Buddhist monasteries are usually located in remote places far from the hub-bub of cities and towns. It takes more than a mild determination to reach them, but some of these are decidedly inaccessible. The idea is to keep all but only the most dedicated followers from reaching these holy places, while they also make the monks feel like they were closer to God in a place of peace and solitude. Today, however, most of these monasteries are tourist attractions and in favor of the tourists, several accessible methods like ropeways and stairs have been added. They still look formidable and require hundreds of meters of vertical trekking.
Monasteries of Meteora, Greece
The Metéora (Greek for “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above”) is a group of six monasteries and one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. The six monasteries, built on natural sandstone rock pillars, are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer.
The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin, known as Meteora, which rise starkly over 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain. During the fearsome time of political instability in 14th century the monasteries were systematically built on top of the inaccessible peaks so that by the end of the 15th century there were 24 of them. They continued to flourish until the 17th century. Today, only four monasteries – Aghios Stephanos, Aghia Trias, Varlaam and Meteoron – still house religious communities.
Access to the monasteries was originally and deliberately difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only “when the Lord let them break”. In the 1920s there was an improvement in the arrangements. Steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau.
Taung Kalat Monastery, Burma
The monastery of Taung Kalat is located on a top of a volcanic plug that rises 737 meters from the surrounding in central Burma (Myanmar) about 50 km southeast of Bagan, and near the extinct volcano Mount Popa. The monastery can be accessed by exactly 777 steps and those who reach the top are rewarded by a spectacular view.
To the north-west opens a view to distant temples of Bagan, and to the east is towering the forested Taung Ma-gyi summit. There is a big caldera, 610 metres wide and 914 metres in depth so that from different directions the mountain takes different forms with more than one peak. Many Macaque monkeys live here that have become a tourist attraction on Taung Kalat.
Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Bhutan
Taktshang monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, is located on a precipitous cliff about 900 metres above the Paro valley, in Bhutan. The rock slopes are very steep – almost vertical – and the monastery buildings are built into the rock face. Though it looks formidable, the monastery complex has access from several directions, such as the northwest path through the forest, from the south along the path used by devotees, and from the north. A mule track leading to it passes through pine forest that is colourfully festooned with moss and prayer flags. On many days, clouds shroud the monastery and give an eerie feeling of remoteness.
The Sumela Monastery is built into the rock cliffs of the Altmdere Valley in Turkey. At an altitude of about 1,200 metres it is a major tourist attraction of Altındere National Park.
The monastery was founded in 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 – 395). Legend has it that two priests undertook its creation after discovering a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain. During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various emperors. It reached its present form in the 13th century after gaining prominence during the reign of Alexios III.
The monastery was abandoned after World War I and the start of the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey that forced some 2 million ethnic Greeks and Turks to leave their long-established communities in Turkey or Greece and return to their ethnic homelands. It lay empty for decades before being partially restored and returned to life as a museum.
Hanging Monastery, China
The Hanging Monastery or Hanging Temple is located in a canyon at the foot of the Mountain Heng in the province of Shanxi, China. The temple is built into the cliff side about 75 meter above the ground, and stands propped up by hidden rocks corridor and wooden beams inserted into the mountain. Over 40 halls, cabinets and pavilions within an area of 152.5 square meters are connected each other by corridors, bridges and boardwalks. They are evenly distributed and well balanced in height. Inside the temple are more than 80 bronze cast statues, iron cast statues, and clay sculptured statues and stone carvings banded down from different dynasties.
The temple was build to avoid the terrible flood, and use the mountain as protection from rain, snow and sunshine. Today, it is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area.
The Winnipeg Jets are playing in the IGF football stadium on Sunday in the Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers. The event is a regular season NHL game. A major part of the event celebrates the history of the Jets. On Saturday there is the Alumni game featuring past players from both teams. Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk and Mark Messier to name a few will be playing. Below is a compilation of historical photos.
