Portraits of China's 'Golden Lilies'
WOMEN AND LILIES: Having read Jung Chang's best-seller, 'Wild Swans
three Daughters of China'. What interested me most was the unforgettable
portraits of a woman's life in the early 20th century.
A baby girl was considered a "golden little lily." At birth she was
dressed in a tiny silk shirt, nursed and bundled away in a bamboo cot.
Her feet were bound because as a maiden she was supposed to walk like
"tender willow shoots in a spring breeze". They were trained to be
concubines to the emperor or wives of war lords.
As a bride she was splendidly dressed, her face covered with a red
silk veil and conveyed to her husband's home in an indigo cotton-draped
sedan chair. If she was to be the Emperor's concubine she was conveyed
grandly in satin covered sedan in procession with lanterns and banners
painted with the golden phoenix.
The matriarch would accept her only if she proved to be a virgin and
had miniatured feet. After the celebration she entered the wedding
chamber taking her trousseau of satin quilts and pillow-cases, decorated
bed-pelmets and shoes which she herself had sewn.
The war lord's wife was supposed to be quiet and virtuous. She would
spend time at the opera, go to family ancestors' shrines and nurture
dwarfed trees alongside flowering plants.
The courtesan's wife lived in a typical Eastern house with a
courtyard and a high wall with its moon shaped gate. The windows had
rice paper coverings and ornamental red tiles.
She had plenty of quits, scroll paintings on the wall, flower
arrangements and porcelain ornaments. She would be taken on visits by
her husband to places like Chengdu the 'City of Silk', stroll in the
'Gardens of Hibiscus' where they would walk gently on layers of scarlet
Perhaps she would be even allowed to catch a glimpse of the willow
embraced tea-houses (only for men) on the sloping banks of the river
Jade. She celebrated festivals.
The new year's eve and mid autumn days were specially for family
reunions when red rice cakes were eaten in the moonlight. At the "Town
God's Temple" she placed her clay lamp among others which sparkled and
hissed against painted statues.
The peasant wife worked hard beside her husband in the paddies clad
in rough, black trousers, straw shoes and hat. She carried her baby
bundled behind her and together they both got quite accustomed to the
hot, wine-red sunshine that beat upon them.
She lived either in a cottage or a stilt house on the borders of a
hill. In spring, she would pass by plum blossoms reflected in the
streams which meandered down to her paddy field.
As the emperor's concubine, she had to look glamourous. She wore
embroidered silk robes, greenish jade jewellery and had gold plated
teeth. Her glossy hair in a neat 'bun' was cupped with an ivory coloured
magnolia and its two leaves.
She used home made shampoo from the Chinese honey locust and pomelo
seeds. The quaint perfume of asmanthus and quince lingered on her body
as she remained elegant with charcoal pen painted eye brows and a dab of
The food a Chinese wife prepared differed in areas and visitors.
Dates, peanuts and dried fruit had to be served at a wedding feast.
There were dishes with names such as 'mandarin duck' and 'honey roast
Sticky rice with sesame seeds, plums and almonds, melons and pickles
and sauce were relished and eaten from lovely lacquered bowls with
beautifully designed chop-sticks.
When their work was done and night shadows fell these women of years
gone by, as the ancient Chinese poet, Takui Yoshiru in his stanza wrote
"They lowered the rush curtains of
So they could dream the night's
Lighten power bill, light up life
Handy tips on reducing electricity consumption:
CURRENT AFFAIR: At the end of the month your pockets are full and
dreams are lined up. Suddenly the door bell screams. Before you open the
door, the uninvited and impatient guest slowly slips a nicely folded
paper under the door and vanishes in no time.
That's it. The ever dreadful shocking warrant; nothing else than your
electricity bill. Open the envelope, the monster pops up draining your
pocket and dashing your dreams !
This is a common experience for most of us. It is the wicked
consequence of technological breakthroughs. With attractive and
wonderful appliances operated by electricity flooding the consumer
market rapidly most people living in and around cities are tempted to
buy them. Due to busy lifestyles, most people see no other option than
easing their household work with those appliances.
On one hand, it is wise to have domestic electrical appliances
compared to the soaring wages and demands of servants. Various equipment
initially considered as luxury appliances are now in great demand.
Subsequently with the extension of electricity to remote areas the
usage of such appliances rose.
The objective of this article is to discuss some ways of saving
The illumination of houses, workplaces and roads is the oldest
application of electricity. In most houses big or small, all rooms and
passages are illuminated for no reason.
