Sunday, April 27, 2008

China Mandalas 2002

China 2002
By ShaRi

If you click on the Dalas and other artistically generated images, you will get a somewhat larger version :)

On the eve of our 2nd trip to China in May 2008, i have found the photaes from the 1st trip in December 2002. Dang it was cold! Worst snow storm in fifty years!

Gives new meaning to Stone Cold!

A 4**** Restroom!

The Ming Tombs are located about 30 miles northwest of Beijing at the foot of the Tianshou Mountains. Located here are the tombs of 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors. Dragon Hill lies to the east and Crouching Tiger Hill to the west. The first emperor to be buried here was Yongle who died in 1424. His tomb, Chang Ling, and that of Emperor Zhu Yijun, Ding Ling, who died in 1620, are the only two opened to visitors today.
Emperor Yongle was significant in Chinese history as it was he who moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing after its reconstruction. He also made many changes to the institutional forms of the state founded by his father, the first Ming emperor. Yongle's tomb served as the model for the other tombs that followed. The Emperor and Empress were buried, as was the Chinese tradition, under a large mound in underground vaults.
One of the more impressive sights at the Ming Tombs is the Sacred Way. The Sacred Way runs for about a kilometer and is flanked on both sides by carvings of human and animal figures. There are 12 large stone human figures and 24 of animals, all carved from a single blocks of granite in 1435 during the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Xuan De. frOM

The Great Slippery Wall! Juyongguan Pass, located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing, is a renowned pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.
Situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, Juyongguan Pass has long been a military stronghold. As early as the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) and Warring States Period (476BC-221BC), the Yan State built fortifications here. In the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589), this section was linked to the Great Wall of China. This pass served as a natural barrier to the capital of Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) Dynasties. Therefore, immediately after the founding of his reign, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, ordered the pass to be rebuilt to protect the borders from intrusions of the Mongolian tribe. Many fierce battles were fought in Juyongguan Pass.
The Pass is roughly circular with a perimeter of about 4,142 meters (about 4,530 yards). It consists of two passes, one in the south, one in the north, respectively called 'Nan Kou' and 'Badaling'.
Cloud PlatformIn the middle of Juyongguan Pass lies a high platform called 'Cloud Platform', which is made of white marble. In the Yuan Dynasty, three stone towers were built on the platform. At the end of Yuan Dynasty, they were burnt down. Later, a temple called 'Tai'an' was built on the site, but it was burnt down during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), after which only the platform remained. Inside the platform is an arched doorway. On the walls of the doorway, the statues of four heavenly gods and sutra scriptures are carved.
Juyongguan Pass is not just a military stronghold, but also a beautiful scenic spot. Around the pass, beautiful flowers and lush trees dot the mountains. A splendid picture! As early as the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), it was named as one of the eight best scenery of Beijing.
The extant Juyongguan Pass was built in the Ming Dynasty. In the Qing Dynasty, reconstruction work was neglected. In 1992 and 2000, the pass was renovated.

As an internationally well-known ancient and young metropolis, Beijing, the capital city of the People's Republic of China, is called Jing for short. It lies on the northwest of the Huabei Plain, around 150 kilometers to the northwest of Bohai Sea. Measuring over 16, 800 square kilometers, Beijing has a total population of approximately 13.819 million. To the north of the city is the Jundu Mountain, to the west the Xi Mountain and to the southeast of Beijing is the alluvial plain formed by the Yongding and Chaobai Rivers and slopes towards the Bohai Sea. About 62% of the whole territory is mountainous land with a large variety of minerals and metals such as coals, iron, granite and white marble. frOM

