I can remember my excitement when I first encountered the Tompa characters. At that time, I could not imagine that these characters would cause a fashionable whirl "wind" in Japan, which was far away from the Yuin Nan province of China. Interestingly, the word "wind" has many meanings in the Tompa characters, ranging from "reminiscence " to "melancholy " and "sorrow". In addition to these meanings, there are also the phrases "Fu-Ryu" ("stream of the wind") and "Fu-Zei (" feeling of the wind")". In this exhibition, I would like to show the "culture of the wind", that is the background of the Tompa characters, with the key words being "Fu-Ryu" and "Fu-Zei". In the Yuin Nan Province of China, the Naxi tribe has a population of only about two hundred thousands. In the Naxi tribe, many stories about double suicide based on "Fu-Ryu" are passed down, because this people live for love and die for love. "Fu-Ryu" has a deep relation to the convention of maternal society and the custom of free love that still survives in their society. The dominant role of women in society brought a very original aesthetic and their own philosophy about love. People visiting this place, will be surprised to see verdant mountains, pure water and beautiful people, and must seriously think that they could spend the rest of their life there. This feeling of union with nature, in short "pure love", gives real meaning to "Fu-Ryu". The Naxi tribe believes that every creation has an eternal soul and each soul is attached to one life in every lifetime. A human soul might have transmigrated from a flower, eagle or river in the previous lifetime, and will transmigrate to a plant, butterfly or mountain in the next lifetime. A human soul always transmigrates to nature. People believe "If I can not go to heaven, I will go to hell". However, the Naxi tribe believes there is a "Shangri-La", that is not heaven nor hell. The place is unimaginably beautiful "a third world". There is no fighting, no discord, neither is there aging nor illness, no life nor death. There is only a life of peace in that world. The stories, written in the Tompa characters, describe such a beautiful world. Young ladies weave their clothes from white cloud and wind, bathe in the milk of cattle and sheep, ride red tigers and white deer, and fly cranes and eagles.Both local young men and travelers from far countries yearn for this beautiful vision. However, only the couple who have died together for love, can step into this beautiful third world. This death is for "Fu-Ryu". The Naxi tribe believes that death for love is the happiest event in life. Even a modern educated official of the Chinese Communist Party, a governor of Lijiang Prefecture, fell in love with a beautiful lady in this area and attained the third world with her. Nobody can prevent their double suicide. A man and a woman, who are deeply in love with each other, can choose and carry out double suicide. The death of one person and survival of the other is an ominous sign that they will never reach the third world. The couple, who determine to commit suicide together, usually wear beautiful clothes, prepare a fine meal, sing their favorite songs and terminate their lives with a smile. They will depart to the beautiful world with beautiful love. Because the Naxi tribe has this philosophy of "Fu-Ryu", there are more than a thousand kinds of character that symbolize the spirit of "Fu-Ryu"(the God of Love), among the Tompa characters. These spirits are all female. When a young lady falls in love, she starts to dream about the double suicide, instead of a desire for a sumptuous wedding. Basically, females are much more predisposed to suicide. Sometimes, the male is only passive, and double suicide is carried out. After their suicide is achieved, people celebrate them with a grand ceremony and believe that the couple have departed to the third world. Civilized people today may think it is their happiest moment if they can risk their life for love. The Tompa characters with their thousand year history also indicate this idea of love. In this exhibition, several illustrations of the spirit of "Fu-Ryu" are shown, and one complete story of double suicide is exhibited. This story is about a couple who attained the third world. This is the first time that this tale has been shown in Japan. This is a story of a nomadic couple. Jio Ming, the wife, and Yong Le, the husband, loved each other and lived together in happiness. One day, Jio Ming took the cattle out to graze and lost her way. She asked small animals to call her beloved husband to her aid. However, as her husbands parents were in the mistaken belief that Jio Ming was meeting another man, they replied with vicious messages. As Yong Le did not know what his parents had done, he looked for his wife from mountains to plain fields. The years passed. Jio Ming could not endure the loneliness and the vicious messages. One day, the God of Love called her to come to the third world. So, she took her life with a rope woven by her own hand. After three days, Yong Le finally found Jio Ming. He could not accept the reality in front of him. Yong Le held her body tight and said; " I will decorate your eyes with jewels to make you see again. I will create your teeth with silver to make you eat your favorite food again. I will decorate your hair with waterweed to give it back its wave" However, the soul of Jio Ming said " Her eyes will never open again. Her teeth will never chew again. Her hair will never curl again. Jio Ming hopes that her eyes will change to jewels, her teeth will transform to silver and her hair will change to black diamonds, to support you." When he heard those words, he could not take it anymore, and threw himself into the raging flames. His body was like a firebird. Later, people saw two white clouds floating at the summit of the Yu Luon Xue Shan Mountain. The forest kept singing songs of sorrow for the people who died for "Fu-Ryu". Songs for double suicide became the model for young people who tried to kill themselves. For a long time, singing these songs was banned. Whenever these songs are played, the sad drama could play again. "The culture of wind" is closely related to the local idea of "Fu-Zei". This phrase is slightly different from the ordinary meaning and includes a meaning of fairyland. The autonomous area of the Naxi tribe in Lijiang, is situated close to Tibet and the Szechuan province. In this area, there are mountains over five thousand meters high and the Chang Jiang Canyon that has the deepest drop in the world. The landscape bears numerous highland lakes. Explorers praise this place as "the most beautiful place in the world" and "the last Shangri-La of humanity." Historical research has identified this area as the "Shangri-La" that was written about by a famous European author. Zhong Dian, a city next to Lijiang, officially changed its name to "Shangri-La". Throughout the year, its temperature only varies from ten to twenty four degrees. So this place can be called "the place of eternal spring. " Flowers run riot, forests grow deep green, and snow tops glisten. As you can see from the photographs exhibited, snowy mountains and flowers live together, light reflects rainbows. Highland lakes are like jade beads and jewels dropped to earth. Great river like silky bands cut through the jade. The rivers clarity is so pure that you can differentiate between the colorful stones and fish ten meters below. This vivid scenery gives people the illusion of heaven. This beautiful landscape might color the Tompa characters. These characters are the only hieroglyphics still in use. Unfortunately the Tompa characters are in danger of extinction. It's said that the priests who can read and write the characters can be counted only in dozens. It is a great pleasure for me to introduce this venerable and mysterious culture. With gladness can I raise these secret emotions from the depths to revitalize and to sanctify the soul of the city-dweller. The main differences between the Tompa characters and our own is that they dont seek to express numerous meanings nor the poken word, they simply and directly represent human life and human emotion. I would like you to feel the natural feeling of human beings. This is the philosophy of life that the Tompa characters try to express. Im gratified if you can be impressed by this exhibition. I appreciate 0the help and commitment of all my friends, especially Gallery ef, who gave me a chance to have this exhibition. I will dedicate a pure flavor tea, "Tien-Tea", from the Yu Luon Xue Mountain, to you, the audience.
Wang ChaoYing, July