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Chengdu taps ancient poet to attract tourists

2017-11-13 03:52:02 China Daily

Sichuan's capital is composing a new chapter in developing its tourism by commemorating the ancient luminary poet Du Fu. Huang Zhiling reports in Chengdu.

Chengdu is literally writing the literary legacy of acclaimed ancient poet Du Fu in stone. Tan Jihe and his wife, Qi Hehui, visit the Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum in Sichuan province's Chengdu every month.

Tan, who's the Sichuan Provincial Association of History's president, and Qi, who's a professor of Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) and Tang Dynasty (618-907) culture, are advisers for the Chengdu municipal government's ambitious plan to erect 1,455 tablets, each with a poem by Du Fu (712-770).

The tablets inscribed by famous calligraphers will be displayed in the museum surrounding the cottage and the adjacent Flower-bathing Brook Park.

The 150 million yuan ($23 million) project will be completed next year.

Qi became vice-president of a national society for the study of Du located in the museum in 1980. She and her husband can't recall how many times they've visited since.

"But we still feel the culture every time," she says.

The 16-hectare museum is built around the location where Du built his family cottage in AD 760. It includes a traditional classical garden.

The poet was a native of today's Henan province, who moved to Chengdu in 759 as a refugee of an eight-year war waged by two rebel generals.

He lived in the Chengdu cottage for about four years. He penned about 400 of his 1,455 poems there.

Du lived during the beginning of the Tang Dynasty's decline.

The Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is built around the location where the acclaimed ancient poet built his family cottage in AD 760. It also includes traditional structures. [China Daily]

His poems are known for compassionate portrayals of human suffering and indignation in the face of injustice and corruption.

After a storm destroyed the structure's roof in 761, he began to ponder the fate of other impoverished scholars.

He wrote prose declaring he could die content in his rustic abode if the less fortunate found shelter.

This, among other works he wrote in the cottage, is included in school textbooks.

His cottage was destroyed in the late Tang Dynasty.

Another poet, Wei Zhuang, discovered its ruins and built a new cottage on the site in 902. It has since undergone about a dozen major renovations.

The museum consists of several structures, including the Poetic History Hall, the Shrine of Gongbu (Du Fu's official title), the Memorial Hall of Du Fu and a replica of Du's cottage built in 1997, according to the description of his writings.

Couplets citing his prose about life, character and literature grace gates, pillars and halls.

Visitors can also enjoy the aura of ancient culture among the tranquility of bamboo groves.

An annual celebration is staged at the museum to honor the literary luminary.

The Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is built around the location where the acclaimed ancient poet built his family cottage in AD 760. It also includes traditional structures. [China Daily]

Intellectuals and primary school students recite his poems in front of his statue on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year.

Traditional beliefs correlate each of the calendar's first week's days with a different being-namely, the chicken, dog, pig, sheep, cow, horse and human.

Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) scholar He Shaoji wrote: "Du Fu has a nice residence in Chengdu. I come to worship the poet on the day of humans."

Consequently, people honor Du on this occasion.

Du's AD 761 poem Happy Rain on a Spring Night is a required recitation for students on the day.

It reads:

Good rain knows its time right;

It will fall when comes spring.

With wind it steals in night;

Mute, it moistens each thing.

O'er wild lanes a dark cloud spreads;

In a boat, a lantern looms.

Dawn sees saturated reds;

The town is heavy with blooms.

The Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is built around the location where the acclaimed ancient poet built his family cottage in AD 760. It also includes traditional structures. [China Daily]

Local architect and painter Liu Weibing says the museum's re-creation of the poet's cottage recalls linpan-Sichuan farmers' traditional thatched-roofed houses in bamboo forests by streams. Such dwellings have existed in the area for about 4,700 years.

The 50-year-old grew up among such dwellings and associates them with a slower pace of life. He recently published a book about them.

"Linpan and the lifestyle they represent are quickly vanishing," he says.

"(Du's) cottage in the bamboo next to the brook serves as a reminder."

The museum also harks back to the past with a hall that displays Tang Dynasty relics discovered on the site in 2001.

Over 106 of them remain intact. They include bowls, chess pieces and metal ware. Eave tiles and bricks display patterns of flora and fauna.

The hall also houses the excavation pit.

Archeologists unearthed artifacts from other dynasties piled atop the Tang artifacts.

Such a find is rare, Chengdu Relics and Archaeological Institute head Wang Yi says.

Then again, contemporary visitors discover there are many things that make Du's Thatched Cottage a unique place in the history of China and the world.

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