Quilt Gallery

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Further Adventures in China

My last post highlighted the countryside of the Yangshuo region of China. This one will focus on the urban areas: the town of Yangshuo and China's capital city Beijing.

On maps of China Yangshuo looks tiny. By Chinese standards it is tiny. In actuality it is a good size city of several hundred thousand people. Located amidst China's famous karst mountains,

it has become a popular destination for Chinese and international tourists. No surprise then to find the usual kind of tourist amenities: restaurants and shops, tour guides and taxis, hotels and hostels. To visit the town of Yangshuo, we walked from our guest house, The Giggling Tree,

off the main road, past an old village,

over a small pass and into the busy streets to have a look. Most of the tourist activity is along West Street

and the smaller streets that intersect it.

I found several shops with interesting textiles. This one specializes in woven items,

while another one carried traditional garments and textiles, some antique and and some newly made. I couldn't resist this indigo batik table runner, which is long enough for my dining room table.

I also purchased some notebooks and cards

I don't see any Mao quotes. It's a blank book!

at a nice little stationery shop.

Mostly, it was fun just to take in the lively street scenes

 and colorful displays.

At the end of my trip I spent an afternoon at the Forbidden City, in the very heart of Beijing. For over 500 years it served as the Chinese imperial palace. Now it is a museum and I am guessing the most visited site in Beijing. It is an imposing place: 180 acres with palatial buildings,

enormous courtyards,

 colorful gardens,

and massive statuary.

Instead of jostling with the crowds trying to peer inside the most important halls, or palaces, I focused my attention on the beautiful details to be found elsewhere. I particularly liked the striking orange-yellow tile roofs. From a distance the exuberant color stands out, as does the subtle variation in their shapes.

Up close you can see that each is adorned with a different set of figures. The more figures, the more important the structure.

The walls exhibit similar far-near differences. From afar it appears that all the walls are brick red, but if you look closely, in places you can see pieces of vibrant polychrome plaster work

and hidden gems like this terra cotta flower built into a brick wall.

You also have to get up close to the marble stairs and railings to see their true beauty. It seems that every bit is embellished with decorative carving. These waves and flowers make me think of quilting designs.

Given my interest in needlework, I naturally think of translating Forbidden City designs into quilts and embroideries. Clearly some others translated it into the very modern Beijing airport where massive halls have overhanging roofs held up by rows of red columns, just like palaces of the Forbidden City.

Beijing Airport

Prior to my flight I enjoyed wandering around the bright and spacious terminal

and inspecting a few shops. I even found one that carried a small selection of fabric and quickly snapped up these traditional homespuns from the Jiangnan region, southwest of where I visited.

Jiangnan homespun fabric

I am adding them to the indigo fabrics I have been collecting for a quilt.

I have been making good progress on my current quilting projects in the past several weeks so I just may let myself start a new one before the summer is out. Come back soon to see the ones I have recently finished!

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