The Lofty Mountains, the Vast Plains—the Great Wall Culture

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019 2016-06-06 09:58:50

Badaling Ancient Great Wall

Standing on Badaling Great Wall, one feels as if travelling through the history. The steep mountains, the mysterious valleys, the connected great walls, and the distancing alarm fortresses, all mark the history. One step forward is a historical legend. One footprint is a relic of the years. Wandering in the air, gazing at the bricks and stones, grass and trees, one can feel the vicissitudes of desolation, and lose himself in deep thoughts…

Badaling Ancient Great Wall is the west gate of Badaling Great Wall Defense system. Although it is broken, the preservation of the origin produces the incomplete beauty of the ancient Great Wall culture and its glory still lives on. In the passage of time, the Great Wall Ruins quietly tells the vicissitudes of history and the old times of the ancient battlefield…

According to experts, as a witness of history, two sites of archaeological interests of Badaling Ancient Great Wall were found: one is the stone quarry used for the construction of the Great Wall in the past; the split rocks are still visible, and the incomplete granite stones reveal the distinct chiseled marks. Another is the brick kiln group, from which the raw material sources can be learnt about.

The old red helmets tassels were bouncing on the ancient Great Wall, while the battle war vanishes in sight now and the grass and trees are still dancing in the east wind. With the passage of time, Badaling Ancient Great Wall Years sees the succession of seasons. In spring, the apricot blossoms mingle into a flower sea where bees and butterflies dive in and out of; in summer, the lilacs spread over the mountains with rich aroma.; in autumn, leaves turn red, reflecting an even more beautiful ancient city; in winter, the snowy Great Wall presents an enchanting landscape.

The No. 1 Tower of the Great Wall: Nine-Eye Tower

Opening the barrier of the rolling mountains,

the air between the heaven and the earth suddenly enlightened.

The strong walls and towers around stand still,

defending the holy capital city.

Nine-Eye Tower, the No. 1 tower of the Great Wall, was built by Wang Yi, the Governor Censor of the 20th year of Jiajing reign period of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1543). It is located in the southeast of Sihai Town, 89 kilometers away from Yanqing County, that is, the Flaming Mountain, which is to the east of the edge wall of Nanshan Road. Nine-Eye Tower not only has the extremely important geographical position which is the military nodes of three towns including Xuanfu, Jizhou, and Changping, and the junction of inner and outer Great Wall, but also is the largest tower in size and shape, with the most arrow holes. It has a great strategic significance in military defense. “If alert is launched in Sihai Town, fire will be opened with artillery on edge wall of Nanshan Road and instantly reach Juyong Pass.” This watch tower is the intersection of walls in three directions: north to the edge wall of Donglu, south to the edge wall of Huairou, west to the edge wall of Nanshan Road. As such an important position, all towers of the Great Wall are unparalleled.

Since the Spring and Autumn Period, all dynasties that built the Great Wall would use local materials including the clay and stones, carving the mountain as a fort and cutting a valley as a barrier. In the 30th year of the Jiajing reign period of the Ming Dynasty, people began to fire a large number of bricks for building turret. The hollow enemy turret is also called watch tower, the construction of which was supervised by Tanlun, the War Minister, and Qi Jiguang, Commander-in Chief of Ji Town, in the Longqing reign period of the Ming Dynasty. The construction created new shapes of ancient building of the Great Wall. It usually consists of three parts: a base, the medium room, and the top of the tower. “Three zhang tall, lying vertically and horizontally like weaving, winding over rugged mountains. Firing on it, enemies from all sides can be controlled. Another storey was built above for the accommodation of the warriors and storage of weapons”. The building of the tower greatly enhanced the combat capability of the warriors, which can be rated as a pioneering work of the building of the Great Wall. People usually name towers according to the number of the arrow windows on each side of them: three-eye tower, four-eye tower or five-eye tower. The Nine-Eye Tower of Sihai Town in Yanqing County is the one and only along the Great Wall, which is really spectacular.

Dominating over the top of the Flaming Mountain, the Nine-Eye Tower was built in double-layer square bricks. It is 7.8 meters high, 13 meters wide, and 1,184 meters above sea level. With stone bars laid in the lower part and the upper part built with lime-washed grey stone bricks, the structure is very solid and magnificent. Today, only one storey of the tower remains. The top of the tower presents a brick arch structure. There are nine 1.65-meter-high and 0.5-meter-wide arrow holes on each side of the tower; thus it is named Nine-Eye Tower. There is a 1.2-meter-wide circular trail inside the tower for patrol of the commanders and warriors. It is spacious inside, available for troops and storage of goods. There are two windows on the north and south sides, one door on each side of the tower, easy for access.

There are more than 24 poem monuments and temple inscriptions left in the Nine-Eye Tower. Those were mostly created by the officials that visited the Great Wall or the generals that defended the Great Wall. Either poems or literature reveals the sublime of the Great Wall, and expresses great admiration for the great mountains and rivers of the motherland. There is a marble tablet in the north of the tower, with a poem (seven characters in one line) on it. It was created by Xu Shen, one of the officials visited the Great Wall in the 13th year of the Wanli reign period of the Ming Dynasty. “The clouds rise from the head of the horse, the vines bend over the trees.” Such lines were written by Yang Wei, the Ministry of Revenue at that time, when visiting Sihai Town. Xu Yongyin, the Ming poet and the canjiang of Nanshan Road, also wrote down lines in his poem Climbing the Flaming Mountain, Replying Rhyming, “Stepping on the top of the north tower, as high as scraping the sky. Leaning on the railing and gazing from afar, all the landscape came into sight.” The affection of the ancient military strategists and poets for such a tower also obliquely shows the uniqueness of the Nine-Eye Tower.

“The wind and cloud of thousands of years at the frontier rolling magnificently, the heroes of hundred generations have climbed up to the tower.” The mountains surrounding the Nine-Eye Tower are lofty and steep, with valleys around. The three city walls of the ancient Great Wall snake from the peak to the foot of the mountains, just like three dragons heading away. The north of the tower is less steep, while the south, on the other hand, is sharply straight right from the peak to the bottom of the valley as if it were chopped by axes and knives, giving rise to a sense of awe-inspiring. And the Nine-Eye Tower stands upright on the top of the mountain, worthy of the reputation as “a node of Beijing”. Getting onto the top of the tower and looking afar, the rosy clouds are slowly rising, like dreamy smoke, at the sight of which one cannot resist the feeling of nostalgia. “The magnificent Capital is in front, and the sublime palace is insight”. In sunny days, standing on the steep mountain, one can see Beijing city, so the Nine-Eye Tower is also called “Wangjing (looking out for Beijing) Tower”, which supports and defenses the holy capital.

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