Background Information

A dumping ground for information I have made up about Cathay in Albion that [Tsung] would be expected to know having lived there but that [Tsung's] player might not! This is not meant to be prescriptive but instead an attempt to detail my default assumptions unless you tell me better :) It could also be useful to the other GMs, who knows!

Some of it, particularly anything connected with chi overlaps with [the Cathayan magic ] page.

The Mandate of Heaven

Heaven is interested in the welfare of human beings. For this reason the Jade Emperor has established governors and rulers who assume the responsibility for the welfare of their people. It mandates that certain people be in charge; while they rule justly, fairly, and wisely, Heaven maintains that certain rulers or dynasties remain in power. If a dynasty or ruler ceases to rule justly or wisely and begins to rule only with its own self-interests at heart, then Heaven removes the mandate from that ruler or mandate and passes it on to another family, who are then required to revolt and overthrow the dynasty. How does one know if the Mandate has passed to another dynasty? It is made evident by the fortunes of war.

Now this Mandate is not equivalent to fate or destiny, it is more of an imperative. Humans are free to rule unjustly, they are free to harm the people they rule over; their rule, however, will come to a swift end as Heaven passes on its mandate to another family.

The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles:

 1. The right to rule is granted by Heaven.
 2. There is only one Heaven therefore there can be only one ruler.
 3. The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler.
 4. The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty.

It is clear that the recent flooding of Albion reflected the displeasure of Heaven at the death of the just King Henry IX, and only ceased when his daughter Elizabeth calmed the land and returned it to righteous government.

Chinese Insults

Insults in General

Pronunciation Characters Explanation
tong jian 通奸 adulterer
sānbā 三八 airhead, slut
cào 肏 / 操 fuck (the variant character 肏 was in use as early as the Ming dynasty in the novel Jin Ping Mei)
cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài 肏你祖宗十八代 fuck your ancestors to the eighteenth generation
tā māde 他妈的 damn (lit. “his mother's”; in the 1920's the famous writer Lu Xun joked that this should be China's national curse word)
tā māde niǎo 他妈的鸟 goddamned (lit. “his mother's dick”; 鸟/鳥 literally is “bird”, but used here as a euphemism for diǎo; 屌; “penis”)
qù nǐ nǎinaide 去你奶奶的 fuck off (lit. “go to your grandma”)
wángbā 王八 cuckold; this was an insult as early as the Song dynasty; some argue that the 忘八 meant “forgetting the eight virtues”
wángbādàn 王八蛋 bastard (lit. “turtle egg”)
chòubiǎozi 臭婊子 stinking whore
chùsheng 畜生 animal (these characters are also used for Japanese “chikushō”, which may mean “beast,” but is also used as an expletive, like “damn!”)
nǐ bú shì rén 你不是人 you're not human (lit.: “you are not a person”)
nǐ shì shénme dōngxi 你是什么东西 you're less than human (compares the level of a person to that of an object)
nǐ búshì dōngxi 你不是东西 you're less than human (implies less worth than an object)
bùyàoliǎn de dōngxī 不要脸的东西 you're shameless and less than human (lit.: “you are a thing that has no shame”)

Insulting Foreigners

Gweilo (鬼佬; sometimes also spelt Gwailo) is a Cantonese term for Caucasian people (generally men). It literally means “ghost”, “ghost man” or “ghost chap” and arose to describe the pale complexion, the sometimes “red hair and green/blue eyes” of Caucasians. When the term is translated into English, it is often translated as foreign devil.

Tea Ceremony

Unfortunately, except for some small regions, tea is no more ceremonial in China than it is in England. However, in Cathay it's suspiciously similar to the Japanese tea ceremony.

Before we launch into that there is one common tea ceremony which is performed prior to a wedding. The bride serves her parents with ordinary tea on the wedding day as a sign of gratitude for their raising of her. After the wedding ceremony the newlyweds serve tea to the groom's family.

Lotus seeds and two red dates are used in [this] tea for two reasons. First, the words “lotus” and “year,” “seed” and “child,” and “date” and “early,” are homophones, i.e. they have the same sound but different meanings in Chinese. Secondly, the ancient Chinese believed that putting these items in the tea would help the newlyweds produce children early in their marriage and every year, which would ensure many grandchildren for their parents. Also, the sweetness of the special tea is a wish for sweet relations between the bride and her new family.

The guest kneels down on a mat and waits to be served. She faces the kettle and the brazier. The decoration of the room is in simple taste with artful flower arrangement and calligraphy appropriate to the season and time. The host arranges the tea tools in a ritualistic manner that reflects tea values of harmony or wa. The calligraphy scroll may also expound some values of the tea ceremony such as simplicity.

The ceremony begins with the ritual cleansing of each utensil - including the tea bowl, whisk, and tea scoop - in the presence of the guests in a precise order and using prescribed motions. The utensils are placed in an exact arrangement according to the ritual being performed. A bamboo whisk is used to mix the contents(i.e. tea powder and water) in the tea bowl. The same bowl is shared by everyone.

