Welsh Women in China

Welsh Women in China written in English and Chinese above a historical map of China.

200 years of extraordinary encounters with China

8 March and 18 March 2022

Swansea and Lampter Campuses

Marking International Women’s Day, the 200th anniversary of higher education in Wales, and the 15th Anniversary of the UWTSD Confucius Institute, we are proud to host the Welsh Women in China talk and exhibition.

Focusing on the lives of five women and spanning two centuries, we explore some of the lesser-known stories of women who were undaunted by the barriers of language and culture and travelled to or lived in China. These women left lasting impact and memories in the places they visited. Some of them, as wives of missionaries, were involved in promoting Chinese women’s health. Others were independent travellers and are remarkable for their acts of courage and endurance.

Their stories will be told by author and Chinese historian Ena Niedergang, author of Wales China: 250 Years of History. All the women featured in the talk and exhibition either come from or have a strong connection with Wales.

Gladys Aylward is the most well-known figure and was made famous through the 1958 film: Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergan and shot on location in North Wales.  Less well-known is Gladys’s connection to Swansea where she lived and worked for three years.

Betsi Cadwaladr from North Wales is famous for her nursing career with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war. However, she also travelled to China and had an unexpected audience with the emperor sometime after 1830.

Margaret John, born in Madagascar to missionary parents who came from Machynlleth, was the wife of Swansea-born missionary Dr. Griffith John who spent fifty years working in Wuhan and Hubei Province from 1861 to 1911. The Margaret Hospital in Wuhan was named after her.

Jane Williams from Llanelli was a medical missionary working in Yunnan Province in the 1930s.

Taking us into the 21st Century is Carmarthenshire resident, Megan Knoyle Lewis who in 2012 organised the project ‘The Long Horse Ride’ from Shanhaiguan — the sea end of the Great Wall of China overland, to Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula in Swansea, a distance of 5,265 miles.

The launch event for the exhibition in UWTSD’s Swansea Business School campus is at 18:00 on 8 March 2022, in the Confucius Institute Chinese Business and Culture Centre. Ena Niedergang will narrate the stories of these intrepid women and introduce the exhibition which features Gladys Aylward’s traditional Chinese clothes.

The exhibition moves to UWTSD’s Lampeter campus from 18 March to the CI Reading Room in the campus library when Ena Niedergang will repeat the talk and hold a Q&A session. The exhibition will continue in Lampeter for two weeks. In addition, courtesy of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archive, some materials from the 1793 Macartney Embassy to China will also be on display.

Event Booking

The events are free and all are welcome. Please book your place and preferred date and location by completing the registration form


 

Celebrating Spring: Chinese Wellbeing Activities Day

Spring wellbeing banner

19 March 2022 Lampeter Campus

With March as the official month of spring, the Confucius Institute is proud to present a day of wellbeing activities.  Chinese culture has a strong connection to nature and to nurturing practices for different times of the year. Our Celebrating Spring programme is the perfect prescription for a balanced day of relaxation and stimulation. See what we have on offer:

Spring Wellbeing Activities Day Programme

11:30 – 12:40 All in This Tea documentary Cliff Tucker Lecture Theatre

For tea lovers and those interested in Chinese tea culture, we are screening this fascinating documentary. Premiered at the 2007 San Francisco Film festival this film follows world-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman to remote regions of China in search of the best handmade teas. The film moves from modern, urban settings to a pastoral China rarely glimpsed by westerners.

For those not able to watch the documentary in person we are offering a limited opportunity to watch from the comfort of your own home.  Email confuciusinstitute@uwtsd.ac.uk for the link and access code.  (Available only from 19 – 22 March 2022)

13:00 – 13:15 Taiji Stick Fighting Form Demonstration

UWTSD Library Foyer

Students from UWTSD’s Academy of Sinology demonstrate this ancient martial art.

13:15 – 13:30 Performance of Chinese song

UWTSD Library Foyer

Solo violin with choir from the Academy of Sinology perform spring time favourites: Jasmin Flower茉莉花, The Song of the Returning Boat 渔舟唱晚 and Liang Zhu 梁祝

13:00 – 14:00 Display of Traditional Chinese Clothes

UWTSD Library Foyer

Staff from the Academy of Sinology explain the significance of colour, style and symbolism of a range of traditional women’s clothing.

13:30 – 14:30 Calligraphy workshop: The Evolution of Chinese Characters and Sayings from the Classics

Delivered through the medium of Welsh

Confucius Institute Reading Room, UWTSD Library

This calligraphy workshop by Confucius Institute staff explains how Chinese characters evolved over thousands of years and introduces participants to the basics of Chinese brush and ink calligraphy. Sayings from Confucius’ Analects and the Dao De Jing are explained, and participants will practice writing some of the most important characters.

