Wednesday, February 4, 2009
A step down from its imperial past a pekingese surveys his kingdom in a quintessential Beijing hutong ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
Recent DNA analysis confirms that the Pekingese breed is one of the oldest breeds of dog. For centuries, they could be owned only by members of the Chinese Imperial Palace.During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by Allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the ‘foreign devils’ entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing.
They were removed by the Allies before the Old Summer Palace was burnt. Lord John Hay took a pair, later called ‘Schloff’, and ‘Hytien’ and gave them to his sister, the Duchess of Wellington, wife of Henry Wellesley, 3rd Duke of Wellington. Sir George Fitzroy took another pair, and gave them to his cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. Lieutenant Dunne presented the fifth Pekingese to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who named it Looty.
The Empress Dowager Cixi presented Pekingese to several Americans, including John Pierpont Morgan and Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, who named it Manchu. The first Pekingese in Ireland was introduced by Dr. Heuston. He established smallpox vaccination clinics in China. The effect was dramatic. In gratitude, the Chinese minister, Li Hung Chang presented him with a pair of Pekingese. They were named Chang and Lady Li. Dr. Heuston founded the Greystones kennel.
Tagong, Sichuan, China All photos ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
Sichuan province has an extremely varied geography, both physical and cultural. The Tibetan area of Sichuan, which covers roughly one-third of the province can easily be reached within one-two days from Chengdu, depending on the area you visit. Due to the general high altitude of these areas I strongly recommend taking it easy in your ascent and slowly acclimatizing. All of these pictures were taken around Tagong, west and over the Zheduo Pass (Zheduo La) from Kangding. There is a newly built and recently opened airport in this area but I highly recommend going overland (either by car or bus) from Chengdu to Kangding (spending one night) and then the next day passing over the Zheduo La and proceeding on to Tagong. In this way you will also be able to fully appreciate the incredible transitional landscape between "China" and "Tibet". If you are lucky you will happen on a festival or celebration. Otherwise, most days bring ample opportunity to see stunning landscape, blue skies, local culture and large doses of Tibetan spirituality, courtesy and hospitality.