Meet China’s Tang Dynasty in New York

By Stephanie Lam
Stephanie Lam
Stephanie Lam
August 29, 2010 Updated: September 15, 2010

TANG DYNASTY STRUCTURES: An illustration of what NTDTV expects to set up at Times Square for the 3rd International Chinese Culinary Competition. (Ken Chieh/NTDTV)
TANG DYNASTY STRUCTURES: An illustration of what NTDTV expects to set up at Times Square for the 3rd International Chinese Culinary Competition. (Ken Chieh/NTDTV)
NEW YORK—This fall, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of Chang’an, a city in ancient China similar to New York today—in Times Square.

Chang’an (now called Xi’an), was once the capital of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). It was prosperous in terms of economy and culture; moreover, it attracted many foreigners.

The 3rd International Chinese Culinary Competition, part of New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTDTV) Global Competition Series, will hold its North America preliminary and final rounds in Times Square. The public only needs a ticket to watch the competition and taste the contestants’ competition dishes.

“The International Chinese Culinary Competition aims to revive traditional Chinese culinary techniques and methods, promote authentic Chinese culinary philosophy, and promote the exquisite traditional Chinese culinary culture,” says the competition’s Website.

In preparation for the event, Times Square will be decorated in the Chang’an way. Wei Jane Chir, artistic director of the competition, designed the structures that will be set up in Times Square by referring to paintings of Chang’an from the Tang Dynasty. Because a lot of Chinese culture has been lost, NTDTV had to find materials from all over the world in order to create the most authentic experience possible.

The roof of the structures, for example, will simulate roofs in Chang’an, with orange, the color of Buddhist Kasaya, as the main color used. Along with Confucianism and Taoism, Buddhism has had great influence in Chinese culture.

In addition, the waiters who will serve the audience at the competition will wear Tang Dynasty clothing.

“We are trying to revive and revitalize the traditional Chinese culture and introduce it to the world—not only Chinese people, but also people from other parts of the world who are here in New York,” Chir said.

New York: the Western Chang’an

New York reminds her of Chang’an, Wei Jane Chir said, because both are melting pots of many cultures.

“People regarded going to Chang’an, the capital of China, as a dream,” she said.

Paintings and sculptures from the Tang Dynasty can be seen in art museums all over the world, Chir said, and Western people are depicted in those artworks.

CHANG'AN REAPPEARING IN NEW YORK: An illustration of how Times Square will look like during the competition. (Ken Chieh/NTDTV)
CHANG'AN REAPPEARING IN NEW YORK: An illustration of how Times Square will look like during the competition. (Ken Chieh/NTDTV)
Sancai, a kind of ceramics popular in the Tang dynasty, was found as far away as Roman ruins. “Trade then must have really flourished,” she asserted.

Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei has written a poem about the morning court in the palace of Chang’an. The morning court was a meeting held each morning that Chinese emperors conducted with their officials to discuss state affairs. Wang said in his poem that during the morning court, envoys from different countries, along with the Chinese officials, worshiped the Chinese emperor.

“Just like everyone wants to come to New York because New York is a place full of energy, Western people traveled through the silk road to go to Chang’an. Some of them wanted to learn [from China]; some wanted to show off their talents,” Chir said.

“In the Metropolitan Museum of art, there are some sculptures—artifacts from the Tang Dynasty. At first sight you can see big ears, big eyes, and big noses—that’s Westerners. They were playing music there to attract people’s attention.”

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