Tag Archives: Asian Pacific History

Cultural Literacy: Saladin

While it’s not very long, and therefore not very thorough, here nonetheless is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Saladin, a figure worthy of more than cursory study. Perhaps this document will serve to introduce him, and therefore start a discussion on why this worksheet doesn’t serve his legacy well, even as an introduction to it.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Independent Practice: Justinian I

Here’s an independent practice worksheet on the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I if you happen to teach world history, global studies, or whatever your district calls this subdomain of social studies.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


“Hinduism: A system of religious beliefs and social customs, especially influential in India. As both a way of life and a rigorous system of religious law, Hinduism developed over period of about 50 centuries. Unlike most religions, it requires no one belief regarding the nature of God: it embraces polytheism, monotheism, and monism. More important are the beliefs concerning the nature of the Universe and the structure of society. The former is described by the key concepts of dharma, the eternal law underlying the whole of existence; karma, the law of action by which each cause has an effect in an endless chain reaching from one life to the next; and moksha, liberation from this chain of birth, death and rebirth. The latter is prescribed by by the ideals of varna, the division of mankind into four classes or types, the forerunner of caste; ashrama , the four stages of life; and personal dharma, according to which one’s religious duty is defined by birth and circumstance. There are an estimated 705 million Hindus in the world.

Hindu revivalism arose from Hindu encounters with western ideas in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are many thinkers and ideas associated with the process. Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833) was the forerunner of new Hinduism; he learned English, located Hindu ideas in the context of Western ones in order to promote Hindu self-understanding, and founded the reform movement the Brahmo Samaj (Society of God). Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) was his successor as the leader of the society; he explicitly questioned the infallibility of the Vedas and called for an experimental spirituality based on the aphorisms of the Upanishads. The most famous figure was Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), who claimed that Vedanta was the Hindu exemplification of that oneness to which all religions aspired, and that the idea and practice of tolerance and universality were India’s gift to the world; he admired Western self-confidence and scientific success, and formed a model of mutual influence in which the West taught its material skills to India, which reciprocated with its spiritual teachings. Dayananda Saraswati (1824-83), founder of the Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans), tried to emphasize the global significance of Vedic teachings by discerning scientific and technological ideas in them.

The term ‘Hindu revivalism’ is used to describe an ideology of nationalism based on allegedly Hindu values that is professed by some groups (notably the BJP party) in contemporary Indian politics.”

Excerpted from: Wright, Edmund, Ed. The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, May 31, 2019

Well, we’ve reached the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019. I’d say May has passed quickly, but I suspect that for most classroom teachers like me, May is, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, the cruelest month.

To ring out the month, here is a reading on the Hindu Epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, along with the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that attends it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


8 Trigrams of the I-Ching

“Ch’ien * Tui * Li * Chen * Sun * K’an * Ken * Kun

The I-Ching or Zhouyi, or the Book of Changes is the oldest of the Chinese classics, going back to oral traditions and observations of mankind at least 4,000 years old. It is essentially a collection of six-line hexagrams which are arranged in a textual eightfold pattern, which come with a set of linked values, such as an image in nature, a compass direction and an associated animal. By the use of chance (the casting of coins, dice, yarrow stalks or whatever), the sequences can be changed so that different groups of six-line hexagrams are read together, which gives it the force of a horoscope, managing questions with a cryptic and ever-changing set of responses.

The eight trigrams each have an association with a form of male or female energy, a place, a direction of the compass and a characteristic animal. For instance, the Ch’ien trigram is associated with creative force, with Heaven, the northwest, and the horse; the Tui with joyous openness, lake, west, sheep; Li, with beauty and radiant awareness, fire, south, and pheasant; Chen, with action and movement, thunder, east and dragon; Sun, with following and penetration, with wind, the south-east, and the fowl; K’an, with danger and peril, water, north, and the pig; Ken, with stopping and resting still, with mountains, the north-east and the wolf/dog; Kun with receptive, earth, southwest and the cow.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.


Everyday Edit: Chinese New Year

Here is an Everyday Edit on the Chinese New Year. If you like these exercises (in my experience, students enjoy them, and they can be a real confidence builder for struggling readers and writers), you can click through to Education World, whose authors generously offer a yearlong supply of them.

My usual entreaty about peer review and typo alerts don’t apply here: I didn’t write this, and the typos in the worksheet are for your students to note and correct.


“China: The third-largest country in the world, occupying most of eastern Asia and bounded by North Korea, Kazakhstan and Mongolia on the north, Russian on the west, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan on the southwest, and Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Vietnam on the southeast.

Physical. China’s coastline adjoins the South and East China Seas and the Yellow Sea. In the northwest lie Xinjiang (Sinkiang), an area of mountains and desert, and in the southwest is the mountainous region of Tibet. The remainder of China is divided laterally by the Yangtze (Chang) River. In the northeast lies Manchuria, on higher ground and with many rivers and lakes. In the west are the mountains and plateaus surrounding the red clay basin of Sichuan, which is well watered and supports a mass of paddy fields. Huge lakes occupy low-lying land to the south of the Yangtze, while southward the terrain rises to many ranges of high hills. Here the climate is subtropical. The plateaus support tea plantations, many of the slopes are terraced for rice, and the deep valleys are full of natural forests of bamboo. The province of Gansu in the northwest region ins the principal center of earthquakes in China, where major earthquakes take place on an average of once every 65 years.

