Fri, June 18, 2010
Lifestyle > Travel

The fruits of civilization

2010-06-18 09:46:54 GMT2010-06-18 17:46:54 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Mount Maijishan is home to the most famous cultural relics in Tianshui. provided to china daily

Tianshui is the birthplace of Chinese legend, Zhang Kun reports.

Just as the Bible says all humans are the offspring of Adam and Eve, Chinese believe they are all the offspring of Fuxi and Nuwa, siblings in ancient Chinese folklore who are symbols of the beginning of Chinese civilization.

Tianshui, in northwestern China's Gansu province, is the hometown of the legendary Fuxi. Every year since 1988 a grand memorial ceremony for Fuxi is held there. This year it will be held on June 22.

The ceremony is listed as one of China's national non-material cultural heritage events, making the city a great summer destination.

In Chinese folklore, Fuxi was born with the head of human and the body of a snake. He developed China's first written characters, invented a net for fishing and catching birds, created musical instruments and composed music, all symbolizing the beginning of Chinese civilization.

"In Fuxi's birth place, today known as Tianshui, one can find many clues to the origins of Chinese culture," said Wang Guangqing, Tianshui municipal public relations officer.

The ceremony starts at 9:50 am at the Fuxi Square in downtown Tianshui. There will be music, with antique drums and bells, and ceremonial dances. Then guests will move on to the Fuxi Temple to pay respects to the sculpture.

Another point of interest for tourists visiting Tianshui is its history, as it was home to some of China's earliest civilizations. "Visitors can experience China's change in the past 100 years in Shanghai and see 1,000 years of China's history in Beijing, but Tianshui provides a glimpse of China's 5,000-year history," said Wang.

"In 2008, we suffered from an earthquake, and last year we decided to concentrate all efforts on the rebuilding of our hometown and stopped holding the ceremony. Now, we think it's time to call on visitors to our beautiful city," said Guo Qiruo, vice-mayor of Tianshui.

"People would expect Gansu to be dry and desolate, but the very opposite is true about Tianshui. It's green with plenty of rain and sunshine, so that we can grow fine quality fruits," Guo said.

"Tianshui is a famous agricultural center. Seeds are carried in spaceships to outer space where they mutate. Then we pick the favorable mutations to grow fine fruits," said the mayor. "We produce great peaches, apples, grapes and cherries, and June is a good time to taste many of them."

The ancient city has many cultural relics, the most famous of which are at Mount Maijishan.

As Buddhism developed in ancient China, believers dug into mountains and chiseled Buddha sculptures from rocks. Maijishan is one of the most famous places to see these sculptures.

"The sculpture in Cave No 133 depicts a young monk with a peaceful and intriguing smile on his face," said public relations officer Wang. "We believe his face represents the image of people in Tianshui."

"I'd recommend to tourists to try the warm spring for a healing bath on their way back from Maijishan," Wang said.

"It is convenient to visit Tianshui. We have flights to Xi'an from Tianshui, and many highways have been built across Tianshui. This year we started a new project to build a high-speed railway from Baoji to Tianshui and then to Lanzhou," he said.

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