León y Castillo House Museum.

León y Castillo House Museum Courtyard (Wisdom) 智 慧

Wisdom.

We start our tour at the León y Castillo House Museum under the sign of WISDOM. It was one of Sanmao’s favourite places to go to, as she was a regular visitor of its library. She would attract attention as she immersed herself in her reading, always in exactly the same corner of the beautiful courtyard of this house museum, which maintains the same appearance it had back then. The library as such no longer exists, it is currently the museum’s archive. As the city has moved forward, other newer libraries have emerged with more modern facilities, but at that time the library here was the only one in the whole of the southeast of the island. 

Fuente interior museo León y Castillo
Banco de lectura Museo León y Castillo

We start our tour here, by walking around some of the main heritage and historical areas of Telde, following in the trail of the places that used to make up the city that Echo Chen knew so well.

The library she used to visit and which today is a museum is the birthplace of Fernando de León y Castillo, one of the Canaries’ most influential politicians from the 19th century. It is a fine example of what homes were like for the elite society of the time. At this House Museum we come to plaque signalling the bench and the snug little corner where Sanmao used to sit. 

Libros
Dibujo Sanmao Museo León y Castillo

The building alongside also belongs to the museum, and shows the place where poet and playwright Montiano Placeres Torón was born and lived.

Apart from being an keen reader, Sanmao was a highly cultured lady, who would surely have been delighted by the huge range of activities organized here today. The House Museum is the venue for exhibitions, conferences, poetry and musical recitals and book presentations, plus a bustling cultural centre dedicated to Sanmao, with exhibitions and presentations of her books in Spanish.

Sanmao was an avid reader, from oriental classics she devoured from a very young age, to many other titles she discovered as she journeyed around many different cultures. Her sheer curiosity and love for books turned her into a wholly admirable and highly affable character, both for her many close and not so close acquaintances. 

She held culture in high esteem, and disdained lack of education. It was her love for culture that led to her translate the famous Spanish comic Mafalda (1980), by Argentina graphic artist Quino, into Chinese.

We don’t know what she got out of her books nor what she got out of life away from books, but all together the voice of Sanmao came shining through, in her reflections that are undeniably worthy of going down on paper. Yes, Sanmao was a lover of literature, but at the same time she held the conviction that life’s wisdom didn’t just come from books. “It is better to help yourself than to ask for help”, she would say. 

What Sanmao says about Wisdom:

In her books she said: “Not making the same mistakes time and again is quite good, but to rack your brains to correct them is better still. Everything follows the same logic, from the preparation of a dish to running a family and leading a country”. 

What Sanmao says about Wisdom:

In her books she said: “Not making the same mistakes time and again is quite good, but to rack your brains to correct them is better still. Everything follows the same logic, from the preparation of a dish to running a family and leading a country”.