Tuesday, March 31, 2015

brian, beads, books, and bird

brian returned from taiwan last saturday morning, and it was a happy reunion! sierra made a card that we all signed, and she even wrote a lovely poem for him. we were all very happy to have b back. and we were, of course, excited to see the oleh oleh he brought back for us from taiwan.

 here we are with our taiwanese booty.

 as you'll recall, b went to a glass bead factory while in taiwan, and he picked s and i up some necklaces there. he also got w a cool bolo tie and bracelet. then there are also three hour glasses and a couple sculptural pieces he picked up. wah!

 i love this picture of the three of them. i don't remember what i said to elicit this response.

b flew all night long to get back to solo. he was tired, but he powered through, and we decided to check out a pasar buku (book market) we had seen awhile ago. 

 it was interesting to see that the book market had "wild animus," which, for those who haven't read it, is a crazy book. i found it at the di several years ago and sort of read it in horror. it is truly wild that it made it's way all the way to indonesia.

 the book market was a bit different than i expected, but interesting. nearly all of the books were in indonesian--so i didn't buy any for myself. we did get a couple Pramoedya Ananta Toer books for b. and we also found an old superhero comic book with figures like batman and spiderman with wayan character faces. so we bought that too. 

 this is the oldest book that b found. it's fairly rare and a good find. pelangi means rainbow.

we met a man at the book market who had a book store near the kraton. he said he had a lot of old books--so we took a couple becaks over to his book store. thankfully, we all got there, and we looked around a new book market. i got an indonesian cookbook in english, and b got a couple of books too.

after the book buying, we walked through the antique market and found a new place. there were a few men inside--one who was painting wayang kulit as shown below. and another who was painting a big gamelan.


 the musical instruments were large and beautiful. the smaller red drums were pretty reasonable. i may want to go back and get one (if i can figure out how to bring it home).

 a neat statue outside the gamelan/wayang place.

 we then took a taksi to the bird market because b promised the kiddos we'd get a pet bird. we looked around and settled on getting this kind (in equal part because it was cheap and only needed to eat bananas).

 here the kids are with the new family bird. 

so we got home with the bird, and b opened up the cage to get the water in. sadly, brian's hand wasn't big enough to close off the exit, and our bird flew out! b and s saw it fly away. we were all disappointed since we had been looking forward to our pet bird for a long time.

we came in to the house and sat down to have lunch. while warming up the left over rice and noodles, i heard a sound above the cupboards, and we noticed a large cicak eating something.

s kept asking if the bird would come back, and saying how much she wanted it to come back. b said that the chances of it coming back were about 1%. s, undeterred, heard that and said that she thought it would come back. she said that many times. 

then, as we were eating at the table, there was a sudden flutter and flash of wings. our bird flew into the dining room and landed on the chair next to w! incredulous, b carefully went over and grabbed it. none of us could believe that it returned or could understand why it had returned--none of us except s!


 you can see how excited we were to have our new pet return. in honor of his miraculous return, b thought we should name it bumerang (as in boomerang, but also Bu Merang (women here are called (i)bu)). so bumerang is back and has a great name!

Friday, March 27, 2015


I spent the second half of this week in Taipei, where I gave a second lecture and toured several museums. 

An opening lunch for the second half of the week.

It didn't rain in the south while I was there during the first half of the week, but rain is about all it did in Taipei the second half of the week. I was glad the student who picked me up from the train station was kind enough to bring me an umbrella.

The first museum, right after the first lunch.

This prehistoric pictograph reminded me of southern Utah.

I've been thinking about this acupuncture map of the human body and how it's a reminder that the conventional borders (this is an arm, this is a forehead, this is a hand) are culturally contingent and the lines may reasonably be redrawn so that body parts might be imagined as long strips spanning the length of the arm and going onto the chest, etc.

I liked the phrase "five thunders"

I kept thinking about this redrawn map of the body

I thought W would like this statue

This seemed like a new refinement in swordsmanship that I had never considered before (I haven't considered swordsmanship to any significant extent, admittedly).

This phrase seemed poetic to me

I thought of the bas-relief mural in our home

The student who was with me pointed out the various levels of hell in one of the paintings

After we went to the museum, the professor I was with said that she knew the perfect place for us to go.

It turned out she wanted to take me to the LDS temple/church complex in Taipei. She was intent on having a tour, and we met some nice people there, and the professor was very interested in bringing her American literature students to have a tour, to learn about American religious diversity.

Photo session after the lecture

Temple visit after the lecture.

The professor I was with, who is Taiwanese, explained some of these decorations at the temple as similar to the cartoonish Christmastime decorations we see at malls in the US. These are in celebration of Chinese New Year.

I found myself taking pictures fast but in a way that wasn't capturing what I was trying to capture, which was a sense of the busyness of the temple, combined with incense burning, combined with the music, combined with the actions of people praying, combined with other things.

Learning about some tools of divination

At a certain point, I started hearing some music that sounded like cartoon music. We were soon approaching some fake animals (like the fish and goats that appear earlier in the photos of the temple), and I realized the music was coming from the animals. Sure that the music must be more significant than cartoon music, I asked the professor what the music meant. She replied that it didn't mean anything and was just there to make things fun. She said it was like "cartoon music."

This was an offering left by a woman who had prayed to become pregnant, and had.

A bottle of oil was left on each of several tables

After the temple, we walked along a street with an herb market

And a stall selling bronze

I bought W a bronze tiger and S a creature that looked similar to this one.

Then we walked along a street that was either a preservation or a recreation of an old Taipei street

There was a TV show being filmed on the street, and I accidentally took flash photography (usually my flash isn't on, so I was surprised). People didn't like the flash. Someone said in English, "No flash!" I was glad they knew English so they could understand my apology.

Then we went to the Palace Museum

I was curious about how the lion became such a big part of Chinese iconography, and the student I was with didn't know, but eventually our guide told us that the Chinese learned about lions through trade with other parts of the world.

No photography was allowed in the museum, so you won't be able to see a pic of the carved olive pits that I found so intriguing, among many other items.

Then we had lunch in the museum

And then went to another museum, this one on indigenous peoples. Photos weren't allowed there either, but I took a few before I learned that.

I was exhausted and fell asleep in the taksi on the way to the next place. The taxi stopped and I kept sleeping, and the PhD student I guess didn't think she should wake me up. I woke up a minute or two after we arrived, as the student told me.

This museum/park was made on the grounds of a former prison for political prisoners who opposed (or had different thoughts than) the CKS regime during its 38 years of martial law from the 1940s through the 1980s.

A prison on Green Island

A pic of a pic of Green Island.

Crafts and carvings made by the prisoners

A statue symbolizing justice, designed by one of the prisoners during his sentence I think. This creature is supposed to be able to listen to two people in dispute and know who is right and wrong.

Where the prisoners talked with visitors. Ten minutes, in Mandarin, while their first language was usually Taiwanese

A recreation of gifts that might have been given to the prisoners by visitors. Superman drew my attention.

After that, the professor (who had joined us) and the student and I walked around National Taiwan University

And then, right before I left for the airport, we got together for dinner with another professor who works on similar topics to my own, on islands, except from the field of geography.