The former Winnipeg Jets incarnation were a Canadian professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They began play in the World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1972, moving to the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979 following the WHA’s collapse. Due to mounting financial troubles, in 1996 the franchise moved to Phoenix, Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes). In 2011 the Atlanta Thrashers franchise relocated to Winnipeg and restored the Jets name, although the prior Jets club history is retained by the Arizona club.
The WHA years (1972–1979)
The original Winnipeg Jets logo in the WHA
The NHL had recently expanded to 16 teams, adding franchises in many hockey-hungry cities (only one in Canada), but also in Atlanta, Oakland and Los Angeles. The WHA brought major professional hockey to Ottawa, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and later Calgary. On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the WHA, to Ben Hatskin, a local figure who made his wealth in cardboard shipping containers. The team took their name from the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canada Hockey League.
The Jets’ first signing was Norm Beaudin (“the Original Jet”) and the first major signing was Bobby Hull. Hull’s acquisition, partially financed by the rest of the WHA’s teams, gave the league instant credibility and paved the way for other NHL stars to bolt to the upstart league.
The Jets were further noteworthy in hockey history for being the first North American club seriously to explore Europe as a source of hockey talent. Winnipeg’s fortunes were bolstered by acquisitions such as Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA’s most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed “the Hot Line”), and defenceman Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who would serve as the team’s captain and win accolades as the WHA’s best defenceman. Behind these players and other European stars such as Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Veli-Pekka Ketola, leavened by players such as Peter Sullivan, Norm Beaudin and goaltender Joe Daley, the Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA. The team won the Avco World Trophy three times, including in the league’s final season against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets made the finals five of the WHA’s seven seasons.
Another notable accomplishment was the Jets’ 5–3 victory over the Soviet National team on January 5, 1978.
Bobby Hull signing at Portage and Main 1972
The NHL years (1979–1996)
Winnipeg’s second logo, introduced in 1973 and used when it entered the NHL in 1979 until 1990
By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA’s teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL along with the Nordiques, Oilers and Hartford Whalers. They had to pay a high price for a berth in the more established league, however. They had to give up three of their top six scorers – the core of the last WHA champion – in a reclamation draft. They were also forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. In the draft, they opted to protect defenceman Scott Campbell, who had shown a good deal of promise in the last WHA season. However, Campbell suffered from chronic asthma that was only exacerbated by Winnipeg’s frigid weather. The asthma drove him out of the league entirely by 1982.
With a decimated roster, the Jets finished dead last in the league for the next two seasons, including a horrendous nine-win season in 1980–81 that still ranks as the worst in Jets/Coyotes history. This stands in marked contrast to the other 1979 Avco Cup finalist, the Oilers, who became one of the most successful teams during the 1980s.
The Jets’ first two wretched NHL seasons did net them high draft picks; in the 1980 draft they picked Dave Babych second overall and in 1981 they drafted future Hall of Fame member Dale Hawerchuk first overall. The team developed a solid core of players by the mid-1980s, with Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Randy Carlyle, Laurie Boschman, Doug Smail, and David Ellett providing a strong nucleus.
Led by Hawerchuk, Steen, Babych and Carlyle, the Jets returned to respectability fairly quickly, and made the playoffs 11 times in the next 15 years. However, regular-season success did not transfer over into the playoffs. This was because Winnipeg played in the same division as the Oilers and Calgary Flames – by some accounts, the two best teams in the league during the second half of the 1980s. Due to the way the playoffs were structured at the time, the Jets were all but assured of having to beat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to get to the Campbell Conference Finals. For example, in 1984–85, they finished with the fourth-best record in the entire league (behind only Philadelphia, Edmonton and Washington). They also notched 96 points, which would remain the franchise’s best as an NHL team until the 2009–10 Coyotes racked up the franchise’s second 100-point season (and first as an NHL team). While they managed to dispatch the Flames in four games in the best-of-five division semi-final, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in the division final. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990. The Oilers not only won every series, but held the Jets to only four total victories. Five of those times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990), the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Jets would win only one other playoff series, in 1987 (defeating Calgary in the division semi-final before losing to Edmonton in the division final).
The famous White-out that was started in Winnipeg and subsequently copied by other NHL teams.
