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136 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque 137 8. Macao’s Chinese Architecture Macao’s Chinese Architecture Chapter 8 75. Trees and houses, Coloane 76. Tam Kung temple and rock Nature and culture stand in nice relation to each other in Macao. These two photographs of Coloane bring out their integration. In photograph 75, corrugated iron has been cut to keep the trees in place and growing upward: the shacks which are so roofed have been built in front of a Chinese house. In photograph 76, the Daoist temple, which looks towards the sea and towards seafarers to whom it offers protection, has been integrated with landscaped rock, which rises higher than the roof. The baroque also integrates nature and culture, and our examples will discuss this through Chinese architecture. This chapter considers buildings and spaces, all Chinese in design, which are the opposite of the official, civic and defensive buildings that represent the public face of Portuguese colonialism. They often show a certain repression of the baroque, preferring the neo-classical. They either criticise, silently, the colonial idea, or by their existence they form alternatives to it, or they indicate its limitations. Among many possible examples, only those which are part of the ‘heritage’ of Macao are discussed: a garden, a Mandarin’s House and the A-Ma, the most famous temple of all. They are looked at as examples which help us to read the baroque because in many ways they are baroque themselves. 138 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque Lou Lim Ioc Chinese Garden A first example of an ‘other’ space is the Chinese garden, Lou Lim Ioc, which is inside the busy city, surrounded by high-rise flats as may be seen in the photograph. Hong Kong has no Chinese garden; whoever would wish to visit a Chinese garden must come here, short of going to a mainland site, such as Suzhou, another UNESCO heritage site since 1997. The visitor enters through a moongate into a series of spaces which are made up by bamboo; by miniature sculpted rocks in the form of arches, reminiscent of Chinese mountains in Chinese art; by the presence of water; by paths which divert the visitor as much as possible, taking him eventually over the bridge which itself branches and folds nine times, as if resisting the spirits; and by statues, such as the one of Kun Iam below (see p. 154). The only straight line in the garden is in the western-style house (where Dr Sun Yat Sen stayed in 1912), which may be seen to the back of the photograph here. It contrasts with the usual Chinese halls in Chinese gardens in its straightness of design. The length of the verandah is reproduced in photograph 78. 77. Lou Lim Ioc Garden: view from a false hill 139 8. Macao’s Chinese Architecture 140 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque 141 8. Macao’s Chinese Architecture The western-style house (‘Spring Grass Hall’), a good resting-place (and a museum of art), however fine, speaks of the neo-classical, of which Blake wrote: ‘Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement are roads of Genius’. 1 The Chinese garden reproduces such unimproved roads. Everything depends on the visitor being able to look back at where he or she has been, and to consider it from a different prospect, and to see the various features of the garden — the pavilions, open structures themselves, the resting-places, the different vegetation-formations, all of them in three dimensions (paths, hills and ponds). Walking around all of them is only possible by walking round the garden, not round individual features. The different prospects mean that the sense of being ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ is disturbed, just as much as it is for Derrida (see chapter 2) and for the baroque; each feature is contained in a tight structure and yet it is an open area, inside and outside at the same moment. In the photograph of the bridge, the pavilion which is its entrance is also within the garden. 78. Verandah of the western house in the Lou Lim Ioc Garden 76. Lou Lim Ioc Garden: nine-turn bridge and pavilion 142 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque The individual paths which turn, and the sense of the ability to be always faced with several directions at once, which is associated with the Chinese garden, suggests the linking that Borges makes in his short story ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ between the book and...


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