Even in most workplaces, the situation is the same. Some forget to
switch off the lights when they leave office. For security reasons, one
or two outdoor lamps can be kept switched on. This may be more effective
if energy saving bulbs are used.
Today, it is hard to find a house without hi-fi, audio video
equipment. Even though these consume less power, it cannot be ignored at
In most places, hi-fi equipment and televisions are switched on
without listeners. It is the same with fans and airconditioners. Irons
consume a huge amount of power. Most people when they need to iron do
the job, switch off the iron and go. This is repeated. At the end of the
day or week a considerable amount of power is lost. If you iron a load
of garments in one go avoiding peak times, you can save power to a great
The same theory applies to electric stoves. Stoves as well as
blenders and grinders are switched on several times. This can be avoided
by preparing the whole set of curries (or any food) without intervals.
By switching on and off randomly, a considerable amount of power wastage
In some houses, refrigerators are switched on and off with the idea
of saving electricity. This is wrong. With the advent of new technology,
refrigerators are designed in such a way that they automatically switch
off upon reaching a set temperature.
There are appliances for which we have to be on alert to switch them
off. One example is normal water pumps. If they work more than needed,
not only power losses but also water wastage occur. Overheating may
damage the motor.
Nowadays, most houses have water geysers. It is another cause for
unwanted power loss. In some modern equipment such as radios,
televisions and computers, there is an option known as power
save/standby mode that can be used when not in use.
At this stage, power is not disconnected from the mains supply
resulting in a huge power wastage. Therefore, it is advisable to
disconnect power directly from the mains plug point.
We should try to use electrical appliances during non-peak hours as
much as possible.
(The writer is a lecturer at the Department of Electronics, Wayamba
University of Sri Lanka, Kuliyapitiya.)
Slash your bill:
Switch off unnecessary lights, fans and airconditioners
Use electrical appliances during off peak hours
Don't keep computers, radios on off/standby mode
Minimise the use of high power consuming appliances
Walk long to cut down calories
Dr. Kaleel Cassim, MBBS, MD (Medicine), Consultant Rheumatologist,
Sri Jayawardenepura General Hospital
Exercise is very important. Not only does it use up calories which
would otherwise end up as fat, but it also increases strength and
suppleness. Exercise is good for your general health, especially the
heart and circulation.
Of course, arthritis can make exercise difficult and painful, and the
wrong kind of exercise can make it worse. But exercise does not have to
mean running a marathon! A daily walk for half an hour with the dog, for
example, or a walk to the local shops or park is exercise and it will
Many people find particular types of exercise suit them: swimming is
a good exercise because being in water takes the weight off the joints.
Others prefer keep-fit classes, yoga or cycling. The most important
thing is that you enjoy it and so do it regularly.
Should I take extra calcium, vitamin D, or iron?
Calcium and vitamin D
Calcium is an important basic nutrient. Not having enough calcium in
the diet can make you more likely to get osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Women after the menopause are particularly liable to osteoporosis. Many
people with arthritis also have a risk of developing this condition.
Lack of calcium in the diet can also increase your risk of developing
The richest sources of calcium are milk, cheese and yogurt and, as
shown below, certain types of fish which are eaten with the bones. If
you are watching your weight it is worth knowing that skimmed or
semi-skimmed milk actually contains more calcium than full-fat milk.
I recommend a daily intake of calcium of 1000 milligrams (mg) or 1500
mg if you are over 60. A pint of milk a day, together with a reasonable
amount of other foods which contain calcium, should be sufficient.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium and there is some
evidence that arthritis (both osteoarthritis and inflammatory types),
progresses faster in people who are low in it.
If, for whatever reason, you do not take many dairy products, soya
milk is now available in most supermarkets. It can be used in exactly
the same way as cow's milk.
Some soya milk is fortified with calcium, so try to use this type. If
you are not taking dairy products or a suitable quantity of other
calcium-fortified 'milk' or other calcium-fortified products, you may
need a calcium supplement. Discuss this with a dietitian or your
Iron is important to prevent anaemia. Many people with arthritis are
anaemic. The anaemia can be due to different causes. NSAIDs
(non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and
diclofenac help the pain and stiffness of arthritis but may cause
bleeding and stomach ulcers in some people, leading to anaemia.
The other main cause of anaemia in arthritis is anaemia of chronic
disease, which often occurs with rheumatoid arthritis and similar
conditions, and does not improve with iron supplements.
To be continued