a GreenEarth affiliate.
A.L Wilson has developed step-by-step videos on their website on how to correctly use their individual products.
We started the show on one side of the convention center and decided to walk one aisle at a time, hoping to complete all the aisles in one day. Monday morning opened with industry icon, Sid Tuchman, receiving DLIa€™s Diamond Achievement Award. The show floor contained about the same number of exhibitors, but many appeared to have reduced their booth space.
A couple of hours later the front spawned another tornado over Wilson that lifted the roof off Exclusive Cleanersa€™ 8000-square-foot American Drycleanera„? magazinea€™s Grand Prize award-winning plant and collapsed one side wall onto Exclusivea€™s delivery vans. Fortunately, no one was injured in any of these severe weather issues, and all of the victims appear to have dodged the bullet in terms of loss or damage to customersa€™ goods, which can lead to loss of customer confidence. It was truly difficult for a lot of us to give up the beach to shower and dress for the Sunday evening festivities.A  However, the lure of the Presidenta€™s Reception and a magic show by Captain Jim the truly peg-legged pirate in the courtyard brought us all together for an entertaining hour prior to dinner. Metalprogetti had an all-in-one automatic sorting conveyor, bagging machine and racking.A  Basically, once you loaded the garments onto the sorting conveyor, the conveyor sorted the garments for each order. Unipress and Sankosha both had new redesigned pressing equipment.A  Some equipment taking less space and others offering a new way to keep the heat away from the operator were being demonstrated.
The consolidation of the ADCO and Laidlaw chemical lines was obvious.A  It seems that the ADCO line will be a premier line, while Laidlaw was presented as a service type line. The next Clean Show date is June 21-23 2013 in New Orleans.A  Make plans to be there to be among the first to view the latest advances in drycleaning technology. This is because the production of more cultural souvenirs by Chinese museums is to be encouraged, according to the country's Ministry of Culture. To ensure the safety of Namkhagyan's paintings, five lamas from the temple escorted the master's works to Beijing on Saturday. They use techniques from Western painting, like perspective, and painting in an elaborate style from traditional Chinese painting," says Losang Changchub, a 68-year-old thangka painter who studied Namkhagyan's painting style in the 1980s. Accounting for just 3 percent of the country's total land area, it contributes roughly 30 percent of Australia's food exports. There is a free sampling of the entire collection of its fresh handmade cheeses in Italian and French styles. The technical process was vividly demonstrated in a video, and food lovers can enjoy a meal at the spacious restaurant, with an unhindered view of the vast vineyards and pastures of the valley. Several young women traveling with us were bitten by an Australian ice-cream bug after they tried it.
There are also many Chinese restaurants for those who long for home food in this foreign land. The number of visitors from China increased at an average rate of 17.6 percent annually between 2010 and 2015. They showcase tourism packages to popular destinations, ranging from the United States and France and South Africa. At the expo, I could go to different booths to know about tourism products and compare prices. BITE offered her information, so she can decide what kind of itinerary is suitable for her and her family. She dreams of taking a walk along the Volga River and experiencing the culture at Moscow State University. The exhibition content was more creative than before, with the unveiling of virtual-reality tourism, says Yu Debin, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.
They could also watch performances from home and abroad that showcased culture and traditions.
Their popular packages are Taiwan, Thailand and a combination tour of France, Switzerland and Italy.
The company offers diverse products, including air tickets and accommodations, to satisfy the demands of independent travelers. He also says Chinese visitors are more active than Europeans - they want to see more scenery and join more activities. After an intense journey to the underground and to ancient India in four magical days, she grows up, brave and witty enough to conquer fear, eliminate a flood and reunite with her mother. She left the country for a stay in Britain in the 1990s and returned to in Beijing in 2000.
In 2012, Hong Ying began to create stories for her daughter who by then was bored of the books she had. When she is alone, her two companions are her ability to love, passed down from her mother, and knowledge that came from reading books. It comes at a time when such concepts are being hotly discussed in the domestic infotech industry. Certainly, Ava seems to have human-level AI," Shanahan says, adding that one needs to keep in mind that it is a film.
Today, many people use "personal assistants" on their mobile devices, such as Apple's Siri, Cortana on Microsoft and so on. One, that AI has been achieved or is coming soon and two, that the universal possibility of human-level AI is a fantasy. The annual list of the top 10 archaeological discoveries in China for 2015 was released in Beijing on May 16.
Excavations at the site have been continued since 1970, but last year archaeologists found a tomb cluster of laborers.
