Sep

19

 As precious metals continue their ascent, yesterday evening I enjoyed an award-winning movie, Empire of Silver, a historical account of Confucian banking clans in 1899 Shanxi, China, which tells the tale of silver-based economy, government-issued paper money, human frailty and greatness.

In that era, the Confucian bankers were trained from age twelve, and expected to adhere to high moral and ethical principles. All in Chinese with subtitles, this viewer found the story fascinating.

Leo Jia adds: 

Empire of Silver can be watched online here.

Shanxi used to be home to many of China's riches (not counting the royals and the officials). It is very interesting today the people there are no longer good at the game of banking. Instead, they mostly rely on mining coal, which made Shanxi not a very pleasant place to visit. Unfortunately, coal can not restore their old glories for being very rich. Today, Zhejiang (on the eastern coast just south of Shanghai), which mostly relied on making something cheap to export, is home of many China's riches (also not counting the royals and the officials).

In case others outside of China can't view that link, a search on Youtube with the Chinese title "白银帝国" results in the following 8 parts of the film:


Part 1/8
 

Part 2/8 

Part 3/8 

Part 4/8 

Part 5/8 

Part 6/8 

Part 7/8 

Part 8/8

Leo Jia adds: 

 There are quite a few scenes in the film showing an amazing road with tunnels running on the side of a cliff. I believe it is the famous Guoliang Tunnel Road located in Henan Province, south of Shanxi Province. That road was just featured in "10 Gorgeous Roads For The Drive Of A Lifetime", of which the Guoliang slide (Slide #10) is quoted below (with a correction of the province name).

Googling for "Guoliang Tunnel" yields more pictures of it.

Using this road in the film clearly presents a dislocation in time, because the road was actually built between 1972 and 1977. The Wiki page about it is Guoliang Tunnel Road, China.

It was built by only 13 local villagers in just five years! Located in the Henan province of China, this can be considered to be a sacrificial road of sorts. Many villagers lost their lives due to its construction, but the work went on. The tunnel itself is 1,200 meters long, 5 meters high and 4 meters wide.

It's called the most dangerous road in the world despite its scenic beauty and as a wise man once said, 'the road does not tolerate any mistakes.'


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  1. marion ds dreyfus on September 20, 2012 1:19 am

    I lived in Zhejiang, which is not a very banking-savvy place, now. It does feature many small shops, means of transportation that would not pass muster on the superhighways linking our states, and curious winding dirt roads leading to unassuming brothels where I got reflexology treatments and paraffin foot massages for about a dollar, ignoring the evidence of professional girls in the next chamber. The massages came with watermelon slices, pineapple rounds and strong dragonwell tea. No extra charge. and they gave me a pair of white short anklet socks to wear so my newly silken feet would not contact reality.

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