Episode 8

full
Published on:

30th Jun 2021

Heathens

In this episode, we are introduced to Christianity through the eyes of Yut-Ho’s Gwailo marriage to Lee Yong in a Christian church. Can you imagine being married in the holy place of a foreign religion without having any context for the iconography all around you?  Understandably, Yut Ho  is horrified by the sight of Jesus nailed to the cross, “his head hanging down in an attitude of infinite pain and weariness.”  She understands the pendant cross hanging from his neck as the Chinese symbol for the number ten. And in Mother Mary, she sees Guan Yin, goddess of mercy and serenity. By this connection, she is deeply comforted and feels protected to continue with the marriage. For further reading on the connection between Guan Yin and Mary, read The Bodhisattva Guanyin and Virgin Mary

In late 1800s California, only Gwailo court-sanctioned marriages were seen as legitimate in the eyes of the law. Chinese “ritual” marriages were not readily acknowledged, and this was the very loop-hole that Yo-Hing used against Sam Yuen to lawfully kidnap Yut-Ho. 

After their escape, Yut Ho and Lee Yong take refuge at the residence of Dr. Tong and his wife Tong You. Yut Ho is shocked to see Tong You’s bound feet, or as she calls them, her Lotus feet. 

Foot binding originated in China during the 10th century and continued through the start of The People’s Republic of China in 1949 (Footbinding, Encyclopedia Britannica). It served as a right of passage for young women and conveyed status. 

In Western culture, foot-binding is understood as an oppressive practice, which confined Chinese women to lives of immobility and great suffering. We hear stories of young girls being forced to bind their feet, just as they are forced into being subservient to men. Wang Ping’s eye-opening book, “Aching for Beauty,” paints a much more complex picture. She describes her own childhood desire to bind her feet as being intricately tied to her close female relationships. She explores the connection between pain and beauty that resurfaces in myriad ways across many cultures. 

After all, it is socially celebrated for Western women to  cut  their bodies for breast implants, genital reconstructive surgery, and nose jobs, just to name a few. While the ideal of beauty changes, the insistence on painfully altering the female form to fit a more perfect image of beauty resurfaces again and again. 

In our story, Yut Ho learns that Tong You bound her feet by choice, to gain social status. Born into a low class family, Tong You was mesmerized by the luxuries of the upper class. Binding her feet brought her a path to a more luxurious existence, and for her, it was worth the sacrifice. 

If you have questions, thoughts, your own family stories, or historical context to share, please send us a message at @bloodongoldmountain on Facebook or Instagram

-----

Blood on Gold Mountain is brought to you by The Holmes Performing Arts Fund of The Claremont Colleges, The Pacific Basin Institute of Pomona College, The Office of Public Events and Community Programs at Scripps College, The Scripps College Music DepartmentThe Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at The New England Conservatory, and our Patreon patrons

It is written and produced by Micah Huang, narrated by Hao Huang, and hosted by Emma Gies, featuring original music by Micah Huang and The Flower Pistils. A special thanks to Chi Wei Lo, Jonah Huang, and Muqi Li for their musical contributions,  Kusuma Tri Saputro for the amazing artwork,  Sheila Kolesaire for her critical PR guidance, Shayna Krizan for her Instagram wizardry, Rachel Huang for her editing prowess, and Evo Terra from Simpler Media Productions for his immense expertise and support. 

-----

More details at bloodongoldmountain.com

Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram

Support the show on Patreon

Show artwork for Blood on Gold Mountain: A Story from the 1871 LA Chinatown Massacre

About the Podcast

Blood on Gold Mountain: A Story from the 1871 LA Chinatown Massacre
Love and honor collide with racism in a bloody showdown on the streets of Wild-West era Los Angeles
1871 Los Angeles was a dangerous place, especially for the refugees, migrants and troublemakers who lived on Calle De Los Negros, at the heart of Chinatown.

Yut Ho, a beautiful young refugee, came to LA and fell in love, only to be drawn into a showdown between two of Chinatown's most notorious gangsters. Before long, the entire city was caught up in a life or death struggle where old-world values of kinship, honor and loyalty clashed with new-world issues of race, sex, and identity. The ensuing conflict would threaten the lives of Yut Ho and all the denizens of Chinatown– and would change the face of Los Angeles forever.

This true but largely forgotten event from California's past is brought to you by the Holmes Performing Arts Fund of the Claremont Colleges, the Music Department of Scripps College, the Pacific Basin Institute of Pomona College, the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at The New England Conservatory, and the Public Events Office at Scripps College.

It is hosted by Hao Huang, Micah Huang, and Emma Gies, featuring original music by Micah Huang and The Flower Pistils. A special thanks to Evo Terra from Simpler Media Productions for his expertise and support.
Support This Show

About your hosts

Hao Huang

Profile picture for Hao Huang
Hao Huang is a pianist who served as a four-time United States Information Agency Artistic Ambassador. He has been warmly acclaimed in over two dozen countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America, and has been awarded grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the New York and Colorado Councils of the Arts and the California Meet the Composer Series. His work has been recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Washington Post and National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition”.
* Frankly, this project has been a bit of return to my past: I grew up in a racist town in New Jersey. I know firsthand the hurts pervasive racist violence causes. Although I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had as a concert pianist, the feeling of being disconnected and solitary as so many people feel during COVID quarantine has never left me. It's my hope that this (hi)story can help us begin to heal together.

Micah Huang

Profile picture for Micah Huang
Micah Huang is the script writer, audio content producer and musical director for Blood on Gold Mountain. He was educated at Tufts University and Pitzer College, where he studied Music, the performing arts and literature. Micah's production style is built around analog and acoustic instruments, tracked live in a hybrid studio. He is influenced by musical styles from across the globe, and was a Fulbright fellow in Musicology in 2013-14, during which time he studied Romungro Cigányzene (Roma/gypsy music) in Budapest, Hungary. He plays multiple instruments and sings in the Flower Pistils. Blood on Gold Mountain is his debut project as a writer of historical fiction.

Emma Gies

Profile picture for Emma Gies
You'll hear the voice of Emma Gies on the intros and outros of Blood on Gold Mountain and her violin playing in the soundtrack. Emma has a Masters in Music degree from The New England Conservatory in Contemporary Improvisation and a BA from Pitzer College in Interdisciplinary Musical Performance and Understanding. She performed in the commemoration of this massacre in 2019 at the Chinese American Museum in LA. “This has been a dream project to work on, bringing to life an insane story of love and violence that completely changed my understanding of American history. In the midst of hate-based violent attacks on Asian-Americans this past year, now is the time to hear this story, let it sink in, and let it affect you. If you're as moved by hearing this story as I am, please share it with your friends and family.”