Thursday, February 24, 2011

Locked In Love, Throw Away the Key - Huangshan

Lover's Locks On Lotus Peak of Huangshan Mountain Range
Things are developing into a new normal here in Groton so I hope to be finding more time for writing.

When I was back in Isaan just before returning to America, I embarked upon a new project.  I intended to make a video, still film, and musical presentation related to our grandson's first two years.  In starting the project I became annoyed with many blank icons appearing in Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0, my video software.  I knew that the blank icons were photos from my Adobe Photoshop Elements software.  I decided to eliminate the nuisance by deleting all of the blank icons appearing in Premiere Elements.  I assumed that the video software was setting up a separate database of media in Premiere and that with 36,000 files the program was overwelhmed and my patience was over taxed.  My plan was to eliminate the Premiere database and only import media into the video program as I need specific files.  Upon completing the elimination of all those pesky blank icons in Adobe Premiere, I was shocked to discover that my entire catalog in Adobe Photoshop Elements had been deleted as well - 36,000 photographs annotated for people, places, and things.  Each photograph had an average of 6 keywords assigned to them.  I immediately started the daunting task of recreating my photo database.  I finally finished the task late last week.  If there is a saving grace in having eliminated the original database, it would be that I had an opportunity to experience so many fond memories once again and to develop ideas for future blogs of which this is my first.

There are many myths and tales associated with lovers in cultures around the world.  Unfortunately it seems to me that the myths, stories, legends, and tales are typically about unrequited love or tragic love.  There does not seem to be all that many stories about people falling in love, staying together, and enjoying their lives together.  I guess it is somewhat like the saying associated with the newspaper industry - "Bad news sells papers, not good news"  Just as we often find the "Bad boys" or "Bad girls" more interesting and exciting in our youth, we seem to enjoy stories and tales of ill fated love more desirable and memorable than ones of dreams fulfilled.

Shakespeare penned "Romeo and Juliet"

In Brasil the Guarani Indian legend of "Naipi and Taruba" explains the origins of Fos do Iguazu Falls in a tale of good love leading to anguish.

The Greeks had plenty of these tales of woe which included "Narcissus and Echo", and "Orpheus and Eurydice".

The Romans through the poet, Ovid, gave Western civilization the Babylonian love story of "Pyramus and Thisbe".  Two forbidden lovers who commit separate suicides after mistakenly believing that the other was dead - a great cautionary tale of why we need to verify facts and conditions before acting.  No matter the lessons to be learned or not from this tale - it is a story of good love with a tragic ending.

The Chinese also have made contributions to man's panoply of tragic lovers stories, tales and legends.  In recreating my catalog of photographs, I was reminded of the legend associated with Huangshan China.

Huangshan is a mountain range in the southern part Anhui Province which is located in Eastern China.  The mountain range is also commonly referred to in English as "Yellow Mountains".  The area is a very popular tourist destination for foreign as well as Chinese travelers.  Over 15 million people visit the area annually.

There are several high peaks in the range with Lian Hua Feng (Lotus Peak), 1864m (6,058ft) being the center of a Chinese legend of ill fated lovers.  The legend is about a beautiful young girl (why are there not many legends about ugly middle aged women?) who fell in love with a poor young man.  The girl's father, thinking in his daughter's or perhaps his best interests, did not want his daughter to marry a poor man.  Her father arranged for his daughter to marry a rich man whom she naturally did not love or want to be married to.  On the day of her scheduled wedding to the rich man, the poor young man kidnapped her and the they fled to Huangshan Mountain.  They ended up on Lian Hua Feng, held hands, and jumped off the peak into a deep ravine.

A Vendor Prepares to Engrave Locks For Lovers
Today people travel to the peak not just for the sheer wonder and beauty of the location but to commemorate the lovers of the legend.  They purchase a pair of padlocks, have them engraved with their names perhaps along with some sentimental words, lock the padlocks together on a guard rail or safety chain along the edge of the peak, and throw the keys into the abyss below.  It is believed that locking the locks together will keep the lovers together for a whole lifetime.  If one of the lovers wishes to breakup, they have to return to Huangshan Mountain, find their key and unlock their locks.  This would be an extremely daunting task not to mention the rumors or rather allegations that local vendors have been recycling the locks.  I can't imagine the horror you would experience upon returning with all intentions and good faith of breaking up with your lover only to realize that your locks are no longer there. It is difficult enough to search and find a key cast into a steep ravine from the side of a mountain years earlier but not having your locks where you placed them would be heart breaking to you instead of your lover.

Verifying the Words to be Engraved
Some people will install locked padlocks to the safety chains and guardrails on the peak to seek family happiness and for children's health.  I don't know how this equates or is tied to the lover's legend but it sells padlocks and keeps the local vendor's happy as well as busy.

Lover's Locks Afixed to Guardrail and Safety Chain
Huangshan mountain is reknowned for its scenery and unique vegetation.  The area has been the subject of  many paintings, poems and undoubtedly millions of photographs.  The area is also famous for many naturally occurring strangely shaped granite rocks.  I am not sure all the rocks are granite or that they are naturally occurring - they might be natural shapes but I wonder if man did not have a hand in forming some of them - or at least one of them.

I Don't Know the Chinese Name for this Rock, But I Have an English Name for it!
Perhaps it is like mysteries of the universe as well as with religion, it is best to just accept it at face value rather than to try to explain or strive fully understand what very well may not be understandable.  It is also OK to just smile and enjoy the moments.

One of the World's Beautiful Places

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