COR­RI­DOR OF RE­LI­GION

IM­AGES OF SEREN­ITY AND TRAN­QUIL­ITY,

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

An im­por­tant route link­ing China and the West since more than 2,000 years ago, the cor­ri­dor is a trea­sure land of cul­tural her­itage. Tough­ened by winds and sands of the Gobi Desert af­ter thou­sands of years, the tem­ples, grot­toes, fortresses and relics along the Hexi Cor­ri­dor are like pearls on a rib­bon, shin­ing with last­ing el­e­gance. Ma­jor cities in Hexi Cor­ri­dor in­clude Wuwei, Zhangye, Ji­uquan, Ji­ayuguan and Dun­huang. The Mo­gao Grot­toes of Dun­huang are well known as a cul­tural won­der, but the other lesser fa­mous cities boast splen­did cul­tural her­itage, too. The Tiantis­han Grot­toes in Wuwei; Matisi in Su­nan, a pre­fec­ture of Zhangye; the gi­ant re­clin­ing Bud­dha statue in Zhangye; the an­cient tombs of Ji­uquan and the mag­nif­i­cent mil­i­tary fortresses in Ji­ayu Pass, have sur­vived so­cial tur­bu­lences and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, wait­ing for those lucky enough to ap­pre­ci­ate their sea­soned beauty.

PHO­TOS BY CHEN XI / FOR CHINA DAILY

The Tiantis­han Grot­toes in cen­tral Gansu prov­ince’s Wuwei county were dug about 1,600 years ago. Tianti means “lad­der to the sky” and shan means moun­tain.

The Matisi Grot­toes cover about 100 square me­ters in Su­nan, a Yugur eth­nic au­ton­o­mous county 600 kilo­me­ters from Lanzhou. Mati means “horse hoof” and si means “tem­ple”. The 21 caves are ar­ranged in seven sto­ries.

The Gi­ant Bud­dha Tem­ple in Zhangye city, about 600 kilo­me­ters west of Gansu’s provin­cial cap­i­tal Lanzhou, is named af­ter a statue wor­shipped in­side. As many as eight peo­ple can stand on the ear of the 34.5-me­ter-long re­clin­ing Bud­dha.

The Ji­ayu Pass is the western ter­mi­nus of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) Great Wall. It’s the bul­wark’s best-pre­served mil­i­tary fortress from any pe­riod.

Ex­perts have col­lected some mu­rals at Tiantis­han Grot­toes for restora­tion.

A sculp­tured brick found in a Tang Dy­nasty (AD 618-907) tomb in Ji­uquan, a city in north­west Gansu, 700 kilo­me­ters from Lanzhou.

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