Day By Day

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Return to China -- Part 9, The Temple of Heaven

Our next stop was at the "Temple of Heaven" -- the "most sacred" of the Imperial temples, or so we were told. It's a major tourist attraction these days. The day was hot so the group clustered in the shade to hear what our guide had to say about the place.

Here's the temple itself, where the Emperor would come each year at the winter solstice to pray for a good harvest. In the Ming period the ceremonies also came to include the worship of the Emperor's ancestors.

I had been here before and didn't want to replicate pictures I had taken two years earlier, so I allowed myself and my camera to be distracted by all sorts of things.

A bricked-up window.

Or a closeup of a tree trunk.

Or an amusement park in the distance,

Or drain spouts shaped like dragon heads.

Or the symmetry of the temple,

Or kites over the skyline.

Or this lovely old tree.

Outside the temple complex was a small urban park where local residents gathered. Last time we were here several elderly women were being instructed in an Indian dance style. This time, both men and women were being led in a dance to martial music.

The martial tone of the music seemed a bit creepy to me. It sounded and looked like an exercise in totalitarian culture, but that was just a personal reaction. The participants seemed to be enjoying themselves -- but then, too, so did the young men featured in "Triumph Of the Will".

I was more interested in this enterprising woman who was selling streamers nearby. She could make them do amazing things, and made it look easy, but as the young girl is learning -- it's not easy at all.

This is not a complete account of everything we saw and did in China. For instance, we also saw an acrobatics show in Beijing, but since taking pictures was forbidden there I have nothing to show you. Also, by this time we left Beijing I was coming down with a very bad head cold, so on a couple of occasions I remained behind while the rest of the group attended various functions.

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