Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Into the mist - Wenhai, Yunnan

"Does your horse have a name?" Ann asked.

The men looked at each other, grinning, then back at her.

"Ne ge ma - That Horse."

Several weeks earlier I tried the Taiwan delicacy "That Fish." It seems a bit strange to Americans who give everything a name, no matter how redundant or idiotic. We name horses Seabiscuit, cats Fluffy, dogs Spike, and goldfish "beautiful haircut." Apple is currently a popular baby name. There is a Lexington in Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Charleston West Virginia and South Carolina.

We aren't the first, though. The ancient Greek explorers traveled far and wide, naming every mountain, hill, and bump in the earth Olympus in honor of home. We have a brilliantly creative naming heritage.

Chinese names tend to be more simple. The surname comes from the father, and is retained through life (doesn't change with marriage). You are the person who was born to your father, for better or worse.

Places are generally named in terms of geographic location. Taiwan's major cities - Taipei - North Tai, Tainan - West Tai, Tai Dong - East Tai, Taichung - Middle Tai.
In China - Beijing - North city, Nanjing - West city.
The name China - Zhong guo - means Middle nation or middle earth.

Horses come and go; born, die, are bought and sold. Cities have names, they will stand forever. People have names, it will live on through their ancestors. But a horse is a horse. There are a hundred in the valley. For the Naxi, pointing and saying "That Horse" is just as good a name as any.


Blogger Myself said...

Canon EOS 20D
Shooting Date/Time
6/22/2005 1:54:35 PM
Shooting Mode
Aperture-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed )
Av( Aperture Value )
Metering Mode
Evaluative Metering
Exposure Compensation
ISO Speed
18.0 - 55.0 mm
Focal Length
24.0 mm

This was the image I envisioned of China, a fog-shrouded mysterious place. But the weather turned out to be fabulous for most of the journey. This was the only simple, stark picture I made there.

Anonymous susan B. said...

Oooh. Wonderful, dreamy mood on this one. Gorgeous.

Blogger Massimo said...

Beautiful. And I like that everything is monochromatic, except for the hint of color of the umbrella.


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