Posts Tagged ‘Beijing’


    In contrast to the city of Beijing, wherein we visited some of the most splendid sites of Chinese historical significance, Shanghai seemed bound to impress us with its ultra modern, cosmopolitan character and its new high rises. Even though we were informed that a number of old structures in Shanghai were being preserved in order to conserve the roots of this area, our initial general impression was that the new buildings had taken over considerably its Chinese origins.

    Dehra ta' Zhujiajiao2Therefore, it was quite a pleasant surprise to learn that tucked safely away at relatively short distances from this avant-garde city, one could still find a wide selection of ancient water towns which offer the opportunity to relish the charm of an ancient China. Known as the ‘Little Venices of the East’, these unique towns of exceptional allure are a wonder of cultural landscape. A visit to at least one of them, is definitely a must once you are in Shanghai.

    Since we had only one day left in Shanghai, our guide led us to Zhujiajiao which is located only forty seven kilometers away from this city, in the district of Qingpu. With a history of around 1700 years, Zhujiajiao is renowned as one of the best preserved ancient water towns of the area. Like much of the other sites in China, once we got there, we found the place pretty crowded, especially since on that day, the local people were celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. Indeed, during public holidays, these water towns are very popular with Shanghai residents who yearn for moments of tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of the urban areas.

    Snajja' tradizzjonali2The settlement of Zhujiajiao dates back to the Yuan dynasty, when this location was turned into an important trading hub for the surrounding countryside. Since it is strategically situated at the intersection of a number of local rivers, Zhujiajiao continued to gain significance, and during the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming dynasty, it was granted township status. The town prospered by trading rice and cloth which were transported on boats from the surrounding countryside, right to the houses of the Zhujiajiao merchants.

    Today, this town which covers about 3 square kilometers, has a population of about 70,000 people. Although nowadays, one finds some recent and modern structures in Zhujiajiao, about a thousand of the surviving buildings and ancient markets were constructed during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

    Zhujiajiao, Shanghai2Thirty six bridges of different sizes, designs, and materials, cross the small rivers shaded by willow trees, and connect the ancient town. Whilst the narrowest bridges are only about a metre wide, Zhujiajiao can boast to have the largest stone arch bridge in Shanghai. Originally built in 1571 by the monk Xingchao of Cimen Temple in 1571, and then rebuilt in 1812, Fangsheng Bridge rests on five arches and is 70 metres long, and 5.8 metres high. The central arch is decorated with a stone relief of eight dragons surrounding a pearl, whilst the pillars at the ends are sculpted into lions.

    Interestingly, ancient bridges can be recognized from more recent ones by looking at the height of their stairs, since in the old days, these were quite steep, whereas nowadays, steps are constructed in lower and more uniform positions, in order to be more easily accessible, especially to the elderly.

    Il-gondola2Both these bridges and the town itself can be appreciated further by taking a cruise on one of the small bamboo gondolas that navigate the countless waterways of Zhujiajiao. A short trip and a longer one are offered, wherein the first takes passengers up and down the main canal, whilst the latter travels all over the town and back.

    In order to explore this town, one needs about four hours. Narrow streets filled with different shops that sell typical souvenirs and various other products are often packed with tourists who tend to disrupt the serenity that one would have expected to find in such a location. The one kilometre North Streetis the best preserved ancient street in this suburb where one can observe the historical architecture. On the other hand, in Xijin Street, one can visit the classical Kezhi Garden with its distinguished combination of traditional Chinese and Western styles.

    Selling traditional food (Photo - Fiona Vella)2A closer investigation of Zhujiajiao can offer much more to see, includingTongtianhe Medicine Shop, Qing Dynasty Post Office, Baoguo Temple, and Yuanjin Meditation Room. A selection of bars, restaurants, teahouses, and coffee shops provide the opportunity to rest and to taste some local cuisine whilst gazing out at the rivers or the main canal.

    Having gone through a period of inactivity, where life crawled on at a slow pace, in these last years Zhujiajiao has gone through a rapid transformation as both locals and foreigners began to long for such preserved gems which can relate strongly to a bygone period in China.

    Although some believe that the heavily touristic element on which the inhabitants have become highly dependent, is ruining the romantic nature of this sublime ancient water town, I can say that I enjoyed every minute which I spent in this exotic place. A heaven for photographers, Zhujiajiao provides an unforgettable experience of a surreal Chinese life which has succeeded to endure the test of time.

    (This article was published in ESCAPE Suppliment which was issued with the Sunday Times of Malta dated 1st November 2015)

    2015.11.01 / no responses / Category: The Sunday Times - Articles


    Travelling at an impressive 300km/hr, a high-speed railway train took 5 hours and a half to reach Shanghai from Beijing. The voyage was impeccably comfortable. The train station was huge and amazing. Yet the actual surprise was the sheer difference between Beijing and Shanghai.

    Modern buildings merge with older ones in Shanghai1 (Photo - Fiona Vella)Traffic in Beijing was crazy but we had hardly left Shanghai’s train station when we were already blocked behind a long queue of cars. This is no wonder if one considers that about 24 million people live in this city. Recent modernization and progress in Shanghai have attracted many persons and in the last five years, the population tripled itself.

    Along the road, we observed that plain residential high rises were wide to an extreme. Besides them, luxurious or commercial high rises glistened beautifully as if in a bid to outshine the sun itself. Older traditional structures, together with buildings which formed part of the foreign concession areas, claimed the passers-by attention with their distinguished architecture.

    Originally, a simple fishing village, Shanghai’s economy expanded rapidly once it was turned into a commercial port. Since at the time, traders could only use the sea or waterways as a means of transportation, Shanghai’s wide harbour began to attract numerous Chinese from various parts of China and also several foreigners. A society of immigrants started to flourish, each of which began to leave their influences in this new city.

    In a few years, a large flat muddy area, overgrown with reeds, which was situated on the north bank of Huangpu River, was turned into a zone for foreigners and they named it the Bund. Starting from just a one-sided street, running in north-south direction, the location soon flourished with commercial buildings which increased further the significance and the economy of Shanghai.

    Yuyuan MarketYet in the mid-19th century, serious conflicts arose between the forces of Western countries and the Chinese, Qing dynasty, after China attempted to suppress the opium trade. Since the 18th century, foreign traders, particularly the British, had been illegally exporting opium which they imported from India. By the 19th century, this trade had grown dramatically, and the resulting widespread addiction in China began to cause serious social and economic disruption. Two Opium Wars broke out in which China was twice defeated and foreign concessions were established. It was in 1943, during the war between China and Japan, that the foreigners decided to abandon Shanghai.

    Between the 1950s and the 1960s, some of the elder people who resided in Shanghai, proposed to the government to demolish these colonial buildings which reminded them of a bitter past. However eventually, it was decided to retain these structures since they represented a real part of the city’s history, even if painful.

    The modern area of the Bund1 (Photo - Fiona Vella)In the last 100 years, the Bund frontage buildings were repaired and reconstructed several times. Today, this area is embellished with prominent and elegant structures which contrast deeply with the opposite side of the Bund wherein some daring and bizarre high rises have been built. At night, the latter, turns into a spectacular wonderland as the colossal structures are fully illuminated in bright and colourful lights.

    A visit to this district which looks like a strange combination of London and New York, will reveal why it has become the symbol of Shanghai and the pride of many of its residents. Crowds of visitors gather daily at the Bund in order to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the Huangpu River which divides the old and the modern zones. Nonetheless, if one wants to enjoy the experience to the full, a night boat cruise is certainly recommended.

    Our guide from Shanghai explained to us that this city has changed tremendously in these last years. In 1987, there were only 12 high rise buildings in Shanghai, whereas today, there are around 140,000. People have more money in their pockets, education facilities have increased, and life is more comfortable especially due to the efficient and far-reaching subway system. Yet he felt that simultaneously, Shanghai citizens were losing some important characteristics of the city. Indeed, when elders returned to the city after living far away, they could not find their way around as a number of the old landmarks have gone or are engulfed amongst the different modern landscape.

    Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall1 (Photo - Fiona Vella)The repercussions of the sudden modernization of Shanghai have always been the focus of the authorities which are trying their very best to mitigate the impact of such changes. Their plans and projects are comprehensively described in the vast exhibitions which are displayed at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall which is located at the People’s Square. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a huge scale model of the city which shows all the existing and approved buildings. Moreover, a circular screen provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a fascinating 3D virtual tour around the city of Shanghai.

    Photo presentations explain how old buildings which were worth preserving and conserving, were carefully selected and restored, and then given a function in order to revive them. A particular example is the M50 contemporary art district which up to a few years ago was a disused industrial space. Another is the pedestrian walkway of Nanjing Road wherein 100 year old shops were amalgamated with new structures from where now, one can find speciality products of different trades standing next to famous brands.

    A corner in Yuyuan Garden1 (Photo - Fiona Vella)In Shanghai Old Street, which was reconstructed according to traditional Chinese style, visitors can roam around Yuyuan Market and absorb the allure of earlier times, whereas the nearby Yuyuan Gardens provide the beauty and serenity of a green environment. In the outskirts of Shanghai, ancient towns, such as Zhujiajiao, represent life of a distant and far simpler period in Shanghai. Concentrated under Shanghai’s Expo2010 motto ‘Better City, Better Life’, the main message of this place is to urge people to be proud as well as protective of their new city.

    A delightful wider look at the landscape of the city of Shanghai can be appreciated at a choice of revolving restaurants which are available on high towers. Definitely a surreal experience which gives you the ultimate impression of being on a totally different planet.

    (This article was published in Escape Suppliment of The Sunday Times of Malta dated 13th September 2015)

    2015.09.13 / no responses / Category: Times of Malta

  • Unlocking the Great Wall’s stories

    ‘He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man’ declares a Chinese saying.

    After being confronted by the challenging steps of this legenday wall, I must admit that I understand fully the meaning behind this expression.

    Constructing the Great Wall of China

    A section of Juyongguan Pass (Photo - Fiona Vella)The Great Wall consists of a massive series of fortifications which extend over five thousand kilometres from east to west in north China. Since it outstretches over a number of provinces, one can visit its diverse sections from various locations. Its construction took around two thousand years and it involved the input of several dynasties which were ruling the country during different period.

    Since for many years, various Chinese states were at war against each other, by the 7th century BC, the locals had already mastered an excellent skill in the building of protective walls with which to defend their villages. It was from this period that construction of the Great Wall commenced.

