An Afternoon with Mr. Cho

February 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

As I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. 

Daxu Ancient TownDaxu Ancient TownDaxu Ancient Town, located 18km southeast of Guilin, is one of the four ancient towns of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. With a history of more than 2,000 years, Daxu Town still keeps well-preserved traditional Chinese architectures of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1616-1911) dynasties, shiny stone-paved streets and traditional customs.

An ancient street for about two kilometers runs through the town. On both sides of the narrow street stand two-story Ming- and Qing-dynasty buildings with gray bricks and tiles. Equipped with a front door, skylight, main room, wing-room and backyard, each house has a functional design combining business and living into one unit.

Daxu Ancient Town is one of four old towns in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The staggering architecture reflects the eras of its inception, the Ming and Quig dynasties.

Entrance Door in Daxu Ancient Town, ChinaEntrance Door in Daxu Ancient Town, ChinaAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more

I was utterly charmed by the many hundreds of small dwellings that also function as shops and stalls. Grey brick, red brick, stone, traditionally carved wood in filigree patterns that speak of a time and place when Emperors ruled and armies might have trod this path I traverse.

Traditional Home in Daxu Ancient Town, Guilin, ChinaTraditional Home in Daxu Ancient Town, Guilin, ChinaAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more

Through the open street-level entryways interiors are visible--courtyards full of flowers and grass spurred to life by the sunlight. Beyond that, a tall and roomy space where the master of the house can receive visitors, a wing room on either side. At the rear, a backyard. 

An Afternoon with Mr. ChoAn Afternoon with Mr. ChoAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more

I was lucky to meet the personable Mr. Cho, who invited me into his home and allowed me to photograph him in his every-day life.

Millstone CarvingMillstone CarvingAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more

Mr. Cho carves millstone in his spare time, surrounded by tools and other possessions in his private space.

Still Life with a SanxianStill Life with a SanxianAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more Everywhere I looked I discovered interesting items, some old, some new, familiar and unfamiliar objects (like the little softshell turtle skeletons), many collectables gathered over a long lifetime that must have meant a lot to him. Intrigued, I imagined a story to each.

Traditional Home in Daxu Ancient Town, ChinaTraditional Home in Daxu Ancient Town, ChinaAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more  

Bamboo stalks stood next to drying plants and vegetables hanging from the walls, creating a unique decor.

Simple Tunes on the SanxianSimple Tunes on the SanxianOne of China’s most traditional plucked string instruments, the Chinese sanxian (or xianzi) has been passed down over many generations. It was wildly popular when brought to Japan, resulting in the creation of the shamisen. True to its name, the instrument possesses san (three) xian (strings).

Mr. Cho played the sanxian (san=three; xian=strings), a fretless Chinese lute, strumming out simple and pleasant tunes on an instrument that sounds much like a banjo.

Simple Tunes on the SanxianSimple Tunes on the SanxianAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more  

This traditional sanxian, or xianzi, had been passed down over many generations in Mr. Cho's family. When the instrument was first exported to Japan, it became wildly popular and led to the creation of the Japanese shamisen.

Mr. Cho’s Traditional Chinese HomeMr. Cho’s Traditional Chinese HomeMao Zedong, the founding father of the People's Republic of China, was a controversial figure. His Marxist–Leninist theories, military strategies and communist ideas, especially his “Great Leap Forward” campaign, where he attempted to rapidly transform China's economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, led to widespread famine resulting in the death of an estimated 45 million people. Through starvation, forced labor and executions, Mao killed a total of 70 million Chinese during his 27-years tenure as the Chairman of Communist Party of China.

But in mainland China, Mao is still revered by many supporters of the Communist Party and respected by the majority of the general population for bringing unity and stability to the country, and for laying the foundation for China to become a world power. In their hearts, Mao Zedong represents the embodiment of fairness and justice. It’s a fact that during his rule, status of women rose, education and health care improved, and life expectancy increased. It’s no surprise then, that his portrait still stares out over Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and his face still appears on banknotes.

I was surprised! Mr. Cho's wall displayed a prominent picture of Mao Zedong, founder and chairman of the People's Republic of China. The well-known Mao was a Marxist-Leninist with controversial ideas about bring China into the 20th century. His 'Great Leap Forward' campaign attempted to rapidly move the economy from agrarian to industrial, resulting in famine and the deaths of roughly 45 million people. Besides starvation, forced labor and executions led to the deaths of another 70 million Chinese over a 27 year reign.

Today, in mainland China Mao is revered as having been a fair and just leader, respected by the majority of citizens for laying the foundation of China becoming a world power. The status of women rose, education and health care improved, and life expectancy increased. Once I remembered that many of Mao's portraits show him looking out over Tiananmen Square, and his face still adorns banknotes, it made sense that Mr. Cho would hang the image on his wall.

Fading MemoriesFading MemoriesAs I strolled along the limestone path that has been bathed by sun and rain for 1,000 years, I felt I entered a world like fantasy that came to life, that took me back in time a thousand years. > Read more

Relaxing at the end of my visit, we talked about the beauty of old, even ancient things, and memories that fade like smoke.

 

With thank to my tour guide Mercier Zeng and Nancy Kilpatrick for the editing. 


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