Many remarkable artifacts unearthed there in 1986 surprised the world, and a museum has even been built at the site. 21th century-16th century BC), and it implies that the story of Da Yu's flood-control system may not be groundless even though it lacks archaeological evidence. Starting with the upcoming sale, the auctioneer will hold two auctions of classical Chinese paintings every year. A calligraphic album of Ming Dynasty Buddhist sutras sold for $14 million to Shanghai collector Liu Yiqian in 2015.
He dropped oil painting at that time, because he didn't want the distraction when practicing calligraphy. Whether the written characters look good or bad, one has to accept it and start over on a different piece of paper," he says. The round shape of the tires fascinated him, bringing him a similar sense of rhythm and freedom as that of writing characters in varied styles.
Ballade No 1 (in G minor) was written during Chopin's early days in Paris, which Li describes as "emotionally dramatic". Later this year, he will release another Chopin album, though he has not revealed any details. Despite his tight schedule, the pianist likes spending some time alone before performances, when he savors tea and listens to jazz. Though they may not become professional musicians, they will benefit from playing music," he says. So it's not just about taking opera outside the opera house, but to find a space that really resonates with the story or where the characters live, or would be, so that we can have a truly immersive experience," she says. It's a lot of talking about who your character is and less about, 'Now I cross here in the music,'" she says.
Yue Xianlai, the Party chief of the village, says: "We are the descendants of Yue Fei's third son Yue Lin.
It had family law and village law, originating from the Yue family in the Southern Song Dynasty.
Schultz is part of a group of around 50 Germans who are on a bus journey along the ancient Silk Road. An increasing number of people, not only from German-speaking countries, have been joining us," says Liu. This brings to nine the total number of visa facilitation centers in China," Gigaba told the Cape Town Press Club. Similarly, earlier this year, the South African government approved the granting of 10-year multiple entry visas to businessmen and academics from Africa. They may be served with sweet slices of pink pickled ginger, doused in sesame oil and vinegar, or smothered in minced garlic or chopped cilantro leaves. After a month to several weeks, the whites would have thoroughly absorbed the salt, and the yolks hardened into little golden globes.
They are good when unexpected guests drop in, or when market day is still several mornings away and the dishes on the table need augmenting. The dish is placed over barely simmering water to gently steam and the result is a velvety smooth custard that slips down the throat. Farrington & Company, in conjunction with NCALC, introduced a poly bag recycling program at NCALCa€™s 105th annual convention in Atlantic Beach on Memorial Day weekend. Farrington & Company, presented this new program to the membership at the Sunday morning business session.
Farrington & Company will pick up recycled material at no charge when making regular scheduled deliveries to its customersa€™ locations. Farrington & Company will be placed in the hands of companies that will recycle them into other plastic items such as fencing, soft drink crates, and other plastic products.
Farrington & Company customer service department at 1-800-722-0374 or see their local Farrington representative.
Farrington & Company who sponsored the Presidenta€™s Reception and Consolidated Laundry Equipment Company who sponsored this yeara€™s Banquet.
I plan to continue my education by attending classes at the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute beginning in July. The kiosk could automatically notify the customers when their orders were ready.A  If for some reason the customer left the orders in the kiosk, the system would automatically reload the orders on the conveyor and send a message to the customer to let them know that the orders were left in the kiosk. The facility is surrounded by picturesque vistas, including a vast orchard and sweeping lawns. There were more choices than I expected," says Wu, who went to BITE with her daughter on Saturday.
Two years later, she published her first children's book, The Girl from the French Fort, which has bilingual text with pictures by British illustrator Cherry Denman. In the face of increasing globalization, food is also one of the last strong visages of community and culture.
Instead, pidan, as they are known in Chinese, are carefully cured for several weeks to several months so that the albumen solidifies into a dark, transparent, gel-like semisolid while the yolk hardens slightly on the outside but remains molten in the center. A good century egg often has a snowflake pattern on the outside of the white, an indication of a well-cured egg. The salted egg yolks are vital ingredients in many seasonal foods, including the rice dumplings eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival and the sweet moon cakes during Mid-Autumn festival. There are many variations to the theme, and the smooth custard may hide an inner layer of seasoned minced pork, fish, whole prawns, or even tofu. You'll be rewarded for your patience with the most flavorful hard-cooked eggs you have ever eaten. Bang purchased One Hour Koretizing.A  The good news is that none of the customersa€™ goods in either store were ruined. Premium chocolates are on display and for sale and visitors can watch European chocolatiers handcrafting chocolates.
He won't be wasting any time deliberating the philosophical conundrum because he'd be too busy brewing his tea eggs, or checking the progress of his urn of century eggs. The finished custard is garnished with a sprinkling of chopped scallions, and drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil.
Rynex Technologies did announce an association with Christeynsa€™ detergents to develop and distribute chemicals for their re-introduced solvent.

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