This post follows on from the one I wrote for my January entry into Jude’s garden challenge where I was visiting the Festival of Light in the gardens of Longleat House, Wiltshire. In addition to the floral and wildlife lanterns there were many depicting different aspects of Chinese mythology and culture.
The first thing that caught our eye was this splendid installation –
The Manfeilong Pagoda lantern is based on an original which was built over 800 years ago in the remote borderlands of China’s Yunnan province. The pagoda’s name roughly translates as ‘Bamboo Shoots Tower’ because people thought it looked a bit like the bamboo plant’s spring time shoots. Decorated with intricate carvings and paintings, its nine spires are topped with copper chimes which sing in the wind. The version here is created using about 80,000 ceramic pieces – plates, cups, bowls and spoons – all of which are hand tied in traditional fashion. It is 52 feet high, which is almost the same as the original on which it is based. You can see the details a bit better in this next picture.
Walking on we saw a scene depicting the 87 Immortals. These are immortals from a famous Chinese painting, painted by the Chinese master Wu Daozi (680 – 759 AD). Wu Daozi was so talented that he was appointed as an imperial court painter by Tang Emperor Xuanzong when he was only 20 years old. The painting that this lantern is based on depicts a procession of 87 divine Taoists, but only ten of them are shown here.
In Chinese culture elephants are said to be symbols of luck and, though they may look a little out of place, the vases they are carrying imply stability. This scene is supposed to bestow good fortune on all who look at it!
I don’t know if it was just that I missed them, or there weren’t any explanatory signs, but I don’t know the stories behind the rest of the lanterns that we saw. They were all magnificent, though.