Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jian Fou

my euro friend said 'explain this to me', with eyes nailed on the screen. - we were re-watching the complete version of opening ceremony on a korean channel the next day...but oh my, my eyes were busily absorbing too - too overwhelmed to say anything.
dividing the ceremony into each chapter, there're still a lot of details to explain. share some of them:
the countdown
what's used here is 2008 'drums' borrowing inspiration from an ancient ceramic wine container Fou (缶). the ancestors used to drink, sing and tap beats on it - gradually, it became a percussion instrument, more belonging to the ordinary people than to the privileged class. the cubic shape of these drums is from the container of the Fou, called Jian (鉴). it's like a wine cooler or heater (some chinese wine are to drink when heated). attached is a photo of a copper Jian Fou ("曾侯乙"铜鉴缶), 61.5x62cm, 170kg, attributed to the Era of Warring States, a period covering from some time in the 5th century BC to the unification of china by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. many ancient poems and writings mentioned using Fou as an instrument, although here, to be accurate, it's Jian that's being used. - I guess its cubic shape is more suitable for the performance.
the red mark on the forehead of the drummers I think is a motif borrowed from facial makeup in Peking Opera, where every color, shape and their location on the face shows a specific character of the role. red is usually reserved for characters of royalty, integrity and courage.
(to be continued.)
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...too busy. running btw diving, gymnastics, and phelps...don't want to miss anything. :P
...continuing with ceremony is the 29 steps of fireworks (artist guoqiang cai. refer to my earlier sharing for his exhibition in nyc) 'walking' down the central axis of beijing city, symbolizing the 29 olympics arriving at the bird's nest. the central axis of beijing is a perfect start to study chinese architecture and urban planning...the earliest written urban planning in china dated back to 3000 years ago (周礼・考工记). it emphasizes a symetrical arrangement, from a single unit to group of houses, imeperial palace, up to the whole city plan. beijing's north-south central axis, the 'dragon's pulse', runs 7.8km, being the longest in the world, begins in the south at Yongdingmen Gate, musically threading over 15 ancient heritages, including the well known Tiananmen and The Forbidden City, and ends at the Drum and Bell Towers - now another 5km is extended into the Olympic Green featuring Bird's Nest and Water Cube. it has been the center of culture and politics. the emperors used to sit at the north, facing south. till today, most chinese prefer house with openings facing south - but not necessarily fengshui or mimicking the kings I think, rather for the better seasonal temperature and air circulation...
one of my fav moments is when the five rings were lifted slowly from the ground by Fei Tians. pure, sensual, magical. in Buddhism, Fei Tian came from the combination of god of fragrance and god of dancing and singing. strictly speaking, itself is not a god, and has no gender. no feather no wing, fly with their airy-fairy dresses and floating clouds. - something I practiced with mosquito net when I was little :P...in Dun Huang, Shanxi Province, over 4500 of them were painted on the wall of 492 caves. starting from Northern Wai Dynasty (386-534 AD) and onwards. there you can examine the change of their shape, style and fashion, from Indian Buddhism to a combination of Buddhism and Taoism, so on. attached one here.
Fei Tian's beauty and elegance have been major inspiration to artists and dancers...share: Fei Tian Dance
(to be continued)
A big fan

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