The White-out revived with the new Winnipeg Jets
The current Jets are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is owned by True North Sports & Entertainment and plays its home games at the MTS Centre.
The Jets began play as the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999–2000 NHL season. True North Sports & Entertainment then bought the team in May 2011 and relocated the franchise from Atlanta, Georgia to Winnipeg prior to the 2011–12 season (the first NHL franchise to relocate since the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997). The team was renamed the Jets after Winnipeg’s original WHA/NHL team, which relocated after the 1995–96 season to become what is now known as the Arizona Coyotes.
First Jets game – Winnipeg – Winnipeg Jets vs. Montreal Canadians. Players leave the ice after a 5-1 loss. Oct. 9, 2011 (BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
FOR DOUBLE TRUCK SPECIAL Winnipeg jets take on the Montreal Canadiens for the NHL regular season home opener Sunday, October 9, 2011 at the MTS Centre. Jet Bryan Little faces off with Canadien Tomas Plekanec to start the game. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
WHA stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson with current Jets captain Blake Wheeler
She is roughly five metres high, four metres wide and her face is a little banged up from the hockey pucks fired at her over the years. But for the city of Winnipeg the gigantic portrait of the Queen is a cherished artifact and, after spending the better part of 17 years in storage, she is once again headed for public display.
Painted in 1979 to hang in the Winnipeg Arena, the portrait became emblematic of Winnipeg Jets home games during their first NHL incarnation from 1979 to 1996. After the team left town, the painting was removed in 1999 and cut into pieces for storage. A suitable home was never found.
When the ad “Wanted: Home for the Wpg Jets Queen Portrait” surfaced on the online classified advertising site Kijiji last August, it seemed like the latest indignity for Her Majesty’s likeness.
“Large area required to house this masterpiece,” the ad said, noting it weighs about 270 kilograms. “Incredible opportunity to drive people into your business with priceless advertising value.”
CN executives Jamie Boychuk and Mike Cory had been feted as hometown heroes last year when they brought the painting back to Winnipeg from Ontario, where it had been sent to hang in a museum that was never built.
I liked to line up pucks at centre ice and try to hit that god-awful, ugly portrait of Queen Elizabeth
But their attempts failed to find a taker for what until 2012 was the largest painting of Queen Elizabeth ever made.
The MTS Centre, home of the revived Winnipeg Jets, said it could not hang the portrait without significantly blocking the view of patrons in the upper level. Jets communication director Scott Brown told Yahoo sports there was no interest in the painting “for esthetic reasons, as well as practical.”
Amanda Von Riesen, a Winnipeg artist who helped arrange the return of the painting, was enlisted to clean and restore it. She said this week that apart from painting the frame gold and cleaning away a decade’s worth of dust, she was loath to mess with the painting by the late Winnipeg billboard artist Gilbert Burch.
The lips, she acknowledged, could use some work. They had been damaged at some point during storage and a touchup job did not get the colours right. But she could not bring herself to paint over “this amazing piece of history.”
That history includes a few puck marks from the days when bored hockey players — and in at least one case their children — used her for target practice. Bobby Hull has talked about how Jets players used to take shots from centre ice to try to hit the painting. His son Brett wrote in his biography that he and his brothers got to do the same after the team finished practice.
“I liked to line up pucks at centre ice and try to hit that god-awful, ugly portrait of Queen Elizabeth hanging on the arena wall,” he wrote, noting that he had a good shot but was “never good enough to nail the Queen.”
Von Riesen said the puck marks are part of what makes the painting special. She has heard complaints about the quality of the art, and the fact it celebrates an institution many consider outdated. But she views the portrait as an antique that reflects an era of the city’s history.
“It’s kind of priceless,” she said. “I don’t know if you can put a price tag on it.”
Christian Cassidy, who writes about Winnipeg history on his blog West End Dumplings, said the city’s attachment to the portrait is somewhat ironic.
“It’s our urban kitsch. It’s our Honest Ed’s sign,” he said in reference to the garish sign outside the Toronto discount store. “Even among fans of the painting, I don’t think you’d find too many people who’d say they love it. But it’s been around for decades, it’s seen a lot and it’s kind of quirky.”
