The Pity of It All

Like sand castles on the beach, treasures of art, architecture, and beauty that have been created over the centuries have been obliterated by the waves of mother nature, or war, or, simply in the name of progress. Perhaps the cruelest is when they are destroyed in the service of whatever the current reigning ideology might be.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent the morning mourning what once was, in a couple of the oldest gardens in Shanghai.

On the way to the gardens we visited Family Qiao Street which dates from the 1500’s and formed the core city of Shanghai. Family Qiao was the most famous family living there at the time as they were the first in the area to have passed the government exams. As a result this street became the center of government in Shanghai.

On the way to Family Qiao Street we passed the oldest street corner in Shanghai where we came across the Chinese version of a coffee klatch.

Our wonderful guide Janny is telling us about the fire tower you can see in the back. It has a bell and dates from 1900. It was used in the 1911 revolution to send out signals. Kind of like history repeating itself on the other side of the world!

This ginko tree is the oldest in Shanghai–over 700 years. At one time it grew over a house, hence, it is leaning. It is hollow inside, yet it still grows, which the Chinese people think makes it magical.

Bad hair day.

Someone has their work cut out for themselves.

Keeping track of things on the street.

This was the house of the Family of Yue, some of the richest and oldest families of old Shanghai. They were in the boat or transportation business exporting things like silks. They no longer live here, but this friendly lady does.

She gave us a big wave as we passed.

This is gate to Xing Garden. This is where Wang Yi Ting lived in the 1920’s. He was a painter, intellectual and businessman, and also a friend of the Japanese.

The calligraphy above this gate was written by China’s most famous calligrapher

The front of the main house.

Because he gave money to help the victims of the earthquake in Japan in 1923, the Japanese designed and built this special roof for his home as a gift.

One time Einstein even came here for lunch. You might be guessing that the fortunes of this residence have taken a turn for the worse.

Being a friend of the Japanese got you in a lot of trouble when they came to occupy Shanghai. The garden is now a factory that makes cranes, pulleys, etc. and 14 families live in the residence.

Back out on the street we came across an entrepreneur selling shoes off of his 3 wheel bike.

So, I’m going to try to outsmart the vpn gremlins and just post a bunch of small posts, rather than one big one. I’m getting quite the backlog! We’ll see how this goes.

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About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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