Monday, October 22, 2012

The Great Mosque, Xian ; Amazing & Real Ancient

I almost gave up looking for this place cos of the whole drama ... tired and it was getting dark. As I walked through the narrow streets, I prayed and asked God to show me the way .... :) ... and He did .... praise God.

I have to say that of all the places that I have visited, this is one of the best that I have gone and really enjoy and marveled at this art-piece. It's so so Chinese yet so Muslim. what a mixture of art and religion ....

This mosque, i believe one of the earliest mosques in China was build in 724AD during Tang Dynasty and has a history of 1270yrs! Amazing right?

Anyway ,.... found an article which is well written and informative online .... just read from the article for info : ..... as follows :

The Great Mosque of Xian is the largest and best preserved of the early mosques of China. Built primarily in the Ming Dynasty when Chinese architectural elements were synthesized into mosque architecture, the mosque resembles a fifteenth century Buddhist temple with its single axis lined with courtyards and pavilions.
Like the Great Mosques at Hangzhou, Quanzhou and Guangzhou, the Great Mosque of Xian is thought to have existed as early as the seventh century. The mosque that stands today, however, was begun in 1392 in the twenty-fifth year of the Ming Dynasty. It was ostensibly founded by naval admiral and hajji Cheng Ho, the son of a prestigious Muslim family and famous for clearing the China Sea of pirates. Since the fourteenth century, the mosque has undergone numerous reconstructions. Most of the buildings extant today are from the Ming and Qing Dynasties of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The mosque was constructed on Hua Jue Lane just outside the city walls built by the Ming Dynasty, in what was once the jiao-fang neighborhood for foreigners to the northwest of the city. Today, this neighborhood is part of Xian proper, with the city's famous Drum Tower a block away.