On Wednesday, the Kijiji ad was changed to indicate a new home has been found, but Boychuk has not disclosed the buyer’s identity. The Jets reiterated this week that they have nowhere to hang the painting. The Winnipeg airport and city hall have said they are not involved in the purchase.
“We think the people of Winnipeg will be quite happy when they are able to see her hung up where she can be appreciated,” an aide to Boychuk said by email. “As for when that will be … You will have to stay tuned!”
Winnipeg Jets fans who remember seeing the giant portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the old arena can see Her Majesty once again, albeit briefly, outside a downtown pub on Thursday.
Crews hoisted the 600-pound, 35-square-metre painting onto the outside south wall of The Pint on Garry Street, between Portage and Graham avenues, on Thursday afternoon.
Fans have until about 1 a.m. Friday to check out the portrait.
It’s the first time the painting has been on display since it was taken down from the rafters of the Winnipeg Arena before it was torn down.
Queen portrait way way down in the middle
Go Jets Heritage Classic
A Dynastic Totalitarian Dictatorship.
The North Korean cult of personality surrounding its ruling family, the Kim family, has existed in North Korea for decades and can be found in many examples of North Korean culture. Although not officially recognized by the North Korean government, many defectors and even Western visitors claim there are often stiff penalties for those who criticize or do not show “proper” respect for the regime. The personality cult began soon after Kim Il-sung took power in 1948, and was greatly expanded after his death in 1994.
While other countries have had cults of personality to various degrees (such as Joseph Stalin’s in the Soviet Union), the pervasiveness and extreme nature of North Korea’s personality cult surpasses that of Stalin or Mao Zedong. The cult is also marked by the intensity of the people’s feelings for and devotion to their leaders, and the key role played by a Confucianized ideology of familism both in maintaining the cult and thereby in sustaining the regime itself.
The enormous statues and portraits
Stadium with participants holding large cards.
The cult of personality surrounding the Kim family requires total loyalty and subjugation to the Kim family and establishes the country as a one-man dictatorship through successive generations. The 1972 constitution of the DPRK incorporates the ideas of Kim Il-sung as the only guiding principle of the state and his activities as the only cultural heritage of the people. According to New Focus International, the cult of personality, particularly surrounding Kim Il-sung, has been crucial for legitimizing the family’s hereditary succession, and Yong-soo Park noted in the Australian Journal of International Affairs that the “prestige of the Suryong [supreme leader] has been given the highest priority over everything else in North Korea”.
North Korean authorities have co-opted portions of Christianity and Buddhism, and adapted them to their own uses, while greatly restricting all religions in general as they are seen as a threat to the regime. An example of this can be seen in the description of Kim Il-sung as a god, and Kim Jong-il as the son of a god or “Sun of the Nation”, evoking the father-son imagery of Christianity. According to author Victor Cha, during the first part of Kim Il-sung’s rule, the state destroyed over 2,000 Buddhist temples and Christian churches which might detract from fidelity to Kim. There is even widespread belief that Kim Il-sung “created the world” and that Kim Jong-il controlled the weather. Korean society, traditionally Confucian, places a strong emphasis on paternal hierarchy and loyalty. The Kims have taken these deeply held traditions and removed their spiritual component, replacing them with loyalty to the state and the ruling family in order to control the population. Despite the suppression of traditional religions, however, some have described Juche, sociologically, as the religion of the entire population of North Korea.
According to a 2013 report by New Focus International, the two major North Korean news publications (Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency) publish around 300 articles per month relating to the “cult of Kim”. The report goes further and suggests that with the death of Kim Jong-il, the average North Korean citizen is growing weary of the vast amount of propaganda surrounding the Kims. DailyNK likewise published in 2015 that the younger generation is more interested in the outside world and that the government is finding it difficult to secure the loyalty of the “jangmadang” (marketplace) generation and promoting the idolization of Kim Jong-un.
The DPRK government claims there is no cult of personality, but rather genuine hero worship.
