KEN WHITE RUNS AN EYE OVER THE LOCAL TERRAIN
Northern suburbs boy and former La Trobe University activist,
Ken White, takes us to his China:
Quanzhou must be one of the best kept tourist destinations in China
You won't find it in any guide book and if you have heard of it
at all it is as an uninteresting place halfway between Fuzhou and
Xiamen in Fujian province. The province that eye balls Taiwan.
Quanzhou's history really starts in the Tang dynasty and has flourished
ever since. Many of its historic sites have been preserved and are
easily accessible from the town centre.
| Local kids outside an old temple complex set
into the old wall at Chongwu. The wall was originally built
to keep out pirates.
I have visited there twice in the last month, once with my Chinese
wife Wang Xiao yan who was mainly interested in the Buddhist and
Confucian influence and once by myself when I was at leisure to
wander further afield.
I will only cover the places we visited but there is much more on
Of particular interest to me was the Moslem influence. It is said
that the four greatest disciples of the prophet Mohammed came to
China to preach and two came to Quango.
They were known as the 3rd and 4th worthies or sages. They did
not try to replace existing faiths and as such are revered today
as the founders in China of ore the worlds great religions. When
they died they were buried here. The site today is known as the
Holy tombs and is a cultural relic.
Chongwu fishing village
The site also contains the graves of many Moslem seafarers who
died in Quanzhou, this city being at the end of the famous silk
road of the sea. Indeed the famous Chinese Moslem Admiral Zheng
visited here in the fourteenth century to pay homage before he set
out on his famous voyages to Africa and Arabia. Indeed an inscription
in his own words can be seen at the Tomb site.
The Mosque in the center of town is the oldest in China built in
1006 by Arab traders. It is still a place of worship today and for
the price of three kuai about 70cts you are free to wander enter
and wander around . While small compared to the great Mosque in
Xian it nevertheless is rich in Middle eastern architectural and
The Kaiyuan temple is a Buddhist complex covering an area of 7,800
square meters. It is bounded on the east and west by two magnificent
pagodas built in the Song Dynasty. The temple itself was built in
the Tang Dynasty and some of the Buddhist scriptures are said to
have been written in blood. In the grounds are trees the oldest
of which dates back 1,300 years.
Of particular interest is the old Manaichaen Christian temple about
an hour from Quanzhou. It is not easy to get to but it is certainly
worth the effort. The temple is the only existing example of Manichaeans
left in China.
|Remains of the only Manachaiean Christian temple left in
China. Disciples of Mannes, a saint of the Eastern Christian
church, are believed to have reached Quanzhou during the Tang
dynasty While their origins are not clear, it is believed
they too arrived from India via the silk road.
The followers of Mannes of the eastern Christian church arrived
in China to escape persecution sometime in the Tang dynasty via
the silk road .It seems clear that some reached Fujian province
via the silk road of the sea. Of the years the original Christian
temple has been adapted to Buddhism and their is confusion as to
its exact origins.
There is one statue in the grounds of an old monk with western
features and in one small temple is a relief statue known as the
Persian lightening Buddha but which is now accepted as a statue
of Mannes. The temple is now a cultural relic.
|Tombs of the two original Moslem missionaries sent by Mohammed
in the early 7th century to Quanzhou Fujian province via the
silk road of the sea.
Many people worship at a temple known as A Valhalla to Guan Yu
and Yue fei or the military saints. In olden times people made sacrifices
to the military saints and the 24 brave soldiers. There are cultural
relics such as the inscription of "Righteousness" by Zhu
Xi from the Tang Dynasty.
My wife was particularly fascinated by Quig yuan hill covering an
area of 62 square kms. While decimated during the cultural revolution
there are still nine large size Taoist and Buddhist stone carvings
from the Song and Yuan Dynasties and over 500 inscriptions carved
into the rocks. The largest statue is of the Taoist sage Lozi who
is said to have disappeared into the during the Tang dynasty stopping
on his way to write the"I Ching" the book of changes .
|Famous stone bridge built in the Song dynasty over 1000
One could spend a day wondering around this mountain complex and
stopping at various small tea houses to sip tea or just soak in