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Friday, September 13, 2013, 07:48
Focus HK: Reflections through yesterday’s looking glass
By Li Yao

Focus HK: Reflections through yesterday’s looking glass
Dai Longji, curator at the Macau University of Science and Technology, said the electronic Chinese encyclopedia is popular among professors and students.

Dai Longji, curator at the Macau University of Science and Technology, said the digital Siku Quanshu is popular among professors and students.

“Students are more tech-savvy. With the digital version, they find more study materials. The professors became challenged by these well-read students and had to catch up with the electronic sources,” Dai said.

Steve Ching, the Librarian at the City University of Hong Kong, will soon open a learning commons for studies in ancient Chinese texts. There, Ching promises a quiet space and an engaging atmosphere that he hopes will encourage professors and students to sit and savor the works of ancient sages.

Ching believes not only professors studying history, Chinese language and philosophy are likely to be interested. Teachers and students from engineering, business, agriculture and medical schools are also encouraged to use the facility. The encyclopedia includes titles in all those fields.

Richard Wong, a second-year law student, makes frequent reference to the digital Siku Quanshu. Wong practices Chinese calligraphy, and believes his work requires a thorough understanding of the original roots of his calligraphy interpretations.

He’s especially fond of Sun Tze’s Art of War. The parallels between the past and the present day fascinate him. “In war, there are no fixed situations, as water has no constant shape. Those who can adapt to the changing conditions of the enemy and win may be considered legendary in warfare,” Wong cited a famous line of Sun Tze’s work. “It sounds so familiar in today’s business world. It tells us how to deal with market competitors,” Wong said.

Focus HK: Reflections through yesterday’s looking glass
Three men playing cuju, an ancient Chinese form of soccer, in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as recorded in an illustration book that explains the rules. (Image provided by Digital Heritage Publishing Ltd.  All rights reserved.)

An ancient sport to die for

The popularity of cuju, an ancient sport of football, was widespread. Shiji, China’s first official dynastic history, recorded between 109 and 91 BC, gives an account of a man named Xiang Chu, whose love of the sport cost him his life. Xiang consulted Bianque, a brilliant doctor who had many patients. The physician diagnosed Xiang with a hernia and duly prescribed bed rest. The patient disregarded the advice and went out to play cuju instead. Later, Xiang suffered terrible kidney pains. He began to sweat profusely and then started coughing up blood. Bianque again visited his patient, but concluded that Xiang was beyond the help of medicine. Xiang died but was forever immortalized as the first to give up his life for the love of Chinese football.

 
 
 
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