I've lately discovered the music of Estas Tonne. He is a Ukrainian guitarist who combines gypsy music with Flamenco and his own brand of atmospheric sound. In this video he has combined talents with Reka Fodor. It's not something I could listen to indefinitely but it is definitely calming and nice for evenings where I just want some relaxing background sound.
Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio: Eerie and Fantastic Chinese Stories of the Supernatural by Pu Songling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fascinating look into Chinese folk lore of the supernatural.
Pu Songling (1640-1715) was a Qing Dynasty author who collected and rewrote native stories that eventually became known as "Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio". Herbert A. Giles (1845-1935) a famous sinologist translated them into English.
One learns about Chinese beliefs of the afterlife, the interaction between the spiritual and physical world and a social commentary on how Chinese society was constructed as well as the value placed on education and advancement.
These stories are also strongly moralistic in that almost every story involves a corrupt city official or magistrate or people who try to cheat the system.
In these tales, there is a fluidity between the living and the dead. Spirits of people now passed come back to humans for a variety of reasons and sometimes even intermarry with the living.
One gains a good understanding of the afterlife, in that hell and its various levels are described in particular terms and there is a strong current of justice.
Buddhist monasteries and monks play an important role in society as does honoring dead ancestors. Also the belief in reincarnation is prevalent and doing things to make reparation in the present life to atone for a previous life.
There are over hundred and sixty tales and the index has a methodical description of the different levels of the dead, the various magistrates in hell and their specific responsibilities and authority.
If one is interested in Chinese culture as it existed in the 17th century or earlier, particularly their belief system concerning the supernatural, this is an excellent source.
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