Immemorial Memory of Cultural Remains (Part Three)

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019 2016-06-01 11:38:25

The Source of Jinyang

In 936 A.D., Shi Jingtang, military envoy of East Jinhe, in league with the troops of Khitan, pushed the Emperor off the throne and wiped out Later Tang. He gave up You (now Beijing), Zhuo (Zhuo County), Ji (Ji County), Xin (Zhuolu), Gui (Huailai), Ru (Yanqing) of Sixteen prefectures of Youyun to Khitan. From then on, Guichuan became part of the terrain of Liao state, and a new page in the history of Yanqing was turned. At the time, Yanqing, as the military base of Ruzhou Prefecture, Jinshan County and Jinyang, had rich cultural relics of Jinyang.

Yanqing had a point to enter a glorious period since Liao Dynasty. First, the boundary of Liao Dynasty was pushed to Baigou and Juma River. Guichuan, an inland city of Liao, was far away from the battlefield, avoiding itself from the ravage of war. Second, in 938 A.D., in order to meet military and political demands, Liao changed Youzhou Prefecture to Nanjing, which was guarded by powerful forces. In 1044 A.D., Yunzhou Prefecture was changed to Xijing. Guichuan became the key junction from Shangjing Linhuang Prefecture to Nanjing and Xijing, or from Xijing to Nanjing. The Emperor and the Empress often passed through the area on trips, for brief stays, to hold meetings or to review the armies. The status of Guichuan was thus assured. Third, Liao Dynasty was divided into North and South sections. The Han Chinese in the south were ruled under the laws of Han, while the Khitans in the north were ruled under the laws of Khitan. Guichuan, a Han area, was sandwiched between Han nationality and Khitan. People of all ethnic groups in Liao got mixed up with one another, making Guichuan a place in which different ethnic groups converged.

In 969 A.D., Jingzong of Liao ascended the throne. Xiao Chuo was anointed as the Queen, namely the Empress Dowager Xiao. The regime of Liao Dynasty rested on the hands of Xiao, who was born and bred in Nanjing. She was an ambitious politician capable of decisive actions. She took a series of measures within the nation for political stability and economic recovery. Besides, she reached an agreement with Song Dynasty. Empress Dowager Xiao was in power for more than 40 years, during which period Liao Dynasty was elevated to the crest. Her indelible impression was rooted in the memory of Ruzhou so deep.

In 979 A.D., Song launched an attack on Beihan, a dependent state of Liao. When Beihan was wiped out, Song launched another attack on Nanjing, which was the beginning of the War of Liao and Song which lasted for over 40 years. To launch counterattacks, Empress Dowager Xiao gave much attention to Nanjing. Intensifying the construction of Guichuan, the Northern Gate of Nanjing in Liao, became the most urgent political and military consideration at the time.

Jinshan County, the birth place of Renzong of Yuan Dynasty, gained status when Renzong ascended the throne. In the 3rd year of Emperor Yanyou (1316 A.D.), Jinshan County became Longqing Prefecture, its name changed from Shushangdulu to Lidadulu. Next year, Huailai County was made under the jurisdiction of Longqing Prefecture. Longqing Prefecture, which was near Beijing as the key junction of the two capitals, had moderate climate and beauty scenery. Every year, Emperor Renzong of Yuan would have a short stay in Xiangshui Garden, which facilitated the construction of Longqing Prefecture. Palaces were built in Nihe, Wengshan and Jinshan Counties. The most famous palace was Liubeichi Palace, which was built in the early years of Yuan Dynasty. In 1352 A.D., Zhou Boqi, the entourage of Emperor Yuanshun, went from Beijing to Shangdu. When he went past Longqing Prefecture, Zhou composed 24 Travel Poetries. The poetry Longqing Prefecture says: “Jinyun Mountain is invariably beautiful with rich soil all the year round. Dining in splendor on corns of Ziyuan, I record the colorful Longqing Prefecture. The deserted temple is under the shadows of pine, and the deserted palace is bathing in the setting sun. Who’d have thought that north of Youyan bears so much resemblance with east of Chuyue?” The poetry portrayed the thriving scene of Longqing Prefecture at the time. The “Deserted palace bathing in the setting sun” was Liubeichi Palace built 30 years before the poetry was composed.

