Sculpture Saturday

demolished

Yungang Caves, China

Saturday Sculpture is hosted by the Mind over Memory blogger, I’ve chosen a sculpture from the Yungang Caves in Shanxi China. There were 51,000 carvings in 251 caves along a river. Buddhist monks carved these magnificent works from 460 – 520 AD. Sadly, many like the one above were vandalized by Maoists during the Cultural Revolution. Bandits also stole parts (e.g. hands or heads they chopped off) on the black market. Some vandals sprayed Communist slogans others lopped off heads or other parts of the holy sculptures.

What kind of hooligan desecrates art that’s over 1800 years old for a political ideology?

Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.

The difference, I see between now and the Cultural Revolution is that it’s not that hard to petition the government to change. Speak out at a city council meeting. Write a letter to the editor. I bet you’d get change if you want it.

To join in, what you need to do is:

It’s a fun challenge. Give it a try. To see more sculptures, click here. Then you’ll get to the page where everyone links their posts.

Sepia Saturday

sepia sat 5 25

This week’s prompt inspired me to share some photos I took yesterday at a living museum or restored village called Zhujiayu in Shandong Province, China. They have a group of buildings that were where the youth were educated about peasants’ ways during the Cultural Revolution.

Entry

Entry

may 2014 135

Classroom with Maoist doctrine

Classroom with Maoist doctrine

may 2014 140

may 2014 141

Dorm Rooms

Dorm Rooms

A guitar? Really?

A guitar? Really?

Didn't know they had time for basketball

Didn’t know they had time for basketball

Dreams of Joy

In Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy, the sequel to her historical fiction novel, Shanghai Girls, an idealistic Chinese American college student runs off to China in the late 1950s after learning that her aunt is really her mother and vice versa. Likewise the man she thought was her father isn’t. She’s grown up in a web of lies. On top of that, her stepfather recently committed suicide as his immigration status was fraudulent and the FBI started asking him questions.

So Joy steals her mother’s savings and heads to find her biological dad in Shanghai. Soon her stepmother Pearl follows her rightly fearing that Joy doesn’t know what she’s getting into.

While the plot sounds like a soap opera, the story is absorbing and well told. The characters are well defined and the plot unfolds credibly. Joy starts off in Shanghai and soon finds her father, an artist who’s volunteered to teach peasants at the Green Dragon Commune to get out of some political trouble.

The novel shifts from Joy’s to Pearl’s narration so readers can see experiences from two different vantage points – the young newcomer and the Overseas Chinese returnee.

I found the narrative a detailed, convincing glimpse into the era of the Great Leap Forward with its deprivations, idealization of the proletariat, petty power struggles and denunciations. See provides a section at the end of the book explaining aspects of the story and their history. Her acknowledgements not only thank the experts, who helped her, but allow the reader to see the extent of her research.

In many ways the book reminded me of Wild Swans, a non-fiction work mainly about the Cultural Revolution. Both show how women of different generations cope during hellish circumstances.

I enjoyed Dreams of Joy, but felt the ending was a little too pat and happy. I think in reality someone readers had come to root for would have suffered greatly. Also, since May, Pearl’s sister was important to Joy, Pearl and Z.G., Joy’s father, it was strange that she figured so little at the end.