Henan province is considered the
cradle of Chinese civilization due to its location along the middle
reaches of the Yellow River. This rich historic heritage has endowed
numerous historic treasures. The remains of some of the earliest
human settlements have been unearthed here, including the over 7000-year-old
Peiligang Culture Remains, the 6000-year-old Yangshao Culture Remains,
and the Yin Ruins of the Shang Dynasty. All these cultural remains
have profound significance in the history of Chinese civilization.
In the history Henan was very important due to its location. Luoyang,
Kaifeng and Anyang are famous ancient capital cities of China. Today,
Zhengzhou is one important communication hub. It is the crossing
of the arteries of Longhai Railway and Jingguang Railway. So it
still plays a major role in China. Henan has rich culture and natural
resource. The people are very guileless and hospitality. Definitely
you will have a good when visit Henan.
In Henan it is very necessary to visit three cities namely Zhengzhou,
Luoyang and Kaifeng.
Zhengzhou also enjoys
a long history. It is the capital city of Henan Provinve. It covers
an area of 7,500 square kilometers with the population of 6.6 million.
Shaolin Temple, at the foot of Song Mountain in
Dengfeng City, was first built in 495AD. In 527AD, the eminent monk
Dharma arrived at this temple and had nine years of meditation in
a cave. He initiated the Zen Buddhism in China. He also taught them
monks basic martial arts to improve their health and defend themselves.
So the Shaolin Temple is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism
and the Shaolin Martial Arts. Shaolin Temple has many exciting attractions,
such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall, the Pagoda
Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training
The Pagoda Forest is most important scenic spot in the temple. It
is the largest of China's pagoda complexes where buried the eminent
monks’ remains in different dynasties.
The Shaolin Temple Kungfu (Martial Arts) Training Center is very
popular for martial arts lovers. Shaolin monks have been practicing
Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. Now quite a lot of people from all
over the world come here to learn and practice Chinese martial arts.
The Martial art performance here shows the authentic Chinese Shaolin
Kung Fu. For example, Tong Zi Gong, performed by teenagers, is a
kind of martial art to train one's flexibility and strength.
Temple Scecnic Zone
Song Mountain has fine natural
scenery. It has 72 mountains, extends for about 70 kilometers from
east to west. There are many valleys, caves, pools and waterfalls.
The landscape is so unique that it has been given the title of 'International
Geological Park' by the UNESCO.
Song Mountain is close to the ancient capital city of Luoyang. The
Emperors in ancient always mounted Song Mountain to offer sacrifices.
Many scholars, eminent monks and famous Taoists chose this area
as an important place to give lectures, explain Buddhist sutras
and develop the teachings of different religions. Song Mountain
is the birthplace of China Zen Buddhism. It has many temples, such
as Shaolin Temple and Songyue Temple.
The Yellow River Scenic Area lies in the northwest
of Zhengzhou. It is around 30km from the city.
A number of cultural points are in the park. The western end of
the park contains the historic battle site where Liu Bang (who later
became Emperor Gauzu) defeated Xiang Yu to cement his rule in 202
B.C. as the first emperor of the Han Dynasty. Yueshan Temple in
the park is interesting. It has a large number of pagodas containing
the remains past monks at the temple. The park also contains its
own Stele Forest where 570 steles inscribed by well known (to the
Chinese at least) calligraphers. Five Dragon Peak is an excellent
place to view the Yellow River. The huge stone figure of Huangdi
with 100meters high is also worth seeing.
Di and Huang Di, Chinese Ancestor
The city of Luoyang
is one very important city in ancient China. It served as the capital
city of thirteen different Chinese kingdoms. Luoyang is endowed
with countless historical and cultural relics. The famous Tang Triple
Colors Potteries produced in Luoyang are world famous.
