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Xingtai: The Oldest City in North China

      Xingtai

Seated in the southern part of Hebei (hé běi 河北) Province with Taihang Mountains (tài háng shān 太行山) rising in the west, Xingtai (xíng tái 邢台) borders Shijiazhuang (shí jiā zhuāng 石家庄) and Hengshui (héng shuǐ 衡水) in the north, Handan (hán dān 邯郸) in the south, and the provinces of Shandong (shān dōng 山东) and Shanxi (shān xī 山西) in the east and west respectively. It is 108 kilometers (67 miles) south of Shijiagzhuang City and 396 kilometers (246 miles) away from Beijing.
Xingtai has a nickname and that is Ox City (niú chéng 牛城). It is the oldest city in North China. The history of Xingtai can be traced back 3500 years ago. During the Shang Dynasty (shāng cháo 商朝 1600 BC-1046 BC), Xingtai functioned as a capital city. During the Warring States Period (zhàn guó shí qī 战国时期 473 BC-221 BC), the Zhao Kingdom (zhào guó 赵国) made Xingtai its provisional capital. During the Sui (suí 隋 580-630) and Tang (táng 唐 630-907) Dynasties, the city was known as Xingzhou (xíng zhōu 邢州). From the times of the Yuan Dynasty (yuán cháo 元朝 1271-1368) to Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, Xingtai was called Shundefu (shùn dé fǔ 顺德府), and functioned as a prefecture in China.
Located at the convergence of Taihang Mountains and North China Plain (huá běi píng yuán 华北平原), Xingtai city slopes from the west to the east. Its main topography is plain occupying more than half of the city area. Xingtai has reserves of black metal and other minerals. What’s more, Xingtai is the site where one of the seven famous kilns in Tang Dynasty, Xing Kiln (xíng yáo 邢窑), is seated having a brilliant history of white porcelain making.

Folk Art and Handicraft

As one of the most famous kilns in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Xing Kiln was best known for its production of white porcelain. It was recorded that the kiln's was located in Neiqiu (nèi qiū 内丘), which belongs to Xingtai nowadys. Contemporary written records of that time show that "white porcelain from Xing Kiln is as white as silver and snow (rú yín sì xuě 如银似雪)". Xing porcelain was known for its delicate and pure texture as well as its extreme hardness. Even today, when the ware is struck, it gives out a metallic sound. The Xing porcelain was first produced at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, and flourished and gained tremendous fame across the world during the mid-Tang Dynasty. At the juncture of the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties (wǔ dài 五代 907-960), the kiln gradually declined as Ding Kiln (dìng yáo 定窑) ware began to emerge.

White Glazed Lamppost with Design of Lotus Petals Now collected in China History Museum (zhōng guó lì shǐ bó wù guǎn 中国历史博物馆), White Glazed Lamppost with Design of Lotus Petals (bái cí lián bàn zuò dēng tái 白瓷莲瓣座灯台) is made in the Tang Dynasty, 30.4cm in height, 6.5 cm caliber. It consists of three parts: lamp panel, lamp pole and bearing. Lamp panel presents a shape of cup, and there is one cylinder in the middle for inserting candle. Lamp pole is slim and upright. The base texture is fine and solid, and the entire sculpt is solemn, upright, meticulous and unique. Thicker glaze presents a color of pale blue. The lamppost unglazed, and one Chinese character of " (yǒng means forever)" was written by brush on it.White Glazed Six-tube Vase with Design of Lotus Petals

Now collected in Shanghai Museum (shàng hǎi bó wù guǎn 上海博物馆), White Glazed Six-tube Vase with Design of Lotus Petals (bái yòu lián bàn liù guǎn píng 白釉莲瓣六管瓶) is made in the Five Dynasties, 40.7 cm in height, 4.3 cm caliber, 20.6 cm abdomen diameter and 11.1 cm in foot diameter. The base is white and solid. The mouth is consisted of overlapping lotus petals, and it looks like a blooming lotus flower. With long and slim neck, it was decorated with 5 lines of is corrugated design. There are 6 tubes decoration on its shoulders, which connect with its abdomen. It has round belly and ring foot.

Muyu StoneLinxi (lín xī 临西) County of Xingtai is famous for its Muyu Stone (mù yú shí 木鱼石). Muyu Stone, a most famous and precious stone from China, is the marine deposit of 550-580 million years ago, with crystalline grain and beautiful vein. It contains 26 different health sustaining minerals, and is beneficial for heart, stomach as well as all the other organs.
Muyu Stone is also called Wooden Fish Stone due to its special colour character that makes one think it is from wood. It can improve the quality of water (or tea) by adjusting the PH value because of its elements in the dissociative state as ions that are drawn into the molecules of the water. Muyu Stone contains many trace elements such as selenium, zinc, molybdenum, and can improve the body's metabolism on a variety of enzyme activities in its centralizer consolidate and replenishing role. Not only is Muyu Stone known as beautiful natural material for Teaware, it is also known to work to the benefit of both the physicals health and rejuvenation in certain ways.

Scenic Spots

 Qingfeng Building

The Qingfeng Building (qīng fēng lóu 清风楼) is located in the northern end of Fanggu Street (fǎng gǔ jiē 仿古街) in Xingtai City. It was built by Mayor Li Guangheng (lí guāng hēng 黎光亨)with the purpose of showing his loyalty to the emperor in the Ming Dynasty.
With the upturned eaves and bucket arches, this 23-meter-high building is grand. There is a brick-and-stone gateway in the building through which carts and pedestrians can go. According to historical record, the people stepping on it in hot summer would feel cooler and could enjoy the scenes of the whole city. In the building, there are a group of stone-carved four-season paintings by Wang Wei, a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty. In its garden, there is a stone carved with Laotze (lǎo zǐ 老子)'s Tao Te Jing (dào dé jīng 道德经), which was noted by Emperor Xuanzong (xuán zōng 玄宗) in the Tang Dynasty. Actually it is one of the only two ancient stones carved with Tao Te Jing existing in China. It displays the popularizing trend of Taoism in the late period of Empress Wu Zetian (wǔ zé tiān 武则天) in the Tang Dynasty.
During the Spring Festival, you can enjoy the local taipingdao music (tài píng dào yuè 太平道乐). Mainly played with the wind and percussion instruments, it is very dynamic and exciting.

