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Ten Thousand Year Old Faces N Ancient Xia Tombs

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya

OK, before reading this, remember this! We all have seen the devastation of what happened in Sichuan Province this year prior to the olympics after the earthquake tore apart not only the cities and mountains but also the families. Yinchuan (where I am now) was the center of China's last massive earthquake. But this one was even worse than the Sichuan quake that we all followed on the TV. This year the world was watching and helping and China promised OPEN media. It followed through but the body count was no where near the 'real' total. When the Yinchuan quake happened it was on a more massive scale and I guess we will never know the 'real total'. I read here that it was 60,000 or so but from what I've been told it was more like a billion times more than that. Well, not really a billion, but you know what I mean when it comes to China!

Back to today... Today was another one of those days where after it all ends you sit back with a few beers and whilst trying to write about it no words you key in actually describe what you are trying to tell people you experienced. The day began with a phone call from the taxi driver we booked last night. Of course he was ringing half an hour earlier than the agreed time. This is typical for Chinese taxi drivers! Sadly for him nothing takes me away from my morning three in one coffee, more so now that I found Café Late and Cappicchuno three in ones in Hohhot City. I add them to my normal three in one and kick back next to the window and swear that I am the luckiest son of a &^%$# around! At half eight we met down stairs and headed across the road for a quick fix of pork and veggie filled breads. Totally awesome! I used to eat too many of these when I was living in Gansu Province. Not so good with the amount of chili they used to add to the pork especially the following day in class! By quarter to nine we were dangerously weaving our way through the traffic on our way to visit the Helanshan Yanhua Rock Carvings which are situated about seventy five kilometers northwest from Yinchuan City. On the way through the new city I was amazed at how beautiful the city was. Our driver explained that in times passed the City was once surrounded by many lakes. Now there are many new man made rivers and along their banks are thousands of square meters of beautiful new and very modern architecture. In my last blog I remember stating that walking around Yinchuan City made me feel like I was walking around Melbourne City, this morning it was even more so. The only difference was that I was in a taxi and not walking. I was honestly surprised at the buildings we were passing. Long gone are the horrid white tiled Chinese buildings and as quick as cement and mortar can dry an entire new city is being built and after passing through parts of it at different times today it will be a city that will make any foreigner question as to what country they are actually in. The splendour of the new waterfront buildings were quickly left behind and our vision was soon captivated by the razorback ridges of the Helan Mountains. From the LP: The Helan Mountains are clearly visible from Yinchuan. The range forms an important natural barrier against desert winds and invaders alike, and the foot hills are peppered with graves taking advantage of the ranges excellent feng shui! Around sixty kilometers into our journey the Twin Pagodas came into sight. I for one after yesterday had pretty much had enough of pagodas for one city so Luo Wei and I waved as they slowly faded from view and became mere specs within the rocks of the Helan Mountain ranges. When the LP states that 'Day to day existence in Ningxia Province is anything but a bed of roses' they really aren't joking. The land is anything but farmable. In fact anyone who loves rocks and rock gardens please purchase the entire province and put its entire population out of misery. Sadly most of the population are farmers! What they farm besides sun flowers and rocks I don't know! The road we were traveling on soon ended at our first destination for the day. Within seconds after leaving the car we were walking amongst rock carvings, some of which date back up to ten thousand years! Can you imagine what it is like to walk amongst things? Coming from Australia you would think I would be used to such things. Sadly I am not as most things aboriginal were not popular during my growing up years. Now it is a different story. Now the government has caught on. Many places I used to ride my bike I'm sure I would have to purchase a ticket to place my sandals near. If it benefits the aboriginal community then it is a good thing. If it doesn't then that is a real bugger for both them and Australia as a whole! The entrance fee here was thankfully still 40 Yuan! Walking amongst the carvings was for me a real life experience. There are over two thousand or so pictographs of animals, hunting scenes and faces. Most of what you will see if you visit this site are faces. So many faces! They seem to be staring at you from thousands of rocks within the cliffs that surround you. All of them with thousands of years of stories to tell. Each with their own different facial expression to judge you as you walk on by thinking your own thoughts that are but a blink of an eye in comparison. I loved my time walking amongst them. The sky above was huge sea of blue with barely any white water to wash over me! All too soon we were retracing our taxi trails and making our way towards our second destination, the Western Xia Tombs which are situated thirty three kilometers west of Yinchuan City. My reaction to these was pretty much like my reaction to the Hakka Peoples Earth Buildings in Fujian Province when they first came into my sight. This time, with Luo Wei next to me I was much more sober and silently said my &*^%'s! With a smile we paid our 40 Yuan entrance fee! It seems that sometimes some provinces here in China don't think to raise their entrance fees every second or third month of they year! In an area of around fifty square kilometers there can be found nine imperial tombs and two hundred lesser tombs. Burials began a millennium ago and they were started by the Western Xia's first ruler, Li Yuanhao. From the LP: leading up to the maintomb is a procession way, flanked by carved stellae bases, a sacrificial platform and watch towers. The twenty three meter tall main tomb was originally built as a seven story wooden pagoda, similar to the Genghis Khan mausoleum near Dongsheng but all that remains is the large earthen core. It was strange, as I was walking around the site I had this strange feeling that American Indians (those from many of the Hollywood movies I had watched growing up) were going to come from out of no-where screaming their Hollywood Indian screams. Looking around me I had no idea why I had this sensation for I was in bloody China! I think it was the blue sky and the Helan Mountain Ranges in the background. Dunno mate! I think it was one of those had to be there moments! Sadly for us all the other tombs were closed (without explaination of course) so we only got to only visit Tomb Number Three. But I can't say this was a disappointment as I each step I took was one filled with total amazement and bewilderment. No one I know has ever been here to see this. In fact, no one I know has ever visited Ningxia Province. Well now I'm lying as I do know Luo Wei and she has been beside me the entire time.

