Saturday, July 13, 2013

About The Downfall Of Old Dynasties

I was at Penang International Airport arrival hall waiting for my mom and I overheard a pretty interesting conversation next to my seat. This story is about the influence of names on the fall of old Chinese kingdom until the World War II.


For those who are not familiar with Chinese culture, the Chinese attributed our physical world into 5 elements (五行): metal (), wood (), water (), fire () and earth (). A very simple relationship of these 5 elements is as below:


·         Metal -> water -> wood -> fire -> earth, where -> indicates give birth to.

·         Metal x wood x earth x water x fire, where ‘x’ indicates beset by.


With the basic 5 elemental relationship in mind, now let’s talk about the old Chinese dynasties. For simplicity of discussion, I list them as below as well according to the chronological of events:


The first in the pipeline is the Song Dynasty (). The Han character for Song is ‘’; and this belongs to the wood element. Song Dynasty is besieged by the Yuan Dynasty; another name for Yuan Dynasty is’’, i.e. ‘metal’. Now this Yuan Dynasty is again besieged by Ming Dynasty, the word ‘’ is made up of two words i.e. ‘sun + moon’ and hence has the fire element. This Ming Dynasty was then besieged by the Qing Dynasty; the word ‘’ has the water element, so the fire was extinguished by the water element. After ruling China for a few hundreds of years, Mr. Sun Yet-Sen (孫中山) toppled the Qing Dynasty and forms the Nationalist China (民國) and this period has the influence of earth element. This is in line with the theory that the earth element besieged the water element. So the Qing Dynasty also kaput follows this elemental golden rule.


Now comes the World War II, the Japan invaded majority of Asia including China. The Han character of Japan is ‘日本’, the later word belongs to the wood element. So it is pretty clear that the wood element besieged the earth element… And as the story goes, America dropped two atomic bombs onto Japan, and the Chinese use to call America as ‘The West’. The ‘west’ direction belongs to ‘metal’ element; this again fit to the theory of the 5 elements.


As to what happened next was not told by the story teller, perhaps you can help me to fill in the gaps J!

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