Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seeing red in Tam Son Hoi Quan

pagoda-hopping in Vietnam part 2
part 1: Thien Hau

I wasn’t aware of it until I saw my pictures. The temple of Tam Son Hoi Quan in the Chinatown district of Cholon, Saigon was dripping red.

The gate and fence, white-washed in portions, were pink. The facade had stucco walls in softer carmine but the pillars stood out in a fierier shade of red.

Tam Son Hoi Quan shrine
the main entrance of the pagoda
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/1250s, f/4.0, 18mm, ISO 200, -2/3EV

The pair of wooden doors was also in red and no less brighter.

the main door has cheerful handles/knockers
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/25s, f/5.0, 28mm, ISO 400, -1/3EV

Inside, the soft red-orange motif continued to spill over the walls, the carved wooden altars and the brick tiles. On places where red was interrupted, gold and black, colors that are no less eye-catching, were splashed.

Tam Son Hoi Quan main shrine
the central altar
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/25s, f/5.0, 18mm, ISO 1600, -1/3EV

This more-than-a-hundred-year-old pagoda is one of the feminine temples in Saigon. Local women often visit the place to seek blessings for their children from Me Sanh, the Goddess of Fertility. And in China, fertility is symbolized by nothing less than the color red.

Tam Son Hoi Quan shrine goddess
a goddess prominently placed in niche by the side wall
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/5.0, 80mm, ISO 200

Tam Son Hoi Quan shrine
Buddhist deities in a side altar
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/20s, f/5.0, 18mm, ISO 1600, -1/3EV

Instinctively, red demands power and harks for fortune and success. The visual stimulation of fire is innate and for photographers, nothing really can scream more than red.

coils and shadows
the incense coils are a shadow before the red walls
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/1000s, f/5.0, 210mm, ISO 200, -4/3EV

this is the same shot as above, with focus on the coils
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/640s, f/5.0, 210mm, ISO 200, -2/3EV

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