LITERARY ATTRACTION Sichuan’s cap­i­tal is com­pos­ing a new chap­ter in de­vel­op­ing its tourism by com­mem­o­rat­ing the an­cient lu­mi­nary poet Du Fu. re­ports in Chengdu.

Huang Zhiling

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Life - A Spring Night Happy Rain on Good rain knows its time right; It will fall when comes spring. With wind it steals in night; Mute, it moist­ens each thing. O’er wild lanes a dark cloud spreads; In a boat, a lantern looms. Dawn sees sat­u­rated reds; The town i

Chengdu is lit­er­ally writ­ing the literary legacy of ac­claimed an­cient poet Du Fu in stone. Tan Jihe and his wife, Qi He­hui, visit the Du Fu Thatched Cot­tage Mu­seum in Sichuan prov­ince’s Chengdu ev­ery month.

Tan, who’s the Sichuan Pro­vin­cial As­so­ci­a­tion of His­tory’s pres­i­dent, and Qi, who’s a pro­fes­sor of Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 24) and Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) cul­ture, are ad­vis­ers for the Chengdu mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment’s am­bi­tious plan to erect 1,455 tablets, each with a poem by Du Fu (712-770).

The tablets in­scribed by fa­mous cal­lig­ra­phers will be dis­played in the mu­seum sur­round­ing the cot­tage and the ad­ja­cent Flower-bathing Brook Park.

The 150 mil­lion yuan ($23 mil­lion) project will be com­pleted next year.

Qi be­came vice-pres­i­dent of a na­tional so­ci­ety for the study of Du lo­cated in the mu­seum in 1980. She and her hus­band can’t re­call how many times they’ve vis­ited since.

“But we still feel the cul­ture ev­ery time,” she says.

The 16-hectare mu­seum is built around the lo­ca­tion where Du built his fam­ily cot­tage in AD 760. It in­cludes a tra­di­tional clas­si­cal gar­den.

The poet was a na­tive of to­day’s He­nan prov­ince, who moved to Chengdu in 759 as a refugee of an eight-year war waged by two rebel gen­er­als.

He lived in the Chengdu cot­tage for about four years. He penned about 400 of his 1,455 po­ems there.

Du lived dur­ing the be­gin­ning of the Tang Dy­nasty’s de­cline.

His po­ems are known for com­pas­sion­ate por­tray­als of hu­man suf­fer­ing and in­dig­na­tion in the face of in­jus­tice and cor­rup­tion.

Af­ter a storm de­stroyed the struc­ture’s roof in 761, he be­gan to pon­der the fate of other im­pov­er­ished schol­ars.

He wrote prose declar­ing he could die con­tent in his rus­tic abode if the less for­tu­nate found shel­ter.

This, among other works he wrote in the cot­tage, is in­cluded in school text­books.

His cot­tage was de­stroyed in the late Tang Dy­nasty.

An­other poet, Wei Zhuang, dis­cov­ered its ru­ins and built a new cot­tage on the site in 902. It has since un­der­gone about a dozen ma­jor ren­o­va­tions.

The mu­seum con­sists of sev­eral struc­tures, in­clud­ing the Poetic His­tory Hall, the Shrine of Gongbu (Du Fu’s of­fi­cial ti­tle), the Me­mo­rial Hall of Du Fu and a replica of Du’s cot­tage built in 1997, ac­cord­ing to the de­scrip­tion of his writ­ings.

Cou­plets cit­ing his prose about life, char­ac­ter and lit­er­a­ture grace gates, pil­lars and halls.

Vis­i­tors can also en­joy the aura of an­cient cul­ture among the tran­quil­ity of bam­boo groves.

An an­nual cel­e­bra­tion is staged at the mu­seum to honor the literary lu­mi­nary.

In­tel­lec­tu­als and pri­mary school stu­dents re­cite his po­ems in front of his statue on the sev­enth day of the Lu­nar New Year.

Tra­di­tional be­liefs cor­re­late each of the cal­en­dar’s first week’s days with a dif­fer­ent be­ing — namely, the chicken, dog, pig, sheep, cow, horse and hu­man.

Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) scholar He Shaoji wrote: “Du Fu has a nice res­i­dence in Chengdu. I come to wor­ship the poet on the day of hu­mans.”

Con­se­quently, peo­ple honor Du on this oc­ca­sion. Du’s AD 761 poem

is a re­quired recita­tion for stu­dents on the day. It reads:

Lo­cal ar­chi­tect and painter Liu Weib­ing says the mu­seum’s re-cre­ation of the poet’s cot­tage re­calls

— Sichuan farm­ers’ tra­di­tional thatched-roofed houses in bam­boo forests by streams. Such dwellings have ex­isted in the area for about 4,700 years.

The 50-year-old grew up among such dwellings and as­so­ciates them with a slower pace of life. He re­cently pub­lished a book about them.

and the life­style they rep­re­sent are quickly van­ish­ing,” he says.

“(Du’s) cot­tage in the bam­boo next to the brook serves as a re­minder.”

The mu­seum also harks back to the past with a hall that dis­plays Tang Dy­nasty relics dis­cov­ered on the site in 2001.

Over 106 of them re­main in­tact. They in­clude bowls, chess pieces and metal ware. Eave tiles and bricks dis­play pat­terns of flora and fauna.

The hall also houses the ex­ca­va­tion pit.

Arche­ol­o­gists un­earthed ar­ti­facts from other dy­nas­ties piled atop the Tang ar­ti­facts.

Such a find is rare, Chengdu Relics and Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute head Wang Yi says.

Then again, con­tem­po­rary vis­i­tors dis­cover there are many things that make Du’s Thatched Cot­tage a unique place in the his­tory of China and the world.

PHO­TOS BY DING HAO / FOR CHINA DAILY AND PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Du Fu Thatched Cot­tage Mu­seum

in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, is built around the lo­ca­tion where the ac­claimed an­cient poet built his fam­ily cot­tage in AD 760. It also in­cludes tra­di­tional struc­tures.

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