Asian

Visiting Gongyi Grottos

Gongyi Grottos – one of 4 Famous grottos in China.  These are places where loyal monks have carefully carved out thousands and millions of buddhas and religious statues into the walls of nearby caves over CENTURIES! An amazing, awe-inspiring sight! Well worth the trip!  Thanks to the #Henan Provincial Government Tourism Bureau for sponsoring us. It was a great day!

Finding #Love over the Magpie Bridge

Xiān yún nòng qiăo, fēi xīng chuán hèn, yín hàn tiáo tiáo àn dù
Jīn fēng yù lù yì xiāng féng, biàn shèng què rén jiān wú shù
Róu qíng sì shuĭ,  jiā qī rú mèng, rĕn gù què qiáo guī lù
Liăng qíng ruò shì jiŭ cháng shí, yòu qĭ zài zhāo zhāo mù mù

As Clouds float like works of art; 
Stars shoot with grief at heart.
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.

When autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.

Their tender love flows like a stream; 
This happy date seems but a dream.
Can they bear a separate homeward way?

If love between both sides can last for aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?
(Translated by Xu Yuanchong)

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In a magical world in a century so long ago it has faded into dream and myth, there lived a tragic, poor, lonely man named Niu Lang. Most of his family had all died several years before, and those who remained had thrown him out on the street. So to stay alive, he found a small job taking care of some cows.  

Image result for handsome ancient Chinese boy painting

Imagine his surprise when he found out that one of those cows was something special. It actually had once belonged to the God of the Heavens, and it could talk to Niu Lang! They had some lovely conversations, and the cow came to like Niu Lang.Because although he was poor and his life was not good, his heart was still rather cheerful and he had a knack for finding joy in even the difficult times.  So the cow decided to give Niu Lang a little bit of advice. (more…)

Discovery of the World’s Oldest Tea

Archaeologists have discovered a huge stash of the oldest tea in the world buried in the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor. The tea (pictured right) was badly decomposed, but analysis showed only the finest tips (bottom left) had been picked and buried with the emperor. Similar tea was found in a tomb in Tibet (top left) Archaeologists have uncovered the world’s oldest set of tea leaves from the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor! 

 Living 2,150 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Jing was a major fan of the delicious drink.  Like all the rest of us tea lovers, Emperor Jing understood the power of the tea leaf and its healing/renewing abilities.  

The collection of tea leaves was 42 feet x 8 inches. That is a major tea haul! If you ever tried drinking tea from leaves rather than a lipton bag, you’ll know that it only takes a small amount to go a long way. This amount probably lasted him a long while in the afterworld!  

This particular type of tea, Camellia Sinesis, comes from a type of small evergreen shrub known as a tea tree. The leaves and buds of the tree are used to create a special, expensive green tea.  There are actually two varieties of the tree–one is used to create the Chinese teas (such as White Tea, Oolong, Pu’er, Green Tea, etc.) and the other is used to create Indian Assam teas. The leaves of the tree have long been applied in Chinese traditional medications and as a caffeine provider.  I’m guessing it was pretty easy to bring the emperor over as a tea supporter 🙂

The tomb was located in Xi’an, China. Xi’an is now world-famous due to the discovery of the Terra Cotta army buried under the local hills and is only about an 8 hour drive from where I live!  I’m really excited; maybe I could see this tea pile 🙂 Emperor Jing’s tomb contained “50,000” terra cotta animals and statues, along with other great treasures.

The extra amazing thing about the tea beyond its age is the fact that it is some of the earliest proof that researchers have about the Silk Road.  It is believed that the emperor may have traded his tea with Tibet where similar tea remains were found dating not long after.  This shows the the Silk Road probably moved thorugh Tibet at the time.  

Resources:

  1. Daily Mail
  2. Medicine.Net
  3. Wikipedia (Don’t Shoot Me)

Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings

“Gates of the Lord:

The Tradition of Krishna Paintings”

Who:  

Art Institute of Chicago

When: Sept. 13, 2015 – January 3, 2016 (Hours Vary)

Where: 

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 

More Information: Here.

This fall, the Art Institute of Chicago offers a glimpse into one of the world’s most intimate religious traditions. Bringing together over 100 artworks from private and public collections in India and the United States, Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings is the first major U.S. exhibition to explore the unique visual culture of the Pushtimarg, a Hindu denomination from Western India.

Founded in the 16th century by the saint and philosopher Shri Vallabhacharya (1479–1531), the Pushtimarg is a religious community dedicated to the devotion of Shrinathji, a divine image of the Hindu god Krishna as a seven-year-old child. The religious and artistic center of the sect is based in the temple town of Nathdwara (literally, “The Gates of the Lord”), near Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan, India. Scholars and artists have long been fascinated by the distinctive and highly aestheticized manner in which members of this group venerate Shrinathji, as well as by the legacy of miniature paintings created as a record of such worship. This exhibition showcases centuries ofpichvais (textile hangings) and miniature paintings that have been created by and for the Pushtimarg in devotion of Shrinathji.

The exhibition takes visitors through a year in Nathdwara, where the daily worship of Shrinathji is characterized by the changing seasons and a bustling festival calendar. Gallery by gallery, visitors are introduced to the pichvais used as backdrops for Shrinathji in his shrine, each uniquely suited to a particular season or festival. The accompanying miniature paintings offer further insight into the Pushtimarg sect: its mode of veneration, history, and important priests and patron families. Enhancing the experience of the sect’s rich culture are festival and devotional music, a shrine reconstruction, and touchscreen kiosks that allow visitors to page through religious manuscripts, an artist’s sketchbook, and a historic photo album. The exhibition concludes with an exploration of the works, sketches, and observations of prominent 20th- and 21st-century Nathdwara artists who have kept the painting tradition flourishing through the present day.

Gates of the Lord comprises drawings, pichvais, paintings, and historic photographs borrowed chiefly from two major private collections in India, the Amit Ambalal Collection (Ahmedabad, India) and the TAPI Collection (Surat, India). These rare loans are augmented by important objects from a number of public and private collections within the United States, including the Art Institute’s own permanent collection, in order to present the richest possible story of Pushtimarg art and tradition.

Sponsors
Lead Sponsorship for Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings has been provided by Nita and Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance Foundation.”

Khon Masked Dance – Thailand