Taosi ruins offer glimpses of early Chinese civilization

By Xu Lin and Sun Ruisheng ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-10-26 07:52:00

Taosi ruins offer glimpses of early Chinese civilization

An artist works with paints. [Photo by Xu Lin/China Daily]

The local government has applied to build a national park on the Taosi site to protect the ruins, display the various antiques and promote the archaeological discoveries.

In the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), Emperor Li Longji ordered the fabrication of eight iron oxen and eight iron men on the banks of the Yellow River, which were used to rivet the pontoon bridge of an ancient ferry, now long gone. The figures were later buried by silt as the river shifted; they were rediscovered in 1988 in Yongji city, Shanxi province.

Each ox is about 1.9 meters tall, 3 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, and weighs 40 tons. Under each tail is a horizontal shaft to fix the bridge.

At present, half of the iron figures no longer guard the Yellow River, but stand on the ground as relics of the ancient ferry. The oxen look muscular and majestic, stretching their chests and hind legs. It took seven years to remove rust from the sculptures and build a platform 12.2 meters above the original site for visitors. The remaining four pairs of man and beast are located about 360 meters away and remain underground.

Those who want to worship at temples can visit Yongji city's Pujiu Temple, the place where the love story of the drama Romance of the West Chamber took place in the Tang Dynasty.

Yuncheng city, only one hour's drive from Yongji city, is home to the largest Guandi Temple in China. It's dedicated to Guan Yu, a famous general during the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220-280), who was born in Yuncheng.

Originally built in AD 589, the traditional complex has been rebuilt and expanded in the following centuries. Iron figures of men with lions on the temple grounds indicate that foreign envoys presented lions as gifts to the Chinese nation.

If you go

Linfen city is more than 260 kilometers from Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi province. Yongji city is about 200 km from Linfen city and 60 km from Yuncheng city. It's convenient to take trains or drive to these cities.


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