Post Road of Three Dynasties

In Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties, every year, the Emperor would leave Beijing for Yanqing where three dynasties were brewed, to escape the heat in summer. Yanqing, as the hinterland between two capitals, was relatively stable, and its economy was developing rapidly. As a traffic artery, Yanqing was a place through which post roads connecting North and South went and where Emperors of three Dynasties frequently went through. The Juyong Pass Avenue in Liao and Jin Dynasties, Xilu, Yilu, Jinshan Avenue and Sihai Road in Liao and Jin periods were cases in point.

The Emperors of Liao Dynasty used to turn the mansion they were born into their own private areas. Jingzong of Liao was born in Wangyunchuan (now Chicheng County, Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province) which was segregated from Ruzhou by a mountain. Xiao Chuo, the Empress Dowager Xiao, attached great importance to the construction of the place. She built the Heiyukou Gateway as a shortcut from Shangjing Linhuang Prefecture to Nanjing, rather than going through Gubeikou. Passengers went across Heiyukou to Jinshan County, where they went through Juyong Pass to Nanjing. Along the way there were Tanshan Mountain, a summer resort, Chicheng Hot Spring, a retreat for recovery and Guichuan with beautiful landscape. The path, exclusive to the Emperor with Longquan, the sacrificial place of the Emperor by the side, had enjoyed more than 400 years of glory before Yuan Dynasty. Longquan, today’s Huanglong Tan, was oval in shape with an area of more than 2,000 square meters. Flowing east to west, the pond had many springs, Longwan River in the north and Tujiaying River in the east pooling together to form the upper reaches of the source of Guihe River. Longwan River ran from Tuanshan Mountain (Referred to as Muniu Mountain by Shui Jing Zhu) 5 kilometers away from North Longquan. At the foot of Tuanshan Mountain there were 99 springs. They were the upper source of Guihe River. Jinshan County was at the foot of Tuanshan Mountain. The place, with rich soil, luxuriant plants, was productive and had beautiful landscape. It was a great place for short stays of the Emperor.

Two post roads ran through what’s today’s Yanqing County.

One road ran across Juyong Pass and headed down west. Xi Jin Zhi (Record of Xijin) writes: Changping post is in the north-northwest of Yanjing, Yulin post is 80 li northwest of Changping. Walking westward from Yulin post one arrives at Tumu post, which is split up into two roads. Going northwards, one road led to Shangdu. Going westwards, the other road went past Leijia Station, Jiming Mountain and into Xuande, where it went west, past Deshengkou through Shaling and into Shangdu. Yulin Post of Yuan Dynasty was located in Yang’eryu which was about 3 kilometers away from today’s Yulin Bao. We’ve been able to form a picture of the place from poems about Yulin post by people of Yuan Dynasty: “Majestic mountains encircle and overlap” (Hu Zhu), “Mountains tower on the north and the west” (Zhou Boqi), “Under the silent sky four mountains stand” (Zhu Derun), “Sun rays fall on Jiming Mountain and the windows” (Nai Xian). We can see that the post was in the bend of a mountain. “Beside the imposing road is the ancient Great Wall” (Huang Jin). On the edge of the road was the historic site of the ancient Great Wall: Yanbei Great Wall built in the Warring States period. The post house had been there for more than a century before the 1350s when poet Zhou Boqi passed by and wrote: “There, the willows are green. Threading their ways, the travelers forget that they are soaked with perspiration and thirsty. They ride under the shades of the trees, which have been there for nearly a hundred years and are exceptionally lush. As the communications hub, the post is converged with so many people nearby. The path on which the Emperor drives past is flat, is like the work by uncanny workmanship”.

