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How did they stop Mao from blowing it up during the Cultural revolution?

First, it probably helped that it was remote.


Second, and I'm not having any luck remembering or finding the name and region, but one influential party leader actually took great pains to prevent the destruction of heritage during the cultural revolution. I don't think that that leader was at work in this case, for some reason I'm remembering the leader having been in the Henan area, but again, that's totally off of my faulty memory.


The West has the unfortunate habit of overvaluing the effect of both the destruction of tradition in China and the effect of propaganda. The classic example is the Tainanmen Square massacre. Yes, internet searches on it are limited by the great firewall. BUT, everyone and their brother uses a VPN to get around this. And, aside from professors from my university, pretty much all the most meaty conversations I've had on the topic were with Chinese people in China. Westerners tend to know tank man and little else. Chinese contemporaries tend to know the role of the Yang family in it, the undercurrents at play, etc.


There is actually an article that was fairly well distributed in the West about how the Chinese population was longing for the West to help China at the time. The centerpiece of the article was a picture of a group of people with a Statue of Liberty they had made. The problem is, the people who made the statue were a group of artists, one of whom is my old professor's wife. The assertion that the meaning of the statue had anything to do with this is patently false, and given that she lives in the states, it's strange that they never did the slightest bit of research on their claim. Anyone who claims that there is any support for foreign intervention in China among Chinese is beyond ridiculous- there are few things considered to have been more disastrous for China by the Chinese over foreign interference.


In China, there is a long history of repression actually pushing things into the grassroots that then become so inextricably intertwined with the culture as to become inseparable. Every single repression of Buddhism and Taoism in Chinese history, including the Cultural Revolution, ended up making those things something people practiced at home more than at the temples that were no longer there. Which then, when the temple invariably reopened, made them instantly have a base of popularity again.


For another example of repression actually aiding the survival of a thing as a cultural heritage, one need look no further than the last destruction of the Shaolin Temple, which was actually due to repression of Buddhism by pro-Christian leaders. When the Buddhists began literally fighting back, the temple became a target. So ironically, the temple, destroyed by forces under pro-Christian leaders seeking to take property from temples in order for the state to make use of them, said leaders most decidedly later being tied to the nationalists, is rebuilt by Communists.


My experience in China has been that propaganda, for those living in a country with a long history of it, is more the art of what one must say than the definition of what anyone actually believes. The less its use, the more people believe it, the more, the less they do.


That said, a lot of monuments were destroyed. And now, there are whole industries of restoring temples. Weird world.


I currently live at the foot of Mount Tai, which is the most important of the five most famous mountains for any leader, as it was considered a duty to climb to its top as part of a ritual. Confucius references standing on a lookout and seeing his state of Lu. It is one of the few peaks that had each of the major group's temples atop it, and at its foot is the Dai Temple, which has an imperial home within. That home has a layout only allowed in three places, modeled after Confucius' ancestral home. The three versions are in the Forbidden Palace, in Qufu, where Confucius' ancestral home is found, and at the Dai Temple near me. All three are still in existence.


The Cultural Revolution was never close to organized enough to actually achieve the destruction of enough of the monuments and cultural heritage of China to actually achieve the much claimed end of traditional culture. Frankly, it was a bit of a ragtag affair in the end, and it broke Mao's power within the party. It's important to keep in mind that one of the first things that Deng set about doing, besides opening the markets, was retiring the old guard, and that he was entirely successful in doing so without using the same sort of unilateral power that Mao would have.

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Looking over the thread, images I posted years ago of Gordale Scar and Malham Cove in Yorkshire never showed up. Gordale Scar is reputedly Tolkien's inspiration for Rivendell. The two locations are within walking distance of each other.


Gordale Scar



Malham Cove



To these I might add Troller's Gill, near Appletreewick in Yorkshire, home on local folklore to a Black Dog known as the Barghest (yes, that's the one that gives the name to the fantasy monster).



Also near Appletreewick, The Strid is a narrow, low gorge where the River Wharfe narrows to a point where it's possible to jump across - but people have died trying. The river here is some 30 feet deep, undercuts the rocks, moves with the speed of an express train, and the rocks around are slippy. Fall and you die. Strid Woods are a site of special scientific interest - an untouched upland oak forest. Half an hour's walk downstream of The Strid are the ruins of Bolton Abbey. From the far side of the Wharfe to the abbey, a path leads up to the Valley of Desolation, which is actually quite lovely - it's retained the name since a sotrm a couple of hundred years ago blew the trees down. They grew back.

