Dr. Lomino in China: March 7
MARCH 7: More Guangzhou History
Jecky took me to visit one of the old Buddhist temples and then the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum located in the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. The temple is a peaceful oasis in this busy city. The minute we enter the courtyard, a serene atmosphere envelops us. All the senses are engaged here. I hear a haunting chant accompanied by bells, along with birdsong and quiet conversations among the visitors. Incense sweetens the air and deep reds and golds beckon worshippers inside the multiple buildings dedicated to Buddha, including the reclining Buddha and the Laughing Buddha. It is late morning when we arrive and after strolling the grounds, reading the various historic plaques and just enjoying the scene, we see a crowd of people gathered at the kitchen area. Jecky asks if I’d like to eat, and knowing that it will be a vegetarian meal, I agree. The food is very good—rice with mushrooms, cabbage and carrots and other various vegetables. I enjoy it to the last chopstick-ful!
A short distance from the temple is the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. This very large dwelling was built in 1888 during the Guangxu reign. It is the largest Lingnan architecture still standing in Guangzhou and one of the few historic buildings left. This is a sad fact. The building itself is a work of art covered with sculptures in wood, brick, stone and pottery. Many of the rooms have been restored and several have been converted into the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum. There are collections of fabulous wood, stone and ivory carvings and paintings on porcelain and silk. I was in awe of the intricate carvings. At the end of our tour, we visit several of the museum gift shops where I purchase a number of gifts to take home.
At our last shop we watch an artist paint scenic pictures with just his fingers. This was finger-painting like I had never seen before! They were beautiful, and of course I had to buy several.
Today’s Insight: Guangzhou, like so many other cities worldwide, is razing its historic treasures to make way for higher and higher skyscrapers. I’m grateful for those far-sighted individuals who work to preserve what is left of this city’s thousands of years of history.