Tiananmen Square (Gate of Heavenly Peace) ~ Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.- 1644 A.D.), the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City. The most important use of it in the past was to declare in a big ceremony to the common people who became the emperor and who became the empress. Until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom was over, no one could enter Tiananmen Tower, at the north end of the Square, except for the royal family and aristocrats.
The granite Monument to the People's Heroes is just at the center of the Tiananmen Square. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China's history. ' The People's Heroes are Immortal' written by Chairman Mao is engraved on the monument.
West of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. This building, erected in 1959, is the site of the China National People's Congress meetings. Twelve marble posts are in front of the Hall which has three parts--the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium and a Banqueting Hall. The floor of the Central Hall is paved with marble and crystal lamps hang from the ceiling. The Great Auditorium behind the Central Hall seats 10,000. The Banqueting Hall is a huge hall with 5,000 seats.
Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is at the south side of the Square. This Hall is divided into three halls and Chairman Mao's body lies in a crystal coffin in one of the halls surrounded by fresh bouquets of various famous flowers and grasses.
The China National Museum, at the east side of the Square, just came into existence in 2003 and is a combination of Chinese History Museum and Chinese Revolutionary Museum. This National Museum faces the Great Hall of the People. The Chinese History Museum shows a large number of cultural relics illustrating the long history and culture of China from 1,700,000 years ago to 1921 when the last emperor left the throne.
The present Tiananmen Square has an area of 440,000 square meters and has become a relaxing place for people to fly kites and walk. On a holiday, the whole square is covered with fresh flowers. frOM

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), during the succeeding reign of feudal emperors; it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Originally called 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples), it was know as one of the famous 'three hills and five gardens' (Longevity Hill, Jade Spring Mountain, and Fragrant Hill; Garden of Clear Ripples, Garden of Everlasting Spring, Garden of Perfection and Brightness, Garden of Tranquility and Brightness, and Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure). Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public. frOM

The Marble Boat, Shifang in Chinese, was first built in 1755 during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It is 36 meters long with two decks. There used to be a Chinese styly wooden superstructure on the top part of the boat but it was destroyed by the invading troops in 1860. Empress Dowager Cixi had it restored in 1893, adding two wheels, one on each side of the boat, and a European-style superstructure, which was made of wood but painted to look like marble. There is a big mirror on each deck. Empress Dowager Cixi often enjoyed the beautiful scenery while she had her breakfast and dinner in front of the mirror.
The marble Boat was supposed to be a symbol of stability of the Qing Dynasty, an idea derived from the saying "water can carry a boat, and it can also capsize a boat."

(Right) Beauty & the Beast or Fearless Leader! Bus #1's local tour guide in Beijing.

(beeloe) Talk about The Lion in Winter!

Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Divine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the gates in the east and west walls is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan, a suburb of Beijing. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces. Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.
Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire. frOM

The Temple of Heaven ~ otherwise known as The Stairway 2 Heaven! ~

The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven', they dared not to build their own dwelling, the 'Forbidden City', bigger than a dwelling for Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square'. frOM

Even the tree bRAnches seem to have an ornate, dRAgon like quality!

Wudang Mountain,also known as Taihe Mountain, in the northwest of Hubei Province, is perhaps the best known of China's Taoist holy mountains and also known as the site of an ancient architectural complex both at home and abroad. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994. Also considered the birth place of Tai Chi and is the location for the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Wudangshan stretches 400 kilometres and covers an area of more than 30 square kilometres. Wudang Mountain's beautiful scenery of tranquil valleys juxtaposed with precipitous peaks offers three main areas of interest to travellers: Ancient Taoist temple complex, Wudang kung fu, Spectacular natural scenery.

Tianzhu (Column) Peak, the main peak, rises 1,612 meters above sea level, like a column supporting the sky, and is famous for its uniqueness, silence and beauty. Clustering around it are numerous strikingly outstanding peaks and exotic sceneries as if "ten thousands peaks are paying their homage". Its scenic spots include 72 peaks, 36 rocky cliff, 24 streams, 3 pools, 9 wells, and 10 lakes. Wudang Mountain, well-covered with vegetation, has a rich resources of plants; 600 of the 1,800 medicinal herbs recorded in "Compendium of Materia Medica" compiled by the Ming Dynasty pharmacist Li Shizhen are chosen from Wudang Mountain. Therefore the mountain is also known as a "natural herbary".

On the mountain there are several thousand cultural relics from the Yuan, Ming and other historical periods as well as a huge Taoist architectural complex. The solemn ancient buildings are well ordered, symmetrical and are spaced so that an echo occurs between them. The complex was started in 1412, the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, and was completed 12 years later. It extends 70 kilometers from Jingle Palace in Gujunzhou City to Golden Hall at the top of Tianzhu Peak.

There are eight palaces, two Taoist temples, 36 nunneries, 72 temples on cliffs, 39 bridges, 12 pavilions and 10 ancestral temples.

