Culture of the Great Wall
Culture of the Great Wall
The Great Wall is a general term referring to the grand military projects built to fight against the attack of the allies of the northern nomadic in different periods of ancient China. It is also called 10 meters great wall because it extends more than 10000 meters from the east to the west. It is a great miracle created by the ancient Chinese people, and also the evidence of the Chinese long history. Now the Chinese people view it as the symbol of China and the icon of union and unification. The great wall as well as with Tian’an men and Qin Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses figurines are viewed as the symbols of China. In 1987, the great wall was listed in the world cultural heritage and the great wall in Shanxi is also part of it.
In Shanxi, the great wall built in different dynasties is preserved in Shanxi. As early as in the period of Warring Kingdoms, the Wuling King of Zhao Kingdom began building the great wall to resist the invasion from the foreign states. Constant reparation and expansion were constantly made during the following dynasties including Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty, the two Jin Dynasties, the South and North Dynasties, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Most was invested in the building of the great wall especially in Ming Dynasty and the great wall built in this dynasty was the best. The existent sites of the great wall can be classified into the great wall of the Warring Kingdom period, the great wall of Dongwei Dynasty, the great wall of Beiqi Dynasty, the great wall of Beizhou Dynasty, the great wall of Sui Dynasty, the great wall of Song Dynasty, the great wall of Ming Dynasty and the great wall of Qing Dynasty in terms of the time of the establishment. The only great wall of Song Dynasty is located in Kelan County of Xinzhou now. the great wall played a significant role in resisting the invasion of the minorities and assuring the national stability and the peaceful development of the culture and economy of the Chinese nations. It is also the outcome of the development of the politics, economy and history of all the nations in and out of the great wall.
Shanxi with a great many sites of the great wall is one of the provinces which have most well-preserved great wall. In more than 2000 years from the Warring Kingdoms to Ming and Qing Dynasties, more than 7000 meters great wall was built in Shanxi province, more than 3000 meters of which can be found in 40 counties of 9 cities. Among them, the great wall built in Ming Dynasty is the largest in scale which takes 154 years in total. Some parts of the great wall are well-preserved now and wind on the mountains, along the rivers and cliffs. Together with the old great wall, those castles, beacon towers and the enemies’ towers still stand there intimidating.
The great wall of Shanxi is located mainly in the north of Jin. Yanmen Pass in Dai County, Piantou Pass in Pianguan County, and Ningwu Pass in Ningwu County are the most typical ones. Yanmen Pass, with a long history and situated in a very dangerous place, has very majestic tower built there with grand walls and deep-rooted culture. Many ancient passes and castles are built in Piantou Pass which connects places in various directions. It is where the great wall and the Yellow River meet each other, also the only one place for the mother river of the Chinese people and the symbol of China shake hands. Therefore it becomes more attractive because of that. Ningwu Pass has a long history with brilliant humane culture, for Ningwu County was initially called the City of Reputation. A scientific and complete military defensive system is formed in the three passes by various buildings including passes, cities, castles, villages, beacons, platforms and so on. Hence it is a quite good sample to study the ancient military defense.
Take Ming Dynasty for example. To solidate the defense in the northern border and prevent the invasion of Dada minority and Wala minority, Ming Dynasty had to build the great wall in a large-scale and during more than 200 years’ history of Ming Dynasty, it never stopped building the great wall. Along the 16000 meters great wall of Ming Dynasty from Yalv River in the east to the Jiayu Pass in the west, 9 important bordering towns were established, two of which were in Shanxi province—Datong Bordering Town and Taiyuan Bordering Town. The administrative agency of Datong Bordering Town was in the present Datong city, which controlled the 1086 miles great wall from Zhenkou Tai in the northeast of Tianzhen County to the three sides of Pianguan Pass in the west. The administrative agency of Taiyuan Bordering Town was in Pianguan, the northeast of the current Pianguan County and it controlled the 1500 miles great wall which starts from the bank of the Yellow River in Baode, goes through Hequ, Pianguan, Laoying, Ningwu, Yanmen Pass, Pingxing Pass, Longquantou (the west of Fuping), Gu Pass, Huangyu Pass and Huangze Pass, and then ends in Hu Pass. The great wall of Ming Dynasty, about more than 5 meters high, is built with two kinds of materials---earth and bricks. other buildings such as castles, observatories，horses’ faces and the enemies’ towers were also set up along the wall. Despite several hundred years’ natural erosion and human beings damage, the city wall built on the mountains still appeals to the people.
