5 min read

Xinmei Liu Illustrates Life in China in Warm and Intimate Ways

Xinmei Liu Illustrates Life in China in Warm and Intimate Ways

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

  • With a tone of reflective nostalgia, Xinmei Liu’s illustrations show the peculiarities of life in China.
  • Great news for Netflix binge-watchers in Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei: The mega-popular TV show Reset will be released on Netflix in select regions on April 1.
  • Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is what a cypher should look slash sound like.
  • Chinese MMA fighter Song Yadong is one step closer to a championship title after defeating veteran competitor Marlon Moraes by knockout at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Vegas 50 on March 12.
  • This is the second year in a row that the prestigious Shanghai Fashion Week has been postponed due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.

China Beyond Cliché: The Candid, Heartfelt Illustrations of Xinmei Liu

When the staff at The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Amazon Publishing request a China-related graphic illustration nowadays, they often reach out to Xinmei Liu, aka Cat Mover or, in Chinese, Nuo Mao Zhe (挪猫者).

“I guess art directors put me in a folder labeled ‘Asian’ or ‘Chinese’ because they always come to me when they need visuals for such themes,” Liu jokes.

Born in Shanghai and based in New York City, Liu’s work indeed has a broader scope. Still, in the directors’ defense, her love for Chinese culture really comes through in her illustrations, making them stand out from the typical, outdated pictures often seen in international outlets.

With a tone of reflective nostalgia, most apparent in her use of warm colors and grainy texture, Liu’s illustrations show the peculiarities of life in the country.

Her work is endearing on a global level, but it touches a Chinese audience with particular intimacy — especially those from the post-1990 generation.

Liu remembers her childhood in Shanghai in a very sensorial way. She recalls the acrid smell of the chemicals in the old lab building of the East China University of Science and Technology, where her father worked as a chemistry professor and where she would sometimes be taken care of by his grad students.

With a tone of reflective nostalgia, Liu’s illustrations show the peculiarities of life in China.

China’s Ancient Fortune-Telling Tradition Faces Uncertain Future

“Young fellow, your ophryon has darkened,” cries a mysterious old man, his eyes peering from behind tiny round sunglasses, body draped in a gown seemingly inspired by some fallen imperial dynasty. “Befell on you misfortune has!”

If you took a stroll on the streets of downtown Beijing several years ago, a warning like this would have been commonplace and come from a fortune-teller trying to pay the rent. Today, however, these urban oracles have retreated from the tourist traps and bustling thoroughfares to the city’s dusty back alleys.

The occupation of fortune-telling can be traced back to the beginning of civilization in China. During the Shang Dynasty — the earliest governing dynasty of China established in recorded history, leaders would practice divination by interpreting the pattern of cracks on a burnt tortoise shell or the shoulder blade of an ox.

It was a period in which divination was at the forefront of decisions concerning the nation’s destiny.

The rise of the Zhou Dynasty, which immediately followed the Shang Dynasty, saw perhaps the most influential inventions in the history of Chinese fortune-telling. Among these innovations are trigrams, hexagrams, and a classic piece of literature in the field, the I Ching, which can still be found in bookstores worldwide.

As the discipline developed over thousands of years, hundreds of fortune-telling schools popped up across the country, along with many individual methods.

Those who maintained the practice of I Ching instructed clients to draw from 50 yarrow stalks or three coins to determine whether good fortune or misfortune awaited them.

Others claimed a godlike understanding of every single incident that would occur in the recipient’s future, with no more information than the time and date of their birth. At the same time, they also professed they could foresee someone’s marriage and career prospects by examining their palm prints.

But now, can anyone foretell its future?

  • Tencent Video launched a three-episode documentary series titled Women at Home on March 7. The series aims to shed light on the solo living trend in urban China, with each 20-minute episode featuring a single woman of a different age and background.
  • From ‘Chinaman’ to ‘Tiger Mom,’ words used in daily conversation can inflict harm on the Asian community. The 15-page handbook, titled the “Anti-Hate Glossary,” seeks to combat this rise in racism through education.
  • Shanghai’s new tattoo regulation comes as part of a series of amendments to municipal regulations aimed at protecting underage citizens.
  • Throw on some comfy clothes and hit the couch because Xiao Zhan's new romance drama series The Oath of Love premiers tonight after a lengthy delay!

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