Are you a Buddhist? Stick out your tongue to prove it!

Tibet 1948.

I found this great post card at Garden Books in Shanghai (nice selection of English language books in the French Concession).  The description reads: “Sticking the tongue out as a Tibetan greeting began when Buddhists wanted people to know that they were not Bon-Po (pre-Buddhist religion) as they were supposed to have black tongues. Pink tongues were stuck out as proof of being Buddhist. The further the tongue out, the greater respect. It is still seen today.” Does that make Mick Jagger Buddhist?


Shanghai Redux

In preparation for a buying trip to Shanghai, I stumbled across a new book published by Penguin in China this year: SHANGHAI: A History in Photographs, 1842 – Today by HS Liu and Karen Smith. 

I love the picture of these girls at the Shanghai Tennis Club.  Here’s the blurb on the book:

“Shanghai traces the story of the most modern of China’s cities, through evocative, beautiful and sometimes painful images. In 1842, the signing of the ignominious Treaty of Nanking turned a small riverside stop-off into a bustling treaty port. Over the near-170 years that followed, Shanghai was shaped and defined by outside forces, from the foreign concessions and Japanese occupiers through to the arrival of the Communists and the cult of Mao. Through civil war, invasion, revolution and famine, Shanghai beat the odds to become a thriving metropolis that commands a place in the contemporary imagination unlike any other. Shanghai has unceasingly been a byword for style, culture, business, and opportunity, and has led the way in China’s ongoing economic boom. The story told through the pages of Shanghai is both grand in scale, and domestic in tone. Photographs depict families living under the cloud of war, enjoying the fine life accorded by a booming international trade (as much in pictures of the 19th century as today), and suffering the inequalities of poverty. Time moves on and fashions change, but above all else, it is the humanity of the city of Shanghai shines through in this spectacular and sweeping history.”

Many of the older photos have supposedly never been published before and Liu and Smith did an amazing job digging into previously inaccessible or overlooked archives.

I haven’t figured out where to find one Stateside. I just might have to smuggle one in my suitcase.

Moganshan Lu – The Soho of Shanghai

The grafitti walls on Moganshan Lu. Can you see me blending in?

A great place to spend a couple of hours in Shanghai is the art district known as Moganshan Lu.  Moganshan Lu is the most established place in Shanghai to buy, sell, or see cutting edge works of contemporary Chinese art. There are over 40 different galleries in former industrial warehouses showcasing everything from the banal to sublime, priced reasonably and outrageously. Nevertheless, it’s a great spot to see what’s happening in the world of contemporary Chinese art.

My personal favorite is m97 Gallery featuring contemporary photographers working in China. Represented are such talents as Michael Wolf who takes large format photographs of architecture.  I’m always astounded at the number of skyscrapers in Shanghai (over 4000 and counting). The landscape changes constantly.  I love the way photography captures these fleeting moments in time, in a country that is changing way too fast.

Michael Wolf's Architecture of Density series.

m97 owner Steven Harris is super knowledgable and happy to answer any questions you might have.

Further down the street is M50 complex (click here for a list of descriptions). Mixed into the galleries are cute cafes and stores.

Dumplings at Bandu Music Cafe.

We stopped in at Bandu Music for some delicious dumplings and tea. Besides being a cafe, this is a record label featuring the music of ethnic Chinese tribes. If you’re interested, they’ll play you samples. I picked up a CD of Miao tribe music. It’s truly otherworldly.

Moganshan Lu Art District Address: Putuo District, 50 Moganshan Road (Mo Gan Shan Lu)
Address (Chinese): 普陀区莫干山路50号
Phone: (021) 63593923
Directions: Take a taxi here, or if you like to walk – it’s about 1 kilometer west (across the river) of the Shanghai Railway Station (Subway Lines 1, 3 and 4)