The legend of the Daoist master of Mount Redpine who could turn stones into sheep had fascinated China for centuries. Sometime in the 1200s, one man ventured up the mountain to see if he was still there.
Pre-modern Chinese pillows were made of hard materials like ceramics and possessed a surprising range of functions beyond simply acting as a headrest.
What to do on those nights where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t fall asleep? For the literati of pre-modern China there was at least one possible answer: write a poem about it.
If you, like many at this time of year, have resolved to give up alcohol, then it might be a comfort to remember you are not the first in history to have attempted this. As Song dynasty writer Liu Xueji found, then as today, peer pressure and social obligations can test one’s resolve to cut back on wine.
Pilgrimage, alms begging, and journeys to obtain scriptures or relics: life on the road was a reality for many monks in medieval China. So what kind of things did they take with them, according to popular depictions?
Court intrigue and poison plots were rife, policy swung from one direction to the other, and geopolitical relations were put under severe strain.
The headstrong and ambitious ruler of an underdog state, Jingzong’s bold military and civil policies reached into almost every aspect of Xia life.
How did people look after their books and libraries in medieval China?
What was it like to have this famous general as a father?
During the Northern Song period, the best regions for horse breeding had been snapped up by powerful steppe empires. So the Chinese state had to turn to other means to obtain good horses, coming up with a variety of innovative and ambitious schemes in the process.