The main tourist spots are Xuanyue Gate, Yuanhe Taoist Temple, Yuzhen Palace, Yuxu Palace, Mozhen Well, Fuzhen Taoist Temple, Zixiao Palace, Southern Rock, Taihe Palace and Golden Hall. Two of them, Zixiao Palace and Golden Hall have been placed under state protection.


Driving thru the sacred mesas of the Jemez always puts mee in mind of the sacred temples of China. i think it is the sacredness of the colour rojo.

The Base or Root Chakra is associated with the color red. This chakra is the grounding force that allows us to connect to the earth energies and empower our beings. Focusing one's attention on the color red can help bring our energetic body "down to earth" and in alignment with our physical body when we find ourselves energetically fleeting. frOM

Following the principles and practice of Wudang Taiji, Wudang Taiji Sword includes 36 named movements. As in taiji, the whole body is required to be well coordinated above and below, to stand up straight, to be firm and comfortable, able to support movements in all directions. One basic requirement for the movements is that once the intention and breathing are ignited, all the limbs move. This is like a tree - if one branch is shaken, all the others respond. When extending the sword, the energy must extend through the tip of the sword. Slice, thrust, parry according to the requirements of the form, always paying attention to the blade and the tip. Control of the sword comes through the wrist, but the waist drives the movement, and the qi (breath) drives the waist, filling the whole body. frOM

The point of the points is the jumping off point in Crouching Tiger~Hidden Dragon. On the way to the point, we have another Sky City evoking similarities to New Mexico's own Sky City~Acoma Pueblo.
Wudon was definitely my favorite place on this tour, in spite of the fact that the hotel had no heat, had the weirdest food and i got sick. i am sorry it is not on our 2008 itinerary. The cultural exchange with the monks there afforded us the most beautiful martial arts demonstrations that i have ever seen.

Wudang Taijiquan highly stresses the fullness of internal energy, breath, and spirit. The eight criteria that Wudang Taijiquan stresses when playing are: lightness, easiness, roundness, evenness, flexibility, changeableness, steadiness and precision. The motto for practice is: Be relaxed, complete, prompt, and sudden. The peculiar principles of Wudang Taiji are to be hard and strong inside, round and smooth outside and to strike out quickly, so quickly the opponent does not notice. Move like waves of the Yangzi River flowing to the ocean, one after another, never stopping.
Laozi's Dao Te Jing in the third chapter says "Empty the mind, fill the belly. Weaken the ambition, strengthen the character." So then, this is the motto for practicing China's Wudang Daoist Qigong. To study each method, each method must be understood, the energy processed must be understood. Wudang Qigong has eighteen types of practice exercises and methods. In practicing Wudang Qigong, the first step is to move the inner breath in the small heavenly circle; this is also known as the first gate and is called refining the energy and transforming the breath. Together energy, breath, and spirit become spirit breath. The second step is to move the inner breath in the large heavenly circle; this is known as the middle gate and is called refining the breath and transforming the spirit. Together spirit and breath become spirit. The third step is combining ten thousand things into an integral whole; this is known as refining the spirit and returning to the void. Recover and return to emptiness, understand the heart; see the character, make the body stronger, and prolong the years. frOM

The real Stairway 2 Heaven.

Look closely and you'll see the icicles!

The soul is indestructible, and its activity will continue through eternity.
It is like the sun, which to our eyes, seems to set at night;
but it has in reality only gone to diffuse light elsewhere.

The Pagoda Forest: memorials to Shaolin monks.
The Shaolin temples (Shàolín Sì) are a group of Chinese Buddhist monasteries in Henan Province famed for their long association with Chán (Zen) Buddhism and martial arts. Thanks to Kung Fu movies, they are probably the most familiar Buddhist monasteries in the West. Shaolin is situated on China's central Taoist sacred mountain, Song Shan. The name "Shaolin" means "Young Forest". About 200m up the hill from the temple is the impressive Forest of Dagobas (or Pagoda Forest), with hundreds of stone pagoda memorials erected in honor of Shaolin monks from the 9th to 19th centuries. Each one is inscribed with the names of the monk and his disciples. frOM

West meets East, hence the CorralLess sunrise used 4 the backdrop in the 'big picture'.
The balcony with lanterns is frOM the Suzhou gardens, and the balcony with the 'royal family' is frOM the Forbidden City.

Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei province, is the political, economic and cultural centre of that region. Wuhan is the largest financial and commercial center in Central China. More than 2,000 financial estates are involved in savings and financing of capital, issuing and exchange of stocks and bonds. Both state and private-run commercial enterprises make Wuhan a flourishing market. It's also the largest transportation hub and one of the important bases of industry, education and scientific research in China.
Wuhan is the conglomeration of what was once three independent towns: Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang. Even today the city is usually refered to as "Wuhan Three Towns". The Yangtze River and the Hanjiang River run through the city and cut it into three geographic independent parts. Hankou is the busiest commercial district in Wuhan while Wuchang is the cultural and educational center. Most colleges and universities are centered in the Wuchang area. As the city's major development zone, Hanyang displays the most modernization.
Wuhan is rich in culture and history. Wuhan's civilization began about 3,500 years ago, and is of great importance in Chinese culture. Famous scenic spots in Wuhan include Yellow Crane Tower, Guiyuan Temple, East Lake, and the Museum of the 1911 Revolution.
Hubei Provincial Museum stands by the beautiful East Lake. It was established in 1956.
Remarkable achievements have been gained in archeological excavation in Hubei province. The Paleolithic Cultures such as the findings of the Yunxi pithecanthropus fossil and the Changyan pithecanthropus fossil as well as the Neolithic Cultures found in Chengbeixi, Daxi, Qujialing and Xijiahe show that the Changjiang River Valley and the Yellow River Valley are all the cradles of Chinese national culture. 8 categories, 125 musical instruments including the Chime-bells and stone chimes were found from the Tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng State. It's regarded as an unprecedented discovery. Nearly 300 tombs of the Chu State have been dug out in Hubei. Tens of thousands of relics were excavated from these tombs. A lot of silks were excavated from the No.1 Mashan Chu Tomb. It's rare in the history of the world. It's hailed as the Silk Treasury of the Warring States Period. Thousands of lacquer wares were excavated from the tomb too. They are of extremely high artistic value. In 1973, the Site of Ancient Copper Smelter was found in Tonglu Mountain in Dazhi. The finding shows that China led the world in mining and smelting technique from the Warring States Period to the Western Han Dynasty.
Hubei Provincial Museum covers an area of more than 51,000 square meters. It has over 9,000 square meters of floor space. There are 170 staffs working in the museum. The museum collects, protects, and exhibits the cultural relics discovered in Hubei province. It has been an important archaeological excavation and research centers in Hubei province.
There are about 200,000 relics and materials collected in the Hubei Provincial Museum. The museum has not only abundant collects but also distinctive local feature. Among these collections, a fare number of them are rare treasures in china, such as, the bronze chime bell unearthed from the Tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng State, many bronzes, the Sword of King Goujian of the Yue State, the Spear of King Fuchai of the Wu State, the Jiangling Chu Bamboo Slip and the Yumeng Bamboo Slip. They are all well-known in the world. frOM

Dancing & Dumplings~Who Could Ask 4 Anything More?
Jiaozi (Dumpling) Feast is a kind of newly created well-known feast of local flavor on the basis of the traditional dumpling recipe. Jiaozi feast is made of the selected fine ingredients, inviting and unconventional in appearance with a great variety of fillings, which tastes delicately sweet and rich in nutrition. It is indeed a mixed combination of good-looking, good smelling and delicate good taste. Now Jiaozi feast has 180 varieties. There are several dozens of feasts, such as " Court Dumpling Feast", "Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea", "Dragon and Phoenix Feast" each of which has its own shape and a hundred dumplings have a hundred different tastes. frOM
The ribbon dance is a classical Chinese dance that dates back to the Tang dynasty in the early eighth century. It has been attributed to Emperor Tang-Ming-Hwon and his consort Yang-Gwei-Fei for their musical and dancing talent respectively.
Chinese legend has it that Emporor Tang-Ming-Hwon, who reigned from 713-755, once dreamed that he was in the moon palace with many fairies singing and dancing in multicolored cloud-like long robes. The dance with the flowing silk ribbons and accompanied by Chinese instruments-Erhu and Pipa is characterized by its refreshing and poetic mood. and i sea that some of those faeries made it back to New Mexico! frOM

We were dropped off late evening with little time (or light) to see this temple. However, we were in time to hear the evening drum call. So most of my time was spent below the window where the drummers were, just listening to the beauty of their sound.

