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Gaiwan 盖碗 says what?


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Bought a couple of gaiwans 盖碗 this morning at the wholesale tea market as an afterthought when I was shopping for spring tea. They were from the bargain bin at the front of the store, beside the door, designed to pull people in. Cost 10 Yuan each, bargained down from 15.

 

21686952_IMG_7277(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.5a31f7237cfd4be9b6492a648ceb322f.jpg   1993499837_IMG_7273(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.ab335e950e9db657ae09044895282cef.jpg

 

 

Looks like it's supposed to be some sort of Mao-era family scene. I cannot read the whole inscription. Here's what I've got: ?边天 ?女要顶

 

Can you help me figure it out? Here's a better close shot of the writing. 

 

846983058_IMG_7276(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.4815fd1660fdbd51b1107293d27fbd50.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

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Thank's @Publius. 

 

5 minutes ago, roddy said:

I think that's the first time I've seen writing go upwards. 

 

Maybe that's why they were marked down to such a cheap price. Strange design layout. 

 

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roddy
17 minutes ago, Publius said:

purpose I suppose is to put "顶" directly beneath "半边天" to "hold it up"

Ah! That makes sort of sense. 

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abcdefg

The owner should give these to his brother-in-law to sell at a tourist location where nobody would know or care what the cup says on the outside. It would still "look Chinese" and that would be enough. Like a bad Chinese tattoo. 

 

The quality of the gaiwans was good otherwise, they were shaped, formed, fitted and finished better than their price would suggest. 

 

2067421528_IMG_7279(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.c93e2ac16c0ec941dca74e0efa741737.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaiwans come in all sizes. These are small, easily held in one hand, even a small hand, like those of a lady. I plan to use them to brew in and drink directly from. I think they should work well with the light spring green tea I found 春茶。 

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Balthazar

Yeah, gaiwan's work with pretty much any tea, easily the most versatile tea brewing utensil out there. We have a bunch, and it's the only thing I use at work these days. I always tell people to get a (few) decent gaiwan(s), spend less on yixing pots and more or quality tea leaves.

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Just 10 RMB? It's even not possible to find that on taobao :) 

The idea of brewing in a gaiwan is because you can observe the tea better, compared to when it's in a teapot.

You can definitely drink from it, though it's more common to brew tea, then pour it into a fairness pitcher and serve.

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Balthazar
13 minutes ago, Teasenz said:

The idea of brewing in a gaiwan is because you can observe the tea better, compared to when it's in a teapot.

 

Well, that's one difference, but I'd argue the most crucial difference is pour time. Plus the fact that most gaiwans are porcelain, which will give you a more neutral result than most clay pots. Clay pots have advantages when it comes to heat retention, but if you're brewing gongfucha that's not going to be a big issue anyway.

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Zbigniew
15 hours ago, Publius said:

variation on Mao's 妇女能顶半边天 "women hold up half the sky".

Have you any idea why this is so often translated into English as you have given it, i.e. without translating 能?

I think omitting "can" misrepresents the force of the original sentiment. 

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Tomsima

@Zbigniew ive seen it quite often translated with the 'can'; pleco and key dictionaries both have 'women can hold up half the sky' under their entries for '半邊天'. of course, if you're referring to mainland sourced english translations then you may be right

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abcdefg
5 hours ago, Teasenz said:

You can definitely drink from it, though it's more common to brew tea, then pour it into a fairness pitcher and serve.

 

I agree completely, and that's what I usually do too. But you sometimes see people drinking directly from them in old movies. Thought I would try doing that for a while. 

 

BTW, for anyone reading this later who might be new to Chinese tea, "fairness pitcher" is 公道杯。You typically serve the tea from it into small individual cups called 品茗杯。Pictured below. 

 

 

1823702094_IMG_7287(3)-850px.thumb.jpg.22f3d8e94271f764e639760b75f3f03c.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And while I have my camera out, here's a shot of the new smaller gaiwan, "women hold up half the sky," beside the one I ordinarily use. 

 

1945341651_IMG_7291(2)-850px.thumb.jpg.994c8e6cd99b0edcfdb5d5a9a1704fa5.jpg

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abcdefg
16 hours ago, Balthazar said:

I always tell people to get a (few) decent gaiwan(s), spend less on yixing pots and more or quality tea leaves.

 

Excellent advice. 

 

I was back in the US recently and gave several friends and a couple of family members some tea that I had brought back from China, along with written instructions on brewing it. Even gave a couple demos, using the simplest of tools, as above. The discussion very quickly turned to expensive teapots and high-tech gadgets, even though I tried to keep them focused on the tea leaves. 

 

My message to them was buy good quality tea, then spend some effort learning how to control the three main brewing variables: 1. How much tea leaf should I use? 2. How hot should the water be?, 3. How long should I steep it? 

 

 

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Publius

@Zbigniew I have no idea. Except maybe they have the same number of syllables?

I'm not convinced that the English translation was the work of the CPC propaganda machine as @Tomsima implies. They were too busy hunting whores and fucking boars. According to this blog post, the phrase seems to be first used by October League, a homegrown communist organization in the United States. And it is used by mainstream media such as The New York Times whose writers and editors presumably are aware of the missing 能.

Also I think that presenting it as a factual statement (i.e. the sky is up there as if supported by all of us and half the population is women) may actually gives it more force. Imagine a group of students chanting the slogan, "WIMIN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY!" A "CAN" may well ruin it.

On a side note, I don't know if it's just me, but the Chinese phrase 婦女能頂半邊天 doesn't always invoke the imagery of supporting. I often subconsciously interpret 頂 as "to be equivalent to," as in 老將出馬,一個頂倆  (when a veteran goes into action, he can do the job of two).

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Tomsima
2 hours ago, Teasenz said:

道杯 (fairness pitcher) is sometimes also called 茶海。It depends a bit where you are in China I think

 

from my experience 茶海 is usually a bigger bowl for pouring unwanted tea into. This is on the mainland, perhaps Taiwan is different? 

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Zbigniew
19 hours ago, Tomsima said:

ive seen it quite often translated with the 'can'; pleco and key dictionaries both have 'women can hold up half the sky' under their entries for '半邊天'.

Thanks for the information.

13 hours ago, Publius said:

I'm not convinced that the English translation was the work of the CPC propaganda machine

I assumed it was just some foreigner's (mis-)translation.

14 hours ago, Publius said:

Except maybe they have the same number of syllables?

Yes, it retains the 七言rhythm at least, and leaves us with a neat kind of equivalent of a 七言: a trochaic tetrameter catalectic.

14 hours ago, Publius said:

Also I think that presenting it as a factual statement ...may actually gives it more force.

You're certainly right that making the statement factual rather than potential gives it more force. And this is really the aspect of it Perry Link (Anatomy of Chinese, p.304) objects to: "In asserting only that an equal contribution from women is possible, not actual, Mao was hardly the feminist that many in the West took him to be". I'm inclined to agree with him.

 

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I seem to recall reading years ago in one of those memoirs by an old and famous Foreign Expert, that endless hours of meetings went into producing every official translation of the Chairman's words. No doubt some of those hours were spent debating whether to reflect 能 in the translation, and the proponents of doing so lost.

 

Myself, I think the English is much stronger without it, and I think the popularity of the English phrase supports the translators' approach. It's become one of Mao's most widely-known aphorisms in the West.

 

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