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The Thatched Cottage of Du Fu

Du Fu(712~770)Thatched Cottage used to be the former hone of Du Fu ,one of the greatest poets in the Tang Dynasty.Located in the western suburbs of Chengdu ,the spot is marked by a stream,ancient style architecture ,pavilion pagodas and age -old trees.

The cottage consists of six important parts , They are the Front Gate ,the Lobby, the Hall of poem History, the Water Pavilion ,the Gongbu Shrine and the Thatched Cottage.It was renovated in the Ming and Qing dynasties and enlarged to its present scale in an expansive park, including a bamboo garden, several pavilions, and a number of bridges.

At the time of the Tang Dynasty , Du Fu,s poetry first came to be recognized .Readers of many different periods have considered Du Fu to be the greatest poet of the Chinese tradition .Such general agreement can partially be explained by the immense variety of his work, which holds up quite well to different tastes and historical changes in fashion. Like Shakespeare in English tradition, Du Fu,s poetry came to be so deeply bound up with the constitution of literary value that generation after generation of poets and critics rediscovered themselves and their interests in some aspect of the poet’

Chinese critics from the Song Dynasty referred to Du Fu as the"poet-historian".Both before and after the An Lushan Revolt, Du Fu witnessed a typical political and social situation; the common people still lived in poverty while the emperor and his top officials enjoyed a foolishly luxurious life. He composed many poems such as "Song of the War Chariots","Three Officials",and "Three Departures'His poems expressed his dissatisfaction with the government and his great pity for the common people. Du Fu used his poems to comment on current events and historical images. Du Fu became the historian by creating his responses to particular situations.

Du Fu was talented. When he was young ,he wanted to get a good job in the government. Unfortunately Du Fu was refused several times. He was in his fifties when he began to serve as a minor official in Changan (Xi'an). Gongbu was his official title and probably he was in charge of the lical industry.

Du Fu was not a skilled survivor in government politics. He was dismissed in the form of a transfer to the post of personnel administrator in Huazhou and so left Changan. Du Fu soon gave up this minor post in disgust and set off with his family to Qinzhou in the Northwest. After a short stay he moved on again and in 759 he arrived in Chengdu. He set up a modest cottage with some money he borrowed from his friend who served as a local governor. In the cottage he had a simple and peaceful life for three years,writing about 240porms. Mostly inspired by the cottage, the stream nearby and the scenery in Chengdu. These poems give the impression that he was happier in Chengdu than any other time in his life. The poems of this period sound relaxed and happy. Here are some of them.

In Chengdu the flutes and the strings
You hear them so loud even in the daytime
The melody fades in the river wind
And half in the towering clouds above us
Oh it should never be played here
It belongs to the emperor's hraven
We thank you for what is not ours
But the emperor will be hearing it also


Two yellow orioles sing in the tenser green willow
A line of herons crosses the blue sky
When you open the west-facing window
The snow is framed in the summit of the mountain
And the ships that will sail east for Dong Wu
They lie at anchor in the sun-filled doorway


A good rain knows its season
It brings thins to life right in spring
It enters the night, unseen with the breeze
It moistens things gently and without sound


Du Fu left Chrngdu after 762 and wandered in the southern provinces and eventually died of illness in 770. After his death, the people if Chrngdu built a shrine on the site of his garden to honor him. Since then, it brcame the custom to visit on the seventh day of the lunar month(around the middle of February). An ancient couplet still hangs on the top of the front door. It reads'

"It was written by a scholar of the Qing Dynasty, whose name was He Shaoji . The couplet means that Du Fu owned the Jingjiang river and the spring breeze; on the seventh day of the first lunar month did I come to visit his cottage. The original cottage no longer exists and the buildings within the cottage compound. South west of the city, have been repaired and added to thirteen times since the eighth century. The Gongbu Shrine is at the center of the six important sites in the cottage compound..It is a small hall in the eastern section of the grounds ,dedicated to the memory of Du Fu .It contains a statue of du fu flanked by ghose of two other poets; Huang Tingjian(1045-1105)on the right and Lu You (1125-1210)on the left .Thesee two poets were both from the Song Dynasty and occupied an important place in the traditional Chinese literature history .Huang Ting jian,from Xiu Shui in which affected his official posts .Later when his opposition party was in power ,he was dismissed from his major official post and banished to Yizhou .Huang was one of the followers of Su Shi .He sincerely studied Du Fu's poetry and intentionally car during theearly song Dynasty .Lu You ,from Shaoxing in Zhejiang held a succession of mionor of ficial posts but was unable to affect any of the political reforms he advocated .Im 1172,he began to serve in the army on the Sichuan -Shaanxi border. It is known that sometime later he was dismissed from a post im jiangxi for distributing government grain to relieve famine .Lu You was a prolific poet and more than nine thousand poems have survived.Both Huang ting jian and Lu You are noted for their ardent patriotism.Here are some of their poems :

