An art historical trip in China
China is famous for its rich history and mysterious culture. This country is an excellent destination for people who are interested in eclectic culture. The country can meet the requirements of different cultural travelers introducing the diverse minorities and old Chinese traditions. An art historical trip is a chance to learn both history and art. The purpose of this trip is to gain the knowledge of the ancient monuments, the history of their creation, and their existence. Visual and tactile familiarization with the monuments makes the tourist closer to the time of their creation. It transmits the atmosphere of those times and enriches the spiritual world of the visitors. An exciting theme for a ten-day art trip in China is a Buddhist religion, including traditions and culture of these beliefs in the dynasties. Although the development of modern technologies allows people to learn the cultures and traditions of different nations, visiting these attractions enriches the spiritual world of a person as well as his or her cultural development.
To understand entirely the cultural characteristics of the Buddhism monuments in China, a tourist should start a tour from Gansu and Dunhuang Cave. Those who are interested in art should also visit Hebei where Liu Shengs Tomb is located. A person can continue his or her cultural enrichment in Shanxi where one of the major cave clusters, known as Yungang Grottoes, attracts with its majesty and spiritual strength. When a tourist chooses this route, he or she should not pass the city of Xian. The Terracotta Army welcomes hundreds of tourists and leaves an incredible impression in their hearts and souls. To finish the journey, a visitor can stop in Henan province that is famous for the Fengxiansi Cave. This planned route will save time for the detailed study of the characteristics of the historical monuments and help to avoid the unnecessary kilometers of the road between each location.
Each of the five architectural monuments is essential to understand the culture of China. For example, the Dunhuang Caves symbolize the emergence of a new style in depicting the landscape during the Tang dynasty. Two sidewalls divines are identical. Each part mirrors the image of another. They acquaint visitors with the Amitayurdhyana Sutra, Buddhist traditions scriptures, and a monument from the eighth century when the art reached its peak. The significance of this location is in its embodiment of the competition between different art schools and styles. The caves impress with the variety of art forms. The paintings refer to the rituals of the Buddha Amitayus generation. The composition of his paintings is unique and genuine. It requires a tourist to a special method of viewing before he or she can understand the story behind the painting. It combines three pictograms that have different religious significance: a dominant iconic image as the object of worship, a pictorial story as a commentary on the sutra, and a narrative of Queen Vaidehis actions as a visual guide for meditation (Hung, 1992). The central image is significantly different from the side due to the influence of architectural environment. The story represented by means of images should be read from the top to the bottom. It continues on the other side of the cave.
The Dunhuang Caves are extremely interesting as they house the paintings which interpret and reflect the teachings of Buddhism among different population groups. Thus, they give an access to investigate the beliefs to all types of audiences. Moreover, the lectures displayed in the caves were religious. Owing to this fact, the caves serve as the foundation of Buddhism. For these reasons, those who want to learn more about the history and traditions of Buddhism should not avoid this destination because it is the only possibility to understand this religion.
The significance of the Yungang Grottoes is that they belong to the biggest ancient Chinese grotto groups. They became the treasure of carved stone. Indeed, they are famous worldwide. Thus, the Yungang Grottoes were ratified as a key cultural heritage protected sites in China by the State Counsil in 1961; inscribed in the list of World Heritage Sites in 2001 (Agnew, 2004). People honor and respect these temple grottoes because it is the vital part of their history. The collection of statues is remarkably diverse. There are 1,100 niches and 51,000 statues with the biggest statue of 17 meters and the smallest statue of 2 centimeters (Introduction to caves, n.d.). They embody an exquisite carving which serves as an example of subtlety and sophistication. The statues can be divided into three periods depending on the time of their creation. In fact, every statue has its distinct characteristics which immediately define the period to which it belongs. The statues of the first period focus on the inexperienced and energetic customs of the West. However, the grottoes of the middle period are characterized by luxury and finesse demonstrating the complexity of the art styles. The last grottoes are characterized by the reduction of the scales. Obviously, they are the examples of the North Chinese art.
The architecture of China resembles the arrangements of the grottoes. It means that grottoes reflect the most vivid notions of Chinese art forms. Not only can a tourist understand the ideas of Buddhism for different dynasties and the peculiarities of life in that period, but he or she can also learn about social, political, economic, and cultural aspects of human lives.
Those who are interested in the history of wars should see the Terracotta Army in Xian. The Terracotta Army is the major attraction for every visitor in China. This historical monument is significant because it consists of hundreds of life-size details representing the army that gained the victory during the conquest of the states over the armies of China. Moreover, it is the largest archaeological monument in the world and the most important discovery of the 20th century. In fact, a small part of the west complex estimated to be over twenty-one square miles (Emperor's ghost army, 2016). The tourists might find it mysterious that some sculptures are without heads but their bodies remained. Unfortunately, environmental factors and time are not merciful. As a result, some parts have been damaged. However, every soldier resembles an ordinary person. This is due to a special approach which an artist employed to make the soldier's appearance credible and natural.
The Terracotta Army is the mysterious source that proves the existence of the Chinese legendary army. The clothes and hairstyle of each figure explain the peculiarities of the cultural and military aspects of life in that period. Furthermore, many figures have real weapons of that period. Thus, this destination is a real treasure for the tourists who want to understand the power of China.
The significance of Fengxian, known also as Feng Xian Si or Li Zhi, explains the architectural perfection of the Tan dynasty. This cave temple is the biggest one among all the carved caves on the west hill. In the middle of the cave, there is a large Buddha statue. Other statues astonish with their decorations and stories. For example, Buddha appears with the crown and pearls. An important message is the image of the divine human and the neglect of the evil spirit. Carved statues show the roles of human beings in the society of that time.
The caves play an important role in preserving the history the Tang dynasty. While examining the paintings in the cave, the tourists can find the main figures of the dynasty. Fortunately, the shapes are undamaged. They impress with their elegance and realism. These sculptures retain the traditions and peculiarities of the past.
Liu Shengs Tomb in Hebei dated to the Han dynasty, 113 B.C.E. (Elkins, 2013). This tomb is considered to be one of the prominent archaeological discoveries in China. It was built for King Liu Sheng and his wife. The objects are unique and well-preserved. The Liu Shengs Tomb considered a treasure trove of early Han Dynasty funerary goods, including complete burial suits that consisting of more than 2000 pieces of jade fastened by threads of gold (Kleiner, 2015). Additionally, palace lanterns, bronze, silver, and gold objects demonstrate the decorative methods applied during the Han dynasty.
The tourists embark on the trip with a particular goal. China is the country for those who want to examine ancient objects that explain the mysterious world of the past, the customs, and elements of people's life. The details in Liu Shengs Tomb reveal the funeral traditions when even silk fabric has its meaning. The art shows the inner and external world of people, their thoughts, and preferences. Owing to the important discoveries, people can imagine the ancient life and travel in time.
To conclude, every trip leaves a long-lasting impression in the soul and heart of a person, especially if he or she visits the historical sites. For people who are interested in the history of the Buddha religion and the customs of the Tan dynasty, China is the best place. Its historical sites preserve the foundation of China. They consist of a large number of the exciting findings.
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