Noilly Prattle: China - Winter 2016 ("diamonds and rust")

Sunday, July 10, 2016

China - Winter 2016 ("diamonds and rust")

wedding party in Dali Ancient Town
mooners at the "moon gate"
     One day in the early days of our trip to China we saw a wedding party strolling along the main street of Dali Ancient Town. The bride was dressed in red.. Later, as we were visiting one of the temples in Dali we stumbled on what looked like a scene from ancient Imperial China. Framed in one of those round gates that I call a “moon gate” was a young couple dressed in ancient robes that looked like a scene in the Forbidden City in the Ming Dynasty (or fill-in-the-blank _______ Dynasty). The pair were accompanied by a retinue of photographers and make up and costume people fussing over them as if they were stars on a movie set. At the time I thought they were probably making a movie or filming a TV commercial or something of the sort.

the Peacock Lady
        On another day, visiting another temple in Dali, we saw a similar scene. This time there was a young woman dressed in ancient costume, again fussed over by cameramen and makeup people, posed with two peacocks. This obviously wasn't for a movie but I was convinced that it must be for some kind of promotional advertising—magazine glossies, or TV commercials.

Naxi couple
        A few weeks later, in an ancient town named Shuhe where we were staying, as we were leaving a restaurant on our first day in town we chanced on a young couple in native dress (I think it was the local Naxi ethnic group costume). Again they were attended by cameramen and taking various poses. When they caught me taking a photo with my camera they were very friendly smiled and waved at us. I thought to myself that it looked like these very photogenic “ancient towns” were popular for doing commercial photo shoots. My opinion seemed verified in the next few days as we saw many people, both in Shuhe and the neighboring tourist center of Li Jiang (some call Li Jiang a “theme park”--a semi-pejorative meaning too touristy).

fussing -- getting the folds just right

The Pirates of Li Jiang
our wedding - rocky road ahead?

our wedding - "I've got your back, baby!"

round and round we go 

may you stay forever young

the Empress wore red

don't fall in

guy needs a feathered hat
to complete the outfit 

lady of the evening

pretty in pink  . . .  and blue

" . . . and all my dreams have turned to rust."

        But then, one day we booked a native tour guide to take us to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a popular destination for eco-tourism outside Shuhe in the eastern Himalaya Mountains. We got to know him and like him both as a guide and as a person and booked him for more visits. But that's another story. One day, I mentioned to him all the people we saw posing in native costumes for commercial advertising purposes. He sort of smiled and said that they weren't making commercials. They were just ordinary people who wanted to dress up and have photos of themselves taken when they were young and beautiful to look back on. Looked like a thriving business for professional photography studios. It obviously made the people who were all dressed up feel really special.

       I don't know about you, but I thought that was a beautiful story.  

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