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Foshan, China

Updated on January 14, 2012

Ancient Foshan

Foshan, 28 kilometers south-west of Guangzhou, is one of the four famous commercial centers of China. Ever since it was built in the Tang dynasty (618-907) it has been known for its pottery, iron and steel casting and textiles. Many ancient buildings still stand and are well kept today.

One of these is the 880 year old Ancestral Temple, a wooden structure in which no nails or metals were used. Columns and beams were joined by tenon and mortise. It has withstood weather and the humid climate over the centuries. Under the eaves are interesting stone and brick carvings, many of them animals symbolizing good luck and happiness. Wooden figures taken from legendary stories line the corridor eaves. Inside the temple great pillars and painted beams are the setting for a huge bronze Buddha weighing 2.5 tons. Eight-meter painted statues of a lokapala and a warrior stand on either side. Visitors are often startled when they touch the boot of a large statue and the leg moves. It was made this way.

Shiwan southwest of Foshan is a famous pottery center.

Every day at the Shiwan Fine Arts Ceramics Factory visitors watch craftsmen making tiny figurines and animals. One of these is a small pottery boat only one inch long with a boatman and several passengers.

Inside the cabin a young woman sits before a mirror combing her hair. Her figure is so small that a magnifying glass has to be used to see her features.

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