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死海邊的村莊

A village next to the Dead Sea

Watercolor by Dan-Fong Liang

The Dead Sea is a sea, its water is undrinkable and not survivable for fish. It is surrounded by desert. The intolerable heat of the scorching summer and the bitter cold of the winter alternate year by year. I can’t figure any suitable conditions to allow humans to live there.

Since very ancient times, however, humans have taken up residence by the Dead Sea, forming villages and happy families!

When I was there, a bunch of kids were lively. They ran over to see me painting but were called back home by their mom, who was hanging up clothes to dry.

I wondered where was the water that she can drink, use, and wash clothes?

Much more than that: greenish grey olive trees were thriving and producing olives for the making of delicious olive oil – the best low cholesterol food. What an amazing world it is when all these wonderful things can happen!

Written by Dan-Fong Liang. Originally published in 山河風月 Winds and Moons over Mountains and Rivers: paintings and short essays from my trips to China, Foguang-Culture Company, Taiwan 2001

English translation by Ming-Chien Liang, and edited by David Carroll and Julie Wolf

沙漠之 

Songs of a Desert, Gangsu

Oil painting by Dan-Fong Liang

I’ve visited many deserts around the world and painted their unique features. The difficulties of traveling in deserts have developed in me an inner power to persevere through hardships.

I was taken by surprise when I found this lovely desert next to a little hill topped with a tiny temple in a suburban area of Langzhou. The desert had turned pink in the sunset, but my sense of loneliness was no more, due to the presence of the temple. Children were playing and chasing one another. Someone was picking wild grass and flowers for fun. I stopped, and stopped only to enjoy these lovely episodes with joy!

I finally got a chance to capture the experience in this oil painting. The painting was sold immediately when it was exhibited in Taipei.

Where are you now, my beloved painting? I miss you so much! How I wish I could listen again to the lovely songs of that desert!

Written by Dan-Fong Liang. Originally published in 山河風月 Winds and Moons over Mountains and Rivers: paintings and short essays from my trips to China, Foguang-Culture Company, Taiwan 2001

English translation by Ming-Chien Liang, and edited by David Carroll and Julie Wolf

無定河畔

By the Banks of Wuding River (lit. river of no stability)

Oil painting by Dan-Fong Liang

There was nothing special about this river. It had its origin, flowing directions, changes through history, sand banks formed by accumulation due to the forces of the water, and the woods and hills on its sides. Bugs flew around little wild grasses and flowers, and fish swam in the water. The serene beauty was just what one can expect from rivers with water flowing gently and disappearing into the distance.

Why then, standing by the bank of the river, was my heart overtaken by sadness? Why was my mind haunted by shadows cast on window panes that looked longingly through and beyond, and ghosts from battlefields roaming far from home?

Was it because of this ancient poem,

“可憐無定河邊骨,猶是春閨夢裡人

Alas the pitiful sights of bones lying by the banks of Wuding River

May belong to the ones their ladies still meet in dreams in spring.”

I wished I did not know this poem! I wished there is no such river as Wuding River!

Written by Dan-Fong Liang. Originally published in 山河風月 Winds and Moons over Mountains and Rivers: paintings and short essays from my trips to China, Foguang-Culture Company, Taiwan 2001

English translation by Ming-Chien Liang, and edited by David Carroll and Julie Wolf

海牙之夜

The Hague at Dusk

Watercolor by Dan-Fong Liang

In my solitary journey to Europe, the most unbearable moments were at sunset. It seemed customary in The Hague, Holland, to close the stores after work and for everyone to go home. Then, while they enjoyed their family time, I roamed the streets alone.

I couldn’t bear to look at all the homes immersed in warm light, though I have my own home afar.

In one of the evenings in 1978, I could not help but try to capture the warm lights of family gatherings, swamped in sadness and tears…

I might as well have cried, much as I wanted to. It will be over…

Tomorrow would be a new day…. I’d be brave and carry on in my journey again!

Written by Dan-Fong Liang. Originally published in 築夢之旅 The Journeys of My Dreams, Foguang-Culture Company, Taiwan 2000

English translation by Ming-Chien Liang, and edited by David Carroll and Julie Wolf