Economy. In the late 1970s China adopted pragmatic policies of liberalizing the economy, which have accelerated over subsequent decades. Four Special Economic Zones were established to attract foreign investment, direct state control of factories has been loosened, stock markets have been set up, and responsibility for agriculture switched from collective farms to individual households. China’s economy is predominantly agricultural, with rice, wheat, and pigs the main products. Agriculture prospers, though there is a need for investment in irrigation and fertilizers. Minearl extraction is important: crude oil is refined and exported, there are large coal, tin, and iron ore deposits, and China leads the world in tungsten ore production. Several nuclear energy centers are under construction. Industry has seen rapid expansion, and major industrial products include textiles and clothing, cement, chemicals, steel, and consumer electrical goods. There has been a massive increase in foreign trade and tourism is growing in importance.

History. China has a recorded history beginning nearly 4,000 years ago, with the Shang who settled in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley, Under the Eastern Zhou from the 6th century BC, Confucius and Mencius formulated ideas that became the framework of Chinese society. Daoism, founded by Laozi, appeared during the 3rd century BC. Gradually Chinese culture spread out from the Huang He valley. A form of writing with characters representing meanings rather thatn sounds—and required by Shi Huangdi, the first ruler of unified China, to be written in a uniform style—bound together people divided by geography and different spoken dialects. From the Qin the concept of a unified empire prevailed, surviving periods of fragmentation and rule by non-Chinese dynasties such as the Yuan. Under strong dynasties such as the Han and the Tang China’s power extended far west into Turkistan and South into Annam. On its neighbors, particularly Korea and Annam,  it exercised a powerful influence. Barbarian invaders and dynasties usually adopted Chinese cultural traditions.

The ideas of Buddhism began to reach China from the 1st century AD and were gradually changed and assimilated into Chinese culture. The Chinese people, showing remarkable inventiveness, were ahead of the West in technology until about the end of the Song dynasty. However, after the Mongol conquest the country drew in on itself. Learning, in high esteem from early times, became rooted in the stereotyped study of the Confucian classics, for success in examinations based on the classics was for centuries the means top promotion in the civil service. In time, study of the classics had a deadening intellectual influence.

Throughout its history, China, the “Middle Kingdom,” as it called by the Chinese, regarded itself as superior to all others—a view shared by philosophers of the Enlightenment. After the Manchu invasion of 1644, China was ruled by the Qing , which was at its most powerful and prosperous in the 18th century. Western countries attempted to establish trading links with the Qing dynasty but with little success. As the power of the Qing dynasty weakened toward the end of the 18th century, Western pressure for change built up, leading to direct European involvement in China. Contact with the West precipitated crisis and decline. After the Opium Wars, treaty ports became the focus for both Western expansion and demands for modernization. Rebellions during the 19th century, such as the Taiping Rebellion, devastated the country and undermined imperial rule in spite of the Self-Strengthening Movement and the abortive Hundred Days Reform. Defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Boxer Rising stimulated reforms, but the Dynasty ended in the Chinese Revolution of 1911. The Republic that followed Sun Yat-sen’s brief presidency degenerated into warlord regimes after Yuan Shikai’s attempt to restore the monarchy. Chiang Kai-shek united much of China after the Northern Expedition and ruled from Nanjing with his nationalist Kuomintang, but his Republic of China collapsed in the face of the Japanese invasion of 1937 and the civil war with the communists, and continued only on the island of Taiwan after his retreat there in 1949. The Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong won the civil war, and established the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, and set about revolutionizing and developing China’s economy and society. In the 1950s, land reform led to the communes and the Great Leap Forward, and urban industry was expanded and nationalized. Relations with the Soviet Union worsened and during 1966-1967 the country was torn apart by Cultural Revolution, which ended only with Mao’s death. During the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping remained committed to economic reform and to improving relations with the Soviet Union. Pressures for democratization grew, however, and student demonstration in Beijing in June 1989 was suppressed when the army massacred thousands in Tiananmen Square. Gradual moves toward a controlled market economy continued. In 1994 the USA decided to maintain certain special trade links with China despite its continued violation of human rights. Jiang Zemin (1926-), president sing 1993, assumed the role of the country’s leader after Deng’s death in 1997. Hong Kong reverted to China from British rule in 1997 and Macao from Portugese rule in 1999. Between 2002 and 2004 Jian Zemin progressively relinquished his posts to Hu Jintao. By the early 21st century the economic reforms of the previous quarter of a century had turned China into a rapidly growing economic power: in 2005 it had the sixth largest economy in the world.

Capital: Beijing

Area: 9,572,900 square kilometers (3,696,100 square miles)

Population: 1,304,369,000 (2005)

Currency: 1 yuan=10 jiao=100 fen

Religions: Non-religious 42.1%; Chinese traditional religions 28.5%; Buddhist 8.4%; atheist 8.1%; Christian 7.1%; traditional beliefs 4.3%; Muslim 1.5%.

Ethnic Groups:  Han (Chinese) 93.3%; Chuang 1.33%; Hui 0.72%; Uighur 0.59%; Yi 0.54%; Miao 0.5%; Manchu 0.43%; Tibetan 0.39%; Mongolian 0.34%; Tuchia 0.28%; Puyi 0.21%; Korean 0.18%; Tung 0.14%; Yao 0.14%; Pai 0.11%; Hani 0.11%; Kasakh 0.09%;  Tai 0.08%; Li 0,08%

Laguages: Mandarin Chinese (official); six other dialects of Chinese; at least 41 other minority languages.

International Organizations: United Nations: World Trade Organization”

Excerpted from: Wright, Edmund, Ed. The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.