inside thoughts on China and beyond

Photo Story – Chunjie in Chengdu

Just like Christmas and New Year’ eve in Europe and Thanksgiving in the US, with its compulsory trips to the family and overload of presents; for the Chinese, Chunjie (Chinese New Year) is the big thing.  Suddenly, China turns red with paper lanterns in trees, upside-down banners on doors, firework litter and incense candles. An impression of China’s yearly great transformation…

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It takes a week of lining up in shifts in over-crowded stations to actually get a train ticket.

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With everyone gone,  streets are literally deserted in our neighborhood. A surreal quietness engulfed in mist.

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With the supermarkets and malls virtually plundered and everyone left town, shops close and China practically shuts down. A few continue their services, like this street barber.

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Elderly with no where to go, in front of closed shops, enjoying this rare quietness.

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A taxi rushes past a street vendor, selling red ornaments that are believed to bring more luck.

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Orange tents selling massive sizes of firework are at every street corner, open 24-hours per day.

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A firework sales girl in one of the many orange tents that have been erected at each street corner in Chengdu, where until some years ago, no fireworks where allowed.

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A child waiting in the car while father buys the fireworks. Due to increased incomes in the city, more large and expensive firework is sold than ever before, resulting in a record of accidents this year.

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More red is decorating trees and street lanterns. The color red is believed to bring luck.

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Everything is done to chase off ghosts and other evil.

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Chickens are sacrificed and fake money is burned to enlarge your chances and good luck.

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The blood and feather of the chicken are spread on cars and doorposts as yet another mean to ensure good and safe life.

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For the same reason, although forbidden every other day of the year, large red lanterns are are lit and ‘send to heaven’. In the recent past, pilotes heading for the nearby airport have filed complaints because these burning red projectiles endangered the low flying air planes.

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The works; the show and show-off of the growing wealth of -and in- the city.

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But some will still work, even on Chunjie night. This three-wheel taxi, one of the few still rushing around, will be able to charge a multiple of the normal fee.

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While the firework tents are still exposed on each street corner, fireworks can be seen over the city’s skyline throughout the night with the climax just after midnight.

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My son, admiring nearby firework.

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Despite the ‘wild night’, most streets were already cleared from firework litter early the next morning.

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Throughout the night, street workers roamed the streets to collect the firework ‘shells’, which provides a nice addition to their otherwise meager income.

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A happy street worker.

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Not everywhere it was that clean. This small plot of land just beside an old monastery temple in the south of Chengdu was turned into a ‘incense’ yard.

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An old monk in this small monastery going back to his room. In this decade of economical growth and change, China’s large younger generation is in search for a deeper meaning of life.

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Like this young couple, many turn to the old beliefs. Once condemning these practices, the Chinese government is now working hard to revitalize it in the hope to increase national awareness and pride. In the last few years, many temples and monasteries have been renovated and build with government support.

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 When the noise of firecrackers can still be heard and many people are still in holiday mood, for others, like this lady, one more day without work is likely a day without food.

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Rubbish collectors return to the streets; here enjoying a short rest and a warm cup of ‘fangbian mian’ instant noodle soup.

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At the end of the day, life goes on.

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More photo impressions on this topic can be viewed here.  Read more about live (and other suffering) around Chunjie time in my posts ‘Chunjie Rush‘ and ‘Fast Train‘.

Copyright © Steven Dorgelo Photography

3 responses

  1. A stellar collection of images. Impressive visualizations.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  2. AMAZING photos. I didn’t know they sacrificed chickens and put the blood and feathers on their cars! Wow. Seems too superstitious to me, but, for many, it’s just a way of life. Thank you for sharing. I love your site.

    February 12, 2013 at 7:52 am

  3. I really enjoyed those, I wish I could have been in Chengdu this year. I also like the story in your other blog.

    February 17, 2013 at 2:41 am

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