Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Those rich monks at Baoen temple

The Bao'en temple in Nanjing once boasted a pagoda 80 m tall that was entirely clad in decorative porcelain. Built during the fifteenth century, it was described by the first European explorers who viewed it as one of the seven wonders of the world. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a series of unfortunate events during the 19th century, beginning with a lightning strike, and culminating in the chaos of the Taiping Rebellion.

The pagoda is being rebuilt, and it is presently made of glass, rather than porcelain. But the tower's base is porcelain.

The tower must have been quite a spectacle when built. Apart from the glittering white porcelain, the Chinese had many techniques for colouring porcelain, which were still unknown in the west, and had used these to cover the tower with Buddhist imagery.

Original tower arch (on display at provincial museum)

The tower today

Climbing it is a bit like climbing up a staircase in a greenhouse, especially near the top. But most of the lower layers are open and give clear views of the surrounding terrain.

Looking past the city wall into the old city.

Within the rebuilt temple is a display of the artifacts of the old temple, as well as some newer displays. I will gloss over most of these and focus on one thing--precious metals. These monks were rich. They have a lot of gold and silver items on display, although most of these are small..

Gold crown with cloud motif.

Gilded silver boxes (for incense)?

Gilded silver incense burner

A gold coffin, which may have contained holy relics of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism

Probably the most significant piece was discovered in the ruins of the old temple a little less than ten years ago. It was a tall (1.1 m) pagoda-shaped shrine, called an Asoka Pagoda. It contained the coffin depicted above, and, according to an accompanying stele, part of the skull of Sakyamuni, in a separate metal case

The King Asoka pagoda that bore the relics

Gilded silver king Asoka pagoda

A gilded stamp

Various bits of jewellry

A gilded silver spoon

Glass bowl with a silver rim

Silver and glass bottles, with gilding


Updated Sept. 22. I've had some labels translated, and it seems that at least some of the jewellery above came from rich people's tombs, so they aren't all artifacts from the temple.

1 comment:

  1. Really neat! China and the people there must be really fascinating. Does it feel like being in a place that history is in the making again? I say again because of past great eras of the Chinese people.

    I'll just mention, that glass makes for great artifacts because it is so durable and almost totally inert. That is if it does not get bashed. I have seen ancient Roman and Egyptian glass. I'll have to look into Chinese glass.

    Recently there has been a contemporary glass art movement that has produced really great stuff. I think it is not known to the general populous but maybe in the future people might get into like impressionist paintings. The material is more durable than oil paintings.