Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Solo sight seeing

On Monday I had work to do so stayed at the hotel for most of the day although I did make a quick foray down the street to find a few snacks for the room.

However, on Tuesday I hopped back on the train and made my way to the Guangdong Provincial Museum.  We had briefly visited this museum when we were here in 2012 but had two students with us so hadn’t been able to linger and enjoy the exhibits. 

As I approached the museum, I was tickled by this lady carefully scrubbing the
OUTDOOR courtyard floor….


I had seen her out yesterday working in another part of the walkway so I guess that she does a little section each day!!!

I got in line to purchase my ticket but realized that most people were showing their Chinese Government ID and getting a free ticket.  When I approached the window, the woman asked if I had a passport or other ID.   I showed her my Georgia drivers license and she handed me a ticket!!

As I remembered, the museum is beautiful with magnificent exhibits and lots of English subtitles.   I purchased an English guide but could have easily done the museum without it!!  At each exhibit there is an Introduction board and at the end of the exhibit, there is a Conclusion board.   It really made the exhibits feel complete.

The first exhibit was a Religious Diversity temporary exhibit.  In the conclusion board it states that Guangdong is an open and  inclusive province for religious coexistence and growth and plays a significant role in China’s religious development.   I liked the entry mural….


…but in all honesty there wasn’t much else to the exhibit.

I did enjoy looking up into the ceiling of the building….


The next exhibit was the one that I remembered well from our first trip…..the Duan Inkstones. 

In China, the inks used in the calligraphy process come in sticks (like a paint stick)   Water has to be added to them to produce the ink. Per Wikipedia, the process is this…..”The water is added first and then  the bottom end of the inkstick is placed on the grinding surface and then gradually ground to produce the ink. More water is gradually added during the grinding process to increase the amount of ink produced, the excess flowing down into the reservoir of the inkstone where it will not evaporate as quickly as on the flat grinding surface, until enough ink has been produced for the purpose in question. The Chinese grind their ink in a circular motion with the end flat on the surface whilst the Japanese push one edge of the end of the inkstick back and forth.”

The Inkstones that are produced in the Duanzhou area are famous because they are made from a deep purple (almost black) stone that is famous for its smooth texture.  They are known as Duan Inkstones.

The first one that I saw was a modern one that was made in the shape of the Olympic stadium in Beijing……a birds nest….IMG_7545.

I laughed at this one as it was labeled as an Inkstone in the form of a brick….IMG_7548

It reminded me of a favorite scene from the MASH series where Frank and Margaret are talking to a Korean wood carver about making a statue for them.   He holds up a board to show them the quality of his work.   Frank says “It looks like a 2 by 4”.  The carver replies “Thank you…..used to be round”.

Many of the stones have intricate carvings on the back, like this fish……IMG_7557

The stamp on the right shows the carving.

I particularly enjoyed the ones that had recognizable designs in them, especially this happy crab……IMG_7551

One sign indicated that, in order to attain effective art, the shape and decoration of the inkstone should be determined according to the special characteristics of the stone such as color, and vein marks.   Isn’t that the truth with any kind of art….it must take the materials into account.

When we were here in 2012, we purchased a beautiful inkstone (supposedly old but who knows if that means 2 years or 50 years)……


…and seeing this exhibit reminded me just how much I like it!!

Next was a wood carving gallery which had some beautiful pieces, but most of them were covered with a gold lacquer which  ruins my enjoyment of them (I would much rather see the beautiful wood grain)…. 


….although I did enjoy the geometric design of this one.

I took a photo of this “Happy Crab” piece last time and, as I looked at it today, I was even more amazed at the carving……


It is carved out of a single piece of Camphor wood and I cant figure out exactly how the crab was carved INSIDE of the cage!!

The notes around the room told me that Camphor is the most prized of the carving woods but Rose Wood and China Berry are used as well.

The museum has several displays that use statues to show the details of life in Gunagdong with this one showing the carving and gilding process…..


….starting with tracing the design on the wood, doing a rough out of the design, putting the details in place and finally gilding the wood.

The displays in the museum were very professionally done and made for an enjoyable viewing experience….


Signs are posted in each gallery calling for silence and the guards were hard on screaming kids and others that were ducking under the barriers, but, for the most part, the  parents didn’t seem to care.   I saw one Mom smiling broadly as she and her son were being escorted out of the gallery!!

Speaking of kids, it is fun to watch their reaction to seeing me….a round eye….  in their midst.  Some look shyly at me, but some openly gawk.  I just try to smile at them and go on.

There were lots of photo ops happening and I managed to catch a couple…..IMG_7572

This girl’s pose was my favorite…..IMG_7603

The next gallery contained pottery and porcelain.  I particularly like this gourd shaped pitcher……


….and was fascinated by these Porcelain Pillows…..


Personally, I think that they look supremely uncomfortable, but they certainly make interesting pieces of art!!!  


Michael’s comment about them was that “James Bond noted that they were very comfortable (“You Only Live Twice”)”, so who am I to argue with the great 007.

I enjoyed the thoughtful look on this gentleman’s face…..