    In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang succeeded to win over all his opponents. He unified China for the first time, established the Qin Dynasty, and became the first Emperor. To impose a centralization of authority, he ordered the destruction of various defensive walls which had been built around the country by different feudal lords. Instead, he constructed new walls which connected a number of fortifications that were situated in the northern side of his empire. These were intended to shield his people and his country from the opponent nomadic tribe Xiongnu which resided in this area (today known as Mongolia).

    It was no easy feat to construct these walls in the chosen locations which winded throughout valleys or climbed across mountains. At the time, no machinery was available to facilitate this grueling work. Yet, the Chinese managed to erect these walls by utilizing the material that was available in each particular zone and by working according to the contours of the terrain.

    No one knows how many people worked or died during the construction of this wall. Many insist that the total number could easily reach millions. Certainly, their effort led to the creation of a unique masterpiece which today is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In 1987, the Great Wall of China became also part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    A popular legend

    Meng Jiang NuThis wall is imbued with many narratives and legends. Yet the most popular is surely that of Meng Jiang Nü; a young woman who is believed to have lived during the 3rd century BC, in the Qin Dynasty.

    Her story recounts that one day, Fan Qi Liang, a young man who had been engaged to work on the Great Wall, succeeded to escape from this strenuous job. He ran with all his might along the way until at one point, he was so exhausted that he stopped to hide in the garden of Meng’s father.

    The two fell in love immediately as soon as their eyes met, and some time after, they got married. Yet unfortunately, their happinness did not last long as the man was located by soldiers and he was taken back to work on the wall.

    The woman waited and waited for her husband’s return. But when winter was close and he still did not come back, she sewed some warm clothes for him in order to protect him from the cold. She went in search of him at his work place but after she looked out for him wherever she could and inquired about him, she was finally informed that her husband had died and that he had been buried within the wall itself.

    This tragic news shattered the woman’s spirit and she was so griefed that she spent a whole day and a whole night weeping beneath the wall. Her desperation ran so deep that suddenly, the wall in front of her crumbled and a number of corpses slid out of it.

    Shocked at this gruesome scene, Meng Jiang Nü cut her finger and she allowed her blood to trickle on the corpses. At one point, she noticed that all her blood ran to a particular corpse and it was then that she recognized her husband’s body. She gathered him lovingly and gave him a decent burial. Then, she walked to a river and ended her life within.

    Juyongguan Pass – Beijing

    Juyongguan Pass in the mist (Photo - Fiona Vella)I had read and heard so much about the greatness of this wall that when I arrived at one of its sections in Beijing, known as Juyongguan Pass, I simply stood in silence and in awe.

    My eyes ran afar, up into the sky where a thick fog was hiding the highest part that was visible from the ground. Located at around fifty kilometres away from Beijing, this part of the wall is about 4000 metre long and is situated amongst the mountains of Changping District.

    This pass has always been renowned for its strategic significance and its impenetrability. Notwithstanding this, in 1644, a group of rebellious farmers led by Li Zicheng, managed to enter into Beijing by overcoming this area. It is said that this happenned not because of any weakness in the wall but due the fact that the local people were too impoverished to resist.

    Today, Juyongguan Pass is distinguished for its lovely scenic views of the surrounding forests, particularly since these change their colours according to season.

    Experiencing the magic of the Great Wall

    We arrived at nine in the morning in order to avoid the crowds but there were already many visitors climbing the wall. The weather was not very welcoming as it was drizzling and the fog made it difficult to take very good photos. Yet nothing could stop us from climbing that legendary wall which we had all dreamt so much about!

    Experiencing the Great Wall of China (I am the one in black) - (Photo - Fiona Vella)Up we went the first steps but soon we realized that it was not going to be that easy to climb too far. For the Great Wall’s steps were constructed in differing heights in order to make it difficult for the enemy to run up and make a surprise attack. Whilst some of the steps were low, others were quite high and after a short time, if you’re not the sporty kind, you’ll definitely find yourself out of breath.

    Step after step, we arrived at the first tower which consisted of a number of small rooms. I decided to check out a set of narrow stairs which led to the tower’s roof and from there, the overview of the open landscape was even more splendid. I looked around in a blending state of rapture, wonder and disbelief as I imagined that this could have been the same view that the legendary soldiers watched over. For a moment, time seemed to stop and the present melted into the past as I simply stood there holding on to the ancient stones.

    I could have stayed there to absorb within me all the history of the place but the group needed to move on and so, we climbed further. Over all, the set up of the wall repeats itself as its length is divided into steps and a number of towers. Yet I can say that I would have continued to climb all day if we did not have planned to visit other sites.

    Going down the steps was relatively easy but by then, the place had become quite crowded with people of all nationalities who came to visit.

    A love bound to eternity

    Lovelocks attached to the Great Wall (Photo - Fiona Vella)As I stole a last glance at this architectural and historic marvel, I noticed a quantity of lovelocks that were fastened to chains running along the Great Wall. On a closer look, I found out that these were decorated with heart designs and the names of couples were engraved on each of them. Our guide told us that those lovelocks formed part of an old Chinese tradition which stated that if a couple wrote their names on a lock and closed it on this chain, their love would be eternal, just like the destiny of this mythical wall.

    (This article was published in the Travel Supplement of the Sunday Times of Malta dated 21st June 2015)

    2015.06.21 / no responses / Category: The Sunday Times - Articles

  • Discovering the real art of a new culture

    China’s art sector is probably one of the most dynamic today since Chinese artists are constantly re-imagining the boundaries of art as they question their country’s role in the world. These artistic works can be viewed in the several popular art districts, key galleries and museums which are located in various areas around China.

    751D Park – Beijing

    I had thought that a visit to Beijing would only comprise an itinerary to historical sites. Therefore, this bustling contemporary art centre proved to be quite a surprise.

    Having been transformed from an industrial plant into an artistic hub, 751D Park boasts an area of 40,000 square meters and is now a very renowned area for art lovers. Its distinguished Bauhaus-style architecture has succeeded to blend harmoniously with the places’s new character which now houses many art galleries, bookshops, cafes and restaurants.

    Although I am not an avid art enthusiast, a stroll around the various shops and art exhibitions of this park served as a portal to another facet of China and its culture. Each outlet provided the opportunity to discover and purchase works of unique styles, original designs and ultimate creativity.

    Liu Fei - An enchanting war (1) - Photo by Fiona VellaI was particularly captivated by Liu Fei’s artistic exhibition named ‘An Enchanting War’. The artist described his sharp creations as his contemplation of future wars. Through them, he attempted to engage in social and political life in order to express his distaste and criticism on war. His main theme examined whether future warfare would be a performance of pretences? In his strong and bizarre artworks, there was no boundary between beauty and ugliness, and violence and contention were combined cruelly.

    The National Art Museum of China – Beijing

    The National Art Museum of China is dedicated to collection, research and exhibitions of modern and contemporary artistic works in China. Although this structure started to be constructed in 1958 and was open to the public in 1963, its architecture features the traditional Chinese style as the main building is roofed with yellow glazed tiles and surrounded by corridors and pavilions.

    This museum covers an area of more than 18,000 square meters and it includes 17 exhibition halls throughout its 5 storeys. It prides itself with more than 100,000 pieces of various collections, most of which are representative works of different periods and great artworks of Chinese art masters from the end of the 19th century till today.

    Artist Liu Xia besides her work at the National Art Museum of China - Photo by Fiona VellaSince its establishment, this national museum has organized thousands of various artistic exhibitions which reflect the development of Chinese art. These activities have attracted millions of visitors each year and so this museum has also served as a significant platform for the artists involved.

    During my visit, amongs its selection of expositions, this museum was holding the exhibition ‘Beautiful China: Call of Humanism’ which entailed the First National Fine Art Exhibition to help the disabled. The ensemble of 200 pieces of artworks included masterpieces of top artists of the contemporary art world,as well as works of disabled calligraphers and painters. Funds from the sales of these artworks were collected in order to assist the needs of the thousands of disabled Chinese individuals.

    M50 – Shanghai

    50 Moganshan Road or M50 art district as it is more popularly known, was a former textile mill in central Shanghai which has now been converted into a major zone of artistic galleries and exhibition spaces.

    This quarter started to become popular with artists in the year 2000 when the first individuals were initially attracted by the cheap rent of the disused industrial space. Soon, other artists followed suit and nowadays this complex has become known for its trendy and high art quality.

    Outdoor sculptures at 751D Park - Photo by Fiona VellaArt lovers who visit this place get a chance to enjoy and purchase some fantastic and unusual works directly from the artists themselves. The allure of this zone lies in the variety of displayed works using several mediums.Prices range from affordable to really expensive but one is expected to negotiate.

    Popular with both local and international visitors, this art quarter is unpretentious but interesting and often thought provoking. Amongst the wide selection of creations, it is engaging to notice also some works of a rebellious nature.

    (This article was published in the Travel, Leisure and Food Supplement in the Sunday Times of Malta dated 15 March 2015)

    2015.03.15 / no responses / Category: The Sunday Times - Articles

  • IL-KULURI TAĊ-ĊINA (Id-9 Parti) Il-Palazz tas-Sajf

    Meta żżur il-palazzi antiki taċ-Ċina ma tistax ma timpressjonax ruħek. Għandhom wisq stil distint u sabiħ u bla ma trid tħossok donnok qiegħed f’dinja oħra. L-istil magħżul tal-arkitettura jidher biċ-ċar li hu maħsub biex iħaddan u mhux jirkeb fuq in-natura u b’hekk joħloq ambjent ħlejju ta’ serenità u ta’ spazju. Mhux ta’ b’xejn li ta’ kuljum dawn il-palazzi u l-ġonna tagħhom ikunu miżgħuda bin-nies, kemm tal-lokal u kif ukoll turisti minn kull pajjiż madwar id-dinja.

    Aktar minn hekk, kull palazz għandu l-istorja, il-karattru u l-faxxinu tiegħu. Dan ikkonfermajtu mill-ġdid meta ġejt akkumpanjata ġewwa l-Palazz tas-Sajf f’Pekin u hemm għal darb’oħra stagħġibt u mmeraviljajt ruħi bis-snajja’ nvoluti sabiex inbena dan il-post u d-dedikazzjoni neċessarja biex reġa’ ngħata l-ħajja mill-ġdid wara li popli barranin għamlu ħerba minnu.

    Il-Palazz tas-Sajf (The Summer Palace)

    Sezzjoni mill-Palazz tas-SajfDan il-palazz jinsab fil-majjistral tas-subborgi ta’ Pekin. Jokkupa medda ta’ art ta’ madwar 2,900,000 metru kwadru. L-istrutturi tiegħu jikkonsistu f’għadd ta’ swali, torrijiet, galleriji, paviljuni u pontijiet. Dawn huma mqassma fi tliet sezzjonijiet: il-parti amministrattiva, il-parti residenzjali imperjali u l-parti tar-rilassament.

