10/27/13

funny artistry ashtanga

practicing with my yoga partner/student can get funny at times because we live together.
i normally prepare breakfast afterwards, but R. dominated the kitchen today. the first dish was an artistic surprise. i would like to think yoga inspired the artistry.
there was lunch an dinner also.
my normal breakfasts usually include porridge, vegetables, eggs, pickles, nuts and fruit.

am i limiting my student by only teaching vinyasa krama as an introduction to yoga? it's my current daily practice. but i think at least once weekly i should lead an ashtanga primary, as a good foundation. if so, i will need a poster in case i forget the sequence.

10/24/13

sunsets same view

Shanghai sunsets, same view, from october 2011 to february, 2012

strong carved Traviata

another strong practice today with focus on bow sequence of VK. my weight has stabilized again. carved brick sculptures on the roof of the Chan Family Ancestral Hall in Guanzhou. 
the weather has turned cold. so we're adding on clothes while practicing. costume for La Traviata, backstage at Guangzhou Opera.

10/23/13

Pho Real district

Pho Real Vietnamese restaurant in Shanghai
I stumbled upon while wondering about Changning district.

10/22/13

regular student grouchy

back to regular morning yoga practice with my student.
it makes the body feel better and the mood not get grouchy. yesterday we only had time to meditate a half hour and i was grouchy all day. i was unable to come to standing when assisted in upward bow, behaving like a sack of potatoes. artwork from the Chan Ancestral Hall in Guangzhou.

10/21/13

tour opera technology

on saturday we joined the HK chapter of the American Institute of Architects on a tour of several significant new buildings in Guangzhou. we toured Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera. i wanted to see this building ever since having toured the factory that made the GFRG panels of the curving interior walls, Egrow. i wrote about it here.
we toured the exterior, interior and backstage.
we also visited the Guangzhou Museum of Art by Rocco Designs Architect, designed like a Chinese box suspended on a large truss. it has a giant cantilever on the entrance level.
the interior is equally dynamic. the two buildings are in a cultural area in the new CBD area, flanked by super tall buildings.
next we toured a new mall, which i will write about at another time.
the next day, on our own, we went to see the new Guangzhou Railway Station, by Terry Farrel. it seems as if the entire building is based on bridge technology, allowing for enormous expanses.

10/16/13

Dunhuang Caves, or Mogao Grottoes


During our Xinghai Lake trip, we visited the Dunhuang Caves in Gansu province, also known as Mogao Grottoes. this is a world heritage site, a place of Buddhist art, and similar to the Longman and Yunkang caves, significant sites along the ancient Silk Road.

We arrived in Dunhuang by overnight train from Lanzhou. The new train station is designed in Tibetan style.

Arriving at the site, we could glimpse numerous caves in the distance.

The first visit was to a museum that explains about the history and preservation of the site. It was funded in part by the Japanese government. I had learned of similar caves in Bill Porter's book, Zen Baggage, which traces how Buddhism spread in ancient China.

Around 446 the emperors in China where Toba, a Turkish tribe. they encouraged Buddhism, and looked at themselves as living Buddhas in order to control people. at the time, people living in the monasteries were exempt from taxation. This angered emperor T'ai-wu, who persecutted the monks, forcing them to lay life. His grandson Wen-cheng reversed this trend and started a program of building caves with giant Buddhas. At Yunkang caves, since the imperial family was funding the construction, they placed the faces of the Toba emperors on the faces of the Buddhas. The purpose was control, not just devotion. At that site, forty thousand workers took part, coming from India and Persia.

Plan and elevation of the main Dunhuang cave areas, located along the sandstone cliffs.
The central cave has an entrance covered with many porticoes. Inside is a cave with the largest Buddha statue within the complex. One enters each cave through a portico, leading to huge chambers carved out of rock. the size of the Buddha is about 50 feet in height and can only be viewed by looking upwards.

The porticoes where undergoing renovation. here is a glimpse of the top portion, already completed renovation. 

Plans and section of the various caves.

Most of the work on these caves was done before the Tang dynasty. Bill Porter offers the opinion that these were not about art for art's sake, but about inspiring submission to authority, as one would have been awed by the sight of the giant statues.

During the Qing dynasty about 300 years ago, some of the sculptures received straw and mud, rendering the surface smooth. They were then painted. When we saw them, they looked freshly painted, but in reality the work was done many years before. The current restoration work seems to focus on repairing mold damage.
Our guide spoke perfect English. but our tour was in Chinese. I would have had to leave my group and join a group of foreigners for the English tour. He explained that no pictures where allowed inside the caves mainly because flash damages the artwork and tourists are not disciplined enough to turn off the flash features on their cameras. The pictures of statues in this post are from postcards.
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Monks who lived here used the site to illustrate the life of the Buddha.

This is the cave called the library. It contained a massive amount of scrolls from ancient scripts about Buddhism and Coptic Christianity. Currently these are in museums in Beijing and elsewhere in the world.

vegetation around the site.

this post was created with a combination of my photos, postcards, and illustrations found in signs on site.
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