The White Horse Temple (Baima Si) in Luoyang, Henan Province, was the first Buddhist temple in China, established by Emperor Mingdi in the year 68 AD. The historic, leafy site features several ancient buildings and a highly devotional atmosphere.
According to legend, the Eastern Han emperor Mingdi dreamed of a golden figure flying over his palace with the sun and moon behind its head. The emperor told his ministers about the dream, and they suggested the figure may be the Buddha in India.
A delegation was thus sent to India to learn more about Buddhism. After three years, the delegation returned with two eminent Indian Buddhit monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan (also spelled Kasyapamatanga and Dharmavanya or Moton and Chufarlan). The monks brought with them a white horse carrying a bundle of Buddhist sutras and figures.
The next year, the emperor ordered the construction of White Horse Temple to honor the arrival of Buddhism in China and the horse that carried back the sutras. It was China's first Buddhist temple. The introduction of Buddhism in China would have a significant influence not only in the religious sphere, but on Chinese morals, philosophy and ethics.
The first Chinese version of the Sutra of Forty-two Sections was produced at the White Horse Temple, and the temple increased in importance as Buddhism grew within China and spread to Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
In 258, a royal Kuchean monk, Po-Yen, translated six Buddhist texts into Chinese at the temple, including the important Infinite Life Sutra. In 1992, with the assistance of Thai and Chinese donors, the Hall of the Thai Buddha was constructed slightly west of the old temple. frOM

Longman Caves ~ Luoyang ~

Vairocana Buddha ~ Natural Rock ~ 50 ft. high

This is one place that i was definitely glad we were here in winter.
With the limestone cliffs and concrete and no shade, i could feel the heat of summer just thinking about it!

The Longmen Caves, inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage List in December 2000, is a Buddhist cave temple complex developed during the 5th-11th centuries C.E. (Current Era). Located south of Luoyang, Henan province. These caves were carved into the hills on either side of the Yihe River.

Based on the data provided by the Longmen Caves Research Institute, there are over 2,300 niches and caves, more than 100,000 carved sculptures, and more than 2,700 inscriptions on carved niches and caves.
Fengxian-si Vairocana (17m high) is a good representative of a Buddha image frOM the early Tang dynasty (7th century). Vairocana is one of the of the Five Celestial Buddhas. (Vairochana or Mahāvairocana; or 毘盧遮那佛 Chinese: Dàrì Rúlái or Piluzhenafo, Korean, "Birokana", Japanese: Dainichi Nyorai, 大日如来; Tibetan: rNam-par-snang mdzad; Mongolian: Teyin böged geyigülügci; Vietnamese: Đại Nhật Như Lai) The Buddha Vairocana is the guardian of the centre and is identified by the gesture of teaching or the 'Turning of the Wheel of Law' (dharmacakramudra). frOM

The columns of China! Everything seems to be elaborately and opulently decorated. Shades of Versailles. Although I find the decorative opulence of China far more appealing than that of Versailles, i can't help but wonder if the same extravegance by those in power fueled the revolution as it did in France. The top left and right photaes are from the charming 'Old Town' of Luoyang. Situated on the central plain of China, one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization, Luoyang was one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Situated in the west of Henan province, the start point of "the Silk Road", it is now chiefly an industrial and agricultural city.
The bottom left column is from the doorway of a temple in Beijing. The middle bottom is a gateway to the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs. The location of the rest of the photaes remains a mystery for now.

Guan Gong Temple ~ Luoyang

Guan Gong (Lord Guan): a reverent term of address for Guan Yu (160 - 219) later deified as Guandi (Kuantai). He had a huge frame, long beard, dark brown face and deep red lips. "He had eyes like a phoenix and fine bushy eyebrows like silkworms.

His whole appearance was dignified and awe-inspiring."

"Gong" means lord, an honorary title, while "Guan" is his surname.

Therefore Guan Gong means "Lord Guan". His actual name was Guan Yu. This is the name with which he began his military career.