    Barra minn hekk, il-palazz huwa mdawwar bi ġnien vast li jinkludi fih għolja magħrufa bħala L-Għolja tal-Ħajja Twila (Longevity Hill), u l-għadira Kunming (Kunming Lake) li tirċievi l-ilmijiet tagħha min-nixxiegħat ta’ Yuquanshan jew l-Għolja tar-Rebbiegħa tal-Jade (Jade Spring Hill).

    Trid sebgħa għajnejn biex tapprezza dan il-ġnien li huwa magħruf bħala l-akbar u l-aqwa ġnien klassiku imperjali li għadu jfakkar id-Dinastija Qing. Huwa wkoll magħdud bħala teżor kulturali tal-arti u tal-arkitettura tal-ġonna Ċiniżi. Sadanittant, hekk kif il-gwida rama jispjegalna dwar il-karatteristiċi tiegħu, intbaħna li dan il-lwog jista’ jiġi kkunsidrat ukoll bħala mużew tal-istili arkitettoniċi varji tal-ġonna li wieħed isib f’diversi reġjuni madwar iċ-Ċina.

    L-istorja tal-post

    Matul it-12 il-seklu, l-Imperatur Zhangzong tad-Dinastija Jin beda jibni l-palazz temporanju tiegħu hawnhekk. Aktar tard, fit-13 il-seklu, l-Imperatur Kublai Khan tad-Dinastija Yuan, qabbad lil Guo Shoujing, inġinier idrawliku famuż, sabiex isib sistema li biha jwassal l-ilma mill- Għolja tar-Rebbiegħa tal-Jade għat-tarf tal-Għolja tal-Ġarra (Jar Hill). Infatti, Guo rnexxielu jagħmel dan u b’hekk huwa ħoloq ġibjun kbir tal-ilma li sar magħruf bħala l-Għadira tal-Punent (West Lake).

    Fl-1494, l-Imperatur Xiaozong tad-Dinastija Ming ordna l-kostruzzjoni tat-Tempju tal-Perfezzjoni u t-Trankwillità (Temple of Perfection and Tranquility). Imbagħad, fis-16 il-seklu, l-Imperatur Wuzong tad-Dinastija Ming sawwar il-Ġnien tal-Għolja Meraviljuża (Garden of Marvelous Hill) f’dan il-post.

    L-Għadira KunmingJidher li dawn l-inħawi għamlu xi żmien abbandunati. Iżda sa nofs is-seklu 18, l-arkitettura tal-ġonna klassiċi Ċiniżi kienet laħqet livelli għoljin ħafna u numru ta’ ġonna imperjali bdew jissawwru madwar din il-medda ta’ art. Kien f’dan il-perjodu illi l-mexxejja tad-Dinastija Qing iddeċidew li jittrasformaw dan il-post fi lwog spazzjuż fejn wieħed seta’ jieħu gost u jistrieħ. Dan eventwalment wassal għall-kreazzjoni tat-Tliet Għoljiet u l-Ħames Ġonna (The Three Hills and Five Gardens).

    Fl-1750, l-Imperatur Qainlong tad-Dinastija Qing iddeċieda li jibni Qingyiyuan jew il-Ġnien taċ-Ċafċif Ċar (Garden of Clear Ripples) bħala rigal għal ommu l-Imperatriċi Armla Xiaosheng f’għeluq is-60 sena tagħha. Dan il-ġnien kien jifforma parti mit-Tliet Għoljiet u l-Ħames Ġonna. Sena wara, isem l-Għolja tal-Ġarra nbidel fl-Għolja tal-Ħajja Twila filwaqt li l-Għadira tal-Punent saret magħrufa bħala l-Għadira Kunming.

    Ġara illi dan il-ġnien grandjuż ħa ħmistax il-sena biex tlesta kollu, tant li omm l-imperatur laħqet mietet. Imma meta x-xogħol fuqu ġie komplut, dan is-sit kien wieħed mill-aktar ġonna raffinati fiċ-Ċina.

    Madanakollu, fl-1860 it-truppi Brittaniċi u Franċiżi li attakkaw lil Pekin, daru anki għal dan il-post fejn serqu kull ma sabu u taw in-nar lill-bqija. B’hekk, kull struttura tal-injam li kien hemm fil-Ġnien taċ-Ċafċif Ċar saret irmied.

    Intant, fl-1885, l-Imperatriċi Armla Cixi, li kienet ilha tmexxi ċ-Ċina bil-moħbi permezz ta’ binha l-imperatur li kien għadu tifel żgħir, daħħlet f’moħħha li terġa tagħti r-ruħ lil dan il-post. U biex għamlet dan, hija ħadet fondi li kienu maħsuba għat-taqsima navali. Meta dan il-proġett kien għoddu tlesta fl-1888, Cixi bidlet isem il-post għall-Ġnien tal-Preservazzjoni Armonjuża (Garden of Harmonious Preservation) jew il-Palazz tas-Sajf kif inhu magħruf mat-turisti li jżuruh illum.

    Xena fuq l-Ghadira KunmingSfortunatament, fl-1900, dan is-sit ġie attakkat mill-ġdid, did-darba mill-Forzi Alleati tat-Tmien Pajjiżi. Dawn reġgħu żarmaw il-palazz mit-teżori kollha li kellu fih u qerdu l-bini.

    Issa l-finanzi tat-tmexxija Qing kienu marru lura ħafna u bl-ebda mod ma setgħu jinstabu fondi sabiex dan il-post jerġa’ jiġi restawrat. Għalhekk, fl-1902, Cixi rranġat kif setgħet l-inħawi tal-Għolja tal-Ħajja Twila u bniet mill-ġdid il-parti tal-Lvant tal-palazz.

    Wara r-rivoluzzjoni tal-1911, fejn it-tmexxija Qing ġiet imwarrba, dan il-palazz serva għal xi żmien bħala r-residenza tal-membri tal-ex familja imperjali. Fl-1920, il-post inbidel f’park u mbagħad fl-1949 il-ġnien ġie restawrat wara li twaqqfet ir-Repubblika taċ-Ċina, hekk kif il-gvern beda jirranġa diversi siti ta’ importanza kulturali.

    Finalment, fl-1998, il-UNESCO poġġiet il-Palazz tas-Sajf fil-lista tagħha bħala Wirt Kulturali Dinji.

    X’hemm x’tara

    Il-Kuritur TwilWara li sirt naf minn xhiex għadda dan il-post meraviljuż, aktar u aktar bdejt napprezza u nammira l-istat sabiħ li qiegħed fih illum. Għajnejja ħalfu li jixorbu l-ilwien kollha li kienu mżejjna bihom l-istrutturi, filwaqt li mnifsejja gawdew l-arja bnina msoffija mill-pjanti u s-siġar ta’ kull tip u qies li kienu jinsabu f’dan il-ġnien.


    Il-palazz huwa esperjenza fih innifsu. Huwa diffiċli biex tfisser sbuħitu u l-ambjent li hu mdawwar bih. Ċertament l-opportunità li tidħol f’uħud mis-swali u l-paviljuni tiegħu hija xi ħaġa indimentikabbli. Ix-xenarju tal-inħawi li joffri l-ogħla torri tiegħu huma spettakolari.

    Il-Kuritur Twil (Long Corridor)

    Dan il-passaġġ maħdum kollu kemm hu mill-injam inbena fit-18 il-seklu. Għandu tul ta’ 728 metri u ġie mqassam f’273 sezzjoni li ġew iddekorati b’madwar 14,000 pittura li juru episodji importanti mill-letteratura klassika Ċiniża, stejjer folkloristiċi, figuri storiċi u leġġendarji u bini u xenarji magħrufa fiċ-Ċina.

    Id-Dgħajsa tal-Irħam (Marble Boat)

    Id-dghajsa tal-irhamDin l-istruttura li għandha forma ta’ dgħajsa rjali ġiet mibnija f’parti mill-Għadira Kunming. Ngħatat l-isem ta’ Qingyanfany jew id-Dgħajsa tal-Purità u r-Rilassament (Boat of Purity and Ease).

    Id-dgħajsa nbniet fuq żewġ sulari minn irħam kbir u għandha tul ta’ 36 metru. Ġiet maħluqa għall-Imperatur Qianlong sabiex minnha jgawdi x-xenarju tal-inħawi tal-madwar. Kienet ukoll maħsuba li tissimbolizza l-istabbilità tad-Dinastija Qing. Iżda jidher li fl-1860 din ġiet meqruda u reġgħet inbniet mill-ġdid bi stil tal-Punent minn Cixi li tatha isem ieħor – Qingyanfang jew Paċi Universali (Universal Peace).

    L-Għadira Kunming

    Din l-għadira tkopri tliet kwarti tas-sit kollu. L-ilma tagħha mhux fond u ma jistax isir għawm fiha. Madanakollu, il-viżitaturi għandhom l-opportunità li jirkbu dgħajsa sabiex igawdu l-ambjent mill-isbaħ kemm tal-għadira, kemm tal-ġnien u kif ukoll tal-palazz li jħares fuqha.

    Mir-rebbiegħa sal-ħarifa jikbru l-fjuri tal-ġilju tal-ilma (lotus) ġewwa l-ilmijiet ta’ din l-għadira. Min-naħa l-oħra, fix-xitwa, wiċċ l-għadira jinbidel f’silġ u n-nies ikunu jistgħu jmorru bl-iskejt fuqu.

    Nies bi snajja’ u arti varji

    Pittur fil-Palazz tas-SajfApparti li dan il-lwog joffrilek iċ-ċans li tiltaqa’ man-nies tal-post, fih wieħed isib ukoll diversi artisti. Fosthom, aħna sibna pittur anzjan li kien qiegħed jiddisinja xeni dettaljati mill-Palazz tas-Sajf. Kien hemm ukoll grupp ta’ nies li bl-istrumenti diversi tagħhom kienu qed jakkumpanjaw żewġ kantanti.

    Min jixtieq jara xi filmati li ħadna f’dan il-post jista’ jidħol f’Youtube permezz ta’ din il-ħolqa:

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tat-8 ta’ Marzu 2015)

    2015.03.08 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles

  • IL-KULURI TAĊ-ĊINA (8 Parti) Siti reliġjużi f’Pekin

    Għalkemm matul is-snin, iċ-Ċina sfat attakkata kemm il-darba u diversi binjiet sinifikanti fiha ġew meqruda, b’xorti tajba llum għad fadal bosta strutturi mill-isbaħli jixhdu l-kobor tal-arkitettura tradizzjonali Ċiniża.

