Day By Day

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

China Diary -- Part 38 Suzhou

After a long bus ride we arrived in Suzhou in the Yangtze delta, a center of China's silk industry and one of the most prosperous regions in the country. Our first stop was at Pan Men, the old city gate, constructed in the sixth century BC. From the top it gave us a nice view of the city's rooftops, but more impressive to me were the lovely surroundings in which it was situated.

Then after lunch we headed off through the streets of the city to visit the Museum of Chinese Opera and Theater. Suzhou is the home of the "Kunqu" (Songs of Kun), a style that was the dominant form of Chinese opera during the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth centuries. Here we are in the central courtyard of the school. As I took this shot I could hear a spirited discussion going on behind me. The guide told me that several of the old opera performers were meeting to discuss an upcoming production. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but from the tone of their voices I gathered that there was considerable disagreement.

This, I believe, is a statue of Gu Jian, a local musician who adapted the dramatic forms of South China with the musical conventions of Central China. He is considered to be the father of the Kun school of opera

Then it was back out into the streets heading for our next stop -- one of the famous gardens of Suzhou.