Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shanghai - Skyscrapers - Silence

Travel notes for hot places - remember to bring lip salve (air-conditioning is terribly drying darling!) and a fan!!

Shanghai is an impressive city.

Everything about it is BIG . . More than 23 million people live there . . Gazillions of skyscrapers . . The speedy Maglev at 430km/h . . The feel of atmospheric pollution on my eyeballs . . . Bright lights . . . Dazzling electronic incarnation of an old city.

Even so, I cannot access my own blog (or ones that I follow) nor Twitter, Wikipedia, Facebook in fact any social media. And it's really odd but without access to blogging and twitter it feels as if I've been silenced, cut off from the world . . . that is obviously untrue, I've not been cut off from the world - just a part of it.

A bit of the world which I take for granted. Now I no longer think of Twitting as a bit of puerile fun, but, as a kind of freedom . . .

Back home again and it's no longer an illegal attempt, so blogging like a mad thing.

As good tourists we started our visit with a saunter along The Bund. Old Shanghai's commercial heart and named after the Anglo-Indian term for the embankment of a muddy foreshore. No mud to be seen, just fantastic looking buildings.
A quartet of twenty somethings approached us and asked us to take photos of them - and then did the same for us. And (not for the first time when travelling) I felt so lucky that the English language has become the lingua franca for much of the world, because that meant even though I was on the other side of the planet I could still have a conversation with people. 

Their english was faultless . . . my chinese extended to thank you!
Next morning and off to the Shanghai Museum in People's Square. After a good 30 minutes queuing in the hot sun and then running the gauntlet of airport style security (with the oh so familiar look on the faces of the security personnel) we where in, with what felt like most of Shanghai. Lots of children being chivvied along by grandparents, parents . . . us . . . and other visitors looking at brochures and deciding what to see first. 

One of the highlights is its gallery of bronzes, most pieces of some considerable age.

Cowrie container with 8 Yaks and tiger handles 206B.C. - 8A.D.
Wine vessel with a dragon spout and animal mask 7th - 6th century B.C.
Jain (water vessel) of Fu Chai, King of Wu state
Wine vessel 18th - 16th century B.C.
Painted and lacquered masks from Tibet.
A frog shaped celadon jar. 317 - 420 A.D.
A fabulous little glazed pottery figurine of a lady with long sleeves. 
One of my favourites, a painted female figure with a face so real I felt sure that this was a woman, known and loved, from history. 618-907 A.D.
This wooden head of Kasyapa (an ancient sage) is so sensitively carved that the humanity shines out, and this photograph doesn't even get close to showing it. 

Incredible to think that this piece of carved wood has been in existence for well over a thousand years
Rather cute (don't you think?) a stone Kasyapa.
Another favourite, a little painted wooden figure from the time of the Warring States, 475 - 221 B.C. Beautiful in its simplicity.
Just 'round the corner, in the Museum of Contemporary Art there was a happening, as part of Revel, to celebrate eight years in Shanghai.

I particularly enjoyed the preface. 
'Everyone revels in their own way. Some revelling has changed the course of history, while most others are merely acts of self-indulgence. The Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai revelled in drunken binges that helped produce lyrics that have delighted generations since. The counter-culture movement of the 1960's in Europe and America revelled in alternative lifestyles that have shaped global culture today. At one point or other each of us has revelled in our own miseries and fantasies. At this moment we have seized the occasion of Shanghai MoCA's 8th year anniversary to revel in the recent history of this city's burgeoning visual culture scene'.

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