Staring into the Gaze of a Ver

  Staring into the Gaze of a Very Different Beast--A Comparison Between Chinese Civilization and Western Civilization

  Ancient Treasures may help explaining big historic mysteries of China: Why did our ancestors leave us a legacy that is so distinctive? Why was China Empire declining while the West catching up in the late centuries?

  Recently I visited an exhibition on Etruscan Civilization in Shanghai Museum. Beside its attractive exotic style, it has a unique emphasis on the instrumental form a form that reflects a culture of the sea. There, two vessels caught my eyes. One is a wine cup in the shape of a merchant ship. The other is a pot,which looks like a fish.

  This is very interesting.

  Our antiques concern tens of thousand of pots and cups, but as I see it, rarely do we have anything shaped into a sea-born animm or ships. What we have, for instance, bronze goblet carried on the back by 4 goats or some wine vessel in form of a bull or pig (gong), our antiques reflect a civilization of agriculture. So,in the face of Etruscan relics, I recognized that I was staring into the gaze of a very different beast.

  What differentiated the two civilizations so drastically?Let's probe our nation's roots and look back to the economic background of Ancient China.

  "If we compare the social economy to a tree", the intellectuals of the old ages used to say, "then agriculture is its stem,while business the boughs". This comparison reveals the ignorance and curb we long inflict upon business, and an perpetual emphasis on the importance of agriculture for the purpose of feeding a large population even in the early epochs.

  Once I read from the National Geography Magazine that archaeologists had unearthed the relics in a ruined fort of the New England colonies only to find that they were all starved to death.The relics indicated that the mortality was a failure in their economic policies: archaeologists discovered the population was mainly composed of artisans or merchants. Few farmers had ever settled there. They came to the place to exploit the resources,manufacturing merchandise to export. It was absurd that they devised the plan to get food supply by trading goods to the local Indians. Unexpected drought showed up, the Indians themselves didn't have enough to eat, hence the end of the garrison.

  But such things can never happen to Chinese people. Chinese peasants, in the words of Fei Xiao Tong, would also try to sow some seeds on such barren land as in Siberia if they migrated there.

  Oracle bones are coming to light in Anyang on which in scriptions speaking of harvest, simultaneously rusted Hellenic Oars woke up from its long sleep in the bottom of Mediterranean. Archaeologists from China and abroad uncover not only artifacts but also the subtle interplay between past and present,Orient and West.