Although I like to run a tight ship in terms of scheduling events here at Sacred Spaces every once and a while something comes up that prompts a “drop everything” moment. Having an opportunity to hear a renowned Guqin / 古琴 Master in a Daoist Sacred Space definitely fits that description. On March 4, 2018, at 4:00 pm we will get a chance to do just that. The Guqin / 古琴 is one of the most ancient and recognizable of all Chinese instruments. The Guqin was played by scholars and poets, generals and courtiers for literally hundreds of years. Master John Thompson / 唐世璋, a trained ethnomusicologist and student of the late Master Sun Yü-Ch’in / 唐世璋 has been performing “Historically Informed / 復古風格演奏” elements from the Guqin repertoire for several years and has earned a reputation as a scholar and performer held in high regards. From Master Thompson’s websites…
“John Thompson, with the largest recorded repertoire for the guqin silk-string zither, is certainly one of the most listened to players today: since May 2007 his website has averaged over 8,000 hits a day, many of them from people listening through China’s music download websites to his recordings, unaware that it is not a Chinese master playing their most ancient surviving music. In all, he has reconstructed and recorded over 200 melodies from 15th and 16th century guqin tablature, and his website complements each melody with extensive musicological, historical and philosophical commentary.
As a result, John Thompson is also the best-known musician giving historically informed performances of early guqin music. After a college degree in Western musicology (early music) and graduate studies in ethnomusicology, he began in 1974 to study the modern guqin tradition from Sun Yü-Ch’in in Taiwan. After moving to Hong Kong in 1976 to consult with Tong Kin-Woon he turned his focus to early repertoire, gradually gaining a reputation for the fidelity, fluency and feeling of his performances. In 1992 the National Union of Chinese Musicians invited him to Beijing as the focus of a seminar on reconstructing music from the earliest surviving guqin handbook, Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425 CE).
While based in Hong Kong as artistic consultant to the Festival of Asian Arts Thompson performed throughout East Asia, and published seven CDs of his musical reconstructions as well as four books of music transcription. Since 2001, when he moved to New York (and including 2009-2013, when he was based in Mumbai and Singapore), he has continued to perform, teach, research and lecture on the guqin, creating new music as well. His website, www.silkqin.com, is the most comprehensive English-language source of information on this instrument.”
With special thanks to Sifu Kerby Kuek from the Tai-Yi Daoism School for co-hosting this event.
This recital and talk is a FREE Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Society “Members Only” Event. If you are not already a member please see our Membership Application here for details. Membership will give you access to this and other exclusive Sacred Spaces Society Events. Please don’t hesitate to IM me if you have any questions. For those who wish to attend please RSVP here or go to www.sacredspaces.asia/events for further details.
The 3 Ys “Ying, Yang, and You” by Sifu Kerby Kuek
The following videos were made during the “Ying Yang and You” lecture Sifu Kuek gave Hong Kong Sacred Spaces members. It was the second in a series of events related to Daoism in contemporary life. The “Three Ys” lecture was designed to connect our Daoism 101 class to more complex topics like Bagua 八卦 and authentic Feng Shui 風水.
More FREE events are planning for the weeks and months ahead so stay tuned!
Sometimes I read things that I’ve written for previous events and I can’t believe how naive I was! Like this sentence:
“…Sacred Spaces has done many things in the past months. We’ve visited many culturally significant places and received tours at locations all over Hong Kong. The one thing that we have NOT done is take part in any festivals. This error will be corrected very soon!…”
Yeah, right. Very soon indeed. Last year’s Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was, in fact, the LAST festival we attended as a group! Well, let’s make it an annual tradition shall we.
Sacred Spaces will attend the second to the last night of the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Festival in the Tai Hang section of Causeway Bay. According to the Tai Hong Dragon Festival Website:
“When the people of Tai Hang village miraculously stopped a plague with a fire dragon dance in the 19th century, they inadvertently launched a tradition that has since become part of China’s official intangible cultural heritage.
Tai Hang may no longer be a village, but its locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual today with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks, and a 67-metre dragon. The head of this beast alone weighs 48kg, so it’s not a creature to be taken lightly! The commemorative performance wends its way in fire, smoke and festive fury through the back streets of Tai Hang over three moon-fuelled days.
大 坑 火 龍一連三天，近300人舞動著長達67公尺、插上逾萬枝線香的火龍飛舞，煞是壯觀！意想不到的是，這項有逾百年歷史的舞火龍習俗，就在銅鑼灣繁華的購物區附近展開！一片鑼鼓聲中，火龍穿梭大坑一帶的大街小巷，頓時煙香繚繞、火光閃爍，充滿生氣！
…and there are some picture from our group last year
and check out my video from two years ago!
If you’re interested RSVP here and meet us at Tin Hau MTR Station, Exit A1 on October 5th, 2017 at 7 PM.
