Monday, December 31, 2018

Last sunrise of 2018 In Apache Junction, Arizona. #sunrise_sunset_photogroup #sunrise #apachejunction #landscapephotography #desertsouthwest #madisonphotographymeetup #landscape_lover

Monday, December 03, 2018

Old pit loom weaver, Rajasthan

This old man demonstrated weaving in a pit loom, which was located in his home in a village outside of Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India). In addition to demonstrating the weaving process, he also showed me a tree where he got his brilliant pink dye. A couple of years later when I revisited his village, I heard he had passed away. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Di Shu, Water Calligraphy in the Park

In several spots within Xingqing Park, I spotted some people, mostly elderly gentlemen, doing a curious form of painting. At the end of a metal rod was a flexible piece of foam shaped to a point, just like a paintbrush. With a dip of the foam brush into water from a cutoff bottle, the man begins his temporary art form. Known as Di Shu, which means writing on the ground/Earth, this art form has gained in popularity since the 1990's, spreading to parks all over China.

The process seemed to be several things at once –meditation, exercise, art, literature, and conversation.  For some, it is a way to celebrate brush calligraphy in an era where most writing occurs on a keyboard. At times, the man was in his own little world. At other times, he engaged with onlookers. After a short discussion, he went back to adding more characters. After a short while, the once glistening characters would have faded, evaporating to invisibility. This reminds me of another beautiful temporary art form of south India - the kolam. Interestingly enough, I didn't see any of the Di Shu calligraphy artists photographing their writing. This further contrasts it with ink calligraphy, which prides itself with long-life. 

Would you expend energy making such impermanent art?

For more information on Di Shu water calligraphy, check out this and this article.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Xingqing Park - with a swoop of a brush

A plethora of activities occurred in all parts of Xingqing park. Two of my favorites included the use of a brush.
In one part of the park, people gathered around a man doing traditional Chinese brush painting. The man worked with confidence as he laid down broad brushstrokes without the aid of an initial drawing. It was quite obvious that he had painted many such horses before.
After his energetic horse was painted, he wrote vertical columns of calligraphy in the space above, also with black ink. Folowing that, he pressed several signature chops into red ink pads.
The artist with his completed horse ink brush painting. Notice the ink, brushes, and stamp pads in the lower portion of the photo. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dancing with the Uyghurs

While strolling through Xingqing Park in Xi'an, I came across these Uyghur ladies. The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority ethnic group found mostly in northern China and the Hunan province. Attracted to their colorful costume, I inquired (by gesture) a request to photograph them. Immediately they grabbed me, signaling that I was to be in the photo with them. Soon a bunch of photos were being taken from multiple cell phones. 
After my photo session was over, I managed to snap a few photos of the dancers before they went off to practice. 

I stayed for a few minutes, enjoying their dancing amidst the autumnal setting.
Nearby, a few couples were also dancing. The sheer joy on this man's face made me smile. Have fun dancing!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

A Stroll along Xingqing Lake

This weekend, I went to Xingqingong Park in Xi'an to see the autumn colors there. This park, the largest public park in Xi'an, is built on the site of the Xingqing Palace of the Tang Dynasty (616-907 AD). Walking through a traditional-style gate, we took a path leading to the main lake. Although it was overcast and hazy, the autumnal colors reflected nicely on the water's surface. Several traditional-style buildings peeked in between tall willow trees.
Traditional-style buildings along Xingqing Lake
Although it was fairly early in the morning, the park was already alive with people. Many others chose to take the path circumnavigating the lake.

Colorful boats, some styled with childhood characters, were parked along the shore. I can imagine that the lake would be dotted with them in the warmer weather.
In the distance, skyscrapers from a modern Xi'an contrasted sharply with the elegant traditional park structures.
Now that I've found this park, I am eager to return to it in the different seasons. It reminds me of my walks around the beautiful pond at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hanyangling Terracotta Figures

