Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yu Garden (4/16/2011)

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Another gray day, but at least there is no rain.
Our walk today took us through the Book Market. Used books, new books, magazines, some English titles...
This area also has publishing houses, and it is appropriate that they are in the shadow of the Confucian Temple, where learning is of utmost importance.
Before we reached the temple, we passed a "pet" shop, with chicks and bunnies.
First sighting of the temple, the Kui Shing Pagoda:
Built in 1730 to honor the god of study and literature, it was restored in 1855 and survived the Cultural Revolution.
The entry gate for the Wenmiao Confucian Temple:
We were met in the entry courtyard by a young woman who said she was a volunteer guide. She led us through another gate into the area of worship, explaining that this temple was first established in 1294 to venerate Confucius and study Confucian texts.
The temple actually moved several times before ending up in this location in 1855. During the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864), the pro-Taiping Small Sword Society leader made his headquarters here. Red Guards destroyed most of the temple during the Cultural Revolution, but it was rebuilt in 1999 in time for the 2,550th birthday celebration of Confucius. This is the only temple dedicated to the worship and study of Confucius in Shanghai.
Prayer boards tied to the tree branches:
Da Cheng Bell rung on New Year's:
Statue of Confucius in front of Da Cheng Hall:
Confucius is typically depicted with his hands raised in greeting, the left hand holding the right. He also carries a sword as a symbol of his office as governor. Not only was he a Great Teacher, but a Great Leader as well. Three interior walls of Da Cheng Hall were covered with gray stone tablets engraved with all his teachings. Our guide quoted one: "Confucius says, learning without thinking is useless; thinking without learning is dangerous."
The next courtyard contained a large piece of petrified wood:
and other Chinese scholar stones:
These are interestingly-shaped stones found in nature, or carved and dropped in water to erode until it looked natural. The bases were carved for each individual stone:
Another scholar stone:
We passed through a classroom, where students kneel at low tables while the teacher sits in a chair at a desk on a low platform.
Then we stepped out by a reflecting pool:
A mini lotus pond:
A type of Chinese scholar stone is a Lingbu stone from the Lingbi County of Anhui Province:
This one is said to resemble a dragon's head.
We entered a former classroom which now houses a museum of about 400 teapots, donated by a Chinese-American, Chen Yiyao. There was such a variety of exquisite teapots.
Our next stop was the souvenir shop, where they asked our Chinese zodiac sign in hopes of selling a small jade carving of our particular animal. This shop had some wonderful items, donated by benefactors, so that 70% of the sales would go to the students. No shopping today.
Our guide continued the tour, taking us through the garden with the Kui Shing Pagoda:
There was a 300-year old bonsai tree:
Note the hole in the trunk.
Outside the temple, the pair of lions face outward to ward off evil spirits. But inside the temple, they face each other to keep valuables inside:
These lions were carved with a ball in their mouths, in such a way that you cannot remove the ball, thus your fortune is safe:
Our next stop was the Xiaotaoyuan Mosque, with unique street lights:
This mosque is for Chinese Muslims.
There was a separate mosque for the women:
A park had an abacus theme:
Note bars with beads in the low walls and as the spokes in the fountain.
Our walk took us past the Sun Wonderland apartment complex:
And a Mr. Bean Coffee Shop:
Back in the Yu Yuan Bazaar, a long line waits for take-out steamed dumplings:
We opted to dine in the restaurant, where there was also a long line (long lines means it's very good!):
In the three plates above, from left to right: gooey rice wrapped in leaves, steamed buns with veggies, deep-fried shrimp balls, triangle spring rolls, curried crescent puffs, and red bean paste cookies.
We also had soup with egg, and 6 pork steamed buns each, with hot tea. The pork buns come in the wooden steamer baskets:
The "bun" is like a wonton wrap.
The Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant:
The Huxinting Teahouse with the zigzag Nine-turn Bridge:
Four turns on one side, a turn at the teahouse, then four turns on the other side:
Our destination for today: Yu Yuan or Gardens of Peace and Health:
Look at all that detail!
The garden was built in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, the highest government official from the Sichuan Province, so that his parents could enjoy happiness and tranquility in their old age. But the garden declined as the family fortune declined. In 1760, merchants purchased the property and restored the buildings to be used for their guilds. The area was heavily destroyed during the Opium War, and was not rebuilt until 1956. The garden was opened to the public in 1961.
The typical lantern for southern China:
The typical lantern for northern China is round, as seen on Sansui/Three Corn Ears Hall:
Note pruned tree.
A rooftop sculpture on Sansui Hall:
As far as gardens go, this one was not full of flowers. Buit here are azaleas in bloom:
Tamiko at the entrance to a covered corridor:
Unique archway:
Roofline corner with animal carvings:
Another archway:
One of the famous sites in the garden is the Grand Rockery or Yellow Rockery:
It is thought to be designed by Zhang Nanyan, the greatest rockery builder of the Ming Dynasty. It is made from 2,000 tons of rare yellow stones that have been fused together with rice glue to evoke the mountains, caves and gorges of southern China. Rising 14m/46 feet, it was the highest point in Shanghai at the time. Now closed to the public due to deterioration, it is the oldest and largest rockery south of the Changjiang/Yangtze River.
Yangshan/Hall for Mountain Viewing looks over the rockery:
A coin mosaic on tyhe walkway:
Standing on the coin mosaic will bring good fortune!
A detail of the Relaxation Stone Boat Hall:
You are supposed to feel like you are on a boat in this hall:
A dragon wall and small rockery with a Japanese maple and peonies:
This dragon has four toes, befitting a noble family, and not to incur the wrath of the imperial family whose dragons have five toes:
We were directed to a tea tasting, but soon discovered they were just trying to sell the stuff, such as the tea that would be good for someone like me to get rid of the wrinkles...
We climbed this rockery mountain to peek outside the walls of the garden:
Okay, now we get it - the dragon has an undulating tail!
Hexu Hall contains Qing Dynasty furniture made from the roots of a banyan tree:
A root sculpture of  unicorn:
More dragon walls and rooftop sculptures on Laojun Temple:
Dueling dragons:
Another zigzag bridge, the Jade Water Corridor:
Looking back at Laojun Temple:
Green-glazed balusters:
See the coins?
Chinese wisteria:
The last zigzag bridge for the day:
Feeding the koi:
View from Yule/Happy Fish Pavilion or Pavilion for Viewing Frolicking Fish:
Sorry about the gray pictures!

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