The New Heaven and Earth – no, i’m not referring to a metaphysical concept nor to the Mayan’s Long Count – I’m talking about a building. Or rather, a precinct of buildings.
新天地 xin tian di is a shopping complex in downtown Shanghai. It’s name translates literally to New Heaven ( and) Earth. You could be forgiven for thinking that Shanghai, like it’s neighbour Suzhou, was committed to restoring historic buildings, if you read the world wide web and google Xin Tian Di.Back in 2003, however, if you were here then, you might remember the locals protesting. They did not want their historic neighbourhood torn down and replaced with a glitzy shopping mall.
Their protests reached government ears, and the ears of the developers, and a compromise was reached. New plans were drawn up, incorporating many of the old buildings into new shops.
The style of old meets new architecture was a huge success, and became so popular that cities across China emulated it, creating ‘new-old- streets that rapidly became a haunt for locals seeking some of their old traditions.
You’ll read now, that the developers “revolutionised Chinese urban planning” ( by incorporating old with new), but you won’t read that the historic building where the first meeting of the Chinese Communist party was held was almost torn down, deemed to be bulldozed in the original plans.
Many Chinese shopping centres have their own security system. Like the ubiquitous guards standing out the front of any modern housing complex, shopping malls have guards. They do instill a sense of security in business owners, residents, and visitors.
There’s also police officers marking their beat.
Maybe you came to this page searching for security options in the ‘real’ Heaven and Earth? Just go ahead and check out Kylie Chan’s Wudang series – that cover that concept nicely. In Chan’s books, security is run by a host of Daoist gods and their human helpers.
Chan’s work is fiction.
玄武 Xuánwǔ, however, is a Daoist deity, who is revered and worshipped particularly by Wudangshan Daoists. He is also the representative of one of the four major Chinese mega-constellations, belonging to the north celestial quadrant.
More about Xuan Wu in the next post, stay tuned…