Li Bai is revered in China. His fame is probably equivalent to that of Shakespeare and like the Bard he was a prolific writer deeply involved in the politics and public life of his time. Just as British people might take a trip to Stafford –on – Avon, Chinese people go to Ma’anshan to visit the tomb of Li Bai.
The hotel receptionist advised me to go and see “Li Bai’s clothes”. Literally, they were the exact words she said. I imagined it as some sort of Tang dynasty clothes museum, with shop-models wearing the long robes prevalent in the Tang. Something of a cross between this
There might even be those photo-opportunities that burgeon around all Chinese tourist destinations, and we could dress up in Tang clothes and pretend to be pretending to be in the Tang dynasty.
Arriving at the tourist park, we saw the famous hills, and the view down to the Long River – Chang Jiang, as the Chinese call the river we know of as the Yangtze. We walked up and down a few long hilly paths. My daughter was getting restless.
“Where’s Li Bai’s clothes?” I asked a few other tourists.
“This way.” “Up that way a bit.”
We walked around again and again – no museum, no large building in sight. I asked again.
“Oh, you have just past it – it’s just back down those three stairs.
Three stairs? How could a Clothes Museum displaying casual wear from the Tang dynasty be just down the path? All I could see was the winding cement path and the Yangtze River in the distance.
I walked up and down those three stairs at least four times, perplexed, before I saw it.
A plaque beside an old moss-covered tomb stood between the trees.. “Li Bai’s personal effects,” it said.
I had come all this way to see a mausoleum for a dead poet’s clothes.
It was an uncanny moment. I wondered if people would trudge around Stafford-on-Avon, to see a place in the woods where William Shakespeare’s clothes had been buried after his death.
Question and Answer on the Mountain
You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain,
I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at leisure.
Peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water,
Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when we get to the dead poet’s grave.
Building in the grounds commemorating Li Bai.