Several weeks ago Hong Kong Sacred Spaces went to the Hong Kong Coastal Defense Museum 香港海防博物館 near Sau Kei Wan 筲箕湾 on Hong Kong Island. The group kept looking across the Lei Yue Mon 鯉魚門 channel to the hills just opposite and our docent guide told us about a fort, now in ruins, that lay just on the other side. The name of that fort is Devil’s Peak 魔鬼山 and it was a major part of Hong Kong’s naval defenses at the beginning in the 20th Century consisting of the Gough Battery, the Devil’s Peak Redoubt, and the Pottinger Battery.
These defense fortifications were “state-of-the-art” at the time and included several serious guns pointed at the LYM Channel’s Eastern Approach. Bad news to the uninvited.
The fortifications are ruins now but they have become part of the “ghost” forts of Hong Kong. Fortifications that, for one reason or another, were not maintained Officialdom.
Sacred Spaces will exit from the Yau Tong MTR 油塘 Station and walk 20 minutes to the section of the Wilson Trail where the structures are sited and explore these forgotten sentinels. We’ll then head down to the shore line and visit the Tin Hau Temple that’s positioned just next door to the Lei Yue Mun Fishing Village and Seafood Market. After our time exploring both high and low we’ll head over to the fish market for a seafood lunch.
Come along for a little fun and exploration. You’ll get a chance to see several layers of Hong Kong history and culture.
As always I’ve put together some materials for the interested. They include a few reports written some ago describing the installations in greater detail. A survey of the Pottinger Battery and a Report on the Redevelopment of Lei Yun Mun from HKSAR Government.
First and second photos are from wiki commons, the third is from Hong Kong EPD www.epd.gov.hk/
If you’re interested in coming along click to RSVP.
香港 Sacred Spaces will walk the famous Ping Shan Heritage Trail 屏山文物徑 in Yuen Long 元朗 New Territories West. This famous walk Includes many interesting heritage buildings like the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda 聚星樓 as well as several temples, shrines, and ancestral halls all with a few hour stroll. Some other interesting features:
• Sheung Cheung Wai Walled Village
• Shrine of the Earth God
• Tang Ancestral Hall
• Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall
• Kun Ting Study Hall
• Hung Shing Temple
• Ching Shu Hin Study Hall
• Entrance Hall of Shut Hing Study Hall
We’ll start at the relatively new Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery cum Heritage Trail Visitors Centre which is a short walk from the Ping Shan Light Rail Stop. We’ll then proceed through the trail until we get to the TSL Pagoda (Hong Kong’s oldest and tallest) before getting on the West Rail at Tin Shui Wan Station 天水圍站. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Please note: Please bring your comfortable shoes and some water because it will probably be hot and sunny, oh, and don’t forget batteries for your portable fan. Don’t worry they’ll be 7-Elevens everywhere!
Please note that the event is scheduled for July 22, 2017, at 10:00 AM. To RSVP and for further details please click here. If you’re interested in some light reading about the PSHT that you can take a look at the Official Ping Shan Heritage Trail Walk Pamphlet.
In the never-ending quest to find the best in Chinese Culture, the organizers of 香港 Sacred Spaces are always searching high and low to chase down the qualified instruction and institutions. A few weeks back I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Shifu Kerby Kuek to talk about The Tai-Yi Daoism School & Metaphysics Research Center in Sheung Wan. I am left with the sense the Sifu Kuek has developed an excellent Institute for Daoist Learning which he is eager to share with the public.
Many of you might have read some of Kerby’s journalism as he writes articles in both Chinese and English for many local newspapers on various subjects including business, Feng Shui, and Chinese culture. The Tai-Yi Daoism School & Metaphysics Research Center is a labor of love to help promote Hong Kong Chinese Culture to the world through the lens of Daoism. Although the Center has regular weekly classes on various topics, Sacred Spaces has been honored with an invitation to hear a talk from Mr. Kuek himself outlining Daoism and Metaphysics, including Feng Shui and how it all related to the great body of Chinese Thought. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet Mr. Kuek and visit the Center.
The event is being held July 6th, 2017 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. If you’re interested in coming please RSVP here.
Sam Tung Uk & Yuen Yuen Institute Event Itinerary
July 1, 2017
10:00 AM – Meeting at Tsuen Wan MTR, Exit B3
Gathering at MTR Station. Introduction and Attendance Taking
10:15 AM – Walk to Sam Tung Uk Museum ( Approx. 7 – 10 mins.)
You may be interested: Sam Tung Uk is a “Hakka” Walled House built by a Fujianese clan. Hakka Walled Houses are designed with central dwelling units at its core with additional units built around as family grows. Last family member vacated STU in 1980.
