Chinese antiques have long held fascination in the west. In fact, the oldest continually settled city in the world, Damascus, was for 7,000 years the natural western terminus of the fabled Silk Route to the Orient. Merchants from Egypt and north into modern Turkey or west into Greece would have gathered at Damascus, which had valley routes past burning deserts and high mountain passes all the way to China. In Damascus was crafted woven Damask from raw silk from faraway Cathay, or China, the only source of this mystery product none others could duplicate.
When Marco Polo took this well worn route to China in the mid 1250's, it still required a series of guides as this was, and likely still is, largely ungoverned area with various tribes in conflict with a neighbor. And to dress in rags and appear as a leper would discourage bandits, as the plague and various sicknesses were everywhere. It was to the great fortune of Marco Polo that he arrived in a time of peace.By then, the Mongul Khan had murdered and terrified his way to absolute power and his mighty court was filled with the most gifted artisans he had saved from the sword.
But during the rampages west both father and grandfather Genghis and Kublai terrified the world to the gates of Moscow and Warsaw as all quaked by the Golden Hordes from Asia. These wild Mongol warriors lived by drinking the blood of the horses as we sap a maple for its juice. When they slaughtered most of the people of a city such as Samarkand, they would mutilate but allow to live some few to go west and warn the next town they were on their way. Often, they found a deserted town, which they would burn anyway.
As the Mongols passed the Ural Mountains into Europe, the now Christian nations began to send forces to stop these barbarians with no armor, simply wearing silk clothes on ponies with swords, bows and arrows again Teutonic knights in full body armor on armored horses. Again and again it was a victory for the Mongols as it was found that they could wind an arrow back out of the silk. In contrast, the many penetrations between body armor of knight and horse soon had a knight on the ground, swinging his mighty, and heavy sword to his death.
Moscow was taken, Warsaw was next; then the sudden death of Kublai had the Golden Hordes lose interest and return east forever. At any rate, Marco Polo returned to Venice, through such terrible realities, adorned with riches from a faraway land. We, the modern next door neighbor of Marco, go stand in line with a huge buggy at a discount store loaded with Chinese modern fakes, which we do not need, can not afford, and requires another foul air CO2 coal factory to make more, which we will be back for. Are we mad?
Right now, Chinese who have only known a one party state philosophy all their lives are angry at us in the west for pretending their Tibet is really of China and is theirs. Since 1950. But since the death of Guatama Buddha in 480 B C E it has followed the ways of Buddhism, even to the point that each holy man since then was picked as the newborn child in Tibet after the Dhali Lhama dies. Does that not sound like our Three Wise Men from the East who arrived at the birth of Jesus, looked him in the eyes, and offered their gifts.
Now, we see Buddhist monks all in reeducation centers having to renounce this terrorist organization, of which the Dhali Lhama is the chief terrorist. And gentle meditators around the world feel their blood boil in anger at this totalitarian mentality that may create of their coming Olympics all the grace and goodwill of the Berlin 1936 Olympics. Farce as democracy. Except now cameras as cell phones take us inside the building reeducation centers. Germany called them concentration camps. China calls it Tibet.
When we see decent people in London and Paris protest and get beaten back, and then how the route tightens up so it jumped to Asia, where all trading partners have had a talking to, we learn on British television, from the Chinese local government man. China will punish those who cause trouble, so in Jakarta we see only local Chinese around the city stadium, police and torch bearer run around the stadium several times, and then the torch is off to careful guard in Australia, who now have China as their chief importer, coal mostly.
And now Chinese protesters are boycotting French stores. And we should too. Except not French stores. We need to teach civility to a fire breathing dragon who is getting rich because we lust after their cheap junk. Stop! Let us get ahead of their curve; while they grow on junk we buy and now boycott us for being moral world citizens, let us buy up their Mings and antiques, which are still at bargain prices while they take photos with their new cell phones. A decade from now, they will be much richer, and wonder where great grand mothers Ming vase is.
Check the net: oh, there it is, on your mantle, with the rest of the set. Meanwhile, coal brain Ned down the street is having a huge garage sale of all his fakes collection from China. But it seems everyone else kept going with their own huge buggy from those same discount stores, and garage sales everywhere have the same fakes. Not on your mantle, Mickey. You have been collecting investments in the future, and slowing down CO2 emissions that little bit. That's one fine way to cut down old dragon breath.
Buy Chinese antiques, ignore coal burning modern China, skip the Olympics. Let us see who can take whose breath away.
Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure politics, wise use and mis use of power and protective love at