The White Horse Temple, in the suburb of Luoyang
City, is the first Buddhist Temple built in China. It was built
in 68AD in the Eastern Han Dynasty. According legends, in the year
of 64AD of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD), Emperor Ming sent
a delegation to Western Regions to learn Buddhism. After three years,
two eminent Indian monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan, came back with
the delegation. They brought a white horse to carry Buddhist sutras
and Buddhist figures. This was the first time that Buddhism appeared
in China. To express his thanks to the two monks and their white
horse, the emperor ordered to build a monastery which he named the
White Horse Temple during the following year. The two monks translated
“Forty-two Chapter sutras” in the temple. Thus the temple became
a centre for Buddhist activity in China. It is for this reason that
the temple is honored as the “Cradle of Buddhism in China”. The
temple boasts great antique architecture which has remained intact
for several hundred years. The Hall of Heavenly Kings, Hall of the
Great Buddha, Hall of Mahavira, Hall of Guidance and the Cool and
Clear Terrace appear are the main spots in the temple.
The longmen Grottoes are located
12km south of Luoyang City. They are a treasure house of ancient
Buddhist cave art. The grottos were hewed and carved during the
Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), when the rulers relocated their
capital at Luoyang near the end of the 5th century. At that time
Buddhism was wide spreading in China and was venerated by the imperial
court. The Buddhists adopted the practice of carving rock temples,
dedicated to the Buddha.
The construction of the Longmen Grottoes began in 493 during the
reign of Emperor Xiaowen and continued through the successive six
dynasties, including Tang and Song, for a span of over 400 years.
Altogether there are around 2300 niches and caves. 100,000 statues
of the Buddha, Bodhisativa, and Arhat, and 2,800 inscribed stone
tablets along the 1-km-long cliff of Mt. Longmen on the west and
Mt. Xiangshan on the east of the Yihe River.
30% of these cave sculptures belong to the Northern Wei Dynasty,
60% belong to the Tang Dynasty, and 10% belong to other periods.
The style of sculpture, the design of clothing and the facial expression
on statues, as well as carving methods of the statues carved in
the Northern Wei Dynasty show little foreign influence, rather they
exhibit the pinnacle of development of Chinese grotto art. The 11
Buddha statues in the Binyang Cave, typical Northern Wei carvings,
represent a style in transition from the simple and compact depictions
in the Yungang Grottoes of Datong, Shanxi Province, to the vigorous
and realistic Tang Dynasty sculptures.
While the cave sculptures of the Tang Dynasty are of a vigorous,
elegant and realistic style, the stone statues in Fengxian Cave,
carved under the edict of Empress Wuzetian (reigned 690-705), can
be considered as the most typical of the period. These consist of
a 17.14-meter-high statue of Vairocana Buddha, and a series of pairs
of Bodhisattvas, heavenly kings, protectors and worshippers. The
Buddha has a well-filled figure, a sacred and kindly expression
and an elegant smile. The huge statue of Vairocana Buddha is today
praised as being the quintessence of Buddhist sculpture in China.
At the sides of Vairocana there are two statues of Vairocana Buddha's
disciples, Kasyapa and Ananda, wearing prudent and devout expressions.
The figures of Bodhisattvas and devas can also be found in the temple.
Some have dignified and genial expressions, while others are majestic
and fiery. The various appearances and delicate designs are the
representations of Empire Tang's powerful material and spiritual
strength as well as the high crystallization of people's wisdoms.
Wanfo Cave, completed in 680, is a typical cave of the Tang Dynasty
with two rooms and square flat roofs. Its name is due to the 15,000
small statues of Buddha carved in the southern and northern walls
of the cave. The main Buddha Amida sits on the lotus Sumeru throne,
having a composed and solemn face. The wall behind Amida is carved
with 54 lotuses upon which there are 54 Bodhisattvas in different
shapes and with various expressions.
