Orphaned Art in Hong Kong

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I am captivated by the color, beauty, and intricacies of traditional Asian art. I love trying to decipher the Chinese characters with my limited expertise. Most of the characters I know come from memorizing in the Thousand Character Classic and spending hours upon hours at gawking at the colorful architecture of Korean temples in between formal meditation periods during retreats. My eyes are always on the lookout for calligraphy, ink drawings, porcelain figures. I wrote an article in Gwangju News about the abundance of discarded art that I like to call, orphaned art. Some Koreans leave personal belongings behind to fool the spirits that reside in their abode from moving into their new house. Ghosts won’t know any different until the new owners begin discarding the old resident’s possessions.

 I spent my last Chuseok (Korean harvest holiday) in Hong Kong with my girlfriend. We had five days to explore, and this place near Waterfalls Bay Park caught my interest. Thousands of Buddhist Boddhisattvas and Taoist Gods Buddhas and Taoist Gods stand facing the sea, ready to meet the needs of devotees anyway possible.   Disposing of a statue (damaged or not) goes against Buddhist/ Taoist beliefs, but leaving them behind for others to take into possession is ok. That’s how shrines like this one in the Wah Fu district of Hong Kong exist with the blessing of the local government. As long as the statues don’t block paths and maintained, these impromptu shrines are allowed to take care of the spiritual needs of the locals.  At this particular shrine, old men sit and gossip while playing mahjong. I can’t say for sure, but I would venture a guess a few of the men are caretakers for this impressive collection of deities.

 

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