June 7th/2019 - Luoyang with Mr. Li Jiushun
I first visited Luoyang in 2013 to see the Longmen Grottoes, a 1500 year old Buddhist historical site. While there, I had a chance encounter with a very kind and talented gentleman who introduced himself as Mr. Li Jiushun, and who asked me to visit his home.
I wrote about that meeting here:
From the first visit:
I wrote about that meeting here:
From the first visit:
In 2015, I returned to Luoyang with the specific hope of finding Mr. Li and thanking him personally for his kindness on my previous visit. That turned into more of an adventure than I'd expected, and I did find Mr. Li, and wrote about our second meeting here:
From the second visit:
From that visit in 2015 to the latter part of 2018, I had only very sporadic contact with Mr. Li, using his son's account on the ubiquitous Chinese messaging (and translating) app, Wechat, to pass on regards and the occasional comment. But Mr. Li acquired a modern cell phone late last year and, now using his own Wechat account, Mr. Li contacted me, and so we've happily been in quite steady contact ever since.
It was important to me to see Mr. Li again, and I hoped to spend more time with him than the couple of hours on each of the past visits, so he and I made arrangements to spend the better part of a day together on my summer 2019 tour of China. This fit in my 2019 itinerary very easily as I was also arranging to visit for a few days with my other good friend in Henan, Han Gang (aka Sky Han) who lives in Xinmi, about an hour and a half away from Luoyang by car.
So, on the scheduled day and morning, Han Gang (peach colored shirt) and I, along with Han Gang's father and two other friends, drove from Xinmi to meet up with Li Jiushun.. This was taken just after we arrived in Luoyang and while we were waiting for Mr. Li to meet us so he could take us to his new home.
Mr. Li joined us a short while later and we all headed for his home, so: some photos of the neighbourhood, on the way...
W all convened at Mr. Li's home, where we were introduced to Mr. Li's wife.
I already knew Mr. Li to be a generous and hospitable man, but I was humbled when he welcomed me with a gift of three vintage watches built at the Luoyang Watch Factory that he had hunted down from local sellers for me, as well as a beautiful wooden wall hanging that he'd made for me.
Lots more watch photos at the bottom of this post.
Mr. Li is an artist, so I was especially pleased with the hanging. One of Mr. Li's specialties is working with found wood, making all sorts of objects'd'art, which can be seen around his home...
After a wonderful lunch prepared for us all by Mr. Li's wife...
...we headed out with Mr. Li to visit two of Luoyang's most important museums. As well as being an artist, Mr. Li is also a teacher, writer and historian, and he was as eager to show me Luoyang's history as I was to learn from him, so this turned out to be a spectacular experience.
First stop was the Luoyang Museum, the most prominent museum in the city, built in 1974, and which houses artifacts from the Mesozoic, through the times when Luoyang was a capital city for over a dozen ancient dynasties, to the modern day.
We arrived at the museum, and Mr. Li led the way...
I can't tell you the details on these exhibits, but this group of photos just scratches the surface of the museum's collection:
Next stop was the smaller but still fascinating Folk Museum of Luoyang, housed on the grounds of a 1744 merchant guild hall.
Where the Luoyang Museum centers on classical archeological items, the Folk Museum concentrates more on everyday items from the past few centuries: clothing, tools--mostly working man's stuff. The difference for me was: the Luoyang Museum hit my eyes and intellect, the Folk Museum hit my heart.
A few shots, traveling from museum to museum...
The Folk Museum of Luoyan. The first two photos are not copycats :-) One is a main entrance and the other is facing an end of an interior courtyard.
All good things must come to an end, it is said, and it wasn't easy to say goodbye to Mr. Li.
It was later in the day and Hang Gang and I had to return to Luoyang, so we Mr. Li and I aid our goodbyes...for the time being. Since then, we keep in touch at least weekly by Wechat :-). We're about the same age, and
My gift to Mr. Li was (because I knew he was a carver) a dog that my Grandmother carved as a young woman in the 1920s. Mr. Li later sent me a Wechat photo of the pooch, now on a pedestal and living comfortably in a friendly family flat in Luoyang.
Mr Li wrote to me:
"R0nGood: We all live on the same planet, but humans love beautiful objects. Culture and art know no borders: Your grandmothers young dog is still alive and well. The wood has been turned into a dog for nearly a hundred years. It contains the wisdom of man, so spring will last forever...Let East, Western civilization coexist! and a symbol of our friendship."
We'll end this tour-de-photo with a few shots from the rest of the day: leaving Luoyang for the drive back to Xinmi, and then classic Chinese munchies in a cool tarp-tent covered food court, with Han Gang and a young and very good-natured English speaking friend of his that I met on my last trip.
Eating here has become tradition for Han Gang and I, ever since my first visit with him in 2013. This photo was taken at about 7:30PM on a warm night with a small breeze. Great way to end the day. Good food, good friends.
Postscript for the watch collectors ;-)
Everything in this photo--including the calligraphy with red graphic--is a kind gift from Li Jiushun, and is on display at the AMCHPR.