In addition, there are lifelike reliefs of pretty and charming singers
and dancers on the wall. The singers are accompanied by various
kinds of instruments and the dancers dance lightly and gracefully
to the music. The whole model in the cave has created a lively and
cheerful atmosphere. On the southern wall outside the cave is carved
a statue of Kwan-yin of 85 centimeters in height, holding a pure
bottle in the left hand and deer's tails in the right hand. This
figure is well designed and is regarded as an example of Bodhisattva
statues of Tang Dynasty in Longmen.
Luoyang is also reputed for its numerous types of peony.
In Chinese culture peony symbolizes magnificence, abundance and
thriving. Luoyang's peonies rank as the best in the country due
to their long growing period and wide varieties. Every April, the
famous Peony Exhibition attracts many people from all over the world.
During that period of time the whole city permeates the fragrance
of peony. Peony is also the national follower in China.
Kaifeng is also one
of the ancient capital cities in China. It served as the capital
for seven dynasties. Especiall in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127AD),
it was the cultural and economic center of China. From the famous
picture “Qingmingshanghetu” (This picture, painted by Zhang Zeduan,
is a painted scroll which is 525 cm in length and 25.5 cm in width
depicting life along Bian River during the Qingming Festival. The
scenes in this painting are highly detailed and the spectacle is
magnificent. There are large numbers of people and buildings. The
people are shown in a variety of contemporary clothes that indicate
their social standing and occupations. There are many shops along
the street corded with all kinds of people. The picture indicated
the prosperous scenes of the ancient Kaifeng City.), people can
feel the prosperity of ancient Kaifeng.
The Iron Pagoda is erected strikingly in the northeast
of Kaifeng City. It is renowned as the best pagoda in China for
its superb construction and elegance. Built in 1094 in the Song
Dynasty (960-1279), the pagoda is the most eye-catching element
The pagoda is not made of iron but glazed bricks. Seen from a distance
the pagoda appears to be made of iron due to the color of the bricks.
The thirteen-layered, octagonal pagoda is over 55 meters high. The
unique construction used bricks but followed a design of wooden
pagodas. Tenons, mortises and slots were all made of bricks and
they were well connected into a complete unity. The Irion Pagoda
has experienced the baptizing of nature, earthquakes, flood and
destructions of human being for over 900 years but it still towers
there. That is really a architectural wonder.
The glazed-bricks on the surface layer are exquisitely engraved.
More than 50 distinct patterns are used, such as figures of Buddha
and Bodhisattva, different flowers, and lions and kylins. Each pattern
is of a high artistic standard show the excellent craftsmanship.
The steps of the brick stair spiral to the top from where you can
enjoy a view of the whole city.
The Iron Pagoda was placed on the list of major historic and cultural
sites under state protection in 1961.
Statuein Xiangguo Temple
Xiangguo Temple was first constructed
in 555 in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589). It is one
of the ten famous temples in Chinese history and plays an important
role in the development of Buddhism in China.
The temple was rebuilt in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was bestowed
the name Xiangguo Temple by Emperor Ruizong. The temple reached
its heyday in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It became an international
Buddhism center, attracting many foreign envoys and great monks.
That is because Kaifeng was the capital city of the Northern Song
Dynasty. It contributed a lot to the cultural exchanges between
China and other countries. Most buildings existing today were built
in the Qing Dynasty.
The most remarkable building in the temple is the Arhat Hall, which
is also called Octagonal Glazed Hall. Inside, placed a wooden statue
of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, which was carved from the trunk of
a huge gingko tree during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing
Dynasty. The four sides of the statue are of the same sculpt. On
each side, there are six big hands and three to four layers of small
fanlike hands, with an eye on each palm. The number of the hands
totals 1,048, and likewise the number of the eyes. The statue highly
embodies the fine workmanship of the Qing Dynasty.
Kaifeng is famous for its chrysanthemum floriculture.
Every autumn many kinds of chrysanthemum in different colors and
different forms are in blossom. That is really amazing. Chrysanthemum
represents purified characters of people. It was specially favored
by scholars in China.