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Glossary of Asian Culture - M

Maebyong: Form of Korean vessel made from decorative porcelain. Characterized by a rounded body and small mouth with rounded rims. Most maebyong pieces feature a lovely floral design and blueish-green glaze called celadon. Highly collectable in and outside of Asia.

Magnolia: A flowering plant with blossoms of white or pink, magnolias are well known for their beautiful flowers. Magnolia is a native plant to China and Japan and is the national flower of Korea. Its motif is frequently found in East Asian art.

Mahjong: Ancient Chinese four-person game of strategy and skill. Mahjong centers on the calculated movements of 152 decorative tiles—with each player receiving an introductory hand of 13 tiles. Still popular in China and many other Asian countries.

Maki sushi: Sushi that is rolled inside dried seaweed (nori) often with the aid of a bamboo mat (makisu).

Makisu: A mat made from woven bamboo and connected with a cotton string. It is often used in the preparation of rolled (maki) sushi.

Maneki Neko: The Japanese beckoning cat. It is a lucky symbol with one or both of its paws raised in a gesture of welcoming good fortune and wealth for its owner. A popular lucky symbol in Asia.

Matcha: Japanese powered green tea made from finely ground leaves.

Matsuke: A famous woodblock print by Kitagawa Utamaro who was well known for his studies of women that is known as Bijinga in Japan. Bijinga stands for portraits of beautiful women. Utamaro’s works are regarded as one of the finest of Binjigas.

Mimosa: A flowering perennial herb native to Central and South America but cultivated in many parts of South and Southeast Asia. Known for closing its leaves at night, its pleasant sweet scent is used in many varieties of Asian incense.

Ming dynasty: A dynasty in China from 1368 to 1644 A.D. During this dynasty, China had a strong navy. There was also great invention in ceramics, with the adoption of many foreign elements. Specifically, the cobalt for underglazed blue decorations on ceramics.

Mirin: Common rice wine condiment used in Japanese cooking.

Miso: A traditional Japanese seasoning created from fermented rice, soybeans and barley. Often used to make soup, misos are fragrant and appetizing. Miso can be used in many Japanese dishes including noodles and pickles.

Mount Motoyama: One of the mountains in Motoyama—a town in Japan near Nagaoka District. Featured in a famous woodblock prints by Hiroshige. The blue Mount Motoyama looms in the background as a daimyo procession crosses a large bridge in the print.

Mount Fuji: Japan's highest mountain located west of Tokyo. Regarded as one of the country's Three Holy Mountains, Mt. Fuji, or Fujisan, is a popular tourist attraction and the subject of famous woodblock prints, paintings, poems and other artworks.

Mung Bean:
Ancient variety of green-colored bean originating from India and cultivated throughout China and Southeast Asian. Commonly used in Chinese dishes like soups or eaten in their small yellowish sprout form.
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