Of all China's classical poets, Du Fu (712-70 AD) stands aside fellow Tang Dynasty master Li Bai as the best known and best loved. After travels around eastern China and his home province of Henan, Du Fu found himself in the troubled Tang capital of Chang'an (modern Xi'an) where he hoped to establish a career as an official in service of the Tang emperor. The emperor, however, was busy fighting off the forces of rebellious general An Lushan and due to various circumstances, Du Fu's official career was not to be.
The An Lushan rebellion, which started in 755 AD, lasted for eight years and, in 760, Du Fu left the capital for Chengdu. Despite the tumultuous times, Du Fu's five-year residence in Chengdu saw him write many of his greatest works. During a time of war and upheaval, his famed thatched cottage gave him sanctuary and inspiration. Over time, Du Fu's work has won him a world-wide reputation as one of China's greatest poets.
Even today, poets and artists are inspired by his often simple words. The themes of Du Fu's work are simple, too, though they reveal rich and complex depths. He wrote about his fellow Chinese during years of war and displacement, about politics, nature and everyday life. He often found meaning and beauty in small and incidental things, as in this poem composed while living in Chengdu:
I know well my thatched hut is low and small.
Swallows fly up from the river to where I dwell.
They drop bits of mud from their beaks
on my zither, my books. They fly inside
chasing bugs and sometimes brush against me.
In memory of the great poet, temples and pavilions were added to the area surrounding his Chengdu cottage during the Song Dynasty. Today, the site¡ªpart museum and part shrine¡ªis home to the Chengdu Du Fu Society. Exhibits include a brief account of Du Fu's life and display examples of his calligraphy and poetry. It's a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. In addition to the museum, you'll find a teahouse and peaceful bamboo gardens.
Hours:7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Address: No. 37 Xinhua Lu.
The cottage is situated off Xi Yihuan, nearby Huanhuaxi, in the west of Chengdu.
Phone: (028) 8731 9258