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.
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.Du 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.
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.
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.
This post is dedicated to letters, to the Chinese art of calligraphy, and to Du Fu, Tang dynasty poet. Thanks Ailsa for this week’s travel prompt.
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.
The Leshan Giant Buddha, a 71-metre tall stone statue, was built during the Tang Dynasty, and was completed in 800 AD. It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in Sichuan province, China, near the city of Leshan. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world and it is the tallest pre- modern statue in the world. A sophisticated drainage system was incorporated into the Leshan Giant Buddha when it was built. It is still in working order. It includes drainage pipes carved into various places on the body, to carry away the water after the rains to reduce weathering.
The Mount Emei Shan Scenic Area, including the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, was listed as a Unesco Heritage Site in 1996.
Card players of Langzhong meet to relax on a hot evening in summer. The mood is mellow and the pace is slow.
Langzhong is situated in the North East of Sichuan Province, China. It is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the area, home to many well restored Tang dynasty houses, cobblestoned lanes and temples. The traffic remains outside the city walls, making street life more appealing for all.
A weekend post, responding to a themed challenge from Ailsa in Ireland, allowing me the indulgence of vicarious travel as I search through my digital files.
Tang dynasty shrines, temples and houses draw you in, inviting you to explore further. Entrances lead you to the numerous courtyards within, giving real meaning to the word ‘amazing.’ Most entrances lead you ahead, others take you sideways.
Masters of Feng Shui, the Tang dynasty ( 618- 907 AD) was the Golden Age of Chinese culture. Tang dynasty courtyard design is now quite fashionable and is copied in boutique hotels in Chengdu.
Many large houses remain- they are sympathetically renovated of course – from this era, and the best examples can be found in the ancient city of Langzhong in the north of Szechuan province, as well as at the beautiful shrine to Dufo, the famous Tang dynasty poet, in Chengdu.
Follow me through a few entrances, gateways and courtyards. Smell the oil in the wood. Sit an Imperial exam in the oldest remaining examination hall. Sip tea or dine in the courtyards within. The ancient houses of Langzhong are open to the public and some are now hotels.
This post is a response to Ed’s photo challenge this week, Entrances and Gateways, on Sunday Stills