Crescent Moon Tour|
It seems to me that Linxia is the best place to cultivate cultural arts. Hezhou bricks with carved designs, as both building materials and decorations, are used to lay paths in parks, and to construct public facilities such as mosques. Even in ordinary people's families, bricks with special carved designs are inlaid on top of gates and roofs.
Many brick workshops stood on both sides of the highway we traveled on.We could not help but stop and visit one. The worker who was busy with his graver in the gloomy light,stopped working. He told us that Hezhou bricks with carved designs serve as a folk cultural art with a history of several hundred years. The art originated in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and became mature in the late Ming and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. One piece of brick consists of three or four layers of patterns which create a unique three dimensional effect.
The solemn Giant Buddha
in the Bingling Temple.
Bottle Gourd with designs from the hands of the Hui people are widely known. The manufacture of bottle gourds has history of more than one hundred years. The bottle gourds
can be as small as a pearl or as large as one's fist. Their designs are about traditional Chinese operas, classic literature, fairy tales and local legends. In the Linxia Handicraft Factory, everyone of us witnessed how the women workers exquisitely made their articles, and we were deeply impressed by their excellent workmanship.
Grottoes and Pagodas
Linxia is not only famous for its numerous mosques, but also for its Buddhist and Taoist temples, and churches which have been well preserved. Due to the influence of different religions, the culture there is very unique.
The Bingling Grottoes located in Linxia Prefecture's Qingyuan county, are a good combination of Western and Oriental culture. Visitors can take a speed ship at the Lotus Flower Terrace in Less Jishi Mountain which is 25 kilometers from Linxia. It takes about an hour by ship to get to the grotto site which has been eulogized by the noted historian Fan Wenlan as, as famous as the Mogao Grottoes, and Maijishan Grottoes.
With successive construction in the Northern Wei (535-556), Northern Zhou (557-581) in the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Sui Dynasty (581-618), Tang Dynasty (618-907), and Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911( dynasties, the grottoes have become their present size, consisting of the three sites of the Upper Temple, a cave valley, and Lower Temple. According to statistics, the grottoes have 183 caves containing about 800 statues,
Qingyuan Pagoda in the
and the murals cover more than 900square meters. Tourists are very surprised by the Giant Buddha, similar to the Leshan Grand Buddha.
The Grottoes have many Buddhist pagodas with stone carvings and relief sculptures. Each stone pagoda has a unique feature, and the most distinctive one was built with stones from cliffs in the Tang dynasty. The upper part looks like a typical Indian pagoda while the lower part is more like a pottery storehouse popular in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D.220). It is so well integrated that it is very impressive.
The Wanshou (Ten-thousand Longevity) Taoist Temple is the largest in Linxia City. Since its establishment in the Ming Dynasty, it has been attracting a large number of pilgrims. I t has left some trances of reconstruction, however, there is no information about this.