Symbolic Items Include a Carved Sandalwood Tiger, a Jade Seal and Embroidered Cloths
More than 40 Chinese news media and academic officials attended the recent centennial/dedication celebration, bringing special gifts to express their congratulations and appreciation for the century-long relationship they have enjoyed with the Missouri School of Journalism. In this article, Ernest Zhang, coordinator of the School’s China Programs, shares information about these unique items and the sentiments they convey.
By Ernest Zhang
Coordinator, China Programs
Mu Li and Fan Bu, Graduate Assistants
Columbia, Mo. (Oct. 13, 2008) — More than 40 guests from influential universities and news media organizations across China contributed meaningful gifts to celebrate the recent centennial of the Missouri School of Journalism and the dedication of the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI).
1) Shaode Qin, Fudan University chancellor; Dean Mills, Missouri School of Journalism dean. 2) Tianchuan Cheng, Renmim University chancellor; Mills. 3) Mills; Fritz Cropp; Missouri School of Journalism international programs director; Gang Gao, Renmim University executive associate dean. 4) Zhengrong Hu, Communication University of China vice chancellor; Brady Deaton, University of Missouri chancellor. 5) Mills; Zhengrong Hu, Communication University of China vice chancellor. 6) Ernest Zhang, Missouri School of Journalism China programs director; Deaton; Min Yang, Nanjing University Jinling School new media sequence chair. 7) Zhang; Kewu Tian, Beijing Youth Daily managing editor; Brian Brooks, Missouri Journalism associate dean. 8) Zhang; Cropp; Brooks; Ye Zheng, Chengdu Economic Daily editorial committee member. 9) Zhang; Xiaodan Yu, Guangzhou Daily human resources director; Brooks. 10) Zhang; Guangjun Zhuo, Chongqing University School of Humanities and Journalism executive associate dean; Brooks. 11) Esther Thorson, Missouri School of Journalism associate dean; Tiance Dong, Jinan University College of Journalism and Communication executive associate dean. 12) Thorson; Xinxun Wu, Shanghai University Media Economics Research Center dean. 13) Cropp; Aihua Yan, Qilu TV Station president; Thorson; Zhang. 14) Zhang; Xinmin Huang, Xiamen University School of Journalism and Communication executive associate dean; Thorson; Cropp.
In presenting the gifts to Dean Mills, dean, and Esther Thorson and Brian Brooks, both associate deans, the international guests expressed their respect and admiration for the world’s first journalism school and the long-term connection between the School and China’s journalism education programs and news media industry.
“All of the Chinese guests have highly treasured the opportunity to come to Missouri to celebrate its centennial, and they also want to strengthen their bonds with our School during their visit,” said Ernest Zhang, PhD ’08, coordinator of the School’s China program. “Chinese culture has always emphasized the exchange of protocols, so every guest had given a lot of thought in choosing and preparing gifts that can express their best wishes for this historical occasion.”
Zhengwei Yu, executive associate dean of China’s Fudan University School of Journalism, began thinking about his gift after a visit to the School in 2007. While touring the facilities, two artifacts impressed him very deeply. One was the pair of lions from Confucius’ hometown. These were dedicated to the School in 1931 and now sit under the Journalism Arch. The other was the wood horizontal scroll and vertical couplets respectfully endowed in 1928 to Dean Walter Williams from Yingbin Wang, a Missouri alumnus who lived in Shanghai, China. Today these frame the door to the School’s museum in 243-D Walter Williams Hall. During the celebration, this room housed an exhibit of items given to the School by international visitors and associates and highlighted the world travels of founding Dean Williams and his wife, Sara Lockwood Williams, BJ ’13.
On behalf of Fudan, Yu and other representatives of the university including Chancellor Shaode Qin unveiled a true-to-life-size tiger figure. The carving, approximately 2-feet long and 1.5-feet high, is sculptured from sandalwood. Qin said the tiger symbolizes the power and king-like status of the Journalism School across the world. This association is captured in a framed Chinese calligraphic work that accompanied the figure called “The Powerful Tiger.” Four Chinese characters handwritten by Qin expressed the sentiment.
