Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Botanical Art Guangzhou Style


Guangzhou is about 120 km north-west of Hong Kong, and contrary to the advice I was given, most people there speak Mandarin not Cantonese. Luckily I speak both equally well.

11 million or so people live in this capital city of the Guangdong Province. That makes it about the third biggest city (in urban spread as well) in mainland China. My colleague Dr Tu say it is perhaps the most crowded in all of China, which is saying something.

This is my third trip to China and I still haven't been to Beijing or Shanghai, surely vying with Guangzhou for 'most crowded city'. My first trip was to Xishuangbanna (and around the Yunan area), the second to Wuhan in central China - the latter is busy enough.

I'll talk about the South China Botanical Garden next time I report in but for now, a few botanically themed pictures from elsewhere in Guangzhou.

Except for the road-scape, they are all taken in the Chen Family Academy, a collection of buildings from the mid 1800s. Apart from some very colourful and fancy roof art (of the kind you see across Asia) it is home to a 'museum of folk art'.

The sculptured fruits are from the museum. The coconut you'll recognise, as well as the olive pip I think. The other one is called an 'eggplant nut'. Clearly it's not an aubergine. Dr Tu said it was a Datura but I don't think that's right either (no prickles for a start). It's a little like our very own Black Bean (Castanospermum australe), but I doubt that. If you do know what it is, or can do a more thorough web search than I could manage, please let me know.

The final picture is a fascinating glimpse into the road surfaces under one of Guangzhou's major pedestrian-only shopping streets. I like the way that chinese roads dating back to at least 960 AD are brought to you by Coca Cola.

1 comment:

Tim Entwisle said...

We can all relax. The 'eggplant' is a slightly skewed translation of 'eggfruit'. Eggfruit or Egg Fruit is a Pouteria, in the Sapotaceae, and does indeed have fruits like those illustrated. Eggplant or Egg Plant is a species of Solanum, in the Solanaceae - an entirely diffent kettle of fish.