Sheez, lets just forget it! I thought of all those people who go to Egypt each year (yes, I am jealous!) but here I was walking around this forgotten burial site in a forgotten part of China. Only a real historian can answer the questions that was buzzing around my head at the time. Who is luckier? Myself? Or those millions who visit Egypt each year? Our next and last stop was by far the most fun and exciting site for the day. As you all know Luo Wei is of course Chinese and all Chinese love to watch TV just like we do. They like us have their film stars and famous films and one of them if not China's most famous film 'Red Sorghum'. The movie site is actually an ancient fortress that the movie studio purchased from local villagers who were living there. Since then many other films have since been shot there. The entrance fee has gone up by twenty Yuan from 40 to 60 Yuan. We were told that mini buses run to and from the movie site and I am sure they do. Strangely my LP says that the film site is 130km's from Yinchuan City That is impossible! It has to be a typo! It can not be more than 13km's from the city! Anyhow, it doesn't matter, a taxi fare is only thirty Yuan so don't worry too much! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane PS: if you don't want to read more about the above simply keep scrolling down to the pictures. _________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by Melbourne's own Spiderbait The album was 'Tonight Alright' __________________________________________________________

<u>Western Xia Tombs or Xixia Wangling</u> The Mausoleums of the kings of the Western Xia Dynasty are located on the eastern for of the Mount Helanshan at the western suburb of Yinchuan City, 35 km away from the city propel It is one of the key historical relics protected by the state. The mausoleum area extends 5 km long from east to west, and 10 km from south to north covering an area of about 50 square km.

Its establishment is as large and spacious as that of the Tombs of the Ming Dynasty in Beijing.

In the area, along the topographical curve, 9 tombs c kings of the Western Xia Dynasty were buried and more than 140 accompanied tombs of distinguished subjects and nobles and imperial relatives were also buried there with their rulers. Each tomb, due to the rise and fall of the topography, is a complete construction, covering an area of 100 000 square meters, and composed o watchtowers, turrets, walls of niches of deities stone tablet pavilions, external and internal cities the hall of presenting offerings, and escalated tomb terrace. Of all the tombs, the tombs of YL and Jia in the south are the largest, usually known as a "pair of tombs." The area of tombs has almost been destroyer completely into ruins at the time by the Mongoliar cavalry. The relics left over on the present site mostly are in conic shape, which are often called by foreign travelers as "the oriental pyramids." So far, only one tomb of the kings has beer excavated (serial No.8) and four accompanied tombs. And more than 100 relics have been unearthed such as gold decorative fittings, gilded silver fittings, bamboo carvings, pearls, bronze armor plates, iron tools, and pottery and porcelain vessels. On the ground, were found seated stone carvings, railings with carved images of dragon, sutra house, color-glazed zoomorphic ornaments with stone carved patterns, etc. Looking at the 1.52-meter-high green color glazed eagle zoomorphic ornaments, one can imagine the magnificence and grandeur of the tomb architecture at that time. In 1998, the mausoleum was designated as one of the state protected key historical relics. Later, it was designated as a state class scenic spot, becoming a well-known scenic spot and historic place and resort for travelers. <u>Rock Carvings on Helan Mountains </u> Around the hillsides of the Mount Helanshan, 40 km or more off the Yinchuan City, there are several tens of thousands of rock carvings by ancient nomadic tribes, known as Mount Helanshan Rock carvings. Most of them are concentrated at Helankou Pass, totaling more than 1000 carvings. It is also a key site of relics being protected by the state. It is readily accessible by various traffic means. Of all the carvings, a great number are images of human faces, handprints, and hunting, and offering sacrifice. Among the animal paintings, there are running deer, blue sheep, tigers and leopards, duckbills, and flying birds. According to the textual research by specialists, these rock carvings can be dating back to 6000 years before the dynasties of Ming and Qing. It was an art gallery created by ancient nomadic tribes. The artistic style of these rock carvings is wild and dense and thick, in simple design conceiving a unique artistic conception and value. They provide valuable materials for the study of the ways of life, ideas of religion, and war, farming and husbandry, hunting, and astronomy of various ethnic minority groups in ancient China. The Helanshan Rock carvings have produced a great influence on the world, and the annual conference of the International Rock carvings Organization was convened there in October 1991.

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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