He lived in the period of the Three Kingdoms, a time of civil strife and chivalry seventeen hundred years ago. Lord Guan is easily the most famous general from Chinese history. The virtues Guan Gong personifies are honor, loyalty, integrity, justice, courage, and strength. For the Chinese people, Lord Guan is the god of martial arts, wealth and literature. He is one of the most dominant deities of Chinese and Tibetan beliefs, honored in altars within homes, businesses and schools around the world. His deep impact upon kungfu is exemplified by the practice of Guan Dao. To outsiders, the Kwan Dao seems impractical and obsolete. Not only is it too heavy to be practical (although some might argue that this is kungfu weight training) it is useless for self-defense. But true Kwan Dao practitioners are after something far greater than the conventional benefits of health and self-defense. They are seeking "Wu De" (ÎäµÂ) - the kungfu warrior's code. Lord Guan is the epitome of a martial arts hero. Brave, powerful and honorable, he represents all that warriors hold true. Another name for this weapon is Spring-Autumn Halberd (Chunqiu Dadao). It bears this name because of the fact that General Guan Gong read the Spring-Autumn Annals when he wasn't fighting on the battle field. frOM

O I long for the time when the world was new
When the sun was warm and the skies were blue
And the waters clear and the forest vast
And men were true in the distant past ~Rick Allen

China's skies are so thick with pollution that the smokey prayers of their incense burners cannot reach the gods.

(Left) Kinda reminds mee of the standing stones of Ireland.
In Xian, the city wall has four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north.

Maybee these MysticCreatures can carry our prayers up above the smokey skies. (the swan & sun sky was shot in CoralLess, NM) The DuckBuck is frOM the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan.
Xi'an, anciently known as Chang'an (meaning "eternal peace"), is the capital of Shaanxi Province and the biggest city in the northwest of China. It boasts a mild climate, fertile soil, beautiful scenery, abundant products, and numerous historical relics and sites.
Xi'an has a long history. An old saying in China tells the unique position of this legendary city: "If you want to see China of 100 years ago, visit Shanghai; China of 500 years ago, Beijing; China of 2000 years ago, Xi'an." During its 3,100 years of development, 12 dynasties, including the Western Zhou (1046 BC-771 BC), Qin (221 BC-206 BC), Western Han (206 BC-25 AD), and Tang (618-907), made their capitals here for over 1,100 years, leaving abundant legacies to the city. During the Western Han and Tang dynasties, Xi'an was China's political, economic, cultural, and foreign exchange center, where people from all over the world lived in harmony. It was also the first stop on the Silk Road, linking up the oriental and western civilizations. The saying "In the east, there is Rome, in the west, Chang'an," best described the position of Xi'an at that time. Nowadays, Xi'an enjoys an equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as "one of the four major capitals of ancient civilization".
Xi'an boasts more than 4,000 historical sites, with over 120,000 pieces of unearthed cultural relics. There are 314 historical sites under protection, 84 of which are under provincial-level and national-level protection. Famous places of historical figures and cultural heritage include the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Banpo Village Remains, the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty, the Forest of Stone Steles Museum, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, Huaqing Pool, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Small Wild Goose Pagoda. The Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses is praised as "the eighth major miracle of the world". The Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is the first Chinese historical site listed on the World Heritage List. The Neolithic Banpo Village Remains (approximately 7000 BC to 5000 BC) evidences early human activities in a matriarchal society. The Forest of Stone Steles Museum holds 3,000 stone steles of different periods, from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
The natural landscape around Xi'an is also marvelous. Huashan Mountain, one of the five best-known mountains in China, is famous for its breath-taking cliffs and unique beauty. frOM

