Celebrate the Lunar New Year 2021 Year of the Ox

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Photography from the Passionist China Collection has allowed me to reimagine the way I understand Chinese history and culture. This photo was probably “snapped” during the 1930s in China. I suspect that this was a photograph that anyone could purchase around Hankou on the Yangzi River where the Passsionists had their procuration. That was where they could conduct business associated with the needs of the missionaries in West Hunan.

I have found a sense of peace from this image of the Chinese man and the ox by the pond.

When teaching Modern Chinese history. I have found this photo brings to life the famous novel The Good Earth. Written by Pearl Buck in 1931, her writing captures the changing dynamics of the relationship between the Chinese family and how they live and work on the land: the good earth.

This was a time when the Guomindang led by Chiang Kai-shek was trying to suppress the emerging Communists under Mao Zedong. Their struggles took a real toll on the local people of China in the 1930s; life only got worse during the Anti-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945. The Good Earth follows the marriage of Wang Lung and O-Lan. Both work hard on their farm and slowly save enough money to buy one plot of land, at a time, from the Hwang family. Pearl Buck develops their characters, as well the members of the extended family. We also get insight into the world of concubines and regional violence. Her prose is intense and honest. I have often found readers develop compassion for the characters.

Whenever I have assigned this book in class, I remind students to read it and do their utmost to think visually. When we have had class discussions I often show this photograph. I suggest that to see the Chinese man by the water holding a fishing pole, with the ox or water buffalo nearby offers viewers the chance to engage with Chinese society. I think the photo reminds us of how much traditional China has changed in the 20th century. That was what Pearl Buck was telling the world even in the early 1930s.

I also love the photo because it does remind us to respect the Lunar New Year traditions. No matter what our cultural background, family ancestry, or political beliefs we are peoples of the world. So, please keep this historic photo from the Passionist China Collection in your mind and enjoy some of the following characteristics which I found on the internet about the year of the ox. There certainly are a lot of aspects to read from.

If you or someone you know was born in  1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 or this of 2021 do you see these attributes as true?

Some strengths:

1. Prudent, follow procedures step by step, take things slowly, unlikely to be influenced by others or environment, do things out of personal idea and ability, go ahead steadily and surely, always can achieve the set goals.
2. Upright, honest, diligent, motivated, with extraordinary determination and of great endurance.
3. Consider carefully before taking any action, start and end well, firm faith and strong body.
4. Aspiring, ambitious, highly responsible, work and family-oriented, conservative and show respect to tradition.
5. Compassionate.

Some weaknesses

1. Stubborn, self-opinionated, persist their old ways, deaf to others advice and foolhardy.
2. Unsociable and inflexible.
3. Silent, cannot fully express inner feelings, like to express in a quiet and indirect way.
4. Tendency to haggle over various aspects and sometimes are unapproachable.

Male and Female Ox Personality

Male Ox Personality: Male Oxen are mature, steady and trusted by others. It is in their nature to be down-to-earth and unemotional. Also, they are very confident yet snooty and short on enthusiasm and enthusiasm. 

Female Ox Personality: Female Oxen are very practical in life. They know how to analyze problems rationally and they are gentle, cultivated and understanding yet have no sense of humor. Perhaps you may find they are boring, but they just could win the trust and support easily and succeed through their own efforts.