13:30 – 14:15 Workshops: Guqin, Tea Ceremony and Chinese Knot

UWTSD Library Foyer

Staff from Chinese Studies demonstrate China’s most beloved musical instrument – the guqin (zither) and explain the symbolism behind the different parts of the guqin as well as the wellbeing properties of its ancient music.

Confucius Institute staff perform the tea ceremony and offer members of the audience the chance to savour the aroma and wellbeing properties of different Chinese teas. The Chinese knot workshop introduces this beautiful craft – suitable for children aged 9 years + and adults.

14:15 – 15:15 Demonstrations, workshops, and storytelling

UWTSD Library Foyer

Students from the Academy of Sinology demonstrate the ancient scripts of Chinese writing.

Workshops by staff from the Confucius Institute on how to paint Bamboo – the symbol of integrity and resilience. There is also the chance to learn how to make a paper cutting of the tiger (the zodiac symbol for 2022) and the daffodil.

For all the family: Chinese Peach Blossom Village story told by Confucius Institute staff

14:45 – 15:45 Calligraphy workshop: The Evolution of Chinese Characters and Sayings from the Classics

Delivered through the medium of English

Confucius Institute Reading Room, UWTSD Library

This calligraphy workshop by Confucius Institute staff explains how Chinese characters evolved over thousands of years and introduces participants to the basics of Chinese brush and ink calligraphy. Sayings from Confucius’ Analects and the Dao De Jing are explained, and participants will practice writing some of the most important characters.

15:15 – 16:00 Workshop: Baduanjin (The Eight Brocades) qigong exercise

UWTSD Library Foyer

Delivered by Confucius Institute staff, this workshop introduces the basics of this wellbeing exercise, used by Chinese people over the millennia to nurture health and promote wellbeing.

15:30 – 15:50 Rural tourism and Tea villages in China presented by Confucius Institute Chinese Director, Lisa Liu

Old Hall

This talk gives a brief overview of how Chinese tea culture relates to self-care wellbeing practices through the tradition of drinking tea in different seasons, and through meditations on tea philosophy. The growth of tea villages in China reflects not only the deep cultural importance of tea for Chinese people, but also represents a pragmatic response by rural communities for sustainable economic development.

16:00 – 16:30 Tea Ceremony

Old Hall

Confucius Institute staff perform the tea ceremony and offer members of the audience the chance to savour the aroma and wellbeing properties of different Chinese teas.


 

Welcome to the Year of the Tiger 2022!

A fearsome beast with a golden mane and tufted tail rushes towards the doors of a house. Traditional Chinese painting..

On this page you can find plenty of resources for home or school about different aspects of Chinese culture relating to the Spring Festival.

Live-Streamed Paper Cutting and Calligraphy workshops from Glyn Vivian Gallery, Swansea

Paper cutting workshop — 15.02.2022

Tuesday 15 February 11:30 – 14:00 (London time)

Paper cutting workshop programme:

Talk

  • Story of the Zodiac animals
  • Paper cutting and the Chinese Spring Festival

Practical session

  • Basic principles of paper cutting: folding and cutting;
  • Paper cutting practice with a simple motif

Talk

  • Folk motifs in Spring Festival paper art
  • Experience: Chinese Tea Ceremony – the ancient art of appreciating the wellbeing of tea

Talk

  • Contemporary paper cuts in Chinese art

Practical session

  • Design your own paper cutting

Register in advance for this meeting by visiting Zoom

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Calligraphy workshop —16.02.2022

Wednesday 16 February 13:00 – 15:30 (London Time)

Calligraphy workshop programme:

Talk

  • The Four Treasures of Chinese Calligraphy
  • The yin and yang of Calligraphy

Calligraphy practice:

  • Practice the basic strokes

Talk

  • Significance of the Fu character

Calligraphy practice:

  • Fu character
  • Experience the eternal sound of the Guqin – China’s most beloved musical instrument

Talk

  • The 4 Gentlemen of Chinese Brush Painting

Practical session

  • Brush painting practice basic principles

Talk

  • The Peach Blossom Village (story)

Practical session

  • Brush painting peach blossom

Register in advance for this meeting on Zoom. 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Further Spring Festival Resources

Find out more about the Spring Festival by investigating the activities and resources below. 

