POTD: The Value of Dirty Windows

The Value of Dirty Windows
Nanjing, China
2018

If the movie Girl With the Pearl Earring is to be believed, the Dutch painter Vermeer was obsessed with keeping his studio windows dirty, preferring the diffuse pearly light that they cast. This photo of an early Chinese photography studio, complete with props and backdrops, certainly supports that idea. It was taken through a dirty window and contained a fair amount of reflection as well. The gauzy effect it created lends the perfect atmosphere to this old-time scene.

This old town recreation in Nanjing made an effort to merge modern commerce with historic appeal. Off to the right of the scene in this photo was some modern studio lighting equipment, indicating the studio is still being used.

POTD: The Apothecary Shop #2

The Apothecary Shop #2
Nanjing, China
2018

I don’t have a clue as to what is in each of these drawers but I can imagine all sorts of exotic components for custom made medicine. Along with modern medicine, traditional medicines are still popular in China, in fact there has been a resurgence in interest. So you can find slightly updated versions of this shop and these drawers without looking too hard around town.

POTD: Language Barrier

Language Barrier
Nanjing, China
2018

There is a line of small type below “why nobody fights’ on this woman’s jacket that says “let me do the fight.” English words are quite popular on jackets and t-shirts in China. Quite often it seems they don’t know exactly what they are saying; at least it’s nothing I can figure out a reasonable meaning for. That is no different, I’m sure, from a lot of Americans who put Chinese symbols on their clothes (or tatoos, or artwork, etc.). They do it because they like the way it looks but don’t really know what they are saying or if they are getting their point across correctly.


POTD: Encrinite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Encrinite

Nanjing, China
2018

If it were not in a collection of fossils it would have been a surprise to me to discover that this is in fact a fossil and not an artistic relief sculpture. On doing some research, it was definitely a surprise to find out these are animals, not flowers. (My guess would have been poppies.)

Encrinite is the name for the rock that is formed from crinoids, the name for the individual animals. The name crinoids comes from the Greek word krinon which means lily. A common name for the plants, er animals, is sea lily.

POTD: Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation
Nanjing, China
2018

I’m not a Buddhist but I find the architecture, lighting, and artwork of Buddhist temples to be impressive spaces that are generally in their own way calming and relaxing places. (This is also the case with old cathedrals.) So it was very jarring for me to be wandering around peacefully in this temple and see this swastika on the sleeping Buddha statue. Even though backwards from the Nazi swastika it still did a heck of a job disrupting my otherwise calm attitude.

Long before Hitler made the swastika into a hated symbol, it was a common and important symbol to Buddhists, as well as many other groups around the world including some Native Americans. To my knowledge, none of these earlier uses has ever been associated with the kind of horrors perpetrated by the Third Reich. (The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. has a nice history of the symbol on their website here.)

This is probably one of the most obscene examples of cultural appropriation there is. I suppose you have to give the Buddhists credit for not abandoning their sacred symbol given it’s more recent negative connotations, but boy did it spoil the mood in that temple for me!