    Fost dawn insibu numru ta’ palazzi u tempji li wieħed jista’ jżur ġewwa l-belt ta’ Pekin.

    It-Tempju tal-Ġenna (The Temple of Heaven)

    Dan it-tempju jinsab fin-naħa tax-xlokk ta’ Pekin. Fih l-imperaturi tad-Dinastiji Ming u Qing kienu jaduraw il-ġenna, filwaqt li kienu jitolbu biex ikollhom ħsad tajjeb mill-għelieqi tagħhom.

    Dan il-post inbena bejn l-1406 u l-1420 mill-Imperatur Yongle li sawwar ukoll il-Belt Ipprojbita. Oriġinarjament kien maħsub li kellu jservi bħala altar tal-ġenna u kif ukoll tad-dinja iżda l-imperaturi baqgħu jibnu u jżidu f’dan il-lwog sakemm maż-żmien, dan sar tempju sħiħ mibni fuq medda ta’ art kbira 2,730,000 metru kwadru.

    Mudellar bl-isfond tat-Tempju tal-GennaFil-preżent, din l-istruttura hija maqsuma f’żewġ partijiet: l-artal intern u l-artal estern. Tianxinshi (ġebla tal-qalba tal-Ġenna) jew Yuanxinshi (qalb tonda tal-ġebel) tinsab proprju fiċ-ċentru tat-terrazzin ta’ fuq ta’ Yuanqiutai. Dan kien il-post fejn kien jintasab l-imperatur biex jitlob. Jingħad illi kull min jitla’ jitkellem fuq din il-ġebla, kapaċi jinstema’ minn ħafna ‘l bogħod.

    Min-naħa l-oħra, Qiniandian (is-sala tat-talb għall-ħsad it-tajjeb) hija l-binja prinċipali tal-altar għat-talb għall-qamħ. Din l-istruttura għolja 32 metru hija waħda mill-isbaħ partijiet f’dan it-tempju. Fost id-dekorazzjonijiet tagħha, il-ħitan esterni ta’ din is-sala ġew imżejjna b’madum ikħal, filwaqt li fuq it-tarf nett tpoġġa ballun lewn id-deheb. Fattur importanti dwar il-kobor tas-sengħa użata f’din il-binja huwa illi l-ebda travu jew musmar ma ntużaw biex iżommuha flimkien. Minflok, din isserraħ fuq 28 kolonna massiċċa tal-injam li b’mod inġenjuż ġew marbuta mal-bqija tal-istruttura sabiex iżżommu kollox bħala ħaġa waħda.

    It-Tempju tal-Ġenna huwa mdawwar b’ħajt twil li jifforma kwadru fin-naħa ta’ nofsinhar u nofs ċirku lejn in-naħa tat-tramuntana. Skont it-twemmin tradizzjonali Ċiniż, dan sar biex jiġu rrappreżentati l-ġenna li kienet maħsuba li kienet tonda u d-dinja li kienet kwadra.

    Id-diżinn uniku u t-tqassim ta’ dan is-sit ġew maħluqa apposta sabiex jesprimu l-filosofija Ċiniża ta’ armonija kompleta bejn il-bniedem u n-natura. Infatti, matul is-snin, dan it-tempju ġie meqjus bħala kapolavur li jisfuma l-arkitettura fin-natura bl-aktar mod eċċellenti.

    Barra minn hekk, din l-istruttura hija kkunsidrata wkoll bħala riflessjoni profonda tal-kultura Ċiniża f’dak li għandu x’jaqsam mal-politika, il-filosofija, l-astronomija, il-kalendarju, il-mużika, il-pittura u l-qasam tal-ġonna.

    Divertiment fit-Tempju tal-GennaMatul il-perjodu tat-Tieni Gwerra tal-Loppju li seħħet bejn l-1856 u l-1860, dan it-tempju safa maħkum mill-Imperu Brittaniku u dak Franċiż li kienu qed jeħduha kontra d-Dinastija Qing taċ-Ċina. Aktar tard, fl-1900, waqt ribelljoni oħra, l-Alleanza tat-Tmien Nazzjonijiet ħadet taħt idejha dan il-kumpless u biddlitu f’ċentru militari. L-okkupazzjoni ta’ dan il-post, li damet madwar sena, iddesekrat dan it-tempju u rriżultat fi ħsara enormi kemm fil-bini u kif ukoll fil-ġonna tal-madwar. Sadanittant, ġew irrapurtati wkoll diversi serqiet ta’ artifatti li ttieħdu mit-tempju.

    Hekk kif id-Dinastija Qing falliet u spiċċat, dan is-sit tħalla għal rieħu u ġie abbandunat kompletament. Dan kompla wassal għal ħsarat ħafna akbar fejn saħansitra waqgħu xi swali.

    Fl-1914, Yuan Shikai, l-ewwel President tar-Repubblika taċ-Ċina wettaq ċerimonja reliġjuża f’dan it-tempju bħala attentat li jiddikkjara ruħu Imperatur taċ-Ċina.

    Għal bosta snin, l-aċċess għal din iż-żona kien ipprojbit, sakemm fl-1918, din tbiddlet fi ġnien u nfetħet għall-pubbliku. Intant, fl-1961 it-Tempju tal-Ġenna ġie inkluż bħala parti mil-Lista ta’ Monumenti Storiċi u Kulturali Ċiniżi taħt protezzjoni tal-istat u b’hekk beda jsirlu r-restawr meħtieġ. Imbagħad, fl-1998, dan is-sit beda jifforma wkoll parti mill-lista tal-Wirt Kulturali Dinji tal-UNESCO.

    Illum dan il-post huwa popolari ħafna kemm man-nies tal-lokal u kif ukoll mat-turisti. Infatti, waqt iż-żjara tagħna, kien hemm mijiet ta’ viżitaturi ta’ kull età u ġens li kienu qed jagħmlu kull xorta ta’ attività bħaż-żfin, kant, u logħob varju. Barra minn hekk, kien hemm ukoll numru ta’ għarajjes li kienu qed jiġbdu r-ritratti tat-tieġ tagħhom fl-isfond tal-istrutturi varji ta’ dan it-tempju. Xi fotografi oħra kienu qed jieħdu ritratti artistiċi u tal-moda lil diversi mudelli.

    Fatt interessanti huwa illi f’sezzjoni mill-ġonna ta’ dan it-tempju, wieħed jista’ jara siġra kbira li hija magħrufa bħala ‘iċ-ċipressa tad-disgħa draguni’. Tissejjaħ hekk minħabba li jekk wieħed juża naqra immaġinazzjoni, jista’ jistħajjel iz-zokk tagħha bħal disgħa draguni jitremblu f’xulxin. Jingħad illi din iċ-ċipressa għandha mal-elf sena u għadha ħajja sa llum.

    Yonghegong Lamasery

    Magħrufa wkoll bħala l-Palazz tal-Armonija u l-Paċi, din l-istruttura li tinsab lejn in-naħa tal-grigal ta’ Pekin, ġiet mibnija fl-1694.

    Oriġinarjament, fil-perjodu tad-Dinastija Ming, dan il-post kien maħsub biex iservi bħala residenza għal dawk l-irġiel li kienu jiġu kastrati u mpjegati sabiex jipproteġu lin-nisa li kienu jgħixu fil-qrati orjentali.

    Qima fit-tempju BuddistMadanakollu, mill-1725, dan is-sit beda jintuża bħala l-palazz residenzjali tal-Imperaturi Yongzheng u Qianlong tad-Dinastiji Qing, meta dawn kienu jixtiequ joħorġu għal ftit taż-żmien mill-Belt Ipprojbita. Infatti, il-ħitan ħomor, il-madum isfar u l-iljuni tal-ġebel li wieħed isib f’dan il-lwog huma simboli li hemmhekk xi darba kien jgħix xi membru tal-familja imperjali.

    Kien fl-1744, waqt id-Dinastija Qing, illi finalment ir-rwol ta’ dan il-palazz inbidel f’tempju u f’residenza għall-patrijiet Lama filwaqt li sar ukoll iċ-ċentru nazzjonali tal-amministrazzjoni Lama.

    L-arkitettura, id-disinn u d-dekorazzjonijiet tiegħu huma meraviljużi hekk kif dan il-post huwa mqassam f’sebat ibtieħi differenti bi strutturi li jvarjaw bejn swali, paviljuni u torrijiet, li kollha jintonaw flimkien akkost li fihom karatteristiċi tradizzjonali varji tal-popli ta’ Han, Tibet, Manchu u Mongolja.

    Hruq tal-incens fit-tempju BuddistIllum dan il-post huwa miftuħ kemm għat-turisti u kif ukoll għal dawk li jkunu jixtiequ jqimu d-diversi statwi Buddisti li hemm imxerrda man-numru ta’ binjiet li jiffurmaw lil dan il-palazz. Fost dawn l-istatwi, wieħed isib ukoll statwa ġganteska ta’ Buddha għolja 26 metru li ġiet maħduma minn biċċa sħiħa tal-injam tas-sandlu. Jingħad li din hija l-ikbar statwa fid-dinja tax-xorta tagħha.

    Ċertament, dan it-tempju huwa xempju tal-arti reliġjuża tradizzjonali Ċiniża. Hu wkoll il-post ideali għal dawk li japprezzaw isegwu r-ritwali differenti ta’ ġnus oħra

    Nistqarr illi anki jekk in-nies ta’ madwari kienu qed iqimu reliġjon differenti minn dak li nħaddan jien, xorta waħda ħassejt serenità kbira ġewwa dan it-tempju, speċjalment meta bdejt nara l-qima qawwija fost individwi ta’ kull età.

    Għalija, iż-żjara ġo dan il-lwog kienet esperjenza memorabbli u unika li laqqgħatni ma’ aspett ieħor tal-kultura u s-soċjetà taċ-Ċina.

     (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tal-1 ta’ Marzu 2015)




    2015.03.01 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles

  • IL-KULURI TAĊ-ĊINA (Is-7 Parti) Ħarsa lejn l-arti Ċiniża

    Bħalissa, is-settur tal-arti fiċ-Ċina huwa wieħed mill-aktar dinamiċi, hekk kif l-artisti Ċiniżi qed jerħulha jesploraw u jimirħu f’orizzonti differenti sabiex jippruvaw jesprimu r-rwol ġdid li għandu pajjiżhom fid-dinja. Dawn ix-xogħolijiet artistiċi varji jinstabu mxerrda madwar iċ-Ċina kollha f’diversi distretti popolari tal-arti, f’numru ta’ galleriji artistiċi u f’bosta mużewijiet.