In Qing Dynasty, in addition to repairing the great wall of Ming Dynasty, the new great wall was built in some other places. In Tongzhi period of Qing Dynasty (1862---1874), the new great wall was built to defend against the Nian troops in the north and the Hui troops in the northwest. It starts from Shibi Cliff of Xiangning in the south and ends in Yonghe Pass in the north, leaning against high mountains and facing the Yellow River, which made its position very dangerous. Now the city walls, camps and forts are preserved. The wall built with stones is about 5 meters tall and has wall-protecting channels and bulletproof channels. In some areas, forts, crenellations and shooting holes are built as well. The camp bases are built against the wall, and the 炮台are set up at the highest position of the wall with about 170-meter distance between. Each fort is about more than ten feet in size.
Now when you stand on the great wall, you can still feel as if the past battle fire were around you. The great wall both inside and outside make itself firmer. The passes and castles including Shahu Pass, Desheng Castle, and Limin Castle along the outside great wall, and Zhenbian Castle, Zhenchuan Castle, Hongci Castle, Zhenlu Castle and Zhenhe Castle are all worth our attention and concern. In addition, several big passes along the inside great wall have become the sacred places in the hearts of the photographers and outdoors sports lovers.
“The Yellow River flows westward turbulently; the purple passes stand there defensively”. The two sentences are quoted from the poem Piantou Pass written by Cuiyong, a poet in Ming Dynasty, which expresses the important position of Piantou Pass in the bordering defense at that time. Piantou Pass, also called Pian Pass, is to the east of Pianguan River, nearby the valley of the Yellow River, to the west of the Heituo Mountain which is the northern part of Luya Mountains. It is high in the east and low in the west, which is why it is called Piantou Pass or Pian Pass. It is the one in the west among the three outside passes in Ming Dynasty, and so it is called the Outside Pass as well.
In the north of Pingxing Pass stand Mount Heng and Mount Ruping, and in the south is Mount Wutai. All of them are more than 1500 meters high. Pingxing Wolds, located in a very dangerous position, is the projecting part in the low strip area between the two mountains. An ancient east-to-west road through the city of Pingxing Pass is the most convenient way between the north of Hebei Plain and Shanxi. It connects Zijing Pass in the west of Beijing in the east and Yanmen Pass in the west, forming an important firm defensive line in the west of Beijing. in anti-Japanese war, the Battle of Pingxing Pass hit the Japanese troops severely and the site of the battle has become the memorial place of anti-Japanese war.
Yanmen, the top of the nine passes of China, is so powerful that even thousands of soldiers couldn’t conquer it. It is just like the powerful defensive troops of Datong, the firm lock to the stability of Taiyuan, the root of the three outside passes and the throat of Jin area. In the history of the Yanmen Pass, according to the approximate statistics, there are more than 140 events which took place here. Therefore it was always the place various war strategists were contesting for in history.
Ningwu Pass plays a strategic role in defending Datong in the north, protecting Taiyuan in the south, connecting Pian Pass in the west and support Yanmen Pass in the east. The city wall is built on the dangerous mountains. In Chongzhen 17 of Ming Dynasty (1644), Li Zicheng started a big fight with the Ming troops in Ningwu Pass in order to conquer Beijing. This is the Battle of Ningwu Pass, in which the commanding officer of the troops in the three outside passes Zhou Yuji was defeated, and the way to conquering Beijing was paved as well.
The great wall played a very important role in history as a significant military defensive project in various dynasties. It protected the agricultural economy and the culture of the inner land, defend the development and prosperity and the Chinese people, and assure the transmission of the Chinese culture from generation to generation, which is the biggest difference between the Chinese culture and that in other ancient civilized countries in the world. The culture of the great wall is intertwined with the special spirit of the great wall: hard-working, cooperative, fearless, ambitious, perseverant and peace-keeping. The spirit which has been transmitted for generations is still alive and well, demonstrating the powerful life and creative capability of the Chinese people. Therefore in early 1980s, a key time for the development of China, the general designer of the Chinese opening and reform Deng Xiaoping put forward the great proposal “Love China and Repair the Great Wall”, which stimulated the patriotic enthusiasm of the Chinese people.