Looking all round ,a fine sight of hills and waters I found:
Leaning on the Tower railing,I could enjoy what was sweet:
The fragrance of water chestnuts and lotus stretching far
The soft breeze and bright moon which were both
Free and made tower cool ;
(Huang tingjian,Tr,Guo Zhuzhang)
Erect hedge and implant fence to shield and sustain these new bamboo,
They are meticulously cultivated and their dark green color is reflected in ripples.
The blowing of the cool breeze tells the early coming of autumn,
And I am not aware of the blazing sun in the sky at such high noon.
I hear the rustling sound when the sheath is shedding from the sprouts .
And see the dense fluttering shadows of these newly grown young bamboos .
Once I retire from my position ,here will be the place to which I often come,
And carry with me along a pillow and a mat that are made of bamboo.
(Lu You,Tr.Cui Wenkai)

In the traditional Chinese literature history,there were thousands of poets ,Why were these two poets selected to accompany Du Fu ?there are three reasons:Firstly ,they made greart achievements in studying Du Fu's poetry .Secondly ,they used to live in Sichuan, and enjoyed their stay ,thirdly,Du FU's statue might have been lonely in the gongbu Shrine without any accompaniment .so when people placed the statues together, they ghought that the three poets might have time to talk about their poetry .the Shrine of the Three Sages is named from the above -mentioned story .

Inside the shrine are two valuable stone tablets from the Qing Dynasty ,on which the whole picture of the thatched Cottage has been engraved .the tablets showus the design and development of the cottage dated bace to the Qing Dynasty .Also an other two stone tablets are in the shrine, which tell the story about the refurbishment of the cottage and the reason why Huang tingjian and Lu You's statues stay with Du Fu's .

On left side of the Gongbu Shrine is a huge tablet placed in a straw -roofed pavilion.Prince Guo of the Qing Dynasty wrote the calligraphy on the tablet when he visited the cottage .A screen wall at the entrance to the Flowery Path is decorated with the characters Caotang(Thatched Cottage ) at old blue and white ceramic fragment .

At present ,du Fu's cottage is a museum.It has a rich collection of over 30000bound volumes,and 2000cultural relics,the bound volumes include thea ncient cut blocks photo-offset ,hand -written,and modern stereotyped copies ,the translation editions are in 15 languages .As you walk around the cottage ,you will experience the traditional Chinese culture and literature characterized by Du Fu's poems.

The Thatched Cottage of Du Fu stretches out its arms to welcome visitors from all over the world.

The area includes several amazing structures. Next to each other in a line that divides the whole thatched cottage area into two parts are the Screen Wall, the Gate, the Lobby, the History in Verse Hall, the Faggot Gate, and the Gong Bu Temple. On each side there are cloisters and other attached buildings echoing each other. This layout gives the place solemnity, simplicity, elegance, and grace.

To the east of the Gong Bu Temple stands the Tablet Pavilion, which is on the original site of the cottage. It has 5 main and 4 attached rooms with thatched roofs and is surrounded by bamboo fences, vegetable gardens and herb plots. All these endow a strong atmosphere of culture. Again, the grand bronze statue of Du Fu in the Memorial Hall of Du Fu and the vivid earthen figure of Du Fu in Gong Bu Temple all impart a feeling of deep respect for the poet.

The Thatched Cottage of Du Fu stretches out its arms to welcome visitors from all over the world.

Admission Fee: CNY 60
Opening Hours: 8:00 -18:00

 

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