     Permezz ta’ dan l-artiklu, jiena se niddeskrivilkhom dawk l-inħawi li żort f’Pekin u Shanghai li huma relatati ma’ dan il-qasam.

     751D Park – Pekin

     Kont immaġinajt li ż-żjarat tagħna f’Pekin kienu ser ikunu kollha marbutin mal-istorja. Għaldaqstant kienet tassew sorpriża interessanti meta ġejna akkumpanjati f’dan iċ-ċentru ta’ arti kontemporanja.

    Sa ftit tas-snin ilu, din il-medda art b’qies ta’ 40,000 metru kwadru, kienet tifforma parti minn żona industrijali. Madanakollu, riċentement, din ġiet trasformata f’post iddedikat kollu kemm hu għall-arti u ngħatat l-isem ta’ 751D Park.

    Xoghol ta' Liu Fei - An enchanting warL-arkitettura distinta ta’ stil Bauhaus irnexxielha tisfuma b’mod armonjuż mal-karattru l-ġdid li ngħata lil dawn l-inħawi fejn issa wieħed isib numru ta’ galleriji tal-arti, swali tal-esebizzjonijiet, ħwienet tal-kotba, ristoranti u kafetteriji.

    Għalkemm m’inix xi waħda li nifhem wisq fl-arti, nistqarr illi l-ħin li qattgħajt f’dan il-lwog sabiex nesplora dawn ix-xogħolijiet artistiċi, fetħuli tieqa oħra fuq iċ-Ċina li minnha stajt nixtarr aħjar lil dan il-pajjiż u l-kultura tiegħu. Infatti, kull post li dħalt fih offrieli l-opportunità li nosserva, napprezza u nixtri kreazzjonijiet bi stili tassew uniċi u b’disinji oriġinali ta’ immaġinazzjoni bla tarf.

    Fosthom, laqtitni ħafna l-esebizzjoni artistika ta’ Liu Fei li kienet iġġib l-isem ta’ An Enchanting War. Fiha, l-artist ippreżenta l-perċezzjonijiet tiegħu dwar il-gwerer futuri filwaqt li kkontempla dwar kif dawn ser jiġu miġġielda. Għamel dan permezz ta’ kreazzjonijiet li jżommuk fil-post tħares lejhom, l-aktar hekk kif hu esprima d-disprezz u l-kritika tiegħu lejn il-gwerra permezz ta’ ġmiel u kruha ironiċi u li jaħsdu.

    Il-Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Arti – Pekin

     Dan il-mużew hu ddedikat għall-kollezzjonijiet, għar-riċerka u għall-esebizzjonijiet ta’ xogħolijiet artistiċi moderni u kontemporanji li jsiru fiċ-Ċina. Għalkemm il-bini tiegħu nbeda fl-1958 u nfetaħ għall-pubbliku fl-1963, l-istil arkitettoniku tiegħu tfassal fi stil tradizzjonali Ċiniż hekk kif dan jinkludi fih kurituri, paviljuni u saqaf imżejjen b’madum ta’ lewn safrani.

    L-artista Liu Xia biswit ix-xogħol taghha fil-Muzew Nazzjonali tal-ArtiFil-wisgħa ta’ 18,000 metru kwadru, dan il-mużew għandu fih 17 il-sala tal-esebizzjoni mqassma fuq 5 sulari. Fil-kollezzjonijiet tiegħu jħaddan aktar minn 100,000 biċċa xogħol artistika, li l-biċċa l-kbira tagħhom inħadmu minn artisti mill-aqwa matul perjodi differenti li jkopru s-snin mill-aħħar tas-seklu 19 sa llum.

    Mit-twaqqif tiegħu, dan il-mużew organizza eluf ta’ esebizzjonijiet artistiċi li jirriflettu l-iżvilupp tal-arti Ċiniża. Kull sena, dawn l-attivitajiet jiġbdu miljuni ta’ viżitaturi lejn dan il-post u b’hekk dan iservi wkoll bħala vetrina għall-artisti involuti.

    Waqt iż-żjara tagħna f’dan il-post, fost ix-xogħolijiet esebiti, kien hemm il-wirja Beautiful China: Call of Humanism, liema attività tax-xorta tagħha kienet qed issir għall-ewwel darba. Infatti, f’din l-esebizzjoni kien hemm 200 biċċa xogħol artistika għall-bejgħ u l-flus li kienu ser jinġabru minnha, kienu ser imorru biex jgħinu lill-eluf ta’ persuni li jbatu minn xi diżabbilità. Fatt interessanti kien li fost ix-xogħolijiet għall-bejgħ, kien hemm uħud li kienu maħduma minn artisti rinomati ferm imħallta ma’ oħrajn ta’ livelli differenti, fosthom anki ma’ ta’ artisti u kalligrafi li kellhom xi diżabbilità.

    M50 – Shanghai

     Din iż-żona artistika li tikkonsisti minn għadd ta’ galleriji u spazji għall-esebizzjonijiet, tinsab f’50 Triq Moganshan, Shanghai, imma ħafna jirreferu għaliha bħala M50.

     Sa ftit tas-snin ilu, din il-lokalità ċentrali kienet tifforma parti minn fabbrika tat-tessuti iżda wara li din l-industrija ngħalqet, ftit ftit bdew jinġibdu għadd ta’ artisti lejn dan il-post minħabba li kien qed jinkera bi prezz baxx. Kien fis-sena 2000 meta daħlu l-ewwel artisti sabiex jesponu xogħolijiethom f’dawn l-inħawi. Illum M50 inbidlet f’kumpless kollu kemm hu ddedikat lill-arti.

    Xogholijiet tal-arti fid-distrett M50Ċertament hawnhekk, dawk li japprezzaw l-arti għandhom fejn jintilfu bl-għażla tassew varja ta’ ideat u xogħolijiet, kemm f’dik li hi skultura u kif ukoll pittura. F’dan il-lwog, wieħed spiss ikollu ċ-ċans ukoll li jiltaqa’ mal-artisti nfushom u li jixtri x-xogħolijiet direttament minn għandhom. Il-prezzijiet ivarjaw ħafna: jibdew minn tassew irħas u jibqgħu telgħin sa somom pjuttost esorbitanti. Madanakollu, jekk wieħed ikun kapaċi jinnegozja prezz tajjeb, jaf imur lura d-dar b’xogħol tassew uniku u sabiħ.

    Għalkemm viżwalment din iż-żona ma tolqotx wisq l-għajn, wieħed m’għandux joqgħod lura milli jikkunsidra li jiddedika ftit ħin biex jevalwa dak li jista’ jsib fiha. Infatti wħud mix-xogħolijiet kapaċi jkunu interessanti u provokanti qatiegħ, b’numru minnhom mogħnija wkoll b’natura ribelli.

    Esebizzjoni artistika tal-pittur Heping – Malta

     L-għan prinċipali ta’ din is-sensiela ta’ artikli huwa li nxennaq lill-poplu Malti biex isir jaf aktar dwar il-kultura taċ-Ċina u niesha. Għaldaqstant, fejn nara li hemm l-opportunità li l-Maltin iduqu dak li nkun ktibt dwaru f’pajjiżna stess, jiena nħossni obbligata li ninforma lill-qarrejja bih.

     Fil-fatt, bħalissa, bħala parti miċ-ċelebrazzjonijiet tal-Ewwel tas-Sena Ċiniża, fil-gallerija artistika taċ-Ċentru Kulturali taċ-Ċina li jinsab f’173, Triq Melita, Valletta, qed tittella’ esebizzjoni ta’ xogħolijiet li saru mill-pittur famuż Ċiniż Heping.

    Heping huwa bbażat f’Shanghai u bħalissa huwa jservi bħala għalliem fl-Istitut tal-Moda, l-Arti u d-Disinn ta’ Dunghua University. Huwa jifforma parti mill-ġens Naxi; li huwa wieħed mill-minoritajiet etniċi li jinsabu ċ-Ċina.

    F’dawn l-aħħar snin, Heping żviluppa lingwa artistika ġdida sabiex permezz tagħha jittrażmetti l-karattru etniku u s-sengħa tradizzjonali tiegħu. Din il-linja artistika tinvolvi taħlita għanja ta’ pittura u kalligrafija li finalment tiġi espressa f’xogħol modern b’tema astratta.

    Xoghol artistiku ta' HepingIx-xogħolijiet ta’ Heping huma magħrufa għall-użu distint tal-kulur u għall-linji maħżuża li flimkien jikkontribwixxu xogħol mhux konvenzjonali li għalkemm jirrifletti ċertu loġika, jinħakem ukoll minn passjoni qawwija. Fuq kollox, is-saħħa ta’ din l-arti tinsab fit-taħlita tal-elementi artistiċi tal-Lvant u tal-Punent li jagħmlu dawn ix-xogħolijiet attraenti għal diversi individwi madwar id-dinja.

    Heping jistqarr li jinteressaħ ħafna l-bniedem u li għalhekk kull xogħol tiegħu jirrappreżenta individwu minn Shanghai: il-belt fejn trabba’ u tgħallem u l-post li għadu sa llum jinfluwenzah ħafna. Huwa jħobb joħloq illustrazzjonijiet li jissimbolizzaw id-dinja moderna urbana li teżisti f’ambjent li l-ħin kollu jinbidel. Madanakollu, huwa jara li jispjega dan kollu billi juża kemm jista’ s-sempliċità.

    Fil-fehma tiegħu, akkost li ż-żmien ta’ llum huwa miżgħud b’għadd ta’ informazzjoni u attivitajiet, min-natura tiegħu, il-bniedem jibqa’ jfittex li jissimplifika l-affarijiet ta’ madwaru sabiex jassorbi u jifhem aħjar. Fil-fatt Heping jissuġġerixxi illi dan it-tiftix għas-sempliċità jinħoloq proprju sabiex jinstab bilanċ mal-ħajja mgħaġġla ta’ kuljum.

    Intant, jekk wieħed jifli x-xogħolijiet ta’ dan l-artist, spiss se jilmaħ forom astratti imma sempliċi li bihom huwa jrid jiddeskrivi l-perċezzjoni ikkondensata tiegħu tas-suġġetti umani li jpinġi f’kultura urbana u immaġni metropolitana.

