風林火山, literally “Wind, Forest, Fire and Mountain”
I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese Brush Calligraphy. It is perhaps one of the simplest art forms, but it takes a lifetime to master. Sometimes masters would spend hours looking at a blank piece of paper, then in a one smooth blur and stroke of the brush, produce a treasured work of art. Looking at exceptional pieces of Chinese Calligraphy, I always imagine a small piece of the master’s soul imprinted on the rice paper through his hand, brushstroke and ink.
My favorite individual piece of calligraphy is the Furinkazan logo by Koji Kakinuma, Japanese artist and calligrapher. The four characters represent 風林火山, literally “Wind, Forest, Fire and Mountain”. Historically, this was the battle standard used by Takeda Shingen, one of the foremost daimyos of the Sengoku period in Japan. It was in turn taken from the original verses in Chapter 7 of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’.
It is a fun challenge to walk around and find all of the well-known ones, some by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, and some by lesser-known artists. George Town’s streets have the ability to surprise and amuse even the weariest traveller, and you never know what you’re going to find around the next street corner.
A beautifully preserved melting pot of cultures, Penang is a city absolutely awash with temples of almost all major religions. Buddhist, Taoist, Islamic, Hindu, Christian, Anglican, Catholic, you name it and Penang has it. The capital city of George Town is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and with good reason. Walking along the streets in the early morning, one feels transported back to the turn of the last century, if not for the concessions to modernity like the cars and satellite dishes hanging out of every other home. The old and ever reliable bicycle is still the preferred and best way to get around the small city, which can be walked in its entirety in a day. However to properly take in the sites, it is best to give some time, maybe 2 or 3 days, to walk around slowly, savoring the city and its flavors, and taking in everything it has to offer. After all, time is on the city’s side. It has aged gracefully and more beautifully than any other city I’ve been.
There is at least one beautifully preserved temple / place of worship on every road in George Town. I have avoided the large monuments and instead have taken pictures of the small, intimate, often ancestral or family-constructed and maintained temples that have been preserved for, and by, the succeeding generations.
street art in George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Wat Arun, ‘The Temple of the Dawn’, Thailand, done in miniature in Lego bricks in Legoland, Malaysia.
pass by this buddhist temple every weekday on the way to work. sometimes im too deep in thought to even see it, which is a shame.
buddha’s tooth temple, 9am
pumpkin carving night at home, 9:23pm
royal plaza hotel lobby, 7:30pm