The poem implied that Yulin post pavilion was on the edge of the road at the time, with a town of considerable size taken shape. On both sides of the road running west and east from Yulin post, the willow trees grew in luxuriance. In summer, they could keep out the sun. At night, they could lead the way. A flat road reached into the green willow trees and the yellow sand. The post road was maintained by Zhanhu (undertaken by local households), with Yiling (also known as Tiling, that is, governor) stationed at each post house. A regular post house had 500-600 Zhanhu. They served the purpose of delivery of military messages and documents and receiving officials and envoys that passed by who lived and ate in the place. The carrying of possessions were the responsibilities of Zhanhu.

The other path ran from Juyong Pass, across Chadao and headed northeast to Nihe, Wengshan Mountain (Hongshan Mountain) where it headed northeast to Longtan. In Longtan, it ran north across Chefang, Heiyukou, Shibapanling, Dushikoushangba, Jinlianchuan and finally reached Shangdu. The path, also known as Juyong Dongbeilu, was the Imperial Path since Liao and Jin Dynasties. In the 3rd year of Emperor Zhongtong (1262 A.D.), Li Tan, a warlord of Shandong Province, turned traitor. Kublai khan gave the order to build the Haiqing post road from Jinshan County to Shangdu. It was an express way on which vehicles delivering letters travelled 400 li a day. The vehicles on the road were Haiqing cart for the passage of officials. Later, the express huts were set up every 15-25 li along the road, with delivery soldiers guarding. The armed soldiers wore leather belts, bells and raincoats. At night, the pedestrians must make way for the torch-bearing soldiers when they heard the ringing of the bell announcing the approach of the latter. As soon as people in the next hut heard the ringing of the bell, they would send someone to replace the person. When the documents were handed over, the relay would gallop off to the next station.

Starting from 1280 A.D., the Emperor traveled to Shangdu to escape the heat in summer every year. He got off from Beijing to Shangdu in April and returned to Beijing from Shangdu in September. The practice was followed until 1358 A.D. The scene of the Emperor going past was a display of extravagance and authority. Shun Tian Fu Zhi (Record of Shuntian Prefecture) cited Xi Jin Zhi (Record of Xijin): “Every year when His Highness goes past the place on his way to Shangdu, the pedestrians are forbidden to get close to the path. Lanterns are hung on both sides of the road.” The poem of Zhou Boqi reads: “Six dragons escort the Emperor’s vehicle, with flapping banner clustered by thousands of men.” The poem of Fan Qi reads: “Shangdu is a regular spot of the Emperor to escape the heat in summer, and the dragon robe is not strange to the flying birds.” Besides serving the Emperor, the road was also the pass for civil and military officials and the delivery of letters between the two capitals.

As traffic arteries, the post roads of several Dynasties connecting the south and the north went past Yanqing, which brought great development to the place. The post roads not only served as traffic roads, but also facilitated the prosperity of Yanqing and other places in the blending of ideology and culture, delivery of goods and communication of religion. The culture of post road, with long, established traditions, is a great cultural wealth left to Yanqing by history.

Cliff Carving in Shaoyaoyu

Cliff carving is located in Shaoyaoyu Village northwest of Jiuxian Town, Yanqing. The cliff carving statue in Shaoyaoyu is mounted on the bluff on the second layer of the cliff. The carving, facing south, is about 100 meters from the surface of the ground and 6 meters under the top of the cliff. It is the largest shrine grotto featuring Taoist culture ever discovered in Beijing.

There are 24 circular statue and alto-relievo statues in the grotto. In the west wall of No. 3 palace in the eastern wing there is a cliff carving statue measuring 0.9m×0.61m in height and width on which characters “Wan Li” are vaguely visible. We can speculate on how Taoism was transmitted in Ming and Qing Dynasties.