The bowl is served first to the guest of honour, either by the host or an assistant. Bows are exchanged between the host and guest of honour. The guest then bows to the second guest, and raises the bowl in a gesture of respect to the host. The guest rotates the bowl to avoid drinking from its front, takes a sip, murmurs the prescribed phrase, and then takes two or three more sips before wiping the rim, rotating the bowl to its original position, and passing it to the next guest with a bow. The procedure is repeated until all guests have taken tea from the same bowl, and the bowl is returned to the host.

Advanced Chi

The dual concepts of yin and yang which describe two primal opposing but complementary principles or cosmic forces which are said to be found in all non-static objects and processes in the universe, including people.Taijitu, the traditional symbol representing the forces of yin and yang.

  • Yīn (陰 or 阴 “shady place, north slope, south bank (river); cloudy, overcast”) is the dark element: it is passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night.
  • Yáng (陽 or 阳 “sunny place, south slope, north bank (river), sunshine”) is the bright element: it is active, light, masculine, upward-seeking and corresponds to the daytime.

Yin is often symbolized by water and air, while yang is symbolized by fire and earth.

Women are therefore primarily yin in nature and men primarily yang. However, any person partakes of both natures and there is nothing unnatural in, for example, a man displaying some feminine behaviour.

Female Homosexuality

Copied straight out of Weapons of the Gods P.210 which appears to be vaguely accurate on the topic.

[Redacted; copyrighted material]

The important point is that it's philosophically impossible and as Wittgenstein says “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” :P

Chinese Wedding

Copied from Wikipedia

There are basically six rituals, generally known as the three letters and six etiquette.

Three Letters

The marriage is initiated by a series of three letters.

  • The request letter is sent from the groom's family to the bride's family, and formally requests a marriage.
  • The gift letter accompanies the gifts of the groom's family to the bride's family shortly before the wedding.
  • The wedding letter is given on the day of the wedding, officially accepting the bride into the groom's family.

Six Etiquette

  • Proposal: When an unmarried boy's parents find a potential daughter-in-law. They then located a matchmaker whose job was to assuage the conflict of interests and general embarrassments on the part of two families largely unknown to each other when discussing the possibility of marriage.
  • Birthdates: If the potential daughter-in-law's family did not object to the proposal the matchmaker would then compare the couples' birthdates. If according to Chinese astrology the couple is compatible they would then proceed to the next step.
  • Bride Price (Betrothal gifts): At this point the bridegroom's family arranges for the matchmaker to present bride price (betrothal gifts), including the betrothal letter, to the bride's family.
  • Wedding gifts: The groom's family will then send an elaborate array of food, cakes, and religious items to the bride's family.
  • Arranging the wedding: The two families will arrange a wedding day which will bring the most luck to the couple, again based on the Chinese calendar mythology.
  • Wedding Ceremony: The final ritual is the actual wedding ceremony where bride and groom become a married couple, which consists of many elaborate parts
    • Wedding Procession: The wedding procession from bride's home would march to the groom's home. The procession consists of a traditional band, the bride's sedan, the maids of honor's sedans (if there are maids of honor), and bride's dowry in the forms other than money.
    • Welcoming the Bride: The wedding procession of the bride's family stops at the door of the groom's home. There are ceremonies to be followed to welcome the bride and her wedding procession into the groom's home, which varies for locale to locale.
    • Actual Wedding Ceremonies: Equivalent to exchanging vows in the west, the couple would pay respect to the heaven and earth, paying respect to the groom's parents, paying respect to each other.
    • Wedding banquet In Chinese society, the wedding banquet is known as xǐ-jǐu (喜酒, literally joyful wine), and is sometimes far more important than the wedding itself. There are ceremonies such as bride presenting wines or tea to parents, spouse, and guests.

The Five Precepts of the Tao

The Ultra Supreme Elder Lord's Scripture of Precepts:

The Elder Lord said: “The precept against killing is: All living beings, including all kinds of animals, and those as small as insects, worms, and so forth, are containers of the uncreated energy, thus one should not kill any of them.”

The Elder Lord said: “The precept against stealing is: One should not take anything that he does not own and is not given to him, whether it belongs to someone or not.”

The Elder Lord said: “The precept against sexual misconduct is: If a sexual conduct happens, but it is not between a man and a woman who are married to each other, it is a Sexual Misconduct. As for a monk or nun, he or she should never marry or practice sexual intercourse with anyone.”

The Elder Lord said: “The precept against false speech is: If one did not hear, see, or feel something, or if something is not realized by his Heart, but he tells it to others, this constitutes False Speech.”

The Elder Lord said: “The precept against taking of intoxicants is: One should not take any alcoholic drinks, unless he has to take some to cure his illness.”

The Elder Lord said: “These five precepts are the fundamentals for keeping one's body in purity, and are the roots of the upholding of the holy teachings. For those virtuous men and virtuous women who enjoy the virtuous teachings, if they can accept and keep these precepts, and never violate any of them till the end of their lifetimes, they are recognized as those with pure faith, they will gain the Way to Tao, will gain the holy principles, and will forever achieve Tao – the Reality.”
bonus.cathayan_background.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/21 13:19 by ivan