China Peony Festival Tour April 2009

 

White Horse Temple…

In the year 64 of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), Emperor Ming sent a delegation of his men to study Buddhism in the western world. After three years, two eminent Indian monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan, came back with the delegation. They brought with them a white horse carrying Buddhist sutras and Buddhist figures on its back. This was the first time that Buddhism appeared in China. To express his thanks to the two monks and their white horse, the emperor ordered the building of a monastery which he named the White Horse Temple during the following year.

On the way to the temple you pass through an area that sells the incense sticks that are used in the temple. Just look at the size of some of them. The bigger they are the more ‘weight’ they carry. You could even buy peony seed as shown on the cart beside the huge sets of beads. We also came at the right time to see the men cleaning out the lotus ponds…they sure looked as though they were enjoying it. I had been here before, as with a lot of the places we see on this tour and delight in the people. They in turn delighted in our group. Everywhere we went they wanted to take pictures of us.

Luoyang Peony Festival

The Peony Festival, where you will enjoy seeing thousands of peonies in all their glorious colour and depending on the weather prior to our arrival, we may just get to glimpse the late season Green Peony just opening or in full bloom. Keep those fingers crossed! The Peony of Luoyang is the most beautiful under heaven. The Peony, the emblem flower of Luoyang, is lauded as “Queen of flowers with ethereal colour and celestial fragrance”. Since the Tang Dynasty no Chinese city has been able to rival Luoyang in growing peonies boasting nearly 10 million peony trees with more than 700 species - all thanks to improvements in technology of peony cultivation. The yaohuang (Yao’s yellow peony) and weizi (Wei’s purple peony) are the “King” & “Queen” of all peonies. It has a history of over 1,000 years in the cultivation of peony trees. Their colours range from red, pink, purple, lavender and white to green, yellow, maroon and even black.

In China, the peony symbolizes wealth and nobleness due to its large flowers. The first Luoyang Peony Festival took place in April 1983 and since then it has become a major annual event featuring flowers, lanterns, exhibitions of traditional Chinese calligraphy, painting and photography.

Peonies and Plum blossoms are the traditional floral symbols of China. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty declared the Peony as the national flower of China.

When we arrived at the peony festival we were in for a treat as there was a group of ladies dancing…to modern music! It was wonderful to watch..and they seeming to be really enjoying the attention.

What a treat to be here at this time of year…peonies are divided into three blooming times and we arrived at the end of the first, beginning of the second…alas, the green peony blooms during the third. On the previous tour, I did manage to get a couple of shots of the green one, just beginning to open, but not this tour. I could have taken hundreds more but these will give you an idea of what we saw and enjoyed.

The rest of the pictures are those of Luoyang city…the huge signs telling people about the peony festival, the colourful floral displays on the streets and some of the buildings.


 

 

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