Xia-Hai City God Temple

Xia-Hai City God Temple, built in 1856, is nestled on Dihua Street in the Datong District of Taipei City. The temple hosts statues to the City God, the Chinese Cupid, and hundreds of other deities within its 152 square meters. In Chinese mythology, the City God originally protected the wall and moat of a city. Later, it became a deity who protected against natural disasters and administered to the spirits of the dead.

On the 14th day of the fifth lunar month each year, the temple hosts a City God Birthday Procession, which includes lion dances and other theatrical performances. In 1985, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior designated the temple a historical monument.

A Kyoto Scene

The Deva Gate on the left leads up to Kiyomizu-dera (Pure Water Temple), a Buddhst temple complex on the mid-slope of Mt. Otowa, in the eastern part of Kyoto. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, the temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro. Most of the present structures were rebuilt in 1633 after a fire. Notably, the Hondo (Main Hall)  and the wooden viewing stage that juts out from it were constructed without the use of nails, just the art of Japanese joinery.

Happy Lunar New Year!

In the Chinese Zodiac, this is the Year of the Ox, beginning on February 12, 2021. The ox is an animal valued for its role in agriculture and for being honest, hardworking, and reliable. Those born under this sign are said to be strong and independent, but may also be very stubborn. Famous people born in the Year of the Ox include Napoleon, Vincent Van Gogh, Adolf Hitler, Walt Disney, Richard Nixon, Saddam Hussein, and Barack Obama.

Casa Azul (Blue House)

A view of the central garden courtyard around which the Casa Azul (Blue House) was built in 1904. Located in Coyoacán, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City, this casa is where Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, grew up, and where she died in 1954. Four years later, Casa Azul was turned into a museum dedicated to the life and work of Frida Kahlo.

Five Rathas

Another pandemic-induced hybrid sketch, this time of the Five Rathas site at Mahabalipuram, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Tamil Nadu state, India. The complex, built in the 7th century during the reign of King Narasimhavarman I, comprises fine examples of Indian rock-cut architecture. Each ratha (chariot) is carved from a single granite monolith. The above view shows the Bhima Ratha on the right, the Nakula Sahadeva Ratha back and toward the left, with a full-size elephant sculpture in between.

This is another view drawn on site during my visit to Chennai in 2015. The Five Rathas was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.