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On this episode of China Uncensored,
To know the future, you must understand the past.
Hi, welcome to China Uncensored.
I'm your host Chris Chappell.
If you've been to any Chinese restaurant in the United States,
you've been served a fortune cookie.
A lovely little saying, some lucky numbers,
maybe it teaches you a word in Mandarin.
Yes, fortune cookies are a beloved Chinese restaurant tradition all around the world.
But why can't you find fortune cookies in China?
In fact, the ancient art of fortune cookies was nearly lost forever.
It was a dark time in China's history.
One that few people even know about.
So today, we bring you a China Uncensored exclusive investigation
into the secret history of the fortune cookie.
The origins of the fortune cookie stretch back to the roots of recorded Chinese history--the
Shang Dynasty.
In a grand ceremony to determine the fortune of the nation for the coming year,
the emperor would toss oracle bones into a bronze "ding" vessel that would then be lit.
A mystic would interpret the cracks that formed on the bones as predictions for the future.
Clearly, a feudalistic superstition.
That's why, during the Cultural Revolution,
when Mao Zedong began destroying the Four Olds
--a systematic campaign to wipe out traditional culture--
he targeted the fortune cookie.
"That was the official reason Mao gave for the
'Smash Confucius, Smash the Cookie' campaign.
But there were actually much more sinister reasons behind it."
Dr. Iris Wolsey is one of the world's foremost experts on fortune cookies.
"After the Shang emperors,
it became a folk tradition.
People started putting their own spirit tablets with fortunes and charms written on them
in steamed rice cakes to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Whoever ended up with the cake with the tablet would have good fortune for the coming year."
"Unless they broke their teeth."
"At a certain point, they switched to paper."
But for Mao Zedong,
fortune cookies were more than just feudal superstition.
They were also political.
During the late Ming Dynasty,
the making of fortune cookies became part of esoteric rituals,
dominated by secretive clans with occult practices
rooted in geomancy, fengshui, and fortune telling based on the Bagua and I-ching.
One of these clans had a charismatic leader
who convinced his followers that he had the will of Heaven,
and the will of heaven
was for him to become Emperor.
That led to the Le Zaohua, or Happy Good Luck, Uprising of 1629,
and later the 1633 Chang Fu, or Everlasting Fortune, Rebellion.
Which they most definitely were not.
Both rebellions failed,
but they greatly weakened the Ming Dynasty.
And they were partly responsible for the dynasty's collapse and conquest by the Manchus in 1644.
So it's no wonder that,
in the 20th century,
Mao Zedong was afraid the fortune cookie could threaten his rule.
At least that's the accepted scholarly interpretation.
But it turns out, there might be more to the story...
"No, no that's totally wrong.
That's not why Mao turned against fortune cookies at all."
I went to Manhattan's Chinatown to interview Jing Fong.
He's a seventh generation fortune cookie master from the southern Har Gow school.
His was one of only a handful of fortune cookie families
that left China before the Cultural Revolution,
and have carried on the tradition overseas.
"I've been making fortune cookies for nearly 40 years."
"You...don't look that old."
"My mother put a fortune cookie in my hand before I learned to walk."
His fortune cookie factory now supplies nearly one quarter of the Chinese restaurants in
the United States.
"Mao was a secret believer in the power of Fortune Cookies.
That's why during the Chinese Civil War,
when the Communists were fighting the Nationalists,
Mao had his troops use fortune cookies to deliver secret messages between Revolutionary cells.
He believed it was the fortune cookies that helped him win the war."
But according to these memoirs written by Mao's doctor,
Mao later became obsessed with fortune cookies.
Especially after several predictions proved eerily correct.
"You mean, the fortunes were accurate?"
One fortune Mao got read,
'When metal is depleted, the earth will become weak.'
That's based on the Five Elements theory.
Earth generates Metal.
The five elements theory is a profound skill that Chinese people use to predict the future.
From this perspective,
Mao was using a skill that he didn't completely grasp."
According to Jing,
Mao thought this prediction meant that unless he increased steel production,
the “earth,” or China, would be weak and vulnerable to foreign invasion.
So during the Great Leap forward,
he drove the entire population into steel production.
Even in rural areas, entire forests were leveled just to fuel the furnaces.
But it was all a waste.
They couldn't get the temperatures high enough and so the metal was brittle and useless.
In fact, that was one of the contributing factors to the Great Famine.
"'When metal is depleted,
the earth will become weak.'
30 million people starved to death.
The Earth element correlates to the stomach."
"There were other fortunes, too.
The entire reason Mao blocked Zhou Enlai from getting treatment for his cancer
is because of a fortune cookie predicting that if Mao died first,
Zhou would take over his legacy."
"And it'd be Zhou's face up in Tiananmen today.
Wow, so, I'm really impressed by the history of your art.
I was wondering,
can I have one of your fortune cookies?"
"Knowing the future can be a burden as much as it is a gift."
"I'll take my chances."
"'You will have the number one show on YouTube.'
Oh wow!!!
Oh. Wait there's more...
'Visit Learn Chinese Now for the true meaning.'"
And thank you for watching.
What do you like most about fortune cookies?
And if you comment below—
no spoilers please.
Once again I'm Chris Chappell. See you next time.
OK, so for the real story behind this episode,
here's my friend Ben Hedges from Learn Chinese Now.
Yu ren jie.
That's how you say April Fool's day in Chinese!
So when an elementary student
tells his teacher that the principal wants to see him in his office,
and he actually goes there to find it was fake...
Yu ren jie.
That was me who pulled that one.
When the BBC tells you spaghetti grows on trees...
The last two weeks of March
are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer.
After picking,
the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm Alpine sun.
it's yu ren jie.
Or when you see a video that says "traditional" Chinese Fortune Cookies
were suppressed by the Communists but preserved in America.
It must be
yu ren jie.
Sorry to break the illusion.
You guys really believed that right?
But Chris, the Communists did suppress a lot of stuff right?
I mean Chinese American food uses a lot of broccoli.
That is surely one of the cuisines that were suppressed in the cultural revolution right?
I wish the communists had suppressed broccoli.
It's the bane of a good General Tsao's Chicken.
Anyway, if you like humor and want to learn some useful words in Mandarin,
click here to go to Ben's channel,
Learn Chinese Now
where you can, you know,
learn Chinese now.
He uploads new awesome videos every week.


The Secret History of the Fortune Cookie | China Uncensored

702 タグ追加 保存
Huang Yu-Fen 2019 年 7 月 26 日 に公開
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