The mosque occupies a narrow lot about 48 meters by 248 meters, and the precinct walls enclose a total area of 12,000 square meters. Unlike many Chinese mosques, it has the layout of a Chinese temple: successive courtyards on a single axis with pavilions and pagodas adapted to suit Islamic function. Unlike a typical Buddhist temple, however, the grand axis of the Great Mosque of Xian is aligned from east to west, facing Mecca. Five successive courtyards, each with a signature pavilion, screen, or freestanding gateway, lead to the prayer hall located at the western end of the axis.
The first courtyard is entered via two modest side gates along the north and south precinct walls. Its eastern precinct wall is constructed of finely ground and polished brick and has a wide screen wall at its center, carved with floral patterns organized into three diamond shapes. Ornamental projections resembling wooden dougong brackets are carved into the brick under the raised eaves of the roofed screen wall. At the center of the courtyard is an imposing wooden gateway, or pailou. This nine-meter high freestanding pailou is a four columned roofed structure buttressed on all sides by wooden props, anchored into stone bases. Multiple tiers of meticulously carved dougong brackets support its blue glazed tile roof.
The rooms along the northern wall have staggered facades, with the "Unmatched Pavilion", or Yizhen Pavilion, in the center. The pavilion, used as a lecture hall, is three bays wide and has a hipped roof fronted by a central projection with wide, raised eaves, reminiscent of a bangke tower. This roof is mimicked to a lesser degree on the flanking halls, with elaborate awnings spanning over the entryways. Beautifully carved lambrequins compliment the recessed curtain wall at the back of the porch at the Unmatched Pavilion, which has a finely carved door and lattice windows. Even the steps leading up to the lecture hall were once carved with floral motifs. Sculpted dragons and flowers decorate the roof ridges and crests. Notably, figurative sculpture can only be found atop the roofs of the mosque complex and not along paths or flanking gateways, quite unlike a Buddhist temple.
In the second court, separated from the first by a shallow roofed pavilion, stands a rectilinear stone pailou built to resemble a wooden structure. It's three doorways, the central of which is higher and wider than the two flanking, each bear an inscription. Two freestanding vertical brick piers, carved with ornate floral motifs and crowned with tiled roofs with upswept eaves and dougong brackets, follow the stone pailou. These monumental piers, which are repeated again in the third courtyard, house stone tablets with Arabic inscription in their central arched niches. Reception rooms, now used as shops and residential space, flank the second court. The area to the south of this courtyard was originally designated for Hui burial, although this practice never fully developed.
Through another roofed pavilion is the third courtyard, the Qing Xiu Dian, or "Place of Meditation". Here, the commanding structure is the octagonal "Pavilion for Introspection", also known as the "Tower of the Visiting Heart" (Xing Xin Ting or Sheng Xin Lou). This brick tower is over ten meters tall with three stories separated by eaves and wrapped by wooden balconies. Unlike its predecessors, where the bangke tower (moon watching pavilion) is separate from the minaret, this Ming mosque merges the minaret and the bangke tower into the tallest structure of the complex. Its eaves are decorated with blue glazed tiles and dragon heads are carved into the ridges. Dougong brackets are seen below the raised eaves of the roof. Inside, a moveable staircase leads up to the ceiling caissons, which are carved and brightly painted with lotus flowers. The third courtyard has a series of rooms along its north and south walls. These rooms are internally divided and once hosted the library and the imam's quarters, with a narrow courtyard for ablutions. The paneled wooden partitions of these rooms are covered with painted carvings of chrysanthemums, lotus flowers and peonies.
The fourth courtyard is entered via three marble gates with wooden doors. The prayer hall, preceded by a large platform, is at the western end of the courtyard. Before this platform stands the Phoenix Pavilion or the Feng Hua Ting. Built during the Qing Dynasty, the pavilion is said to resemble a phoenix with its outstretched wings and interrupts direct view to the prayer hall. Its roofline connects three distinct pavilions, extending from the central hexagonal structure towards two pyramidal roofed gazebos. This apparently Chinese roofline conceals the wooden cupola that crowns the central space, carried on squinches, attesting to the continued use of imported Islamic elements in interior space. Lecture halls also flank this courtyard. The South Hall serves as a gallery for inscribed tablets that record the history of the mosque. Beyond the Phoenix Pavilion are two small pools, now containing fountains, set astride the central axis, followed by the stone "Cloud Gateways" of the granite "Moon Platform" preceding the prayer hall.
The prayer hall, which is the focus of this ceremonial layout, is comprised of a porch and a great hall with a projecting qibla bay. These three sections cover an area of about 1,270 square meters. They are covered by a single roof with three distinct segments, a common feature of Ming era mosques taken from Han palace architecture. The joined hipped roofs of the porch and the main hall roof have parallel north-south ridges. The hipped roof of the projecting qibla iwan is perpendicular to that of the main hall. The heights of the roofs are kept proportional to the depth of the space, following Hui tradition.
The portico, hall and iwan are differentiated by separate roofs, a common feature of early Hui mosques taken from Han palace architecture. The open portico, carried on six columns, is covered by the gentle bump of a rolled-shed roof, which dips down to join the roof of the great hall. This large hall, of equal width to the portico, sports a pitched roof raised above the others on two rows of six columns. It is curtailed at the back by the hipped roof of the qibla iwan, whose eaves are supported on twelve external columns. The rounded timber columns supporting these roofs are marvelously decorated with low relief woodwork. There is more sculptural woodwork on the lambrequins and the heavy dougong brackets. Six hundred polychrome panels with floral motifs and carved brackets decorate of the ceiling. Heavy cylindrical columns, painted deep red like the walls, divide the first two spaces into seven bays. Blue scrolls bearing Arabic calligraphy are hung from the porch columns.
The qibla bay at the western end of the prayer hall is dimly light with two skylights. The two meter tall pointed arch of the mihrab is decorated with carved arabesques and calligraphy and painted with in darker hues of red, brown than the central space. Four bands of Quranic inscriptions encircling the mihrab reveal the influence of Chinese calligraphy on Arabic lettering; one such inscription is embedded in a pool of lotuses.
Behind the prayer hall, and accessed by two circular "moon gates" on either side of the portico wall, is the fifth court with two small constructed hills used for the ceremonial viewing of the new moon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nestorian Tablets : Traces of Gospel thru Silk Road

I first heard of the Nestorians and their travel when I did my Church History II. I was very fascinated by it, in fact I think I wrote a paper on it ....

Anyway .... cos of my knowledge of it .... I made my way to see the tablets for myself .... the tablets is found in a former Confusion Temple. Like any other China history and museums ... it has lots of relics that display the richness of the history of China .... but ... too bad ... my knowledge of China history is still very surface and not enough to appreciate its richness ... off course its also hampered by Cina-buta huruf ....

Walked into the first few halls .... filled with statues of Buddha through the centuries ... a few statues were of Hindu gods ... I have not seen so many types of Buddha statues before. What was amazing was that many of the statues that was found and restored .... the heads of the statues are missing or blown off ... its like God hates idols and destroy it.

After walking around for awhile ... I decided to head directly to the hall that home the Nestorian tablet since I do not really know how to appreciate the other display and my not knowing how to read Chinese did not help ... off course I was also hard pressed by time as well.

After looking at the tablet, I enjoyed and appreciate the Chinese paints that hung along the corridor ... :0 and after that I had very late lunch and rushed off the look for The Great Mosque in the Muslim Street .... I cant seem to find my direction and my feet was killing me, I decided to hail a local tut-tut .... the man charged me RB20 .... but it is actually RB5 or at most RB10 .. I know its a bit high but since my feet was tired ... I took the ride. What a ride!!!! That man .... just drove through the traffic and I had to pray all the way for God's protection --- O man ... dont let the bus hit me .... I dont want to land up in a hospital in China ... sadly ... the driver did not only conned my money but also the direction .... he dropped me off in the end of Muslim street and gave me the opposite direction that I need to walk to look for the mosque.... this is China ... and this is the China culture ... sadly ....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Terrecotta Warriors

On the 3rd day of my trip .... my host arranged for a private car to take me to visit Terrecotta ... that man is a nice man ... honest and responsible. He shared that his late wife died in the Xian earthquake in 2008. Many died.

