Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Travellin' Man ... the last 2 months

Round and round I went mid August to mid October, 2016

Vancouver, Canada - Chen's Tai Chi training 35 days straight, Rachel and grandkids visit
Beijing, China (Talk @ Beijing Children's Hospital) - Forbidden City, Great Wall, National Museum
Dunhuang, China - Mogao Caves @ on Silk Road on edge of Gobi Desert
Guazhou, China - Yulin Caves several hours away
Xian, China - Terra Cotta army, Beilin Temple
Shanghai, China - heights. Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden, M50 Gallery enclave
San Francisco (ANMS Talk) - SFMOMA
Chicago (APAMSA Welcome, Panel)
Montreal, Canada (WCPGHAN Moderating, Teri Li Awards – 2) - bicycling on the waterfront
Mendham - Jack & Naomi’s bouncy house birthday 
Philadelphia (Talk @ Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

New York City - Noguchi Museum, Whitney Museum, walk Highline

I completed a full circle, and a highlight of my life, reaching Dunhuang in the far west of China. 

From 400 - 1400 AD, Dunhuang stood as the important oasis outpost on the Silk Road before it crossed into the desert to reach the Middle East.  After a 1000 years of continuous occupancy into the Yuan (mongol) Dynasty, Dunhuang was lost to civilization until 1902 when it was rediscovered by the West and raided.  Some30,000 documents were purchased for a few hundred dollars and removed to London (British Museum), Paris (Guimet) and Boston (Harvard Museum).  Art history can be deceitful and thrilling.  

It was personal.  My part time job as a Princeton undergraduate was to mount thousands of black and white picture of these Dunhuang caves taken by James and Lucy Lo in 1943-44 - for 30 years the best photographs outside of China.  As an 18 year old, although I recognized their beauty, I didn't appreciate how important and unique they were.  To view them in person now was a completion of a 50 year cycle.

It was familial.  My father always wanted to go and made it there in 1979 (but didn't get to see the caves that year when they first opened) and did see them in 1987.  It was the highlight of his travels. The curators there remembered my father visiting 30 years ago.

It was 'professional'.  All Chinese art historians desire to visit Dunhuang, the equivalent of mecca, Florence and indeed each cave is painted in Buddhist themes - Sistine-like universes with a plethora of flying apsaras, merciful Boddhisatvas and stately Buddhas in two and three dimensions covering every wall and ceiling. Revealed by flashlight alone, each dazzled.

Our professor/docent from Princeton Dora provided numerous insights that revealed the complex interweaving of folk, Chinese, Tibetan, Indian and Middle Eastern iconography over 1000 years of continuous development.  Because of her unique relationship (she is publishing a 7 volume work on the Dunhuang photographs I mounted) to the Dunhuang Academy, Dora was able to gain entry for us into special caves not seen by other groups! 

Remarkable journey, on so many levels.

I wish I could show you pictures of the insides ... you'll have to google.  Especially the blue water-moon Boddhisattva from Yulin Cave 003.

Forbidden City ... despite thousands of tourists

Throne for the Emperor (of Emesis of course)

Temple of Heaven - a direct line to the above

Ascending and sweating on the Great Wall

The Grrrrrrrrreat Wall - marathon anyone (for real)?

Dunhuang (Mogao) astonishing Buddhist cave paintings 400-1400 AD

Nine story Buddha - imagine - no pictures allowed

The desert (Gobi) Sphinx

The western end of the Great Wall

Yulin Caves - magnificent Buddhist cave paintings and sculptures

Terra Cotta army (8,000) for 1st emperor's tomb in Xian - all unique faces

720,000 conscripts worked on the tomb for 40 years

Exquisite horse

The General

The archer

Muslim night market in Xian - grilling goat, juicy dumplings

Xian Bell Tower ... Las Vegas style

Tallest building in China - Pudong, Shanghai

Shanghai proper from the 100th floor after a rainstorm

Old town (modern fascimile)

Yu Garden - the dragon serpentine wall