Suzhou is one of the most important cities on the Yangtze Delta. The city covers an area of 8488 square kilometers with the urban area covering 1650 square kilometers. Suzhou has a population of 5.9097 million with 2.1687 million people living in the downtown area.
Suzhou was the cradle of culture for Wu State in ancient China, and produced many capable people in literary circles. Examples are Lu Ji from the Western Jin Dynasty, the politician Fan Zhongyan and the poet Fan Chengda in Song Dynasty, the dramatist Feng Menglong in Ming Dynasty, Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming of "Wu Painting School", scholars of the Qing Dynasty and Gu Yanwu, Yu Yue and Zhang Taiyan in modern times.
Story-telling and ballad singing, Kun verse and the drama of Suzhou are referred to as the "Three Flowers of Suzhou Culture". Kun verse, with more than 400 years' of history, is the mother of Chinese drama and verse. Suzhou storytelling and ballad singing is a unique art with talking and singing performed in Suzhou dialect.
Suzhou embroidery together with embroidery of Hunan, Sichuan and Guangdong are called as the "Four Famous Embroideries". Suzhou tapestry method is done in fine silks and gold thread. Other art forms found in this area are sculpture, Song brocade, jade and rosewood carving.
Much of Suzhou's ancient city is built on a maze of canals. The streets and canals form an intricate web where the streets seem to lean on the river. Buildings are constructed along the water, with their front door facing the narrow streets lanes and backing onto the rivers. They form a unique style know locally as "little bridge, running water and the household".
The classical gardens in Suzhou originated in the Spring and Autumn Period (514 B.C.), developed in the Five Dynasties and maturated in Song Dynasty and became prosperous in Ming Dynasty. By the end of Qing Dynasty, there were more than 170 gardens in Suzhou. More that 60 places are conserved completely and 19 places are open to the tourists. Suzhou gardens are a comprehensive artwork composed of buildings, landscape, flowers and woods combining natural beauty and the beauty of the architecture. In December 1997 UNESCO added Zhuozhengyuan Garden, Liuyuan Garden, Wangshiyuan Garden and Huanxiushanzhuang to the "World Heritage List", as representatives of the ancient gardens in Suzhou. Suzhou gardens are generally have water at their center. While the gardens are quite small, the scenery changes with each step; the gardens usually have pink walls, black tiles and brown columns. The decoration includes rosewood furniture, paintings and the calligraphy from the famous artists.
The Lion Grove Garden was first built in the 2nd year of the reign of Zhizhen (1342 A.D.) by Chan Master Tianru, an eminent monk to commemorate his teacher, Chan Master Zhongfeng and named it "Bodhi Orthodox School Temple" which was renamed "the Lion Grove Garden" because many Taihu stones in the garden look like lions. Chan Master Zhongfeng lived in Lion Cave at Tianmu Mountain. This garden can be regarded as representative of the period in Jiangnan region. Covering an area of 1.152 square meters, the garden is famous for the exquisitely caved rockeries made of Taihu stones and known as "the kingdom of rockery".
It is also recalled "the eighteen scenic spots of the heaven" because of the exquisite lake rocks, circuitous pathways connecting the gates of the rockeries where visitors may feel they are entering into a maze. There are many grotesque rockeries, fairy stones in the shape of lions, such as—the Hanhui Rockery, the Tuyue Rockery, the Xuanyu Rockery, and the Angxia Rockery. The most famous is the Lion Rockery. Pavilions, halls, porches and attics are built at the front of a rockery and beside a pool. The Yanyu Hall is the main hall of the garden, spacious and grand. Other buildings like the Xiaofang Hall, the Pointing at Cypress Trees Hall, the Five Ancient Pine Garden, the Water Lily Hall, the Zhenqu Pavilion, the Liuxiangshuying Attics, the Asking Plum Pavilion and the Woyun House, originated from literary allusions, different in shape and contain infinite charm. More than sixty rare rubbings of famous calligraphers from the Song dynasty such as Sushi, Huang Tingjian, Mifu, and Cai Xiangare, have inscribions on the wall of the passageway. frOM

Known as the New York of China, Shanghai is a multi-cultural metropolis with both modern and traditional Chinese features. The city has a status equivalent to that of a province, and reports directly to the central government. Serving as the largest base of Chinese industrial technology, it is one of the most important seaports and China's largest commercial and financial center.
The city, whose name literally means "on the sea", is located on the East China coast just to the south of the mouth of the Yangtze River. Bordering on Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the west, Shanghai is washed by the East China Sea in the east and Hangzhou Bay in the south. Except for a few hills lying in the southwest corner, most parts of the Shanghai area are flat and belong to the alluvial plain of the Yangtze River Delta. The average elevation is about 4 meters above sea level.
Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in China. It has a permanent resident population of over 14.57 million, of which 12.21 million live in the urban areas. Shanghai population accounts for 1.1% of the Chinese population, with the average density of 2059 inhabitants per square kilometer (3854 in the urban areas). There is a huge floating population of itinerant workers, probably numbering about two million. frOM

and having come full circle frOM Beijing to Shanghai, it's time to say Zigien.