    Għal aktar informazzjoni dwar din il-wirja li se ddum miftuħa sal-5 ta’ Marzu 2015, wieħed jista’ jċempel liċ-Ċentru Kulturali taċ-Ċina f’Malta fuq 21 225 055.

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tat-22 ta’ Frar 2015)

    2015.02.22 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles

  • Stepping through the Forbidden City’s gate

    For many years, I read several features and watched various documentaries regarding the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, once I found myself in front of Wumen, its main entrance, I simply stood there in silence and awe.

    At an altitude of 38 metres, this area, which is also known as the Meridian Gate, is the highest section of the Forbidden City. Its imposing nature with five towers looking upon this square gave me shivers especially when I recalled that here, in the old days, the captured prisoners-of-war used to be presented to the emperor, whereas those sentenced for capital punishment were executed.

    As originally intended by those who constructed this site, I felt small and bewildered in the presence of such magnitude and as I stepped further through the gate, I felt thankful that nowadays this is only a tourist site.

    Internal decorations in the Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City was built to serve as the emperors’ royal palace. Within it, the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties carried out their administration and lived together with their families. In fact, this site was used as the residence of 24 emperors until the last one, Aisin Gioro Puyi, emperor of the Qing Dynasty, abdicated in 1911.

    Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty started the construction of this city in 1406 and its completion took 14 years. Around 100,000 skilled technicians and millions of labourers were involved in this architectural masterpiece.

    Most of this magnificent palatial complex was built from wood and it is the largest wooden cluster in existence in the world today. Other material used included white marble from Fangshan which is situated in the limits of Beijing, and granite from Hebei Province.

    It was not easy to ship these stones to the city since there was no machinery at the time. Yet the Chinese succeeded to conclude this outstanding project by carrying this material on wooden rollers during summer and by sprinkling the roads with water in mid-winter in order to make an ice-path which could ease transportation. Water for the latter use was made available by digging out a well every half kilometer.

    Eventually, the whole city covered an area of 720,000 square metres and within it, one could find numerous palaces, pavilions, squares and gardens. In all, 9,999.5 structures were built; the half room accommodates only a staircase.

    Lioness stands in front of Gate of Supreme Harmony in Forbidden CityIt is interesting to note that the emperor could not have 10,000 rooms in his city since it was believed that the deity emperor Hade had that amount of structures in his Heavenly Palace. Therefore, out of respect, his son, who was the emperor on earth, could not have a residence as spacious as that of his father. Meanwhile, this huge amount of rooms in the Forbidden City was intended to prolong the life of the earthly emperor.

    Along the centuries, various parts of this ancient city were restored or rebuilt. However, its basic form and layout remains in the original state. In fact, its structures are spread out in an orderly manner alongside the central axis line which goes through from south to north. Moreover, its layout indicates the feudal hierarchy and reflects the traditional philosophy of yin-yang and the Five Elements.

    The Forbidden City is surrounded by 10 meter high walls and at each of its four corners there is a tower. Outside these walls, a 52 meter wide moat full of water encircles the city in order to strengthen its defense system.

    Thousands of tourists from various countries visit this site daily and yet the grandeur of this place is so amazing that its space seems unable to ever be exhausted.

    Taihe Dian squareThe largest square in the Forbidden City is Taihe Dian and it has an area of 30,000 square metres. On its four sides, one finds a number of bronze vats which used to be filled with water in order to prevent fire. Water was provided by the Inner Golden Water River which ran across this section of the city. Moreover, this river had the function of draining off rain water and to decorate the square.

    On the other hand, in the square which lies in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony, visitors can observe the hall wherein the emperors administered their power, held ceremonies and summoned ministers. In this outer court, there is also the largest pair of lions in the whole city; the male has a ball under his paw, whereas the female plays with a cub.

     Curiously, in the Forbidden City, there is also the Palace of Abstinence wherein the emperor stayed and fasted for three days before he celebrated the sacrificial ceremony to the heaven and earth.

     Contrarily, other areas within this magnificent city were intended to appease the emperor’s pleasures; including numerous structures reserved for his concubines.

    Ancient moat surrounding the Forbidden CityThese concubines were selected amongst the most attractive females and were expected to dedicate their lives in order to please their emperor. Yet not all these concubines had the chance to sleep with the emperor; some only once, some not at all.

    Surely, those who did not succeed to attract the emperor’s interest were disregarded in a corner of the palace but they were never allowed to marry anybody else. Therefore, the main aim of these imperial concubines was the opportunity to bear a child of the emperor so that they could acquire more power. Indeed, that concubine whose son managed to become the next emperor was even given the title of Empress Dowager.

    Due to the massive size of this city, it is impossible to visit it all. Nonetheless, I believe that I have seen enough to impress me and to leave a memorable imprint on my mind.

    The exquisite designs and colours which were used in its construction are truly fascinating and marvelous. Likewise, the ancient furniture and decorations which adorn its palaces and halls are unique and superb.

    When this city was still in vigour, no one was allowed to enter into it without a permit. That is why, it is known as the Forbidden City. Yet in 1925, when the Qing Dynasty was over, this site was turned into a museum and in fact today, this city is also known as the Palace Museum.

    Within this period, around one million relics were collected from this city and many of them are exhibited in its illustrious halls. These artifacts include objects made from wood, bronze, pottery and porcelain that were designed by skilled artists during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Other masterpieces comprise precious artworks, sculptures and numerous other treasures.

    Meanwhile, the Imperial Garden which lies at the end of the city is another attractive facet of this place. In ancient days, this was a private retreat for the imperial family and the imperial concubines.

    The Imperial Garden in the Forbidden CityThere are around twenty architectural structures in this garden which include pavilions, rooms, towers and halls. Each one of these bears a different style and is arranged symmetrically in hierarchical order.

    Rare flowers and trees were planted in this garden, some of which still survive today. This place was also adorned with a pond full of fish in order to create a sense of harmony and peace.

    One of the most renowned sections in this garden is Duixiushan; an artifical hill built of Taihu Lake Rocks of varying shapes. Its centre was formed into a cave and two stairways spiral up to the top from its southern and eastern sides. The imperial family used to climb up this hill to reach the Pavilion of Imperial View which sits at the top in order to enjoy the spectacular scenery during significant celebrations.

    In 1961 this city was included in the List of the Historical Monuments and Cultural Relics under State Protection and due restoration and preservation took place. In 1987, UNESCO inscribed the Forbidden City as a World Heritage Site.

    (This article was published in the Travel Supplement of the Sunday Times of Malta dated 15 February 2015)

    2015.02.16 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles

  • IL-KULURI TAĊ-ĊINA (4 Parti) L-Istorja taċ-Ċina

    L-Istorja taċ-Ċina hija ikkumplikata mmens, l-aktar minħabba l-kobor tal-pajjiż. Infatti, bosta Ċiniżi jistqarru li lanqas huma ma jafuha kollha. Min-naħa l-oħra, fil-fehma tiegħi, għalina l-Ewropej hija naqra aktar diffiċli biex nassimilawha peress li tvarja ħafna mill-ġrajjiet storiċi li tgħallimna dwarhom. Kien proprju għalhekk li sibt ruħi kompletament affaxxinata meta żort il-Mużew Nazzjonali ta-Ċina f’Pekin.

    Il-Mużew Nazzjonali taċ-Ċina f’Pekin

    Il-binja ta’ dan il-mużew hija imponenti ferm u l-faċċata tiegħu tħares direttament fuq il-Pjazza Tiananmen. Twaqqaf fit-28 ta’ Frar 2003 wara li ngħaqdu dak li qabel kien il-Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Istorja Ċiniża flimkien mal-Mużew Nazzjonali tar-Rivoluzzjoni Ċiniża.

    Il-Mużew Nazzjonali taċ-Ċina f’Pekin huwa mibni fuq medda ta’ art li tkopri 192,000 metru kwadru u huwa meqjus bħala l-akbar u l-aqwa mużew fid-dinja. Iħaddan fih 40 gallerija flimkien ma’ 10 swali ta’ esebizzjonijiet artistiċi li fihom jiġu esebiti wkoll xogħolijiet internazzjonali li jiġu mislufa lil dan il-mużew.

    L-artifatti li huma esebiti fih ivarjaw ħafna u b’hekk huma jagħtu l-opportunità lill-viżitaturi biex josservaw firxa wiesgħa tal-arkeoloġija, tal-istorja, tal-arti u tal-kalligrafija ta’ dan il-pajjiż. Permezz ta’ dawn, wieħed ikun jista’ jixtarr ukoll is-soċjetà u l-kultura Ċiniża matul perjodi differenti.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-bronż

    Kontenitur tal-bronzIs-sezzjoni tal-bronż hija waħda sinifikattiva f’dan il-mużew, partikolarment dawk ix-xogħolijiet li saru fil-Perjodi Shang u Zhou li jirriflettu r-ritwali u s-sistemi mużikali wżati fiċ-Ċina ta’ dak iż-żmien u li llum huma apprezzati madwar id-dinja kollha. Madanakollu, hemm bosta oġġetti oħra li juru kif iċ-Ċiniżi kienu diġà trawwmu sewwa fit-teknoloġija tal-bronż sa minn 4000 sena ilu.

    Intlift inħares lejn oġġett wara l-ieħor li kien hemm esposti f’din is-sezzjoni, nistagħġeb kif fihom ftit li xejn stajt nilmaħ xebħ ma’ dak li jiena mdorrija nara f’mużewijiet oħrajn Ewropej, fosthom dawk lokali.

    Il-kollezzjoni tal-bronż f’dan il-mużew tinkludi oġġetti ta’ kuljum, ornamenti, reċipjenti, għodod u armi b’disinji distinti u sbieħ. Uħud minnhom kienu saħansitra mżejjna b’karattri kalligrafiċi antiki indurati bid-deheb jew bi ħlejqiet fantastiċi bħad-draguni.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-fuħħar

    L-invenzjoni tal-fuħħar li seħħet eluf ta’ snin ilu tatu spinta kbira lill-bniedem fl-iżvilupp tiegħu lejn iċ-ċiviltà. Fil-fatt minn hemm, il-bniedem kompla jistħarreġ kif seta’ juża l-materjali tan-natura sabiex jgħinuh jgħix ħajja aħjar.

    L-aktar fuħħar antik li wieħed isib f’dan il-mużew imur lura għall-Perjodu Neolitiku fejn għall-ewwel il-fuħħar kien jinħadem bl-idejn imbagħad anki fuq ir-rota. Maż-żmien, il-bniedem għaraf ukoll kif isebbaħ dak li joħloq billi jivvinta disinji b’subgħajh u b’difrejh, inkella b’xi għodda oħra. Wara, huwa sab mezz kif jiżbogħ dawn l-oġġetti permezz ta’ pigmenti naturali.

