Beijing (English) - - FEATURE -

The waters of the Bo­hai Sea are now calm. Sol­diers re­turn in tri­umph to the arms of moun­tain­ous views. Flutes and trum­pets are played to wel­come their re­turn to Tiefeng City.”

The Liao and Jin Dy­nas­ties im­ple­mented the “Wu­jing” in­sti­tu­tion, un­der which the em­per­ors man­aged the land where dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties and cul­tures co­ex­isted. Dur­ing the Liao and Jin Dy­nas­ties, the east cap­i­tal road fell into the ju­ris­dic­tion of the east cap­i­tal. In AD 919, Em­peror Taizu of the Liao Dy­nasty ( Yelü Abaoji) or­dered the re­pair­ing of the Liaoyang old city, re­named it Dong­ping County and set up a de­fence sys­tem there. An iron phoenix ( tiefeng) was cast to be placed in the city. Liaoyang thus took the name of Tiefeng City.

In re­cent years, a great va­ri­ety of relics from the Liao and Jin pe­ri­ods have been dis­cov­ered in Liaoyang, Shenyang and the sur­round­ing ar­eas. The cul­tural relics have helped peo­ple be­come more fa­mil­iar with the way of life of the peo­ple who lived in the past. Great moun­tain views, fan­fare and car­a­van rides—life in Tiefeng City is worth ex­plor­ing. The Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Bureau of Cul­tural Her­itage, Shenyang Palace Mu­seum, Shenyang Cul­tural Relics and Ar­chae­ol­ogy In­sti­tute, Liaoyang Mu­seum, and the Liao and Jin City Wall Mu­seum jointly host the east cap­i­tal dis­trict cul­tural relics show. Ex­hibits in­clude daily porce­lain wares such as cockscomb-shaped porce­lain pots, three-colored plates, bronze mir­rors, porce­lain toys, fine sil­ver ear­rings, awein­spir­ing Bud­dhist stat­ues and ta­pes­tries. The cul­tural relics por­tray a range of as­pects of life at the time. They are po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, cul­tural, re­li­gious and daily life-ori­ented in na­ture. They show what the Khi­tan and Jurchen peo­ple were like about 1,000 years ago. The ex­hi­bi­tion will last un­til March 2019.

Porce­lain-mak­ing As Eth­nic Tra­di­tion

The porce­lain in­dus­try thrived dur­ing the Liao and Jin dy­nas­ties. A con­sid­er­able num­ber of ce­ramic crafts­men from the cen­tral plains area brought the cul­ture of porce­lain mak­ing to Liao and Jin. From a tech­ni­cal per­spec­tive, Liao and Jin ceram­ics were in­flu­enced by the Tang Dy­nasty (AD 618–906), Five Dy­nas­ties (AD 907–960) and Song Dy­nasty (AD 960–1279), but the porce­lain also has its own eth­nic traits in styling and dec­o­ra­tion.

Din­ing and con­tainer wares such as cups, bowls, plates, saucers, con­tain­ers, pots, bot­tles, cans and oth­ers are in line with the tra­di­tion in the cen­tral plains area. Ceram­ics that are mod­eled after hide or wooden con­tain­ers of Khi­tans, such as cockscomb-shaped pots, flasks, pots and chicken leg-shaped bot­tles, have their own style. The cockscomb-shaped pot has a com­pressed shape. The bot­tom is round, and there is a ver­ti­cal tube on top of it. The

side with the han­dle has a semi-cloud or bow shape, sim­i­lar to the shape of a rooster cockscomb. This type of pot has five main types: flat body sin­gle hole, flat body dou­ble hole, flat body ring beam, round body ring beam and short body beam. The age of a pot is de­ter­mined by the fea­tures on its body.

Khi­tans were horse-rid­ing tribes in the north­ern part of China. Leather sacs were an im­por­tant part of their no­madic life­style and were used as con­tain­ers for wa­ter or liquor. After the es­tab­lish­ment of the Liao King­dom by the Khi­tans, their way of life be­gan to change. Leather sacs were re­placed by ce­ramic crowned pots. They were shaped like leather sacs. The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures yel­low-glazed crown pots, green-glazed crown pots and green white-glazed pots. The or­na­men­ta­tion on the pots re­minds peo­ple of the end­less prairies and sheep herds.