Transportation:
Take Bus NO.1 at Xingtai Railway Station (xíng tái huǒ chē zhàn 邢台火车站) and get off at the People’s Cinema Stop (rén mín jù chǎng zhàn 人民剧场站‎) or Qingfeng Building Stop.
Ticket: RMB 30
Tel: 0319-3037834

White Cloud Cave of Mount Kong Located in Lincheng (lín chéng 临城) County in Xingtai City, White Cloud Cave of Mount Kong (kōng shān bái yún dòng 崆山白云洞) is a rare karst cave reputed as a marvelous spectacle in North China covering an area of 4,784 square yards. There are four large cave chambers which present different views. The first chamber is as splendid as heaven. The crystal stone screens hangs right in front of you, shining brightly dazzling your eyes. The second chamber shows us a scene which may exist in hell by a forest of overhanging strange and jagged stones. The third chamber is a peaceful human world with a forest of rocks and creeks. The fourth chamber tells you what it is like in the Dragon Palace (lóng gōng 龙宫) in the stories by presenting stone tree branches and densely covered pools. Here, the nature is the great sculptor and the vast array of stones is its favorite works. Due to its graceful conformation, it is regarded as the museum of karst cave and underground maze.

                                              (click to check the map)

Ticket: RMB 50 in high season / RMB 40 in low season
Opening hours: 8:00-17:00
Tel: 0319-7181895

     Xingtai Gorges

Xingtai Gorges (xíng tái dà xiá gǔ 邢台大峡谷) are 70 kilometers west of Xingtai City. Being a wonderful site in the Taihang Mountains, the group consists of 24 gorges, eight of which are over 1,000 meters long. The names of the gorges explain it all: the Ghost gate Moat (guǐ mén tiān qiàn 鬼门天堑), the Woxia Gorge Bow (wò xiá qíng hóng 卧峡晴虹), the Yunya Sprays (yún yá sǎ zhū 云崖撒珠) and so on.

Huangchao GorgeHuangchao Gorge (huáng cháo xiá 黄巢峡), a main one in the group, is a steep valley. It is over 4,000 meters long and 200 meters deep. It is several meters wide, while the narrowest part of it is only about ten centimeters wide. Looking upward, you can only see a thin ribbon of sky. Due to its difficulty to get to, this gorge had been one of the bases of the outlaw peasant army led by Huang Chao in the late Tang Dynasty.
waterfallIn addition to the ancient city walls, the drill ground and the plank road, several local villages, temples and rocks remind you of the stories of the uprising. Besides, the arms plant, the clothing factory and the paper mill of the Eighth Route Army headquarters used to be located here. The charm of the gorges can be well described in the following scenes: steep gorges in groups with high mountains on either side, high peaks rising one after another over the gorges, and beautiful waterfalls.
There is a wonderful waterfall under the Huangchao Rock (huáng cháo yán 黄巢岩). Instead of straightly felling down, it twists around from a pool on the top of the cliff and splashes about. You can even go under the waterfall and feel refreshed at the sounds of the water and wind.

Transportation:
Take Bus No.3 at Xingtai Railway Station and get off at Xingxi Bus Station (xíng xī qì chē zhàn 邢西汽车站), and change the bus leading to Hejiaping (hè jiā píng 贺家坪) Village.
Ticket: RMB 50
Tel: 0319-3663095

      Kaiyuan Temple

Kaiyuan Temple (kāi yuán sì 开元寺), built in the Kaiyuan Period of the Tang Dynasty, is one of Buddhism founding locations with a history of more than 1,200 years. This grand temple, facing the north, covers an area of 45 acres. According to written history, about several thousand monks and other followers journeyed to the temple whenever the Buddhist priest held lectures on the Buddhist Sutra. The fellow monks followed him to read the Buddhist Sutra (fó jīng 佛经) while mist and smoke curled up and the bell was struck so hard that the sound could be heard as far as ten miles. Visiting the temple in the open air and hearing the bell’s tone is one of the eight sights of Xingtai.
Buddhism Temple Though Kaiyuan Temple has undergone more than 1,000 years’ change, its four main temples are well preserved and have a high historical and academic value, including the Bodhisattva Temple (mí lè fó diàn 弥勒佛殿), Bilu Temple (pí lú diàn 毗卢殿), Buddhism Temple (shì jiā mù ní diàn 释迦牟尼殿) and the Grandest Temple (dà xióng bǎo diàn 大雄宝殿). The four pillars are 4.5 meters in height and 2.5 meters in girth, carved with flying dragons and phoenix in the Buddhism Temple. The dragons and phoenix are carved vividly and beautifully in bold and unconstrained style.
Jinding Bell

The designs and words, carved on the 800 year old Jinding Bell (jīn dìng dà zhōng 金定大钟), are still clear, which reflects the excellent skills of melting and casting. It’s said that the elder monk asked his fellow monks not to strike the bell until he walked more than ten miles away. His fellow monks misunderstood his message and were too eager, so they hit the bell when he was only three miles away, therefore, the sound of the bell can only be heard within three miles.

                                            
                                              (click to check the map)

Ticket: RMB 5
Opening hours: 7:00-17:00
Tel: 0319-3037834
 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 11:56
 

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