….and the thought “Happy as a Clam” came to mind when I saw this one……


I really liked this skewed house and was reminded of some of my favorite Picasso paintings…..


There was information about one glaze that is used on much of the pottery….because it is “white as sugar” it is called a “Sweet White Glaze”.

As I listened to the audio guide in this section it moved from dynasty to dynasty (Qin, Han, Sui, Tang) and I finally lost track of which was which.   As I left the gallery I was bombarded with a large shopping area where you could buy your own Chinese treasures and I wondered what dynasty these came from…..


I followed the crowds around the corner and came to the Dragon Boat display…IMG_7593

This boat is 48 meters (157 feet) long and only 6 feet wide, and it can hold EIGHTY people.  I would imagine that it would be fairly unstable from side to side so would have to be well balanced!!!

I particularly enjoyed these two vignettes of daily life…..




There was a large glass case that held small ceramic figures which portrayed all of the various ceremonies in everyday life.


These included weddings, births, birthdays, etc.  But, my all-time favorite one was “The ceremony of resuming a meat diet”!!!

There was a gallery that was touted as a kids gallery with animal art.  There were a few Lego animals shown, but most items were fairly serious art, but art about animals.  I particularly liked this “Save Can”…..


…ie…piggy bank, and this sulky metal frog…..


At the end of this exhibit, they had a bulletin board of art work done by kids.  I first appreciated the artwork itself but then was intrigued by the use of clip boards to allow the display to change…..


I hurried thru the Natural History area as I have seen SO many of these types of exhibits before.   The taxidermy was rough and some of the presentation was weird, but the attention to detail in the ambiance of the exhibit hall was amazing.  All of the paths were either made of rough rock or wooden boards and the lighting was perfect for the exhibitions.  One of the exhibits was about caves and the walls were very cave-like.

The animal exhibit moved into the plant exhibit and I remembered the beautiful silhouette displays of the leaf patterns…..


….sigh…..SO many quilting designs, SO little time!!!

The ocean and fossil display was interesting, but I was pooping out by now.  I did really like the use of paper tiles in the ceilings and as separators between the exhibits…..


I had said earlier that kids were asked to be quiet in the main galleries, but there was no such requirement in these last few animal galleries.  Consequently, the noise level grew greatly as I moved thru these areas but it was just because the kids were having so much fun!!

I reluctantly returned left the museum and took another walk around the beautiful square.   I spent some time looking at this stadium…..


…which was built for the 2010 Pan Asian games.  It is a stunning structure but I can’t figure out exactly what would have been played here.  The “field” is not very big and is concrete, however that may have been changed after the games.   Whatever the case, it was a cool looking structure set on the banks of the Pearl River.

I walked over to the Opera House, enjoying the interesting architecture of the building…..


As I walked around the complex I enjoyed the art displayed there, including this casting of Rodin’s “The Thinker”…..


I also enjoyed the face on this rather strange winged man…..


But my all time favorite was this sculpture that looked like it was falling from above…..


I was hungry so decided to find Starbucks for a quick bite to eat, opting for a ham and cheese croissant and a bottle of orange juice.   The first bite and swig of orange juice immediately put me back in High School, sitting with Michael in his car and eating the lunch that his Mama had packed for us.  It was always Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Nacho Doritos and a big container of orange juice.    I just needed Nacho Doritos…..and Michael!!!

One final comment about eating in China.  The tables in restaurants are not considered to be clean (even when covered with spotless cloths) and nothing should ever be laid on them or picked up and eaten once it hits the table.  So, while I was waiting for my food in the Starbucks, I accidently dropped my knife and it landed on one of the tables.  One of the servers hurried over to take the dirty utensil from me and replace it with a clean one.

I found the metro and contentedly made my way back to the hotel.

Michael returned “home” shortly after and we were picked up by Xue-Jun and his wife and taken out for dinner.   The restaurant was located on the outside edge of a mall type area and, just outside the window, there were a group of women in their aerobic exercise class.  My attention, however, was stolen by a small girl (maybe 3 years old) who was following along with the class and executing the moves perfectly along with her Grandmother.   It was SO cute!!!

Pulling my attention back to the task at hand….the table was unique in that there were drawers under each section and the table was “furnished” from these drawers.   If you needed a glass, you just opened the drawer and pulled one out!!!

There was a hot pot with boiling water at each table and this was used to fill the teapot which contained a flower tea of some sort….


I (mistakenly) thought that this was for drinking, but it was actually for washing out the dishes before we ate!!  This, apparently, is a local custom and Xue-Jun’s wife took her duty very seriously…..


…who knew that you had to pre-wash your dishes!!!

Once the dishes were clean the food started to arrive.  Once again we had very simple, fresh dishes, including these delicious dry rice noodles…..


…and this very tasty chicken….


Dessert were these buns that had a coconut cream filling in them…..


A very yummy way to finish off a busy day!!!

One thought on “Solo sight seeing

  1. If I am really going to take my materials into account I must upgrade my ink bottle! ;^) Amazing carvings! I enjoy seeing daily life through your round eyes.

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