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival (Chūn jié 春节), or the Lunar New Year Festival (Nóng lì xīn nián 农历新年). When Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival, they say Guò nián (过年). What does that mean, and what is nián (年)? Let’s explore the meaning and learn how to write 年 with Chinese calligraphy. 

Make a Papercraft Dragon

Dragon and Lion dances are one of the most common festive events during Chinese New Year. With their spectacularly vivid colours, they are definitely an invigorating sight at Chinese New Year.

Why is the dragon (lóng, 龙) so popular among Chinese people? Dragons are born from people’s imagination and are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. Chinese people often consider themselves 'the descendants of the dragon'. Nobody really knows where the concept of the dragon come from, and the dragon is all the more mysterious as it is a combination of many animals.

Eight Pieces of Brocade Healthy Exercise

There is an ancient Chinese saying which goes: ‘A year's plan starts with spring and a day’s plan starts with early morning’.

Climbing mountains or doing exercise in the early morning during the Spring Festival is one of the traditional activities. The Eight Pieces of Brocade, or Bā duàn jin (八段锦) as it’s also known, is popular among Chinese people and has been practiced for at least a thousand years.

Lantern Festival

The 15th day of the Chinese Spring Festival holidays is celebrated as Yuán xiāo jié (元宵节) or Lantern Festival. This day also marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations.

During Yuán xiāo jié Chinese people make colourful lanterns, solve lantern riddles and watch dragon and lion dancing. Chinese people also eat Yuan Xiao(元宵), a traditional food made of glutinous rice flour which represents family reunion. There is another Yuan Xiao performance on TV, like the Spring Festival Gala, celebrating the end of the Chinese New Year holidays.

At night, family members go out together to enjoy the full moon which means successful completion of all hopes for the year.

2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games

While Chinese are celebrating their traditional Spring Festival, they are also paying great attention to the 2022 Winter Olympics which is being held in Beijing from 4th to 20th February.

Beijing is a vast metropolitan city which blends the traditional and the modern. Nowadays, the city is even more famous for holding two big sports events: the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The world is looking at Beijing.

This sports event will be held in venues in Beijing (the city centre), Yanqing (one of Beijing’s rural districts) and Zhangjiakou (Beijing’s surrounding province). A bullet train has been put into use for commuting from these three places.

Confucius Institute teacher Liu Jing has prepared a fun gesture dance to the Winter Olympics song. You can dance along with her! The song is also the theme music for the event.

Beijing Olympics: Together for a shared future!

Bamboo — China’s much loved winter plant

Bamboo holds important symbolic meaning for Chinese people as is reflected in art, literature and Chinese medicine.

Bamboo (zhún, 竹) is an evergreen plant with a hollow-hearted stem. Bamboo is one of the few plants can survive during the winter season in Northern China. Due to this unique trait, in Chinese history and literature bamboo is used as a symbol of uprightness, tenacity, elegance, and modesty. Countless historical stories, legends, poems and paintings written or painted by ancient Chinese poets and artists are metaphorically about people who exhibited the virtues of bamboo. 

Dai Ethnic Minority People’s Dance

There are fifty-five minority groups in China and every minority has their unique festivals to celebrate.

For example, the Water Splashing Festival to mark the New Year is widely celebrated by the Dai minority and the other twenty-four Ethnic minorities in Yunnan Province, southwest of China. The festival originates from Buddhism, which believes that water is fortunate and brings good luck in the coming year. The Dai's New Year is held in the middle of April with a three-day celebration.

Confucius Institute Chinese Director Lisa Liu is a great fan of dancing, and demonstrates the Dai minority group dance in the video below. 

Tea Ceremony

The Chinese tea ceremony is one of China’s most famous traditional customs, and for centuries has been integral to Chinese culture.

Chinese tea ceremony, Cha Dao in Chinese, is not simply the drinking of tea, it is the combination of brewing, smelling, drinking, and appreciating tea.

Confucius Institute teacher Cindy Chen has recorded the video below of the tea ceremony. Enjoy.

Watch Huang Wenyi’s short course on tea if you’d like to learn some simple sentences relating to the tea drinking and find out more about this ancient tradition.

The Guqin: China’s most revered musical instrument

Guqin (gu qín, 古琴), also known as the Qin or the Chinese zither, is the most revered and prestigious instrument in China.

It has been played for over three thousand years of history. Legend claims that the origin of the instrument could be dated back to China’s pre-historic period about 5000 years ago when Fuxi, Shennong and Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, were involved in its creation.

Self-care: Moxibustion

Among the many ways in which people maintain their health in China, moxibustion is a common practice that derives from traditional Chinese medicine.