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Ancient Villain-Hitting Ritual Thrives in Hong Kong

Squatting at a makeshift shrine with joss sticks burning beside her, Granny Leung starts bashing a manlike paper cut-out with a pair of sandals.

"I beat you little people, I'm sending you away!" chants the 76-year-old woman, one of the last practitioners in Hong Kong of the ancient Chinese ritual of "da siu yan", or "beating the petty little people".

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Madrid Top Museums Post Record Attendance in 2011

Madrid's top three museums -- the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza -- received a record number of visitors last year as blockbuster exhibits drew crowds despite a weak economy.

The private Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, posted the biggest rise in visitor numbers of the three museums that make up the Spanish capital's so-called "Golden Triangle of Art".

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NKorea Holds Rally, Shows Young Kim Meeting Troops

Pumping their fists and chanting, tens of thousands of North Koreans packed the snowy main square of the capital Tuesday to pledge their loyalty to new leader Kim Jong Un as the campaign to consolidate his power deepened.

State television also aired footage of Kim's recent visit to an elite tank unit with family and historical ties that showed him interacting with ease with soldiers and carrying out inspections much like his father and grandfather did before him. Soldiers cheered and chanted his name as Kim made an inaugural solo trip to provide "on-the-spot guidance" in the first official documentary of the new leader shown on North Korean TV.

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Hockney Takes a Swipe at Hirst Over Work Ethic

British painter David Hockney has criticized controversial fellow artist Damien Hirst for employing other people to help create his works of art, saying it was "insulting".

A poster for a major exhibition of landscapes by the 74-year-old Hockney opening in London this month reads: "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally."

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Restoration Threatens Georgian Mediaeval Masterpiece

Bagrati cathedral, a world-renowned but crumbling masterpiece of mediaeval Georgian architecture, is suffering not only from wear and tear but also from the impact of human meddling.

Keen to please the influential Orthodox Church, the government in the deeply religious former Soviet republic has defied world heritage body UNESCO by starting to rebuild the 11th century monument.

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Wealth Brings Art to Delhi's New Gallery District

It's late in the evening and the Indian capital's moneyed art crowd is spilling out of congested galleries into a narrow maze of streets, sipping glasses of wine as they peer at catalogues.

Lado Sarai, a warren of bylanes and haphazardly constructed buildings in New Delhi's hinterland, has become a thriving new art district where Mercedes and BMWs jostle with bullock carts for space to pass.

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Saudi to Apply Law for Women Only to Sell Lingerie

Saudi Arabia says starting Thursday, only females can work in women's lingerie stores.

The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly due to hard-liners in the religious establishment who oppose the whole idea of women working where men and women congregate together, like malls.

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Chinese President Calls for Confronting Westernization

Chinese President Hu Jintao has warned that "hostile" powers are seeking to "Westernize" the country and called for greater efforts to enhance China's cultural influence overseas.

Hu's remarks published in the latest edition of Communist Party magazine Seeking the Truth come after Beijing ordered the culture industry -- taken to include the media -- to lift its game as China pushes its "soft power" abroad.

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Golden Year for Klimt as Austria Marks 150th Anniversary

His golden "The Kiss" adorns scarves and coffee mugs worldwide, while his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer sparked a decades-long restitution battle: in 2012, Austria celebrates 150 years since Klimt's birth.

Gustav Klimt, born on July 14, 1862, is one of the best known figures of the Jugendstil art period.

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Cuba Relic Ends Mammoth Pilgrimage

Cuba's patron saint wrapped up a 16-month pilgrimage here Friday ahead of a papal visit early next year to mark the 400th anniversary of the relic's legendary discovery.

The statue of Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba, has criss-crossed 28,000-kilometers (18,000 miles) of the communist Caribbean island since beginning its tour in August 2010.

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