Cockscomb pots buried in the Liao Dy­nasty tombs pro­vide crit­i­cal ev­i­dence to as­cer­tain the age of the tomb. A great many cockscomb pots have been found in ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies. Their shapes can vary. In the be­gin­ning, they bore more re­sem­blance to leather sacs and had eth­nic Khi­tan or­na­men­ta­tion. Cockscomb-shaped pots that were made later had lit­tle sim­i­lar­i­ties with the leather sacs. For ex­am­ple, the whiteglazed pot dis­cov­ered in 1954 in Chifeng, Liaon­ing Prov­ince bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to leather sacs and lost some its eth­nic charm.

The other porce­lain works at the ex­hi­bi­tion in­vari­ably have high cul­tural relic value. It would be nice to have a white glazed flower bowl, white-glazed flow­er­pat­terned dish; white-glazed, but­ter­fly­pat­terned plate; white-glaze and brown­coloured dish; and white-glazed high­legged bowl in one's home! The whiteglazed oc­tag­o­nal chicken-crown ear­shaped liquor con­tainer; white-glazed, pe­ony-pat­terned pot; two-han­dled, brownglaze pot; and yel­low-glazed, long-necked bot­tle that are on dis­play once con­tained fine liq­uids. The white glazed black-flower pow­der box; shadow-blue chrysan­the­mum petal-shaped pow­der box; and the whiteglazed, three-set pow­der box were for women's dress­ing ta­bles.

Civil­ian Kilns

At the be­gin­ning of the 12th cen­tury, Jurchen founded the Jin Dy­nasty in North­east China. They later de­stroyed the Liao and North­ern Song dy­nas­ties. The Jin Dy­nasty ex­isted in the same pe­riod as the South­ern Song Dy­nasty (1127–1279). Jurchen cul­ture de­vel­oped fast along with its econ­omy and mil­i­tary as cen­tral plains regimes were con­quered. After Wanyan­liang moved the cap­i­tal to Yan­jing, the highly-de­vel­oped cen­tral plains cul­ture played a great role in the de­vel­op­ment of Jurchen cul­ture. Jin Dy­nasty bronze mir­rors and Jiang­guan­tun kiln porce­lain help un­der­stand the lo­cal cul­ture of the time.

A great many bronze mir­rors that were mod­eled on the mir­rors from the Han (202 BC–AD 220), Tang and Song dy­nas­ties ap­peared dur­ing the Jin Dy­nasty. Mean­while, a large num­ber of bronze mir­rors with lo­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics also ap­peared. New pat­terns in the mir­rors re­flected so­cial life, hunt­ing and

gam­ing dur­ing the Jin Dy­nasty, and peo­ple's as­pi­ra­tions for aus­pi­cious­ness and good lives.

The bronze mir­ror of the Jin Dy­nasty also re­flected the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate at the time and its ab­sorp­tion of cen­tral plains cul­ture. The in­flu­ence from the cen­tral plains was not in­va­sive. These bronze mir­rors re­tained the re­gional and eth­nic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the north­ern peo­ple. The wis­dom of the Jurchen can be seen in the pol­ished sur­face of a bronze mir­ror.

Liao and Jin porce­lain ac­count for a con­sid­er­able pro­por­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion. A batch of the porce­lain comes from the vil­lage of Jiang­guan­tun in Xiao­tun Town­ship of Liaoyang City. A kiln was built there dur­ing the Liao Dy­nasty and thrived dur­ing the Jin Dy­nasty. By the Yuan Dy­nasty (1271–1368), it started to de­cline and was even­tu­ally aban­doned. It was re­garded as one of the rep­re­sen­ta­tive kiln fac­to­ries of the east cap­i­tal of Liao. The site was dis­cov­ered dur­ing an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the 1930s and 1940s. The kiln site was ex­pan­sive and once pro­duced a great num­ber of porce­lain. Its cen­tre was Jiang­guan­tun, but it also had pres­ence in the Yanzhou City, Ying­shou Fort and Diaoshuilou.

White-glazed coarse porce­lain was mostly made at Jiang­guan­tun, with a small amount of white-glazed black flow­ers and black porce­lain. The white porce­lain mostly con­sisted of cups, saucers, dishes and con­tain­ers. The ex­hi­bi­tion also ex­hibits some porce­lain fig­urines and an­i­mals, such as the black-glazed, beast-head porce­lain; pig-head-shaped porce­lain; white-glazed brown colour­ful maid­ens; colour­ful sheep; colour­ful horses and horse rid­ers. These items were exquisitely made.

