The Valley of
Song Pei Lun —

A Utopia in brick and mortar

Master Song does not believe he will see his life’s work completed. His dream was to create something monumental, mystical, ancient and timeless. Born out of a childhood fascination, the plans for Yelang Valley’s development extend far into the future. Master Song knows that without him, his life’s work may take a very different turn. He is aware of the touristic appetite, the government’s commerical enthusiasm and the lack of creative stewardship. Before he dies, master Song would like to see the ‘new shore’ completed. Standing on the old shore, he silently gazes across the stream that seperates his masons, giving shape to the towering figures, awaiting an uncertain future.

The Yelang 夜郎
The Yelang people were an ancient ethnic tribe that populated the Yunnan and Guizhou Plateau. Not much is known about the Yelang, and their sudden demise around 26 B.C. remains a mystery. Ancient historians, including Sima Qian and Ban Gu, recorded the Yelang way of life—from their books, we know that the Yelang people practiced witchcraft, had unusual hairstyles, and were an agricultural society with fierce warriors. The different ethnic tribes that formed the Yelang people, referred to themselves as the Zina, lending their name to what Europeans would later call ‘China’. The Yelang people lived in southwestern Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan and Yunnan. From an early age on, their myths and stories captivated master Song’s imagination. It wasn’t until he became an accomplished artist, that he began to create this monumental structure, dedicating it to a tribe long forgotten. ‘Yelang Valley’ is master Song’s answer to a lifelong search for a true home, something “Outside the norm and conformist ideas of living..”. Rooted in the belief that a land belongs to the people–present and past, master Song has been creating his utopia for over twenty-years. Strolling between towering rock sculptures, pagodas and streams, master Song remembers: “Back in the days, you could just start building without the government noticing. but something like Yelang Valley would no longer be possible today. It’s not just the regulations and control that have changed. It’s the people—it’s hard for them to find common ground, to work towards a shared goal.”

The Valley of —
Song Pei Lun
All images copyright of Guan Nan Li