These Are The World’s Oldest Pants



Two men whose remains were recently excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. But these nomadic herders did so between 3,300 and 3,000 years ago, making their trousers the oldest known examples of this innovative apparel, a new study finds.

With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22 in Quaternary International. Read more.

For swordgirl, because it’s important to study your enemies. 



the yellow river | 黄河

The Yellow River, so named because of the loess that colours the waters  of the lower river yellow, is one of the most important rivers in China. It has its origins in the Bayan Har Mountains of Qinghai in western China and empties into the Bohai Sea in Shandong, and is known to the Chinese as the (supposed) cradle of the Chinese civilisation, as the Wei River Valley is the location of the earliest Chinese civilisations that prospered. 

It made the soil of North China arid and fertile and farmable, leading to the development of the majority agriculture-based civilisation we have today, and allowed for the food production necessary to a quickly growing population.

Despite this, the Yellow River has a sorrowful history as well. Very prone to flooding (estimates put it as having flooded around 1,600 times in the 2,540 years before 1946), it is also known as “China’s Sorrow” (in conjuncture with “Mother River” and “China’s Pride”) and the “Scourge of the Sons of Han,” and has changed its course 35 times (9 times severely). In part because of the high erosiveness of soil of the Loess Plateau through which it flows, the river is also known for its high level of silt.

The Yellow River has influenced and become a very large part of Chinese culture and the national psyche, and is the subject of many poems and allusions and stories. For example, the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Zhihuan wrote,
白 日 依 山 尽,
黄 河 入 海 流。
欲 穷 千 里 目,
更 上 一 层 楼。

The provinces of Hebei (lit. “north of the river”) and Henan (lit. “south of the river”) are both in reference to their positions to the north and the south of the Yellow River. 

It was once believed that the Yellow River was a continuation of the Milky Way, which we called the 银河, or the Silver River. Legend goes that when the famous explorer Zhang Qian, who made the first extensive voyages outside of China, was commissioned to find the source of the Yellow River, he found instead a cowherd and a beautiful girl, who was spinning something. She made no reply when he asked her where he was, and instead presented him with her shuttle to give to an astrologer at court. The astrologer recognised it as the shuttle of the Weaving Girl, the deity who was separated from her lover by the Milky Way.

The modern river offers a far less romantic view, however, as the overfarming and the factories that spill their sewage and toxic waste in the river are quickly rendering the river unfit for agricultural or industrial use, and it’s likely that the deserts that have already started to reach across North China will spread into the region if measures are not taken. 

Oh, Huang He.


Ornate windows from the Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.

"First built by a Ming Dynasty official, Wang Xianchen, who retired to his home village after falling out of favor with the government, this ensemble covers more than 4 hectares.  Interestingly, it was named after an essay, On Idle Living by Pan Yue of the Jin Dynasty who suggested that a ‘politically naïve’ official might just as well idle his time away by growing vegetables.  This wonderful garden was Wang Xianchen’s comment, part sublte self-mockery, but also self-justification, for the garden he created, which was indeed the better outcome of a life’s work than an official career.” - The Great Gardens of China, Fang Xiaofeng