The big picture


I made a really big picture. It’s a montage, actually, of 12 overlapping photos I took of a portion of one side of 水井街 Shuijing Street in Chengdu.




East side of 水井街 Shuijing Street, Chengdu. Click on the photo to view it in a larger size on my Flickr page. You will also have the oiption to see the full-size image at 6790 x 1177 pixels.


The street pictured above is part of the historic 水井坊 Shuijingfang historic district. I have been photographing this area since 2007.



  Here’s a view of the area from Google Earth. The two yellow arrows show the location of the street view above.
Here’s a Google Maps image of Chengdu, indicating the Shuijingfang historic area.



The Shuijingfang [水 shuǐ = water, 井 jǐng = well, 坊 fāng = lane] area of Chengdu shares its name with a very old local distillery which has been excavated, and is considered very important in the history of liquor production in China. As far as I can tell, what remains of the neighborhood is the largest intact historic area in Chengdu proper. At present it exists in an uneasy alliance with the very tall Shangri La Hotel, with its surrounding upscale boutiques and restaurants. The whole area is being developed for its tourist potential, but it seems as if its core of old buildings may actually be allowed to remain. The experience of stepping from one of the dim, narrow lanes, with its intimate scale of human activity, into the wide-open and impersonal space surrounding the Shangri La is jarring, to say the least. In Chengdu, the past and present seem to exist in separate camps like armies preparing for a clash; it’s a foregone conclusion, though, who is going to lose.

I recently introduced another foreigner (British) to this area, someone who shares my love of old things. Quite by chance, a friendly couple invited us into their home to have a look. It was an old siheyuan (4-sided courtyard) house that had been subdivided, but retained some of its original splendor. In my broken Chinese I managed to ask how old the house was. About 100 years, the man replied. The house’s entrance portico has some of the most delicate wood carving in the area.

Here are a few of my favorite views of the area.