The new embassy of the People's Republic of China will be open to the public for the first time on the 34th annual Goodwill Industries Guild Embassy Tour Saturday.
The embassies of Ecuador, Indonesia, Bolivia, Cyprus, Egypt, New Zealand, as well as the Woodrow Wilson House, will also be included on the tour. Some are the ambassadors' residences, others are the embassy chanceries.
The embassy of the People's Republic of China, on Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle, formally opened a year ago in March. In the old Windsor Park Hotel, the chancery contains some magnificent examples of Chinese art from the mainland. A huge needlepoint picture in the reception hall depicts Chairman Mao among 55 people, each representing one of the 55 nationalities present in China. The needlepoint was made by 16 people over a period of six months. The lanterns that light this room were originally used by Chinese royalty and are decorated with the traditional hanging tassels.
Seventeenth century paintings and sculptures from Ecuador's colonial period dominate Ambassador and Mrs. Krespo's residence at Bancroft Place, just off Massachusetts Avenue past Sheridan Circle. The religious subjects, explains Mrs. Piedad de Suro, the Ecuadorian consular for cultural and press affairs, "are the result of the massive Franciscan influence on the area during those years. The priests, who were brought in by the Spanish conquerors, converted Ecuador's natives to Christianity." The well-known Ecuadorian sculptor, Caspicara, whose woodcarving sculpture of the baby Jesus is on display at the Krespo's home, was an Indian, taught by the pries to sculpt holy works.
The house was bought in 1944 for the government of Ecuador by the then-Ambassador Galo Plaza. Plaza was the father of Mrs. Krespo, who lived in this house as a young girl. Now she is living here as the wife of the ambassador.
In the foyer, the curving staircase with the elaborate wood railing winds upwards toward an oval latticed skylight, from which hangs a delicate chandelier. "The elegance of this foyer," says Mrs. Suro, "is one reason the ambassador's residence is such a popular site for local Ecuadorian girls to hold their wedding receptions."
The staircase at the Indonesian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, just west of Dupont Circle, is also worth seeing. Unlike the winding off-to-one-side staircase of the Ecuadorian ambassador's residence, the massive Indonesian staircase threatens to engulf you. At the first landing, where a marble statue of two Roman dancers stands, the staircase breaks into a V and rises to the second floor gallery. Directly above the grand staircase, just above the fourth floor, is a magnificent stained-glass skylight that provides much of the light for this portion of the embassy.
Indonesian crafts occupy every nook and cranny of the embassy. Handmade ceramic masks or Balinese gamelans (an Indonesian percussion instrument), or carved wooden sculptures and pottery are everywhere. The stage located on the north side of the Louis XVI salon is designed like the open-air theaters of Indonesia and is large enough to hold 30 gamelan instruments.
The Goodwill Tour gets underway at 11 a.m. and continues through 5:30 p.m. You can begin it at any of the eight locations. Free shuttle bus service will be provided between embassies. Complimentary tea will be served from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Chancery of New Zealand. Tickets are $10 each and must be purchased in advance. Call Mrs. William M. Rigdon of Bethesda at 530-4318 for further information.