Other items in­clude agate chess pieces, cop­per wheels, gold rings, sil­ver ear­rings, am­ber mon­key-shaped pen­dants, pol­ished stone seals and an­i­mal-faced, pat­terned tiles. These objects are made from dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als and in var­i­ous styles and show de­tails about peo­ple's lives at the time.

The Foot­prints of Bud­dhism

Bud­dhism was highly hon­oured dur­ing the Liao Dy­nasty. The em­per­ors strongly ad­vo­cated and sup­ported the re­li­gion. It had many fol­low­ers across var­i­ous classes of so­ci­ety. The pros­per­ity of Bud­dhism had an im­por­tant im­pact on the pol­i­tics, econ­omy, cul­ture and cus­toms of the Liao Dy­nasty. The Liao Dy­nasty was a mul­ti­eth­nic regime. The fact that Han Bud­dhism be­came the com­mon be­lief of al­most all eth­nic groups in the ter­ri­tory greatly pro­moted the ex­changes and in­te­gra­tion of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent eth­nic back­grounds and also played a ma­jor role in pro­long­ing the rul­ing of the Khi­tan and the ex­is­tence of Liao. In­laid turquoise gold medals; di­a­mond pes­tles; glass beads; iron-braided, plumpat­terned trays; and cop­per bells re­flect the strong in­flu­ence of Bud­dhism.

The Jin Dy­nasty was also an im­por­tant pe­riod for the de­vel­op­ment of Bud­dhism in an­cient China. In most pe­ri­ods, the govern­ment im­ple­mented a pol­icy of pro­tec­tion and rec­ti­fi­ca­tion for Bud­dhism. A stone en­grav­ing from the year 1161 un­veiled a story from the past.

Li Hongyuan was the mother of Wanyany­ong, who was the Jin em­peror

at the time. She de­cided that she would lead a purely re­li­gious life in Liaoyang. The imperial court al­lo­cated a huge amount of money to build a tem­ple for her. She be­came known as the Tonghui Yuan­ming Mas­ter. In 1155, Wanyany­ong was re­united with her. She died in 1161 and was buried in the Chuiqing Tem­ple.

The White Tower in Liaoyang is lo­cated on the north side of Zhonghua Street. It gets the name be­cause the bricks on the tower are whitish grey. It is the tallest brick tower in North­east China. Its base is dec­o­rated with Bud­dhist pat­terns and Bud­dhist shrines on all eight sides of the tower. Brick Bud­dhas can be found in­side the shrines. The top of the tower has iron bars and wheels. An iron wind chime with the words “Bai Rumei'' once hung on the tower. The wind chime is black, and the in­scrip­tions on it re­main a mys­tery. Some say the words are the names of the sup­port­ers of the tower, while oth­ers say they are the names of the builders of the chimes.

Bud­dha relics and relics from war­ring times have been found from var­i­ous dy­nas­ties. After the Jin peo­ple de­stroyed the North­ern Song Dy­nasty, they not only oc­cu­pied the vast ar­eas of the regime, but also ac­quired skilled gun­pow­der, firearms and weaponry crafts­men. The Jin Dy­nasty cre­ated var­i­ous firearms on the ba­sis of the Song craft. The rock­ets, fire­balls and other weapons that were once in­vented by the North­ern Song Dy­nasty to fight against the Jin were later fur­ther de­vel­oped by the Jin and ap­plied in ac­tual war­fare.

The pot­tery beads at the ex­hi­bi­tion have unique shapes like a hedge­hog un­der at­tack. They were used to load gun pow­der and set fir­ing ca­bles. There are small com­part­ments in the mid­dle of the beads with tiny iron blocks in­side. Pots that were filled with gun­pow­der and were com­monly used in bat­tle­fields at the time in­flu­enced them. Pot­tery bombs were used at the time also. The thin­ner they were, the bet­ter. When they hit a tar­get, they would break into pieces and spread fire. How­ever, the de­struc­tive power of the thin and frag­ile pot­tery sur­face was weak, so the crafts­men added thorns to the sur­face of the pot­tery. The thorns grad­u­ally be­came big­ger to cre­ate more im­pact. Porce­lain fire­balls are up­graded ver­sions of this. These de­vel­op­ments in­di­cated the ad­vent of an era of fire weaponry. An iron hel­met is also ex­hib­ited that was used by an­cient Chi­nese sol­diers. It was usu­ally worn in con­junc­tion with body ar­mour. The ex­pan­sion of the iron man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try was di­rectly re­lated to the de­vel­op­ment of the mil­i­tary forces of the Jin Dy­nasty.

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