A visual narrative of Hongyi fashi's abode, the Zhengfeng Monastery. Located approx. 50 km to the northeast of Quanzhou city, above the village of Dunnan, overlooking the township Zhengfeng. There are few spatial markers, no signs I could recall, and no oversized parking lots for tourist buses. Hardly anyone ever comes here it seems. There is one archway at the entrance to a road leading up that mountain, but it's actually not the right road.
The entire top of the ca. 150m high mountain is build up and build into. It is a very intricate assemblage of buildings, caverns, shaded paths, steep stairways, halls, pavilions, terraces and galleries. The most important site is, however, Master Hongyi's chamber, left as it were in its original state from 1942, the year he passed away. A very modest cell, only furnished with a canopied bed (not the same bed he died on it would seem), a small desk, a stand with a water basin, and a small display of his outstanding calligraphy and one of his musical scores.
As is common-place in Fujian province, there are Buddhist and Daoist connotations and traces to be found up here, mixed in with the iconography of popular, local religious practice.
I have added the famous deathbed photograph of Master Hongyi to this series. Raoul Birnbaum has done research on this particular image, which shows Hongyi on the day of his death, in repose, as if asleep. It is the most remarkable historical photograph of "religious practice" I have come across in a Chinese context.
Visited June 21, 2007. Olympus E-330, using the 11-22mm zoom exclusively. Uploaded June 24, 2007.
Thomas H. Hahn
© Thomas H. Hahn Docu-Images