The Strid


Strid Woods - looking downstream from The Strid.


Bolton Abbey. I've ancestors buried in that graveyard.



Posforth Gill, Valley of Desolation


Keep heading up the Valley of Desolation, and you'll climb Barden Fell to the natural viewpoint of Simon's Seat, with views over Upper Wharfedale.

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I don't post very often, but when I do people may have noticed over the years that I favour low fantasy and historical fantasy over the grandeur of high fantasy.


So let me tell you about Barwick-in-Elmet, the Yorkshire village where I grew up. This will explain my username, and probably my low-fantasy preferences. ;)


Before I plough into it, I'll just note that this kind of history isn't unusual to most of us Europeans. Most of our villages date back about thousand years. Fantasy villages written by American designers seem more inspired by the Old West frontier settlements - Hommlet is a classic example. It doesn't look right, it doesn't feel right. It has no history in its design or landscape.


So here's some archaeology, a little history, and an unusual folk custom. I realise this thread is mostly inspirational pictures, but sometimes pictures want context.

The oldest obvious human 'building' in Barwick is a single-vallum, figure-8 shaped Iron Age hillfort known as Wendel Hill. It's never been dated, but the nearby Becca Banks earthworks have been dated to the 1st century AD, probably thrown up to stop the Roman general Agricola and his legion as they marched north (if so, it failed). I suspect the hillfort is up to a century older.

Within the hillfort lies the motte of a late-Norman motte and bailey castle, which we call Hall Tower Hill. The castle - its licence was granted by King Stephen, c. 1150AD, has long since vanished. The castle's bailey was the smaller part of the figure-8 of the hillfort; the larger part became part of peasant tofts (gardens).

Hillfort plan



Aerial view - the line of hedges marks the hillfort vallum (bank and ditch).




After the Romans left and the Saxons invaded, Barwick was part of the Cambric kingdom of Elmet, part of Hen Ogledd, the Old North (Hen Ogledd's most prominent king was Hen Cwl - Old King Cole of the English nursery rhyme). Along with Rheged, Elmet was one of the last surviving ancient British kingdoms. It finally fell to the Saxon Northumbrian king Edwin in 616. Barwick is sometimes erroneously considered the capital of Elmet, but in truth, no one knows where Elmet's capital was.


After the Saxons, the Vikings came. Barwick lies about 15 miles west of York, a prominent Viking trade town in the 9th and 10th centuries, and the centre of Erik Bloodaxe's 10th-century Kingdom of York. A pair of Viking carvings were incorporated into the 12th century foundations of the village church, All Saints' Church, probably dating from the 10th century. This is one of them.


Barwick is listed in Domesday Book as an outlying settlement of nearby Kippax. Its name, originally bere-wick, means 'beer village', and it's thought it was an outlying hamlet where barley was grown. By the mid-12th century its importance increased, and the de Lacy family of Pontefract moved the northern caput (head-place) of their barony there, and built the motte and bailey castle c. 1150.

All Saints has an unusual bell tower, constructed in two phases in the 15th century. The lower part is constructed of local magnesian limestone, a sought-after building material. The upper is finished in cheaper stone.The clock face is red because Barwick belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster (the current Duke is Queen Elizabeth II). While Yorkshire folk who still keep the rivalry with Lancashire like to commemorate the 1462 Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton - about 6 miles from Barwick, the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil - it's likely that any Barwick folk there fought on the losing side. The Houseof Lancaster's lands were mostly in the North. The Yorkist lands were predominantly in the south.



The local lords in the later middle ages were the Gascoigne family. Sir William Gascoigne (1350-1405) was Chief Justice of England under King Henry IV. A probably apocryphal story has it that he is the judge who had Prince Hal (the future Henry V) imprisoned - read your Shakespeare and note young Hal's crimes with Falstaff.

A later Gascoigne, Sir Thomas Gascoigne, had a triumphal arch celebrating the American victory in the War of Independence built at his estate in Parlington, two miles south of Barwick. It's the only such monument in Britain celebrating the American victory. The inscription reads "Liberty in N. America MDCLXXXIII".




The Gascoignes have long since died out, but one of Barwick's four pubs is The Gascoigne Arms.

The Maypole

Barwick's prominence dwindled over the centuries. Its inhabitants farmed, and made caustic lime in limekilns around the village. Its claim to fame these days is the maypole in the middle of the village. 


