Friday, May 30, 2014

White Horse Temple

Maitreya statue at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

Here are a few pictures from the White Horse Temple in Luoyang. By tradition, this is the first Buddhist Temple in China. It was established in 68 A.D.

This is the Maitreya statue.

Incense burner  at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

Allegedly the emperor sent a few monks to the west (India) to learn more about Buddhism. They returned on a couple of white horses carrying scriptures and Buddha images.

Buddha sculptures  at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

This temple is where the Indian scriptures were translated into Chinese.

Buddha sculpture at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

At the time Luoyang was the capital of China.

More info here ---> Wikipedia - White Horse Temple

Here links to a few of the more recent posts if you missed any.
Longmen Grottoes
Bronze Age Culture - Sanxingdui

These trees are very old. They are wrapped in hemp rope to protect them from the masses.

Another Buddha figure.

Woman offering incense at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

This woman with offer the incense in all directions before placing it in the burner.

Click to enlarge.

Purple iris on the grounds at 白马寺 or White Horse Temple or Baimasi

I thought the iris are very pretty. It was somewhere on the grounds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Longmen Grottoes

Waitng area at Beijing West Railway Station

Theresa and Greg arrived the day after Ed and Nancy left. That weekend we took a high speed train to Luoyang.

Here is a shot of one of the waiting areas in the Beijing West Rail Station. This was a 16 car train that carries about 1300 passengers.

Grave mounds in Hebei Province in China

I took a few pictures out the window as we went along. This isn't as easy as it sounds. At 180 mph you don't have much time to frame the shot, focus and push the button.

The mounds of earth are graves.

These workers are planting something. A lot of polyethylene is used to manage moisture, weeds, ettc.

We passed this outdoor concrete sewer pipe factory.

High speed railway construction in China

At one point they were building a new rail line. I can't figure out exactly the sequence of operations to put the new sections of track support in place.

There are major infrastructure projects like this in progress all over China.

Vendor on rail station platform in China

At one of the stops I spotted this vendor on the platform.

After the train trip we had a short ride to the grottoes. This family was getting organized to take a group photo. The little girls were really cute in their fascinators.

Niches at Longmen Grottoes

Here is a look at some of the grottoes. These were carved over a long period from 493 AD to 1127 AD. The niches contain Buddha statues.

Niches and crowds at Longmen Grottoes

The Longmen Grottoes are one of the finest examples of Buddhist art in the world. They attract a lot of visitors.

Large Buddha carvings at Longmen Grottoes

There are about 1400 niches and over 100,000 Buddha carvings. The statues range in size from 1 inch to 57 feet.

Work on the statues in this area started in 672 and took about 4 years to complete.

Bodhisattva at Longmen Grottoes

The Bodhisattva is decorated with a crown and pearls.

Large Buddha carvings at Longmen Grottoes

You can get a better sense of scale in this picture. The Vairocana Buddha in the center is 57 feet tall.

Here is a shot of Greg, Theresa, Margot and me.

You can learn more here ---> Longmen Grottoes

This little girl wanted Greg's autograph. I assume she was looking for proof to show her English teacher that she had practiced her English with a native speaker. I have never had this experience in Beijing but this happened several times in Luoyang.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sanxingdui - Bronze Age Culture

Bronze mask at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

After our visit to the Pandas with Ed and Nancy we went to the Sanxingdui museum. This ancient Bronze Age culture was just discovered in 1986.

Sanxingdui bronze  mask at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

These bronze artifacts date back to the 16th century B.C. That makes them about 3700 years old!

Bronze tree at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

This is a sort of bronze tree.

Details of bronze tree at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

Here is a close up of one of the arms. The Sanxingdui artistic style was previously unknown in China and has forced scholars to rethink the history of China.

This is a bronze vessel of sorts.

Jade spear point at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

This is a jade dagger or spear point.

In 1926, a farmer digging a well found a cache of jade artifacts many of which ended up in collector's hands. Archaeologists searched for decades for additional items until a burial pit was found in 1986.

Many of these ceremonial figures have protruding eyes.

Bronze mask with protruding eyes at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

This figure is about 5 ft high. Some people think that the masks suggest eye worship.

This is the back side of the mask above. Casting items this size is pretty impressive technology for the time.

Tall figure at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

This figure is quite tall. It is believed that it held an ivory tusk.

Some sort of animal hat?

Click on this picture to get a better look at the detail.

Some historians consider the Sanxingdui discovery more important than the Terracotta Warriors.

Click to enlarge for details.

Earthenware  at Sanxingdui Museum in Chengdu, China

The first burial pit had a large amount of earthen ware. Much of it was damaged, perhaps ceremonially, when buried.

This is a pitcher and bottles.

Here is more info from Wikipedia --> Sanxingdui

Here are links our other Chengdu adventures in case you missed any.

Leshan Giant Buddha
Culture Show and Chairman Mao
Panda Research and Breeding Center

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finally - Pandas!

Mother and baby panda in Chengdu

On our second day in Chengdu we visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. I think it rolls off the tongue a little better in Chinese. Regardless, enjoy a few minutes of unrelenting cuteness.

I'm not sure how many pandas are at the base but it is quite a few. The facilities are very nice. It almost seems like Disney consulted on the layout, transportation, facilities, etc.
Giant Panda eating bamboo at Chengdu Breeding Base

Mostly, the adults eat bamboo.

More or less all they do is eat, ...

Giant Panda sleeping in Chengdu Panda Research Base

sleep, ...

Giant Pand defecating at Chengdu Panda Research Base

and did you know that chlorophyll is not very biodegradable?

Everyone wants to get their picture taken with the exotic wildlife.

You never know when you will see another panda.

It is a two-fer for this young woman.

The crowd was really engaged in the panda activities.

Red Panda

They also have some red pandas there but they don't attract the crowds.
Giant Panda at Chengdu Research Base

This guy was taking a stroll around his domain.

Black swan at Chengdu Panda Research Base

There were a few black swans in the pond at the center of the park.

And a bunch of well fed koi. It was quite the feeding frenzy when someone dropped in a handful of food.

Iris flowers

The irises were very pretty. Looks like the same species that I posted last week, just a different color.

Click to enlarge.

I think Margot said these are poppies.