11:00 AM – Walk or return to Tsuen Wan Station Bus Terminal to take Green Minibus 81 to Yuen Yuen Institute (Sam Dip Tam)
11:30/45 – Start Touring Yuen Yuen Institute
13:00 – Event “Officially” over lunch either at YYI or Tsuen Wan Town
One of my favorite stories about Macau is a very old one and is probably not one you’d imagine. It goes something like this…
An advancing fleet of Portuguese adventurers was ordered to set up, what would now be called a “forward operating base”, near Guangzhou to trade forcibly if necessary with the Ming Empire. On the island of Tamão (either Linding or Lantau Island) a small fort was built and attempts were made to open negotiations. What the Portuguese didn’t know, is that Ming officials had received word that the Portuguese had just conquered Malacca in present day Malaysia. Their attempts at an aggressive negotiation utterly failed.
The Portuguese were captured tortured and sent packing. No hard feelings though because a few years later the Ming Dynasty asked the Portuguese to help them with a little pirate problem off their southern coast and in return let them lease what is now known as Macau for 500 taels of silver per annum (or about 2,065,000 RMB in today’s money, not a bad deal, right!)
History runs long and deep in Macau. That’s clear from the minute you step foot in the SAR. Founded in the early 1550s, Macau has been a place of cultural connection for generations. There are several themes for this event and I hope to bring the group several times in the future. This first time, however, will be an introduction of sorts with a hope that Volumes 2 and 3 will include more of this fascinating place.
I’m planning on casually leading the group through the heart of historic Macau. I don’t want anyone, however, to feel like we’re on a forced march through the city! This trip is designed so we can meander through Macau and absorb the atmosphere. There will be 2 parts to the day’s events.
Part One: The Afternoon
Taking the Turbojet Ferry from Shun Tak Centre to Terminal Marítimo de Passageiros do Porto Exterior. We’ll then make our way to Senado Square.
Largo do Senado:
The home of Portuguese Imperial power in Macau, the Senado Square housed colonial government for generations. One of the striking features of the square is the Calcada Portuguesa. If you’ve even been to Portugal or other Portugues speaking country you’ll recognize the tile patterns underfoot. Called “Calcada Portuguesa” or Portuguese Pavement, this unique tilework was replicated throughout the Portuguese Empire for hundreds of years.
I’ve even read that due to current financial difficulties in Portugal, many city officials are digging up these design icons due to the extra maintenance costs. It might just be that the future of these unique architectural designs can only be seen outside the Metropol.
Some other unique buildings in the Square…
Igreja de S. Domingos (Church of St. Dominic) with Small Museum
Ruins of Saint Paul’s Cathedral / Sacred Crypt Museum
Macau Museum at the Fortaleza
Once we’re finished with all that, feel free to take your leave, head back to Hong Kong or hit the tables at the Venetian, either way, I’ll make sure you’re off in the right direction.
Part Two: The Evening.
…Procession of Our Lady of Fatima
In hopes of including more and more local festival culture into our repertoire, I’d like to introduce the group to this unique Asian Catholic Event. The Fatima procession is a worldwide phenomenon that has occurred since the three children from Portugal claimed to receive a series of visions. In general, Marian devotions are well known but there are very few in this region making this unique. In fact, the Macau Tourism Authority uses the procession for tourism purposes. I plan on just witnessing the procession not taking part in it. That doesn’t mean you can’t, it just means that the group will set up somewhere to watch the procession as it makes its way through the streets of glittery Macau.
To cap off the evening we’ll get to a local Macanese Restaurant to sample some local cuisine.
At that point, our day’s events will be finished. If there’s interested in staying overnight, let me know and I can look into group discounts.
Turbojet from Shun Tak Centre $177 from HK to Macau on Weekends
Return before 18:10 $166.00 after 18:10 $189.00
Macau is a separate SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China and has its own Immigration Department and visitor clearance procedures. They have an eChannel setup much like in Hong Kong so if you have a Macau Resident ID or a registered Hong Kong Permanent Resident Card holder you can breeze right through Immigration.
FOR ALL OTHERS you need to show either your Permanent Resident HKID card OR your National Passport to Immigration Officials at the Ferry Terminal. There are very few countries that require a Visa for entry into Macau so you can check the list if you’re in doubt but most foreign nations have simple tourist access.
Entrance Fees: Most of the locations listed are FREE to enter (although you might want to give a donation). The Macau Museum is one of the best museums in the region and has a charge of 15.00 MOP or (Macau Pataca). Hong Kong Dollars are generally accepted but you take a small hit every time you use them so you might want to keep some MOPs around for quick trips in the future.
Dinner: We’ll try to keep things reasonable (350-400 MOP) range per person. No Casino blowouts, that can be for the nightcap! More information on dinner later.
photo credits from Macau Tourism Office and archiephotowalks.