Mansudae Grand Monument
After his death on December 17, 2011, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that layers of ice ruptured with an unprecedentedly loud crack at Chon Lake on Mount Paektu and a snowstorm with strong winds hit the area. A political paper by his son, Kim Jong-un, sought to solidify his father as the “Eternal General Secretary of our Party.” Many had been seen weeping during the 100-day mourning period, which is typical of Korean Confucian society, and an analyst at South Korea’s Korea Institute for National Unification determined that much of the public grief evidenced during the mourning period was a genuine expression of sorrow. Yet, there has been some doubt as the genuine nature and depth of the displays of grief.
Kim Jong-un, the grandson of North Korea’s founder, was largely absent from the public and government service until the mid-2000s. In 2010 he began being referred to as the “Young General” and by late 2011 as “Respected General”. Like his father, he lacks any formal military training or service. With the death of his father, state media began to refer to him as the “Great Successor.” Although he is still a new ruler, the development of his own personality cult is well underway, with large numbers of posters, signs, and other propaganda being placed all over the country. Some commentators have noted that his striking likeness in appearance to Kim Il-sung has helped solidify him as the undisputed ruler in the minds of the people.
Kim Jong-un marks the third generation of Kim family dynastic leadership. According to Daily NK, people who criticized the succession were sent to re-education camps or otherwise punished and, after the mourning period of Kim Jong-il, government authorities began to increase their efforts on building the idolization of Kim Jong-un.
After Kim Jong-il’s death the president of the Presidium announced that “Respected Comrade Kim Jong-un is our party, military and country’s supreme leader who inherits great comrade Kim Jong-il’s ideology, leadership, character, virtues, grit and courage.”
Shortly after the new leader came to power, a 560 metres (1,840 ft)-long propaganda sign was erected in his honor near a lake in Ryanggang Province. The sign, supposedly visible from space, reads “Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!”
In 2013, the Workers’ Party of Korea amended the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System, which in practice serves as the primary legal authority and framework of the country, to demand “absolute obedience” to Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Sung-taek, was executed on December 12, 2013. His death was attributed, in part, to undermining the Kim family personality cult. His death has also been seen as a move by Kim Jong-un to consolidate his own cult.
In 2015, at the end of the formal three-year mourning period for the death of Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un ordered the construction of new monuments to be built in every county of North Korea. Extensive renovations to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace have also been ordered. According to The Daily Telegraph, analysts “say the order to erect more statues to the Kim family will be a heavy financial burden on an economy that is already struggling due to years of chronic mismanagement and international sanctions”.
Familism is a type of collectivism in which the one is expected to prioritize the needs of the greater society or family over the needs of the individual. This plays out on a large scale in North Korea, where the Great Leader Kim Il-Sung is Father and the Communist Party is Mother. Thus, not only are the people expected to cherish their birth parents and treat them with all the respect demanded of traditional Confucian filial piety, but they must cherish and adore the ruling Kim family and the Mother Party even more so.
Familism in North Korea stems from a combination of the traditional East Asian Confucian value of filial piety (upmost respect for parents and grandparents as well as elder uncles and aunts), the communist system of collectivism, and the Kim cult of personality. As a traditional East Asian and Confucian value, the importance of family has come to resonate through all aspects of North Korean life, from politics to the economy to education and even to interpersonal relationships between friends and enemies.
When the Soviet Union first entered North Korea in 1945 to start its occupation, it had to start almost from scratch in establishing a communist base in the capital region of Pyongyang. In fact, the Soviets’ ideologies of communism and socialism were likely as foreign to the Koreans of Pyongyang as the Soviets themselves. However, by emphasizing family and a father-child relationship between the Soviet Union and Korea, and later between Kim Il-Sung and the North Korean people, Kim not only managed to apply Western Marxism to an Asian state, but also to secure his own personality cult, thereby constructing a sense of unquestioning loyalty toward him amongst the North Korean people when North Korea was at its most vulnerable to unwelcome western influences.
I’m sure Kim-Jong Un is waiting for his statue.