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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sweaty Sunday

Lila and I braved the heat and humidity today for some almost-Mexican food and sightseeing.

We ate at Amigo's in Shekou. In fact, we ate too much, a bad idea before sightseeing in the heat.

Then we took a cab to seek out Chun Niu Tang ("Spring Cattle Hall"), a Ming-period building a short ride from where we ate. We had to cast around a bit to find it, but finally there it was, just in front of the "Nanshan Dangxiao" (Shenzhen Party School) bus stop on Dongbin Lu just east of Qianhai.

The hall was once used for a rather odd ceremony. Quoting this article in the Shenzhen Daily:

ACCORDING to the traditional Chinese calendar, Feb. 4 or 5 marks the start of the spring ploughing season with a special ceremony--the whipping of a cattle statue made of earth--held to encourage farmers to begin sowing their crops.

In Shenzhen, the Chunniutang, or the Spring Cattle Hall, was established during early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to hold the ceremony at the northern foot of Nanshan Mountain, near the current Nanshan Party school on Dongbin Road.


Whipping the earthen cattle was one of the most important official ceremonies at that time in Shenzhen, then called Xin'an County, with the county's magistrate himself hosting the ceremony to guarantee a good year's harvest. [Xin'an County then covered the area now occupied by modern Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Dongguan. -James]


The hall, 23 meters wide and 43 meters deep, originally had 15 rooms in three rows forming a typical traditional Chinese compound.

But over the years, due to the lack of protection, only the back hall, the enclosing wall, and an ancient well, all in a dilapidated state, have withstood the passage of time.


Here's Lila's shot of the main hall (the only full building still standing):

Though it is indeed "dilapidated," you can see that it was once a graceful old thing.

After that, we headed up to Nantou (as Lila said, "Might as well; we're already sweaty") to see the nice little museum at Xin'an Gucheng (Old City).

We then walked through the "Ancient City" itself, and into Zhongshan Park, to the large statue of Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen). From there we gave up, hailed a cab, and headed for home, a shower, and a nap before a late dinner.

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