The sandalwood tiger was one of several gifts to highlight the University of Missouri‘s official mascot, the tiger. Others include:
- Ye Zheng, an editorial committee member of the Chengdu Economic Daily, presented a gracefully embroidered tiger of Sichuan embroidery, one of four representative Chinese embroideries.
- A gift from Min Yang, New Media Department chair of Nanjing University Jinling School, incorporated a technique formerly reserved for emperors in ancient China. The jade seal of the Missouri School of Journalism includes a tiger-figured seal nose, a feature traditionally used to tie the seal with a thread and to show the elite social status of a seal owner.
- Executive Associate Dean Guangjun Zhuo of Chongqing University School of Humanities and Journalism displayed a Chinese traditional water-and-ink painting of a tiger and a happy Buddha. Zhuo also presented a scroll of Chinese calligraphic couplets. The eight Chinese characters in the couplets translate as “a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near” and are from a poem by Bo Wang, a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty (A.D.618-907).
Renmin University proudly presented a 2.5-feet-high camphorwood statue of General Guan Yu, a well-known war hero in the period of the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 220-280) in China. Famous for his courage and loyalty, General Guan is considered a household symbol in China for faith, fairness and trust. These qualities, noted Chancellor Tianchuan Cheng and Journalism Executive Associate Dean Gang Gao during the presentation, are those that should be cultivated in journalists.
Renmin and Missouri established a strategic partnership in 2005, and the Chinese university served as host to the 58 Missouri Journalism students who worked as news media interns during the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games.
Vice Chancellor Zhengrong Hu of Communication University of China, which is located in Beijing, presented the School with a red-lacquered plate portraying Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. The temple was once the site of ceremonial prayers for good harvest that drew yearly visits from the emperors of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties.
Aihua Yan, president of Qilu TV Station, located in China’s Shandong province, dedicated a kite and a camphorwood sculpture of Confucius to the School. The swallow-shaped kite is from Weifang, a city in Shandong province known for its annual kite festivals. The birthplace of Confucius is located in the Qufu city of Shandong Province, where Qilu TV Station is based.
A bright yellow tablecloth delicately embroidered with gourds by using gold, silver and blue brocade threads was presented by Kewu Tian, managing editor of the Beijing Youth Daily. Commonly called a table flag in Beijing, China. Tian said the pine, bamboo and plum blossoms brocaded in the gourds symbolize happiness and auspiciousness. The large number of gourds in the cloth’s design represents the depth of his newspaper’s heartfelt congratulations to the School on this occasion of the centennial/dedication celebration, he noted. The three plants are traditional Chinese symbols that serve to characterize the friendship between the daily newspaper and the School, Tian added.
Guangzhou Daily Human Resources Director Xiaodan Yu dedicated a Guangzhou colorized porcelain plate with gilded decorations of peonies. According to Yu, in all of Guangzhou, whose metropolitan area numbers approximately 10 million people, there is only one master who is an expert at the whole process of making this kind of colorized porcelain plate. “This is an endangered art, and we reserved this plate long before I got aboard. I hope it can express our enthusiasm for the eight-year cooperation between us,” said Yu.
Other congratulatory gifts included:
- A crystal-surfaced tablet with gilded centennial celebration inscriptions from Xinxun Wu, dean of Shanghai University Media Economics Research Center;
- A gilded gold university gate from Tiance Dong, executive associate dean of Jinan University College of Journalism and Communication; and
- A crystal paperweight from Xinmin Huang, executive associate dean of Xiamen University School of Journalism and Communication.
Additionally, Shaozhong You, the minister counselor for educational affairs of Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., sent a congratulatory letter to Dean Mills. China Central Television Station (CCTV) America Center’s Director Shiding Tang led a four-member reporting-and-greeting delegation to attend the celebration activities. The group recorded many of the sessions and conducted interviews with Mills and some Chinese guests. The video will be edited into a program about the centennial/dedication event and aired on CCTV at a future date.
Mills reciprocated with gifts from the School and RJI, which included state-of-the-art Apple products.
Updated: April 30, 2020