Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Tower of Literary Prosperity

The Summer Palace in Beijing has some wonderfully named features - the Garden of Clear Ripples, the Hill of Longevity - and here we have the Tower of Literary Prosperity.  The card was sent to me on 4 November 2009 but apart from the date, the postmark is illegible.

The Summer Palace was burnt by the British and French in 1860, as the final act of the Second Opium War.  Appalling.  The Belvedere of the God of Literature was rebuilt with three storeys in place of the original four.

The Tower of Literary Prosperity (Wenchangge) is the largest among the six gateway buildings in the Summer Palace.  The bronze sculpture of Wengchang, the King of Literary Prosperity in traditional Chinese folklore, was placed in the tower to be worshipped. On each side of Wengchang stands a sculpture of a lad or a maiden.  There is also a bronze horse for Wengchang.

The whole of the Summer Palace is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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