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Temple and Sakya Buddhist Pagoda
(Woodcarvers, waterfalls, Dream Temples) Mulan
Shaolin Temple (home of Kung Fu?) Plum
Putian Burgess Family!Mazu
(Sea Goddess) and Meizhou Island
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ÏÉÓÎ ... to the southwest of Putian,
is most famous for its magnificent Nine Carp Waterfalls (though I visited
during the dry season and the carp were doing more dribbling than falling)
Why it¡¯s always nine dragons, or nine carp , I don¡¯t know.
Chinese have something about the number nine. But I won¡¯t carp about it.
Xianyou is famous for fruit, particularly its pomelo, but I also enjoy
Xianyou¡¯s many craftsmen, particularly the woodworkers of near and in
Arts and Crafts Town. Also check out Xianyou's "dream
Founded in 1993 with an investment of over 40 million Yuan, the Town was
awarded the title of ¡°Provincial Advanced Rural Enterprise in 1995¡±, and
won many prizes from the Fujian Forestry department. Marvelous products,
great prices. As they write in their brochure,
the Xianyou Arts & Crafts Town
actively explores essence of traditional folk technology, traces the tendency
of the times, blazes new trails audaciously and leads a solitary excellence¡
¡°¡is now devoting to catch up with the international trend of art and
craft with the spirit of constantly improving, being realistic, unity
and exertion; to boom the Chinese and craft undertakings.¡±
That¡¯s no small undertaking!
The Arts and Crafts center sells exquisite carved mahogany bedroom sets
that would give Marie Antoinette the green eyes , or wooden friezes, carved
water buffalo and deities and ancient heroes. How about an imposing mahogany
and brass grandfather clock? Or maybe some ceramic Christmas and Halloween
figurines, or colorful Grimm¡¯s Fairy Tale teakettles, or faux antique
brass photo frames? Or what better represents China today than an intricately
detailed miniature wooden bicycle, with everything from gears to brake
Arrange a tour by phoning the Vice-Director, Mr. Chen Ren Hai (³ÂÈÊº£), at
86 (594) 829-5483, or FAX: 86 (594) 829-8288. Or beep him: 129 200-1284.
Arts & Crafts Town may well be China¡¯s Wal-Mart of crafts, with everything
under one roof, but to really appreciate Xianyou artisans, visit those
who march to a different beat ¨C like the drum makers.
Master drum maker Ke Hong Jin (¿Âºé½ð) works his magic on the right side
of the road between Xianyou and Crafts Town. While you wait, Master Ke
will use tools & techniques unchanged for centuries to stretch rawhide
over a beautifully crafted wooden barrel, and fasten it with hundreds
of hand carved bamboo slivers (more durable than nails, and they
Master Ke will drum up any size you can handle, from a handheld model
to one of those Brobdingnagian Buddhist boomers used in temples to scare
off Chinese demons and foreign devils.
Master Ke¡¯s drums are no cheaper (200 Yuan and up) than if you bought
them in stores, but at least you¡¯ll know who made them.
Ke Hong Jin¡¯s phone: 86 (594) 839-1063.
Rakish Bamboo Products A fellow
right next door to Mr. Ke rakes in the profits with beautifully handcrafted
bamboo benches, chairs, and rakes. Actually, he can¡¯t make much of a profit,
considering he sells the finely crafted bamboo rakes for a paltry 2.50
Yuan each! They¡¯re almost too nice to use in dirt; I¡¯d hang one on the
wall if Susan Marie would let me, but she¡¯d rake me over the coals if
Further up the road you¡¯ll pass craftsman carving wooden statues, and
10 km. north in Xianyou town is a family that takes bamboo poles and churns
out, daily, dozens of bamboo stools, chairs, rockers. I felt guilty paying
only 4 Yuan for a beautifully crafted stool, or 10 Yuan for a high-backed
chair. I¡¯d have gladly paid that much just to watch them work!
All The Craftsman Gone?
Gone to plastic, every one.
For years, Xiamen had a master bamboo craftsman on Siming Rd., just outside
Xiamen¡¯s Holiday Inn. We bought many a child¡¯s bamboo bike seat from the
man, but plastic and progress sent him packing. It¡¯s a pity. The city
has lost a tourist resource, and China is losing many traditional arts
Hot Tip for our city planners! They could boost tourism
by following the lead of historical places like Williamsburg, Virginia,
or Monticello, and hire craftsmen to wear traditional attire and produce
their crafts in model shops. Tourists could
photograph them at work, and purchase crafts directly from those who make
them. (Though who knows? In Arizona, I saw genuine American Indian dreamcatchers
that were stamped ¡°Made in China¡±).
Nine Carp Falls
To the northwest of Putian, perched in the mountains between Xianyou and
Yongtai, is Nine-Carp Falls, with
its picturesque lake, springs, forests¡ªand of course the nine waterfalls.
Visiting spelunkers won¡¯t have anything to carp about either. Nine-Carp
Falls has over 100 caves to explore. Calligraphers enjoy the ancient graffiti
engraved on the cliffs and rocks. Even East Los Angeles¡¯ spray-can generation
can appreciate the latest additions, which are mostly of the ¡°Pan loves
Hong¡± variety. And the "Dream Praying Temple" is fascinating
though the monks say the practice of praying, then sleeping in the temple
and awaiting one's answer in a dream, is found all over the world.
The fastest route to Nine-Carp Falls is the bus from neighboring Xianyou
County town. The fastest return trip is to jump.
If you find you¡¯ve fallen for China¡¯s waterfalls, you might also want
to visit Yongtai, just 90 minutes drive north of Nine-Carp Falls (see
page 100), or visit the 13 waterfalls of Jiulongji in Fujian¡¯s Northeast
corner (see page 117). Although Guizhou¡¯s Huang Guo Shu Falls is China¡¯s
largest single falls, our own Jiulongji¡¯s 13 falls make up China¡¯s largest
I hope this revelation doesn¡¯t give the Guizhou folks a complex.
Last Updated: May 2007
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