    Il-kollezzjoni tal-fuħħar tinkludi kontenituri, madum, figurini u kif ukoll oġġetti li ġew użati waqt ir-riti tad-dfin. L-irfinar fil-materjal maħdum u anki fid-dekorazzjoni tal-oġġett huma xhieda tal-iżvilupp tal-bniedem matul is-snin.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-porċellana

    Porcellana maghrufa ta' lewn abjad u ikhalTip ta’ porċellana li kienet tinħadem bil-lewn abjad u ikħal, partikolarment fi żmien id-Dinastiji Ming u Qing, hija l-aktar famuża madwar id-dinja għall-kwalità u l-ġmiel tagħha. Infatti fost l-eluf ta’ artifatti maħduma mill-porċellana, l-akbar kwantità ta’ oġġetti fil-kollezzjoni ta’ dan il-mużew huma ta’ dan it-tip.

    Xorta waħda, għal dawk li japprezzaw xogħolijiet bħal dawn, l-esebiti l-oħra huma interessanti mmens u mill-ġdid pjuttost differenti minn dawk li aħna mdorrija naraw.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-jade

    Il-jade huwa ħaġra prezzjuża ta’ lewn ħadrani li hija popolari ferm fiċ-Ċina. Ta’ min isemmi illi l-ġibda ta’ dan il-poplu lejn din il-ħaġra ilha teżisti saħansitra sa mill-Perjodu Neolitiku, hekk kif jixhdu xi esebiti li jinsabu f’dan il-mużew.

    Fil-fatt skont materjal arkeoloġiku li nstab jidher li ċ-Ċiniżi kienu qed jipproduċu xogħolijiet mill-jade sa minn 8000 sena ilu, għalkemm xi studjużi jisħqu li probabbilment din l-użanza tmur lura sa 10,000 sena ilu.

    Matul iż-żmien, il-funzjoni ta’ din il-ħaġra nbidlet qatiegħ fiċ-Ċina. Fil-Perjodu Neolitiku l-jade kellha tifsira spiritwali u kienet tintuża l-aktar fir-riti tad-dfin peress li kien hemm it-twemmin li permezz ta’ din il-ħaġra, il-bniedem seta’ jikkomunika mal-allat.

    Min-naħa l-oħra, fil-Perjodu Shang din il-ħaġra kienet marbuta mar-ritwali tal-poter militari u allura mal-armi ċerimonjali li kienu jinħadmu minn dan il-materjal.

    Timbru tal-jadeAktar tard waqt id-Dinastija Qin, jiġifieri mis-seklu 3 Q.K sas-seklu 6 W.K. din il-ħaġra bdiet tintuża anqas fir-ritwali u bdiet minflok tieħu aspett aktar popolari. L-ikbar żvilupp fil-produzzjoni ta’ oġġetti popolari li tfasslu minn dil-ħaġra saru fi żmien id-Dinastiji Ming u Qing fejn wieħed jista’ josserva kapolavuri mill-ifjen.

    Fatt interessanti huwa li fiċ-Ċina din il-ħaġra għadha apprezzata ferm, aktar u aktar illum meta dan il-materjal m’għadux jinstab daqstant fi kwantitajiet kbar. Il-valur ta’ din il-ħaġra huwa fit-twemmin illi din kapaċi tgħin lill-bniedem jgħix ħajja itwal u kif ukoll li ġġiblu x-xorti t-tajba.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-fidda u d-deheb

    Il-kollezzjoni kbira ta’ dawn l-oġġetti li għandu l-mużew tkopri xogħolijiet li twettqu matul l-aktar perjodi importanti fiċ-Ċina; jiġifieri mill-Perjodu Shang sa dak Qing.

    Permezz ta’ dawn l-esebiti, wieħed jista’ japprezza s-sengħa mill-aqwa ta’ provinċji differenti u kif din żviluppat matul is-snin. Apparti mid-disinji sbieħ, uħud ġew dekorati wkoll b’ħaġar prezzjuż u għalhekk il-valur ta’ ċerti oġġetti huwa imprezzabbli.

    Fost l-oġġetti wieħed jista’ jara ġojjelli, ornamenti tax-xahar, reċipjenti tal-inċens, u kontenituri tax-xorb u l-ikel.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-muniti

    L-Istorja tal-flus fiċ-Ċina tmur lura għall-Perjodu Shang u tibqa’ miexja b’kontinwazzjoni sal-ġranet ta’ llum. Għaldaqstant, din il-kollezzjoni hija siewja ħafna sabiex wieħed jistudja l-iżvilupp ekonomiku ta’ din il-kultura tal-Lvant.

    Fiċ-Ċina, l-ewwel flus kienu jikkonsistu minn arzell. Kien biss fid-9 seklu Q.K. li bdew jidhru l-ewwel muniti tal-metall. Aktar tard, id-digriet imperjali li twaqqaf mill-Ewwel Imperatur taċ-Ċina li kien jesiġi l-istandardizzazzjoni tal-kitba, tal-qisien u tal-piżijiet, għen ferm sabiex jiġi żviluppat dan il-qasam u kien hawn meta bdew jidhru l-muniti distinti tondi b’kaxxa maqtugħa fiċ-ċentru tagħhom. Flus tal-karti oriġinaw fil-Perjodu Song fl-10 seklu W.K.

    Il-kollezzjoni ta’ dan il-mużew relatata ma’ din is-sezzjoni tlaħħaq il-200,000 oġġett. Apparti mill-flus infushom, il-kollezzjoni tkopri wkoll forom li minnhom kienu jinħadmu l-muniti u blokok li permezz tagħhom kienu jiġu stampati l-flus.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-arti u l-kalligrafija

    Din hija kollezzjoni oħra ta’ sinifikat kbir għal dan il-pajjiż. Tħaddan fiha esebiti li jmorru lura għall-Perjodu Tang u tibqa’ ġejja saż-żminijiet moderni.

    B’mod ġenerali x-xogħolijiet f’din is-sezzjoni jinqasmu bejn dawk li saru minn artisti famużi matul diversi perjodi u dawk li jirrappreżentaw xbiehat storiċi importanti.

    Għal dawk li japprezzaw l-arti, din is-sezzjoni hija meraviljuża kemm minħabba l-istili, is-suġġetti u l-materjali differenti li tesebixxi.

    Is-sezzjoni tal-madum impinġi

    Id-dekorazzjonijiet fuq dan il-madum kienu jsiru bil-forom jew billi jiġu stampati. Permezz tagħhom, il-pajjiż għandu ġabra ta’ 10 sekli ta’ storja hekk kif dawn juru xeni tal-ħajja ta’ kuljum, politiċi, storiċi, artistiċi u idejoloġistiċi.

    Kollezzjonijiet oħra

    Figuri storiciĊertament ma nixtieqx inħalli barra l-kollezzjoni tal-għadam tal-oraklu li kienu iskrizzjonijiet antiki li tnaqqxu fuq l-għadam tal-annimali u ta’ ħlejqiet oħra, fosthom tal-fkieren. Dawn huma importanti għax jitfgħu dawl fuq l-ewwel kitba fiċ-Ċina.

    Imbagħad hemm ukoll is-sezzjoni ta’ strumenti uniċi tal-mużika, uħud maħduma minn ġebel li kien kapaċi jagħmel ħsejjes individwali.

    Kollezzjoni oħra sinifikattiva hija dik tat-timbri fejn uħud nħadmu mill-ħaġar prezzjuż. Dawn ukoll jgħaddu informazzjoni valida rigward il-mexxejja u r-regolamenti tagħhom matul is-snin.

    Ma tispiċċa qatt jekk tipprova ssemmi fid-dettall il-kollezzjonijiet kollha li jħaddan fih dan il-mużew. Daqstant ieħor huwa impossibli li tara l-mużew kollu fi żjara waħda u għalhekk trid tkun selettiv, inkella jekk tassew tkun interessat, trid tipprepara ruħek biex iżżuru aktar minn darba.

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tal-25 ta’ Jannar 2015)

    2015.01.25 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles

  • IL-KULURI TAĊ-ĊINA (3 Parti) Il-Ħajt Leġġendarju

    Fuq il-Hajt il-Kbir tac-Cina

    Fiċ-Ċina jingħad li wieħed ma jistax issejjaħ lilu nnifsu raġel jekk qatt ma jkun żaril-Ħajt il-Kbir. Iżda wara li finalment irnexxieli nesperjenza parti minn dan is-sit uniku, nemmen li biex tagħtih titwila ma fiha xejn. Biex titilgħu l-problema!

    Il-Ħajt il-Kbir taċ-Ċina

    Il-Ħajt il-Kbir taċ-Ċina nbena fuq l-art ta’ diversi provinċji u għalhekk wieħed jista’ jżuru minn inħawi differenti. Il-kostruzzjoni tiegħu seħħet matul elfejn sena waqt ir-renju ta’ dinastiji varji fejn dan ittella’ biċċa biċċa, inħatt u reġa’ nbena, u ġie miżjud sakemm finalment illum dan il-ħajt ġie msensel kollu flimkien għat-tul ta’ madwar 7300 kilometru.

    Sas-seklu 7 Q.K. iċ-Ċiniżi kienu diġà akkwistaw sengħa mill-iprem fil-bini ta’ ħitan protettiv biex bihom jiddefendu l-inħawi tagħhom mill-attakki tal-għadu u kien f’dan iż-żmien li bdew jinbnew l-ewwel partijiet tal-Ħajt il-Kbir.

    Għal bosta snin, kien hemm ġlied qalil bejn diversi stati Ċiniżi. Iżda fl-221 Q.K., Qin Shi Huang irnexxielu jirbaħ lill-opponenti kollha tiegħu u b’hekk hu għaqqad liċ-Ċina għall-ewwel darba u waqqaf id-Dinastija Qin (tinqara ċin).

    Fost il-passi li ħa sabiex jimponi tmexxija ċentrali, huwa ordna li jiġġarrfu d-diversi ħitan li kienu nbnew madwar il-pajjiż minn numru ta’ mexxejja fewdali. Minflok, huwa ddeċieda li kellhom jittellgħu ħitan ġodda li kellhom jgħaqqdu flimkien numru ta’ fortifikazzjonijiet li kienu jinsabu lejn in-naħa tat-tramunatana tal-imperu tiegħu. Fuq dik in-naħa kien hemm l-għadu tiegħu – it-tribù nomadiku Xiongnu (fejn illum tinsab il-Mongolja), u l-ħajt kellu l-għan li jżomm lil dawn in-nies milli jidħlu biex jattakkaw il-pajjiż.

