Monday, April 30, 2012

Downs Street Cemetery, Bristol, Connecticut

Downs Street Cemetery is loaded with exceptional tombstone iconography.  Many tombs are occupied by Revolutionary Patriots, including Bristol Watchmakers and Abigail Deming (1771), great great great grandmother of Winston Churchill.

Wings symbolize soul soaring to Heaven
Forefinger pointing up means soul has gone to heaven
Weeping Willow symbol for Mourning
Poppy is symbol of eternal sleep
Wings symbolize soul soaring to Heaven.  Circle is symbol of eternity.

Old Episcopal Cemetery, Bristol, Connecticut

This cemetery (1758-1824) was populated by pre-Revolutionary War Tories who belonged to the first Episcopal Church in New Cambridge (predating Bristol incorporation).  The entrance is on Stearns St. behind the old Patterson School.  There are only a few legible tombstones, the earliest dates 1758.  Iconography includes angels.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

West Lake, Hangzhou, China

West Lake or Xī Hú (西湖; literally "West Lake") is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic area of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout the ages for its natural beauty and historical relics, and it has been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers, as evidenced by the impact it had on various Chinese classical gardens.  It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, and was described as having "influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries" and as reflecting "an idealized fusion between humans and nature."  Photos are from North Shore opposite Shangri La Hotel.

Monday, April 23, 2012

General Yue Fei Temple, West Lake, Hangzhou, China

The Yue Fei Temple or commonly known in Chinese as Yuewang Temple (岳王廟) is a temple built in honor of Yue Fei, a general of the Southern Song dynasty when the capital of China was in Hangzhou.  The site is on the north shore of West Lake in Hangzhou.  Yue Fei (1103 – 1142), is best known for leading the defense of Southern Song against invaders from the Jurchen-ruled Jin Dynasty in northern China, before being put to death by the Southern Song government.  Widely seen as a patriot and national hero in China, since after his death, Yue Fei has evolved into a standard epitome of loyalty in Chinese culture. 

For their part in Yue's death, iron statues (see photo) of Qin Hui, Lady Wang, and two of Qin's subordinates, Moqi Xie and Zhang Jun, were made to kneel before Yue Fei's tomb.  For centuries, these statues have been cursed, spat and urinated upon by people. The original castings in bronze were damaged, but later were replaced by images cast in iron, but these were similarly damaged. However now, in modern times, these statues are protected as historical relics.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bartow Mansion, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, New York

In 1654, Thomas Pell signed a treaty with Siwanoy Indians for a 9,000 acre tract in what is now Bronx and lower Westchester. A land grant for the Manor of Pelham is issued to Pelham in 1666. John Bartow acquires property in 1790. Robert Bartow built a Federal Style mansion in 1842 on the Long Island Sound. It is last occupied as a residence in 1904, eventually International Garden Club converts it into a house museum in 1946. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia occupied the basement of the mansion in 1936, to escape extremely hot summer. Name changed to Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and Gardens in 1959.

This 3-story mansion is filled with very tall doors, 13-ft high ceilings and a spectacular elliptical stairway. The architect is believed to be Minard Lafever. Delano & Aldrich restored the building in 1914. The Orangerie (photo) is spectacular