Chinese Doors of Ancient Walled Cities.

Doors, shutters, inner courtyards, Menshen or door gods, all these features of ancient Chinese architecture denote security and protection. Once safely inside the inner courtyard of a wooden Tang dynasty house, a sense of calm and peace descends: you feel perfectly secure and removed from the world.Chinese doors make a fascinating study in themselves. The ancient cities of Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan Province and Langzhong in Sichuan Province afford the traveller with an enormous array of wonderful doors to study and photograph.

Many are richly carved an ornate but today I have chosen a few modest examples.

Partners in Chengdu

Living statues usually busk alone. These partners work together in Well Alley, Chengdu. Well Alley is near Narrow and Wide Lane, an historic tourist precinct in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.

Living statues busk together in Chengdu, China
Living statues busk together in Chengdu, China

For Daily Post prompt, <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/partners/”>Partners</a&gt;

Chinese Menu, Yibin, China.

We could recognise the numbers  on this menu and placemat, but that’s as far as our understanding went. We were, once again, in the safe hands of Shù sōng, foodie friend from Chengdu, China, who did all the ordering. We were on the way to Leshan, home of the Big Buddha, but then we made a slight 50 kilometer detour so that we could try the noodles at this restaurant in Yibin. He ordered a huge number of dishes and then we finished with a small bowl of noodles!chinese numbers

Yibin is situated on the confluence of the Yangtze and Minjiang rivers in Western China.

This post is in response to the Daily Post’s theme this week, Numbers.

Dinnertime in Langzhong

We were travelling by car around Sichuan province with some friends from Chengdu, China.  Shú song (树松), a dedicated foodie, and Tia, her anglicised name, found the best places to eat at dinnertime.

Ma Po Tofu, Cabbage and chilli, White lotus and Black fungas.
Ma Po Tofu, cabbage and chilli, white lotus and black fungus.

They both took a week off work to accompany us on the road trip of a lifetime, visiting the more remote regions of Sichuan, and travelling through wild and overgrown passes in Éméi shān (Mt Emei ). Towards the end of the journey we stayed in the ancient city of Langzhong, where we shared the most remarkable meals.

River fish hotpot, Sichian style
River fish hot-pot, Sichuan style ( hot)

Shú song would have private chats with the chef at our Tang Dynasty Hotel, or go hunting around the town in search of good river fish, and bring them back to the chef to cook.

More fish in Langzhuong
More fish in Langzhong

Dinner time was always a special occasion in Sichuan with these two friends. It was a little more difficult sourcing a wine to go with the meal. Beer and spirits are readily available throughout China. But things are slowly changing as the Chinese become more interested in wine production.

A quick lie down after dinner
A quick lie down after dinner

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/dinnertime/

Circles Of Sichuan

door circle-001Imagine the circular table at a Chinese banquet, with its central Lazy Susan slowly revolving your way, a huge steel wok, alive with the breath of fire, circular bamboo steaming baskets piled high, shielding delicate morsels from heat and the lusting eye, stone mortars, perfectly rounded through time, gaudy enamel ware prepping plates and deep blue porcelain bowls filled with pickled or salted delicacies, round fire pits and circular baskets of peaches, Tang dynasty wooden carvings and yin yang signs, brass metal plaques on doors and circular discs of tea. It is hard to think of Sichuan and Yunnan Province in China without thinking in circles and wishing to return.

 

 

 

 

The Road to Indigo

indigo 7

Fabric speaks to me. I collect it, stash it, feel it. Antique European linens, worn Irish cloth, functional and timeless, faded Ikat from Java, Sumatra and Flores, woven wall hangings from Myanmar, mid-century Japanese Kimono sprinkled with shibori, or little fabric offcuts featuring sacred cranes, plush velvet Italian betrothal bedspreads, alive with colour and kitsch cherubin, or hand worked pillow cases and curtains from the antique market in Arezzo in Italy, embroidered table cloths, ancient filet crochet edging with worked in stories, words or historical events, crocheted jug covers featuring Dolly-Varden shells and beaded weights, Indian silk saris and long dupatta scarves, visiting every floor of a Sari shop in India: fabric hunting is a central part of my journey. It is often the history of women’s work, or a window into a culture, or one that is about to become obsolete, that appeals so much.

indigo 4

Hand dyed indigo fabric is a recent addition to my textile addiction. I discovered some wonderful indigo fabrics at the Chatuchak ( Cha-Cha) Market in Bangkok in 2013. The following year, I toured an indigo factory in Dali, on the banks of Erhai Lake, Yunnan, China. And this year, I found another small producer of hand died indigo clothing on the banks of the Mekong River, in Chiang Khan, Thailand, as well as some lovely long lengths of deep indigo died linen in the back streets of the Warorot market, in Chiang Mai.

