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02/09/2014

Reflections of lives of Yangtze River area in thousand years

A large number of cliff inscriptions has been found in Yunyang County China travel deals, including those in Liugangshi, Shejiazui, Feifengshan, Dafotou and Pengxikou, as well as cliff paintings at Niuweishi. They cover nearly all kinds of stone inscriptions.

The inscriptions are mainly divided into three categories: statues carved on cliffs, stone inscriptions, and cliff paintings. The statues carved on cliffs are similar to those in the grottoes in north China, though they are in different artistic styles. The Three Gorges area boasts 15 cliff statues, which symbolize the southward spread of Buddhism, 60-odd calligraphy inscriptions and one ink mark.

The Niuyanshi cliff paintings are situated on the southern bank of the Yangtze River Yangtze River tour in Fengming Township of Yunyang County, at an elevation of 120 meters above sea level. They can be seen only in dry seasons. They are paintings of single lines. One of them depicts a fence, with poles erected high, on top of which are hung fish and shrimps. Within the fence is a house where people move about. The paintings also include some unrecognizable characters.

According to Li Hongsong, deputy director of Ancient Building and Historic Site Protection Center under the China Cultural Relics Research Institute, he and his colleagues have not yet found an accurate method to define the period of a cliff painting. Generally, the age of a cliff painting is judged by the animal images depicted or comparing them with similar cliff paintings already found. For instance, a Niuyanshi painting depicts three-angular deer, which had disappeared long time ago. From the fish and shrimp drying scene, we can judge the Niuweishi ancestors lived on fishing at that time. The painting shows the living and sacrificing activities of ancient fishing tribe. Now the Niuyanshi cliff paintings have been disjointed, ready for moving to another place for future indoor display.

At the place where the Pengxi River joins the Yangtze River, there are three pieces of inscriptions cut in the 20th year of the Jiaqing reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Though now having been submerged in water, they are important materials for the study of local culture. One of them is carved with four characters "du juan yi du", meaning "solely-sponsored free ferry"; the other two record the reason and time of free shipping.

As the Three Gorges area has steep and dangerous topography and crisscross gullies, it was hard for ancient people to build roads and bridges. Therefore ferry became an important means of transportation and many docks were set up. However, most of these docks were owned by individuals for making profits. Under such situation, free ferry was deeply loved and respected by common people.

Today, the dock at the Pengxi river China Photo Tour mouth is still in use. Besides ferrying, people also thought out a new way of boating. On each side of the river, they set up a pillar. Between them they fastened a metal cable, to which they tied a thick rope. The boat then could be dragged on. This is the oldest way of ferrying in ancient China.

Of the Three Gorges, Qutang Gorge is famous for its peril, and Kuimen holds the throat of it. Some inscriptions are found right at this significant site. On a stone wall of about 1,000 square meters in size under the cliff of Baiyan Mountain on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, seal characters, official scripts, regular scripts and running scripts are engraved in different historical periods, from the Song Dynasty to the Republic of China (1911-1949). The large characters are as big as two-square-meter each, while the tiny ones are only of a finger's size.

The tablet carrying "Ode to the Resurgence of the Song Dynasty" penned by calligrapher Zhao Gongshuo is a rarely seen large-scale cliff inscription. It is four meters high and seven meters wide, recording the political achievements and accomplishments of emperors Gaozong and Xiaozong. The latter was thought to be an outstanding emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty, but his renovation actually achieved little effect due to containment from different sides. During his 28-year reign, Gaozong, considered as a "super-emperor", exerted great influence on important political and military decisions. Emperor Gaozong's abdicating in favor of his son played an important role in later historic development. As there are few records existing in other records, the tablet fills the gap and is therefore called "a living history book".

The inscriptions are done with exquisite carving skill, in a style of both graceful and bold. To protect it, later generations covered each word with a big bowl-shape shelter and applied limestone on it. From afar, the cliff looks like a whitewashed wall. Hence its other name, Fenbi (Chalk) Wall Educational tours in China. Now the bowls and limestone have fallen long ago, but the characters remain well preserved.

On the wall, there are also works such as "Poem to Qutang Gorge" composed in 1454 by Ming-dynasty poet Shen Qing, and the large characters of "Qutang" and "Kuimen" originally written by Zhang Boxiang and Liu Xinyuan of the Qing Dynasty. The inscriptions "Wei Zai Kui Men", meaning "lofty Kuimen Pass", by the hand of Li Duanhao, chief of staff of the 88th division of the Kuomintang army, are 4X2.34 meters in size. Any stroke of these words is big enough for a person to lie on it. People can also see such regular scripts as "Stepping out of Kuimen and Wushan and driving away Japanese pirates" by Feng Yuxiang, a Kuomintang general and "Kuimen is the most perilous passage in the world, but our boat lightly passed through" by Sun Yuanliang, a division commander of Kuomintang troops.

At a higher place on the same cliff, there are two pieces of inscriptions as like as two peas. It is hard to distinguish which is new and which is old. It turns out to be a way of protection. As the original inscriptions are too large to be moved, craftsmen cover them with a steel wire net so as to avoid crashing by ships once they are submerged. Meanwhile, the craftsmen are replicating these inscriptions at a higher position on the cliff.

 

 

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