Thursday, November 6, 2014

A head injury led me to Ningxia petroglyphs.

A concussion led me to find inspiration in Yinchuan, China. 

While photographing the dinning room at hand-crafted YuanShi winery in China's Ningxia Region, I fell. Somehow I tripped descending the stairs into the space. I skidded down. My head slammed against the stone wall.

Dazed, I stood up slowly. When I looked in a bathroom mirror to see my forehead bleeding, I knew not all was right. My whole body was afraid, sensing something was wrong. That night I knew I had a concussion.

The stone stairs where I fell are at the back of this YuanShi winery dinning room. Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. China wine.
Even though I'm Type A to the max, the next day I cancelled my appointment with a very important winery. A concussion would not allow me to be in the scorchingly bright Ningxia desert sun.

While working alone in my darkened hotel room, something pulled me out to visit the city building two blocks away. Inside, to my surprise, I found a museum. There displays of petrogylphs from the nearby Helan Shan—Helan Mountain—pulled me in to the darkened museum rooms. 

I studied every etching. Inspired. Five hours passed as if a moment in the dark museum caves. These 12,000-year-old rock art works gave me new ideas for the African First Stories (Myth) Project I've been working on for the past 15 years.  

The Sun God Engraving made on the Helan Mountain as displayed in the Yinchuan museum.
The Helan Mountain was the boundary between the nomadic pastoralists to the north and the sedentary farmers to the south. So the Helan Mountain was a meeting place between the two lifestyles, and celebrated by the practice of engraving art in the rocks.

My lesson: an adventure begins through an open door (or a concussion). Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in?

The building housing the display of Helan Mountain rock art.

What do you think is the subject of this rock art made at Helan Mountain? This display in Yinchuan, Ningxia Region, China.

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