This past Friday, I and a few other teachers were invited to attend an event at the Hanyangling Museum. A van picked us up directly from our school (which is located a fair distance south of Xi'an and took us to the museum which is located about 20 km north of the city and quite close to the airport.  Upon entering the complex, I immediately saw two large grass-covered mounds which were royal burial sites. The larger tomb belonged to Emperor Jin, who ruled the Western Han Dynasty from 180 BC-141 BC, and Empress Wang. Construction of the tomb began in 153 BC and ended in 146 BC.
Covering an area of 10 square km, the site also includes 86 burial pits, a ceremonial site, human sacrifice graveyard, and a cemetery for criminals. To reach the exhibition space of the museum, we descended in an underground tunnel; this is the first underground museum in China.
In general, the museum was rather dark. I wasn't sure whether this was due to its after-hours status or if it was typically this dark, perhaps to minimize the effects of light on the artifacts. Through the glass, visitors could see the burial pits which were still being excavated. In addition, some of the walkways had glass sections, enabling visitors to see items directly below.
Items just below the walkway, including horses, chariots, and figures
Some pits contained more pottery items and fragments of textiles. Others were full of naked ceramic figurines. Although they were about 1/10 life-size, their bodies included anatomical details and the faces were expressive. A few even had some remnants of paint, but most of the coloration had vanished years ago or when exposed to air. The wooden arms had long since rotted and the exquisite costumes deteriorated. In total, over 50,000 figurines were made to depict the royal court, a number that even exceeds that of the more famous Terracotta Warriors. Both male and female figures are represented, including female warriors, servants, eunuchs, singers, and dancers.
Figures with genitalia

In some pits, the figurines were vertical, as if ready to march. In others, the present arrangement reminded me of the parting of the sea or perhaps violent bowling. Broken fragments indicated visitors of the fragile nature of the sculptures and the amount of work needed to restore the artifacts. 
Entire herds of domesticated animals were also formed out of clay. Bones from animals were also seen. 
Further on in the museum were restored displays that attempted to give visitors an idea of how things originally looked. 
Restored display
Bells, weapons, articles of everyday use, and jade were also on display. Of interest, tea was also discovered, showing that tea was consumed even at this early date.

Life-size horses and chariots
Clothes similar to what the figures would have worn

Figures with and without clothing
Figures with expressive arms and one still encrusted
We had to move rather quickly through the museum in order to return in time for the cultural performance and speeches being held outdoors for the event. I think it would be fascinating to return during the day when actual excavation is occurring and to also see more of the expansive site. Although it receives far fewer visitors than its famous big brother, the Hanyangling Museum is quite remarkable. In fact, it is considered the most intact royal mausoleum of the Western Han Dynasty, giving excellent research data for the burial customs of the day. It is a testament to the remarkable lengths the emperors took to ensure they were ready to rule in the parallel world of the afterlife.

Wild Goose Pagoda in autumn #autumn #unescoworldheritage #through_the_travel_lens #igworld_global #unesco #buddhism #xian #pagoda #chinatravel #chinagram

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Artwork: Burnished Bronze and Faded Wood, Bongeunsa

My latest artwork, a color pencil drawing of a Buddhist temple door in Seoul, South Korea.

Burnished Bronze and Faded Wood, Bongeunsa
Color Pencil. Seoul, South Korea
©2018 Melissa Enderle

See more of my artwork on Facebook or my website.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Walk on the Xi'an City Wall - Part II

From the height of the Xi'an City Wall, I had a fairly good view of the surrounding area. Outside of the wall were quite a few skyscrapers and modern buildings. Contained within the wall were buildings typically of an older era and generally shorter. Some were rather dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. Others had received some renovation but still retained an older look.
Some of the buildings just inside the south wall were hostels. A sign here indicated that this building was the site of the Honglu Guesthouse, built during the Tang Dynasty to accommodate foreign guests and ethnic envoys. How interesting that the area has retained its original function! 

I liked how some of the newer buildings reflected aspects of the traditional architecture.

Buildings as seen from the North Wall.

Within the Northwest corner of the city is the Guangren Llama Temple. It was built in 1703 as a Palace Hotel for Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas on their way to pay homage in Capitol. It is the only Tibetan Buddhist temple within the Shaanxi province and the only worship temple for the Green Tara. The bronze roof of the Golden Worship Hall glistened in the late afternoon sunlight.

Guangren Llama Temple