Saturday, August 26, 2017

Qixi Festival: The Legend Behind Chinese Valentine's Day

The 28th August is Chinese Valentine’s Day or the Qiqiao Festival (乞巧節), and celebrates a fairy tale from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Qixi Festival always falls on the seventh day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar and is sometimes called the Double Seventh Festival, or the Magpie Festival.

The original tales tells of two lovers, Zhinü a goddess renowned for her weaving skills and Niulang, a mortal cow herder and was first told in a classic poem 2.5 k years ago. When the young Zhinü came to Earth looking for adventure she met and fell madly in love with the cow herder and they got married and had two children. However, when her mother the Goddess of heaven, found out about what her seventh daughter had done , she was angry and stole Zhinü back. The lovers were heartbroken. Niulang vowed to reunite and when an old ox from his herd revealed to him he too was once a god and if Niulang killed him he could use his hide to make magical shoes to fly to heaven.

When the Goddess of heaven discovered his plan she used her hair pin to create a river of stars that would become the Milky Way to separate the two lovers. Their cries touched the magpies and thousands formed a bridge for the couple to walk over. Eventually, Zhinü 's mother relented and agreed to let the couple meet one night out of every year on Qi Xi, (the seventh night).

Qi Xi came to symbolize true love. During the festival, girls make a display of their domestic skills and needlework and will offer fruit, flowers, tea, and face powder to Zhinü on the night of the festival. In temples, girls recite traditional prayers for dexterity in needlework and to marry a good and loving husband. Children will also pick wild flowers to hang on an ox’s horns in memory of the cow-god who sacrificed himself. In some parts of China young girls hide in pumpkins farms or beneath grapevines, hoping to hear the whispers of Niulang and Zhinü in the hope it would help them find a boyfriend. Hair washing ceremonies in early morning dew are common in the belief the dew is the tears from the separated couple.

In Taiwan, people release floating lanterns into the sky to make wishes for love. The Qi Xi festival inspired Tanabata festival in Japan and the Chilseok festival in Korea.

Amor Vincit Omnia

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Huajian Group factory: Chinese Investigators released

The labour rights group, China Labour Watch, (CLW) a New York non-profit organisation keen to promote transparency of supply chains and factory labour conditions in China hoped to publish a report alleging low pay, excessive overtime, crude verbal abuse and possible misuse of student labour at the Huajian Group factory in Ganzhou. Allegations of physical abuse of workers and the company forcing them to sign fake pay stubs with inflated salary numbers as well as threats to sack workers who did not complete questionnaires about working conditions with pre-approved answers, raised concerns. After workers claimed the company pressured people not to speak with outsiders about conditions at the factory. Three Chinese investigators went undercover at a factory to gather video, pictures and evidence of exploitation. In late May of this year, the three were detained by police. After being imprisoned for a month on charges of using secret cameras and listening devices. They were bailed from jail but may still face an uncertain future and the threat of a trial.

Some of the Huajian Group of the factories had previously produced Ivanka Trump shoes, among other brands, but denied all allegations of excessive overtime and low wages. The Huajian Group, have started to move their production to Ethiopia, where workers make around $100 a month, a fraction of what they pay in China.

Before taking on an official role as adviser to her father, Ivanka Trump stepped back from day-to-day management of her brand, but has retained her ownership interest. She has not commented on the detentions or the reports of poor working conditions at one of her brand’s suppliers. The president of the Ivanka Trump brands company, confirmed their shoes had not been produced at the factory in question since March.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

China defends arrest of men probing Ivanka Trump supplier

China defends arrest of men probing Ivanka Trump supplier China's government on Tuesday rejected a U.S. State Department call to release three activists detained while investigating a factory that produced shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands. It sought instead to enforce a cone of silence around the men, according to a lawyer and the wife of one detainee who was interrogated for hours herself.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Nike apologise: Chinese customers not happy:

Many Chinese consumers remain satisfied with Nike's apology for false advertising, demanding the company to be more serious and sincere to Chinese consumers. After being recently accused by China Central Television (CCTV)of selling shoes that didn't include the advertised cushions, US sports giant Nike apologized via its Sina Weibo account amid a public outcry. While admitting the wrong description with regard to the Hyperdunk 2008 FTB shoes, Nike apologized and offered to refund the money for the shoes priced 1,499 yuan ($217) in China. Consumers can apply for a compensation up to three times the original price, according to China's law. Nike wrote in the statement that the company will "provide" 4,500 yuan to buyers, without specifying what the payment is for. However, many consumers wrote online that they are not satisfied with the offer, and went further by accusing Nike of taking a "double standard" and "discriminatory policy" toward Chinese consumers, such as setting different standards in terms of commodity quality, after-sales service and product recalls in China. Some Net users also questioned why Nike did not specify the 4,500 yuan as compensation, saying the company's apology is not sincere. In 2012, the company was fined 4.87 million yuan by Beijing's commerce authority after it advertised a high-end basketball shoe as double air cushioned while the footwear sold in China in 2011 only contained one air cushion.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tiger-head shoes

Tiger-head shoes (Chinese: 虎头鞋) are an example of traditional Chinese folk handicraft used as footwear for children. In Chinese culture, tigers are regarded as auspicious and people believed tiger patterned shoes (cat-head shoes in the North of China) help ward off evil spirits and make children as strong as tigers. The vivid image of tiger-head pattern was thought to expel evil spirits and protect their children from diseases and disasters.

The origins of tiger-head shoes are unknown, but there are many legends. One involves a monster who stole away all the children from a village with one exception. He was a little boy wearing shoes decorated with a tiger’s head. The shoes were made by his mother who was gifted in embroidery. People began to imitate the practice. Tiger-head shoes were especially popular in North China, with several regional variations in design. The best known is from the southern part of Hebei province.

Hu Shuqing, from Qixian County, Central China’s Henan Province, started collecting them after she was given a pair of shoes from others as a gift. Over 17 years, she has amassed hundreds of thousands of tiger-head shoes which is valued over one million yuan ($145,000).

Making tiger-head shoes requires high level embroidery and needlework skills. The tiger’s mouth, eye, eyebrow and nose are often given exaggerated outlines to express its power. The vamp (upper part of the shoe) is mainly coloured in red and yellow. Hu has called for protection of the traditional Chinese folk handicraft.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Professional Chinese Basketball: No private shoe deals

Professional basketball players in China are prevented from having private shoe sponsorship after the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) have signed an exclusive five year deal with local brand, Li Ning. Players are now prevented from wearing Nike, Adidas shoes on the court. The ban includes everything from jerseys to shoes. The new sponsorship deal is estimated to be worth $300 million (US) and any player who defies the ban will face suspension according to the CBA.

Problems already arose recently when Yi Jianlian (Guangdong Southern Tigers and former Los Angeles Lakers) complained of sore feet and removed his Li Ning shoes to wear his Nikes during a game. The referee refused to let him back on the court but when he reappeared still wearing his Nike sneakers later in the third quarter, the referee allowed him in the court. He now faces a one match ban. Previously, players were allowed to wear their personal sneakers but only with the logos covered and if they were prepared to pay a fine.


In the US, a salary cap limits the amount of money players can earn, but they can benefit from lucrative endorsement deals such as a shoe contract. Many players have a number of sponsorships and are able to significantly supplement their income through endorsements.