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Luoyang China's Creative Beautyspot

2007-03-27

If you are fascinated with ancient Chinese history, you must not miss the glorious Tang culture. The Tang Dynasty (618-907), with its capital at Chang'an (now Luoyang in Henan Province), is regarded by historians as the highest point in the Chinese civilization process. And Wu Zetian, China's only woman to ever attain the title of emperor of China, also obtained her great power from the Tang Dynasty. Luoyang , located in the west part of Henan Province, was the capital for a further seven dynasties until 1644. Famous for the Chinese Mudan flower, Water Banquet of LuoYang, and Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang is a must-visit city to digest the Tang culture.


Longmen Grottoes , nesting on both banks of the Yi River, is now listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It's home to over 2,300 caves and niches and more than one hundred thousand Buddhist images, as well as 300,000 characters with over 1,500 years of history. From the Northern Wei Dynasty, when emperor Xiaowen moved his capital to Luoyang (AD493), the stone carving work at Longmen began. Those carved niches and Buddhist images, which aimed to express imperial wills and behaviors, also became an important carrier and promoter of Buddhism. The carving lasted more than 400 years, with Buddhist images varying greatly among the different dynasties. The figures of those images carved during Tang Dynasty are relatively plump, while those in other dynasties are comparatively slim. That tells the concept of beauty in Tang Dynasty; plump women were more attractive than those who were lean and slim. The wearing of the images carved during Tang Dynasty were also obviously gorgeous, however, that of the carved images of other dynasties were quite simple. The Tang Dynasty, the period which reflects the pinnacle of the development social economies, also made itself the peak period of the stone carving craft. The largest Buddhist image, which sits in Fengxiansi Cave, represents the works of sculpture art of Tang Dynasty brought to a climax. The open niche was carved in accordance with Avatamsaka Sutra. While the main Buddha Vairocana is 17.14 meters in height, with his head 4 meters tall and his ears 1.9 meters long. During that time, the craftsman already mastered the "bottom view" skills. The tourist guide explained that looking at the Buddha Vairocana by a horizontal view, you will find that his body was not carved by the most correct proportion, but looking at the figure from a bottom view, you will see all the proportions are perfect. Since this sculpture is so huge, the craftsman knew that people would raise their heads and look at the Buddha Vairocana from a bottom view. If not visiting the Longmen Grottoes, how could one get a little clue as to know how smart the Tang person was! But unfortunately, many of the carved figures were stolen and destroyed through ast centuries. Some of them were destroyed by the natural disasters of the times, while still a greater majority of them were destroyed by the Chinese during the movements and Western imperialists during their involvement in China from the beginning to 20th century till the end of 1940s. Though a lot of vivid sculptures flowed out of China, the Longmen Grottoes still remains to weave its charms on visitors both home and aboard. April is the best time to visit Luoyang, as it is also the time for the blossoming of the most majestic national flower, the Mudan. Mudan, widely known as ChineseTree Peony, has hundreds of species and over 1,000 varieties.

Luoyang Peony Festival Water banquet, originated from Luoyang, is also a well-known cuisine in China and has a history of more than 1,000 years. The 24 courses of dishes are noted for their various soups with sour and spicy flavors. The different dishes are served continuously like the flow of water; hence it got the name "Water Banquet".


(Source:Shanghai Star , 2007-03-27)