My next step is to learn this ancient art and dye my own cloth. I envisage drifts of indigo muslin, irregular in colour, floating in the summer breeze.Thanks Ailsa for this week’s travel theme, Fabric, at Where’s My Backpack. If I dug out all the representatives of my fabric collection, this post might fill a book.

People Watching in Lijiang, Yunnan

Posing for photographs is big time all over China. No one wants to look casual or natural. As local tourism takes off, Chinese like to record portraits of themselves in the most beautiful settings. People arrange themselves in intriguing ways- perfect backdrops, graceful gestures, romantic clothes.  Young women flock to the ancient town of Lijiang, Yunnan on the weekend: beauticians and costume hire shops can be found along the narrow lanes, part of the weekend fun for the girls. The ‘dress ups’ often evoke another era.

Girl on Bridge, Lijiang, Yunnan
Girl on Bridge, Lijiang, Yunnan.
Girl on bridge2, Lijiang, Yunnan
Girl on bridge 2, Lijiang, Yunnan
Girl on Bridge 3, Lijiang, Yunnan
Girl on Bridge 3, Lijiang, Yunnan

Playing Eye Spy was a pleasant pass time in such a beautiful town, which is the theme of this week’s Daily Post photography challenge, and  appropriate for Ailsa’s travel theme,  ‘Self‘ too.

Peaceful Trios

Things seem to naturally group themselves into trios in China. These peaceful images were taken at Mt Emei Shan, Sichuan Province, China. Chinese Buddhists make pilgrimages to the temple on the mountain, which is traditionally regarded as a place of enlightenment.

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A trio of candles for peace

 

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A trio of pure lotus leaves emerging from the murky water.

 

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A trio of jugs symbolising domestic harmony

 

Ornate

These images were taken in a new Buddhist temple found on the windswept plains above Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. Sometimes a Buddhist temples can be ornate, at other times, just plain scary.

ornate and scary
ornate and scary

The ancient city of Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a beautiful place to visit. The centre of the old Naxi people, today the place thrives on local tourism. Like other UNESCO sites in China, it is a pedestrianised city: all traffic must remain outside the city walls. Yunnan province is full of surprises.

1-natIn ancient times, the Old Town used to be the center of silk embroidery in the southwest of China and the most important place of the Ancient Southern Silk Road, also called the Ancient Tea and Horse Road or Ancient Tea Route.. The Ancient Silk Road started from Burma, crossed Lijiang, Tibet, journeyed through Iran, the Fertile Crescent and ultimately to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Dead Poets of Chengdu: Family Letters are Worth Ten Thousand Pieces

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Imagine three large museum halls set in a 24 acre manicured park dedicated to a poet from more than 1200 years ago. The Chinese love their Tang Dynasty poets, especially Du Fu. Du Fu’s thatched cottage, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is located in the Du Fu Cao Tang Park along with other museum halls displaying panels of his most famous poems, exhibitions of ancient stylised calligraphy, and a sculpture hall for the other major poets of that era.1-dufDu Fu enthusiasts from around the world come to pay their respects, the locals to enjoy reading the famous poems they learnt as youngsters at school, or to appreciate and try to translate these ancient stylised characters and letters. A visit, including the magnificent gardens and lake, takes at least half a day.

Panels of Poems, Du Gong Bu memorial Hall, Chengdu.
Panels of Poems, Du Gong Bu memorial Hall, Chengdu.

The Tang dynasty  (7th and 8th centuries) is generally regarded as the Golden Age of Chinese Culture, and might be compared to the Renaissance cultural awakening in Europe.

Self Portrait with calligraphy.
Self portrait with calligraphy.

The art of writing characters and letters is given prominence in schools in China, despite the presence of the ubiquitous iPad or tablet. Calligraphy tables are set up with paper, ink and brushes in the hotels in Chengdu, for all to have a go.

Concentrating on Writng letters. A friends child, 6, practices calligraphy.
Concentrating on writing. A friend’s child from Chengdu, 6, practices her calligraphy.
My grandson, at school n China, leaning calligraphy.
My grandson, 11, at school this week in Nanjing China, learning calligraphy.
Spring View
Du Fu 春望
The country is broken, though hills and rivers remain,
In the city in spring, grass and trees are thick.
Moved by the moment, a flower’s splashed with tears,
Mourning parting, a bird startles the heart.
The beacon fires have joined for three months now,
Family letters are worth ten thousand pieces.
I scratch my head, its white hairs growing thinner,
And barely able now to hold a hairpin.

http://www.chinese-poems.com/d15.html