Its uncertain when Barwick first erected its maypole. Some say it's an ancient tradition going back to pagan times, but it's far more likely its more recent - perhaps the 17th or 18th century. At 90 feet (26 metres), it's the tallest village maypole in England.



The maypole is made of two lengths of Norwegian pine, spliced together and mound with iron. It needs upkeep. Every three years, on Easter Monday, the maypole is taken down for repainting. When I was a kid, we took it down the old-fashioned way - a village man, the Maypole Climber, shinned up to the iron bands above the garlands and lowered a guy rope, which which he pulled up four heavier roles and attached them to the pole. One rope came towards Hall Tower Hill (towards the viewpoint in the image above), another down Main Street (to the right of the image), a third down towards the church, and the last one over the rooftops to the left to the courtyard behind the Black Swan pub.


As the whole village turned out to hold the ropes under the guidance of the village Pole Master, the ground at the base of the maypole was loosened and dug out with pickaxes and shovels, then, slowly, at the Pole Master's instructions, lowered onto waiting ladders, then onto the shoulders of scores of man,, then carried to Hall Tower Field for repainting.

These days, since The Day The Maypole Fell, it's done with a crane.



As well as repainting, the garlands were replaced. The garlands are made little ribbons with bells on - an old garland bell is a good luck charm, and I carried one as a key fob for many years. During the three weeks between Easter Monday and Whitsun, the new garlands are carried to every house in the village and touched for luck.




Several times, while it was down for repainting, lads from the neighbouring village of Aberford or the town of Garforth, stole the maypole in the middle of the night. Must have been a few of them - it takes a few score of people to carry the maypole. The most recent attempt was in 1966, when Aberford lads successfuly stole the top half 3 days before the maypole raising ceremony. Barwick had to quickly get a new top half and repaint it. The orginal was found the day before the ceremony - so for a few years, the village had a spare.


Maypole raising is done on Whitsunday, amid great celebrations at Hall Tower Hill, where crowds sit and watch the events. It's become something of a tourist attraction. Children from the village infant school dance around a smaller maypole (we practised for weeks when I did it). Older children from the junior school perform country dances (we practised for weeks when I did it). A village girl is chosen as May Queen and other children chosen as attendants (I was crown-bearer once). There's a fair. There is a lot of beer drunk. A lot of beer. There are marching bands, brass bands.

The maypole is raised in pretty much the reverse of how it's taken down. There's is one important difference - once the maypole is set in place, and the Maypole Climber ascends to remove the ropes, he must continue climbing to the very top of the maypole to spin the fox weathervane and bring luck to the village...




For many years, the maypole climber was my neighbour, Arthur Nicholls, who built a smaller maypole by his farmhouse to practice. I think that's him in the picture above.

The Day the Maypole Fell


Easter Monday, 1981, the maypole fell down Main Street while it was being lowered. I, aged 12, was on the Main Street rope with my sisters. I didn't quite realise what was happening at first - the rope went slack, the maypole seemed to be getting shorter, and then people started running. Fortunately, it landed in the street and everyone got clear. The tip hit the curb, and the top two feet broke off. A lad grabbed it (and the bent weathervane) and tried to make off with it, but one of my neighbours saw and brought him down in a rugby tackle a couple of hundred yards away.

These days, with much regret, the village uses a crane to raise and lower the maypole.

The next maypole raising will be at Whitsuntide, 2020, if you'd like to visit.


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This is Duart Castle, ancestral home of Clan MacLean.  The Isle of Mull is also the ancestral home of Clan Maclaine of  Lochbuie, though their(our) castle is less impressive, more of a keep.  It is the home of my paternal ancestry.  Rolling green hills and standing stones, etc.  

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30 minutes ago, megaplayboy said:



This is Duart Castle, ancestral home of Clan MacLean.  The Isle of Mull is also the ancestral home of Clan Maclaine of  Lochbuie, though their(our) castle is less impressive, more of a keep.  It is the home of my paternal ancestry.  Rolling green hills and standing stones, etc.  


I've been there. Learnt to sail around Mull.

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Next time I'm that way, I've gotta take pictures of Old Town -- the Church Town of Piteå. The cottages aren't that old -- thanks to the Russians having their fun around 1814 -- but the style of buildings is thoroughly vernacular. And the bell tower of the church probably started out as a kastal, a defensive tower from the 14th century or thereabouts -- records are sketchy. 

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