Tuesday, November 30, 2010

expo 2010 shanghai – 万国来泸庆世博

This book – was perhaps the last of the many souvenir books published for the World Expo2101, Shanghai from May to Oct. The first edition was published in Oct 2010, the last month of the Expo.

After a 5 long month there were 73milllion visitors.

On the surface of it – this book seems anachronistic for this world event.

Here was a 21st century World Exposition showcasing forefront technology for a Better City, Better Life – and this author was romancing each of the pavilions and countries participating in the Exposition in old style penta and hepta – syllabic verses .

Much as the China Pavilion was trying to make a visual impact with this crimson edifice – this book in its un-assuming way celebrated the occasion in an age old traditional style – memorializing each of the 220 odd pavilions in millennium old style poetic verses.

Fans of Tang poems & into Chinese history would discern another correlation and the underlying link this book is perhaps trying to connote – the present day China and the China of the Tang Dynasty (618-907CE) close to 1,400 years ago.

The penta-hepta- syllabic style poem published in this book reached its maturity and was widely popular among the literati during the Tang Dynasty. That was also one of the high points of Chinese Dynastic glory and prestige. The so called – sheng shi – 盛世 – the pax Sinica .

During the reign of Emperor Xuan Zhong - 玄宗 (reign 712-756CE)– the zenith of the Tang Dynasty glory - poets such as Li Bai - 李白 - (701-762) and Du Fu - 杜甫 - (712-770) penned many of the evergreen verses that are still oft quoted in our everyday lives.

Coming on the heels of the 2008 Beijing Olympics & the 2009 - 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of New China, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai – to the Chinese is another testimony that their country is on a much delayed wave of - 盛世. And the wish is that this - 盛世 - of the modern era - would surpass any of the dynastic great.

With almost all countries of the world represented in the Expo 2010 – as they said, the world came to China to throw a party for her – the author took pain & joy in penning a poem for each of the participanting pavilion.

This book – reminded me of a scroll painting that I saw at the National Palace Museum - Taipei - a few years back. It was a figure drawing of the envoys and visitors to the Tang court - each of them in their traditional costumes.

Perhaps it was very much with this glory of the Tang Dynasty in mind that the author penned this book of poems – welcoming the visitors from afar in the celebration.

Here’s what the author wrote of the - China Pavilion

中国馆 -


Flying eaves – columns & cross beams (dougong) – upright– Zhonghua (China)
One color- red – colorful – crimson ray
Stand towering – East – encompassing – four seas
Ascend – the world – contain – this exotic flower
Granary – crown – all under heaven – prosper
Reform – opening – a century – achieved
Song Dynasty – scroll – Qing Ming river scene – unfold – animation
Thousand year – old willow – sprout - new shoot

Short of being able to put the poem into proper English sentences – the translation of each Chinese word seemingly is able to convey at least a sense of what the author is trying to paint.

Needless to say, there is a deep sense of pride that the country is standing tall in the east, with her new found confidence amongst nations.

Well, the impressionable landmark and other equally impressive buildings and hardware in Shanghai – a visitor would tend to easily mistook that China is among the league of developed nations-

However, behind the facade of these grand trappings, there is much to be desired of the software.

The two big banners over Exit # 8 – subtly revealed as much of what the Chinese wish in their populace :

zhan liyi zhi bang fencai
To show a Nation of Etiquette

zuo sebo wenming youke
To be a Tourist of Quality

Perhaps one of the enduring etiquette the 73 million visitors took away with from the Expo 2010 – was queuing in an orderly manner, and wait patiently for their turn - even for 5 hours to visit the popular pavilions …

Postscript –

1. Tang Shan -唐山

How grand and great an impact did this Tang China left behind - you may ask?

- Its impact is so long lasting that Chinatowns throughout the world are known in Chinese as - Tang-People Street – 唐人街 – Tangren Jie – literary – Streets of People of Tang

(Except for Japan – where Chinatowns are known as – 中华街- chuuka gai – literary Chinese Street. For唐人街 – Toojin gai – or karabito gai – could mean a Foreigner Street for Karabito could also mean a foreigner in Japanese).

- Our forefathers who migrated to the Nanyang – would refer to their motherland as – Tang Shan – 唐山 – Land of the Tang & themselves as 唐人 – Tan ren – People of Tang.
- Bruce Lee’s first blockbuster hit – The Big Boss – in Chinese is called - 唐山大兄 - Tangshan daxiong – Big Brother from the Land of the Tang.

Perhaps we should revert to this reference and identify ourselves as Tangren – ethnic Chinese from Southern China who migrated overseas during the later 19th to first half of the 20th century.

- It is an oft quoted example from the Quran – to search for knowledge one would go as far as to China . That was the Tang Dynasty China that the Prophet was referring to.

2. World Expo Poems -

世博诗草 (Shibo shicao)
王智钓著 (Auother: Wang Shidiao)

华夏出版社 (Publisher: Huaxia Chubanshe)
2010年10月北京第1 版 (First edition)
价:28.00 元 (Price)

3。 新加坡馆 - Singapore Pavilion

凭谁起 乐盒

4。 马来西亚馆 - Malaysia Pavilion


5. Expo 2010 Shanghai -



Emperor Xuan Zong – Tang Dynasty

Li Bai – Poet – Tang Dynasty

3. Dufu – Poet – Tang Dynasty