"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Pot Hole on the Road to Mystery

I had this wonderful idea for a post, one that wedded two seemingly unrelated subjects.  I had photos with which to illustrate it, and a gotcha opening line that would reach out and grab any reader that came to see what the heck I was up to now:

In 1981, at the age of 21, an undergraduate student at Yale sparked a controversy that turned an entire nation upside down.  That student, Chinese-American Maya Lin, had entered a design contest and her design was chosen out of more than 1400 others.

The contest was for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built in Constitution Gardens in Washington, D.C.   The winning design, and Lin herself, were subjected to much criticism and the announcement was made.  She had to defend her design strenuously.  And, she was criticized about winning because of her ethnicity.  The wounds of that war were still bleeding.

  As we all know, the memorial has become much like a shrine.

Lin's original winning design.

While traveling in China a couple years ago, our group was sitting along a covered walkway that created a square on three sides.  The fourth side was a museum.  This building, I recall our guide saying, was designed by none other than Maya Lin.


Here’s where things went wrong for my wonderful idea.  My memory tells me the museum was part of the exquisite archeological digs/museums of the Terra Cotta Warriors near Xi’an.  In an effort to verify this, I did some online research.

One of the three massive pits near Xi'an where the digs continue to unearth more statues.

I looked at a map of the Terra Cotta site and can’t find that building.  I search other museums in Xi’an.  It looks somewhat like the Shaanxi History Museum, though in response to a travel company in China, was I was told the actual designer’s name and it is not Maya Lin.

I search Maya Lin’s web sites, and can find nothing that indicates she designed a building in China.

This might not even by the same building as the one above, except they are chronologically side by side in order.

 I turned to my several thousand photos of that trip to China.  In one series of photos, there are Terra Cotta warriors displayed in the museum with a photo of a mystery pot that was to be the link to Maya Lin, along with 115 photos of a flower bed where a peculiar humming bird was flitting about, one I was attempting to catch on a memory card.

In another series of photos from a different camera, there is a break in the series.  It shows we went back to Xi'an, had lunch, and were driven to another museum (maybe even the next afternoon), which had Terra Cotta Warriors, too.  Then followed the mystery pot photos.

So that leaves me with only a mystery, much like this pot:

This pot is roughly the size of a large teapot, but look at it carefully.  There is no spout, just a small ceramic animal head for dispensing water through its mouth.

But, how to fill the pot?

The diabolical answer is that there is a hole in the bottom of the pot.  A hole with no plug or no stopper, just an open hole.

But, how to fill the pot and  keep the water in it?


Turn the pot upside down, of course.  That's where the opening is located.

Then, turn the pot upright and over a fire.  The interior stem traps the water and prevents the water from escaping, thusly:

So, what have we learned from this post?

1.  Maya Lin designed the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in D.C.

2.  She might or might not have designed a museum somewhere in China.

3.  My guide might have been mistaken.

4.  I might (probably am) mistaken.

5.  Hummingbirds in China have square tails.

6.  The Terra Cotta Warriors are worth going to see!!!

7.  Somewhere in the world is a museum exhibit of the mysterious pot.

8.  Your photographs will NOT stay in chronological order, and,

9.  Good ideas are hard to come by, and 

10.  These guys are flying really long kites!

This kite actually goes on a lot longer than you can see.  The ever-present Chinese smog obscures much of it.

Now, go back to that first paragraph in italics, "...turned an entire nation upside down.."   "Upside down."  Get it?  The upside down pot.   Okay, and then the title:  "A POT HOLE in the Road of Mystery."   POT HOLE--the pot with the hole.  Wasn't that a clever title?   And the juxtaposition of Maya Lin's American fame and her maybe museum in China that has a mystery pot?   Oh, just too clever to be real.

Don't you love a good mystery?  I think I'll go read one written by someone else.  One that makes sense.

1 comment:

  1. I visited Xian in May of 1997 .. along with other places in China .. one memorable trip let me tell you .. Smiles .. Cap ..