Since I was tight of time, I hired an English guide to bring me around and to explained to me the historic background.

I have heard so much of this place and being under one of the 8 wonders of the world sites, my expectations of this place was lifted high.

I would say that I was a little disappointed because buildings was build around the pits that make the pits and what I see a little fake and not that original. Having said that I think that it has to be this way as to preserve the site and artifacts.

It is still amazing to see how smart and the technology required to build such a massive underground world. Besides the diversity of the physical build of the soldiers, chariots, horses, horsemen, there were ducks, geese/birds and acrobats to entertain the emperor in his after life. The spear head were sharp and did not rust cos its made from chrome. So, the Chinese had chrome technology way back then ....

As I walked around, my heart is sadden to sense the traces of the wickedness and evil of men - every single worker, craft men, local or foreign experts were killed after they finish their section of task. The second son killed his other siblings to secure his place on the throne only to loose it after 3 years to outside powers. So, the spirit of death is prevalent in this place.

Ok ... I have visited this site once .... and once in a life time is enough for me .....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Holidaying with parents

I joined the local tour to Great Wall yesterday.was quite a challenging trip cos felt d tour was a rip off of what we are suppose to see and enjoy.we spent only one hour on our own in Great Wall and the rest of the place the guide took us was some unknown ala Hollywood,and one jewelry outlet and food outlet.felt the guide just wanted to earn our money.

But touched me in this trip was seeing at least three person bringing their parents for this kind lady who helped me a lot in this trip told me that she deliberately bring her mom to see Beijing n visit the  Great Wall while d mom is still mobile.the mom is 78 and climbed the GW. She reminds me of mom and I and makes me miss Mom.

Another daughter brought her parents and she was always busy buying food and snacks for her parents making sure they are not hungry.

Then a son brought his parents. He was caring n gentle with his parents.

Seems that for a lot of elderly people here this is their only trip they make and they really come from far remote places,saved all their money to just see their capital city.

With us wad four elderly men who came together. They seem bit rowdy and loud. Guess they don't have kids to bring them but came as a group,which is not bad ad well.

The sad thing about thus tour group was how the tour company rip them of thier only chance to travel to see. Instead packed them up to places for shopping which you know its either a rip off pricing or a fake.

The guide was nasty and mean. In fact,I will call her wicked. She lied to me about the stop I am suppose to get off,literally asking me to get off when I ask for directions. Her only kind conversation with me was-oh d jade is cheap,must buy back cos China jade good quality and oh,u come China must contribute to d economy,make sure you buy our local food product. It's all and only money she sees. At the end of the day,saw.her counting het commission and splitting with the driver-r3000++

I will still strongly recommend a private car and a private tour. At least we will not be stuck in situation where we need to add money for some fee which it seems we did not pay..m like huh? Sadly, this is the real China and the ugly side of human.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Journey Begins

It has been ages since i ladt decided to start again.m at Changi T2 waiting for my flight ti Tian Jin.this is indeed a journey of grace n faith where i asked the Lord send me to Cousins area in China and here I am waiting fir my flight.
Took a bus in to Jurong.In Jurong,a Limo was arranged to send me to Changin-FOC under credit card benefitn-not mine off cos.

When i check in d gal at the counter said that the flight is fully booked,hence upgrafe me to emergency exit for ....

This is my first time flying Scoot,d new budget airline under SIA.lets c later how this will be compared to Airasia or Jetstar.

Adventure,exciting times is awaiting me as my Father leads me in His will n purpose of this trip.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ikan Kembong Masak Asam

This evening, Lillian came over to CLeng hse cook lak2 dish for us ... we all LOVE her cooking cos its yum2 ... she's a very good cook. So, I quickly run home to get my camera to "record" down the recipe ...

a) To blend :
3 big onion
2 serai
1/2in lengkuas (just a bit)
belacan (1 inch)
dry chili (15-20)
ginger (1/2 inch)

b) Vegie for fragrant:
Daun limau parut (2-4pcs)
Daun kesom

c) Vegie
Ladies finger
Tomato (3)

d) Ikan Kembong or selar (6-8)

e) Asam paste juice, asam keping (2-3pcs), salt, sugar & ikan bilis cube (1/2)

Method :
1) Blend (a) and then add oil into wok to dry (a) till fragrant

2) Once its fragrant, add the leaves (kesom & limau parut)

3) Add water and the asam paste juice and asam keping in

4) Bring to boil

5) Put tomato and ladies finger

6) Add the taste ingredient (salt, sugar & ikan bilis cube)

7) After tasting it .... its ready to be served!