    Ma kinetx xi ħaġa faċli li tibni dawn il-ħitan fil-postijiet magħżula bejn mogħdijiet fil-muntanji u fil-widien, speċjalment minħabba li f’dak iż-żmien kien għad m’hemm l-ebda makkinarju biex iħaffef ix-xogħol. Xorta waħda, il-poplu Ċiniż sab mezz kif jibni dan il-ħajt billi uża l-materjal li kien jinsab f’dawk l-inħawi stess u billi żamm mal-vina tal-art hekk kif kompla jibni matul it-terren li sab.

    Ħadd m’għandu idea dwar it-total ta’ ħaddiema li ħadmu fuq jew mietu waqt il-bini ta’ dan il-ħajt. Imma bosta jinsistu li dawn żgur kienu jlaħħqu l-miljun. Naturalment, kwantità kbira oħra ta’ ħaddiema komplew b’ħidmiethom fuq dan il-ħajt matul l-elfejn sena l-oħra, partikolarment waqt id-Dinastija Ming, u għalhekk nistgħu ngħidu li miljuni ta’ individwi taw sehemhom u wħud anki ħajjithom sabiex twettaq dan il-kapolavur li llum hu meqjus bħala wieħed mill-isbaħ sebgħa binjiet tal-għaġeb li saru mill-bniedem.

    Fl-1987 il-Ħajt il-Kbir taċ-Ċina sar parti mis-siti meqjusa mill-UNESCO bħala Wirt Kulturali Dinji.

    Leġġenda popolari

    Hemm diversi ġrajjiet u leġġendi marbutin ma’ dan il-ħajt. Imma jingħad li l-aktar waħda magħrufa hija dik ta’ Meng Jiang Nü. Huwa maħsub li din it-tfajla kienet tgħix fil-perjodu tat-3 seklu Q.K., fi żmien id-Dinastija Qin.

    Il-Passagg JuyongguanL-istorja tagħha tirrakkonta illi darba minnhom, Fan Qi Liang, żagħżugħ li ġie mqabbad jaħdem fuq il-Ħajt il-Kbir taċ-Ċina, irnexxielu jaħrab minn dan ix-xogħol iebes u telaq jiġri għal għonq it-triq sakemm fl-aħħar waqaf jistaħba fil-ġnien ta’ missierha.

    Hekk kif ħarset iż-żewġ żgħażagħ iltaqgħet, dawn mill-ewwel ħabbew lil xulxin, tant li ftit wara żżewġu. Imma sfortunatament huma ma tantx gawdew wisq lil xulxin, għax Fan Qi Liang ma damx ma reġa’ nstab u b’hekk kellu jirritorna biex ikompli jaħdem fuq il-ħajt.

    Għal ħafna u ħafna żmien, martu stennietu jiġi lura. Imma meta qorbot ix-xitwa u żewġha ma rritornax, hi ħadmitlu xi ħwejjeġ biex jipproteġuh mill-kesħa u marret fl-inħawi fejn kien tqabbad jaħdem ħalli tagħtihomlu.

    Madanakollu, wara li damet ħafna tfittxu għalxejn, finalment xi ħaddiema oħra infurmawha li żewġha kien miet u li ġismu kien indifen ġol-ħajt stess.

    Għal din l-aħbar traġika, il-mara nfniet bid-dulur u ntefgħet tibki u tixher għal ġurnata u lejl sħaħ. Id-dwejjaq tagħha tant kien kbir li f’ħin minnhom il-ħajt li kienet qed tolfoq quddiemu ġġarraf u minnu ħarġu għadd ta’ għadam u iġsma mejta tal-irġiel.

    Ixxukkjata kif kienet, Meng Jiang Nü qatgħet subgħajja u ħalliet demmha jċarċar fuq il-fdalijiet ta’ dawk in-nies sakemm finalment intebħet li demmha kien qed jiskula kollu ġewwa ġisem minnhom partikolari. B’hekk hi għarfet li dak il-ġisem kien ta’ żewġha, u allura ġabritu u ħaditu biex tagħtih difna xierqa. Imbagħad, erħitilha lejn xmara fejn qatlet lilha nnifisha.

    Il-Passaġġ Juyongguan

    Aħna tteħidna nżuru il-parti tal-Ħajt il-Kbir magħrufa bħala l-Passaġġ Juyongguan li t-tul tiegħu jlaħħaq aktar minn 4000 metru. Din is-sezzjoni tinsab qalb il-muntanji tad-Distrett Changping u qiegħda 50 kilometru bogħod minn Pekin.

    Il-Passaġġ Juyongguan minn dejjem kien imsemmi għas-sinifikat strateġiku u għall-imponenza u l-impenettrabbilità tiegħu. Madanakollu, fl-1644 it-truppi ribelli tal-bdiewa mmexxija minn Li Zicheng irnexxielhom jidħlu f’Pekin proprju minn dan il-post. Xorta waħda jingħad li din l-invażjoni rnexxielha sseħħ mhux minħabba xi nuqqas li kien hemm f’saħħet il-ħajt iżda peress li l-gvern Ming kien iddgħajjef u n-nies tal-post kienu fqar wisq.

    Ta’ min isemmi li dan is-sit huwa popolari ħafna wkoll għall-veduti sbieħ tal-foresti li hemm fil-madwar, l-aktar għax dawn ibiddlu kulurhom skont l-istaġun.

    Tlaqna mill-lukanda kmieni fil-għodu sabiex nilħqu naslu f’dan il-post qabel tinġemgħa l-massa tat-turisti. Iżda għalkemm kienu d-9.00am meta wasalna, kien hemm diġà għadd ta’ nies telgħin u neżlin.

    Inzerta li dakinhar kienet ġurnata kollha ċpar u saħansitra bdiet traxxax ix-xita. Il-fotografi li kellna magħna kemmxu xufftejhom qatiegħ għax ma kienx ser ikun possibbli għalihom li jieħdu r-ritratti li xtaqu. B’danakollu, xejn ma kien ser iwaqqafna milli mmiddu passejna f’dak il-post issa li sibna ruħu quddiemu!

    Mhux la kemm titla' t-tarag tal-Hajt il-KbirArmajt ruħi b’inċirata tax-xita sabiex nipproteġi kemm nista’ l-kamera tar-ritratti u b’qalbi tħabbat sitta sitta, segwejt lil sħabi li kienu diġà rħewlha ‘l quddiem. Bilkemm stajt nemmen li tassew kont qiegħda hemmhekk u hekk kif ħarist madwari, innutajt li bħali kien hemm turisti oħra li għal ftit mumenti waqfu fil-bidu tat-taraġ sabiex iħallu lill-għajnejhom jixorbu dik il-veduta meraviljuża.

    Ċertament, id-dehra tal-ħajt hija tassew leġġendarja, hekk kif dan jibqa’ tiela’ tiela’ ‘l fuq u donnu jintilef fis-smewwiet. Bdejt tiela’ t-taraġ u hemm intbaħt li ma kinetx se tkun faċli li nitilgħu kif ġieb u laħaq minħabba li kull tarġa kellha għoli differenti u allura ma tista’ qatt taqbad ċertu ritmu. Apparti minn hekk, it-turġien l-aktar għolja jaqlgħulek qalbek u fi ftit ħin issib li tkun dħalt għal biċċa xogħol ta’ strapazz mhux ħażin.

    Rassejt snini, injorajt ix-xita traxxax u t-tagħbija tal-basket li kelli fuq dahri u qbadt ngħin ruħi mal-ħadid li kien hemm fit-tarf tal-ħajt. Tarġa wara tarġa ressqitni aktar lejn l-eqreb torri li kien hemm mibni fin-nofs tal-ħajt.

    Hekk kif dħalt ġewwa t-torri, erħejtilha ngħarrex fil-kmamar ċkejknin tiegħu sakemm sibt taraġ li jagħti għal fuq il-bejt u tlajt. Hemmhekk sibt ruħi waħdi nħares ‘l isfel lejn il-miġemgħa ta’ nies telgħin it-taraġ u mbagħad il-fuq lejn oħrajn li kienu baqgħu għaddejjin aktar il-fuq. Għal mument stħajjiltni xi suldat taż-żminijiet antiki…. bħall-leġġendarja Mulan li kienet salvat lill-pajjiżha mill-għadu.

    Ix-xita waqfet kemmxejn u ħallitni niġbed ftit ritratti u ngawdi daqsxejn aktar il-post. Komplejt tiela’ ‘l fuq il-fuq lejn it-torri li jmiss. Ormaj, turisti kien hemm bil-gzuz u minn kull razza; kulħadd jitbissem wieħed lill-ieħor biex jinkoraġġixxi lil dak li jkun ħalli jibqa’ tiela’.

    Is-sensazzjoni sabiħa li tħoss meta taf li qiegħda f’post daqstant inkredibbli ma ddumx ma timlik bl-istamina biex tasal sa fejn hemm bżonn u f’ħin bla waqt issib li tlajt parti mhux ħażin. Imma l-ħin mhux li ssiblu tarfu għax trid jew ma tridx ikollok tirritorna lura ħalli tkompli bil-vjaġġ lejn inħawi oħra u għalhekk kontra qalbi, kelli ndawwar denbi. Biex tinżel lura t-taraġ, kull qaddis jgħin u mhi diffiċli xejn.

    Katnazzi tal-mahbubin marbutin tul partijiet mill-Hajt il-Kbir tac-CinaIppruvajt nitnikker kemm niflaħ biex intawwal l-esperjenza tal-post u għalhekk ħadt gost ferm meta lmaħt kwantità kbira ta’ katnazzi marbutin ma’ partijiet twal tal-ħitan u mort nesplora x’kienu. Innutajt li fuq kull wieħed kien hemm par qlub u xi ismijiet u meta staqsejt dwarhom sirt naf li dik kienet użanza Ċiniża. Infatti, hemmhekk, il-maħbubin kienu jħallu dak il-katnazz b’isimhom u hekk kif jagħlquh u jorbtuh mal-katina tal-Ħajt il-Kbir kienu jemmnu li mħabbithom kienet ser tibqa’ għal dejjem; eżatt bħad-destin ta’ dan is-sit etern.

     (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tat-18 ta’ Jannar 2015)


    2015.01.18 / no responses / Category: Torca - Features & Articles