During both the Shang Dynasty Era (1766 BC - 1121 BC) and the Zhou Dynasty Era the Ningxia plain of the yellow river were already inhabited but not settled. The humans living in the region were likely hunter gatherers and later Nomadic Tribes. These ancient cultures left their traces in primitive rock drawings and carvings which can be found spread throughout the Helan Shan mountain range some 50 kilometers and more West of Town.
The name of the first City on this location near the Yellow River was historically Ningxia Fu. However in modern Times the City was designated as Yinchuan which literally means "silver river". This name of course refers directly to the waters of the Yellow River, which calm and slow flowing in the Ningxia (or Yinchuan) Plain reflects the moon and stars at night like it is a large silver mirror.
(The character for "river" is the same as that in Sichuan, but not as those in Huang He (Yellow River) or Chang Jiang).
Rough Schematic Depiction of the Trans-Eurasian Trade Routes that later became known as the Silk Road. The first Routes to the West were opened during the Han Dynasty Era (206 BC -220 AD).
China Report - Map of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty
Satellite image of China and North-East Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall of China.
In the eleventh century the City was renamed Western Xia during the establishment of the Western Xia 'Dynasty' in 1038 AD.
The Dynasty was founded by the local Tribal leader of a Dangxiang (Dongxiang) ethnic group and had created splendid culture as well as gorgeous architecture. Yinchuan as the Capital City of the Xia grew rich on trading along the various pathways that led through the region.
Apart from constructing both the Xi Ta - western Pagoda, and the Haibao Ta - Sea Treasure Monastery, with its Pagoda in the Town of Yinchuan, nearby some 50 kilometers to the West a Summer Palace and Resort was created for the Xixia (Tangut) Emperors.
Furthermore, attached to the Summer Palace were no less than 100 monasteries which stood at the entrance of the Bai Si Kou - One Hundred Temple Pass which leads through the Helan Shan range into Inner-Mongolia. Sadly of the Monasteries only two
Rough Schematic Depiction of the Ch'In Dynasty Empire (221 BC -206 AD) which for the first time colonized the Yinchuan Plain. The colony was lost and only reestablished later during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD).
the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD). At the time the first origins of Yinchuan were created as the county of Lian was established. It was 119 BC, the fourth year of the Yuanshou Reign of the Han Dynasty. During this reign period today's Yinchuan originated as a mere farmers village, recorded as Beidian (北典农城). Beidian was roughly located in the space of todays old city of Yinchuan, officially known as the Xingqing District. It was literally the most remote place within a sprawling Empire. It was a dangerous and exposed outpost which in its first few centuries struggled for existance. Not much is known about Beidian therefor, other than that it took nearly one hundred years to take sufficient root to be recognized as a town around the year 24 BC and that it was part of a county under the name of Fuping in the 1st century BC.
During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420 AD – 581 AD) Yinchuan grew into a vital military support base, pivotal in the defense of the otherwise barren region.
The city itself has a history of more than 1,300 years and was originally founded in the year 678 AD, the third year of the Yifeng Reign (674 AD - 679 AD) of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907 AD). In that year a new district today's Xingqing District was constructed to the west of the old town (which no longer exists). The area was called Huaiyuan Town (怀远镇) and continued its life during the Song Dynasty.
In the year 1020 of the Song Dynasty (960 AD - 1279 AD), around the time that the Song Dynasty lost control of this region (becoming the Southern Song in 1127 AD), the new town (Today's Qingqing District) was renamed from Huaiyuan into Xinzhou (兴州), and later promoted to Xinqing Fu (prefecture) (兴庆府).
However seeing the decline of Central Imperial Powers, the local Ethnic Groups saw other options. Soon after the leader of Dangxiang ethnic group (党项族), one Li Deming (李德明), moved the regional ethnic capital from Linzhou to Huayuan Town with the full intention of declaring their own independent nation, known in history as Tangut or Xi Xia (Western Xia). At the same Time other regions of North-China more to the West feel under control of the so-called Jin Dynasty, established by Jurchen Tribes (,the forefathers of today's Manchu's).
Soundbonus - Traditional Folk Melody 'The Black Dragonfly from the Gobi', by Altai Hangay.
Last but not least, the Xixia also left an impressive Mausoleum for each Emperor and Royal. Dotting the landscape west of the City with tomb mounds. The most visited Tomb Mound, destroyed by Mongol Armies and further eroded down by time and weather, is that of the founding Emperor of the Xixia Dynasty. It is known as Xixia Wanling.
The Tangut culture flourished until in the year 1205 AD the Mongol Leader Genghis started the first of his six campaigns against the Xixia. After several military defeats at the hands of the Mongols the Xia State became a satellite and tribute state. At some time the Capital city was moved away from Yinchuan, to Khara-Koto (Black River) along a tributary of the Hei River (Ejin Gol) in what is now far western Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Only later when Ningxia Fu (Yinchuan) became a pivotal point in the Defenses of the entire region did it become an integral part of the Imperial Machinery.
In the years 1274 / 1275 AD during the establishment of the Cathay Khanate (China under Rule of the Mongols) renowned European traveler Marco Polo passed through West-China on his way to the Capital Khanbalik, however he did not visit Yinchuan on his route but passed more northernly, through the historic Town of Karakoram. Ningxia is however mentioned inside Marco Polos travel accounts. Today it is held that the area referred to by Marco Polo as Egrigaia is Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, although there have been changes with respect to its size and boundaries. The city of Kalachan was probably the
In 1731 AD Yinchuan was hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake which leveled most of Town. An ensuing firestorm destroyed what was left, including the Tangut Era (1038 AD - 1227 AD) Pagoda's and Temples of Chentian Si and Haibao Ta. In and around the town of Pingluo, the location of the epicenter, the earth was literally broken open in huge cracks, breeching the Great Wall of China.
In the year 1923 A.D. the Wulsin Scientific Mission passed through the Town of Yinchuan. Taking their resupplies after a short stint through the desert down from Inner-Mongolia they found it a thriving market town, safe, secure and full of supplies in otherwise remote, damgerous and bandit ridden lands.
In 1929 AD in the first year of the so-called Kuomintang National Government Ningxia Province was formed from parts of Gansu and Inner Mongolia, establishing Yinchuan (then Ningxia Fu) as the Capital and Administrative Center of the Region.
Even in the 1940's it was known as Ningxia Fu. The City was renamed during the establishment of Ningxia Hui in 1958 AD.
Until the 1950s the Yellow River could be navigated downstream as far as Baotou, well around the eastward-bend of the river in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. Ships could sail upstream as far as Zhongwei and Zhongning, to which they were the only quick and viable transportation route from Yinchuan. Ships could not navigate the Qingtong Gorge a historical scenic site where the Yellow River thundered out of its last Gorge in the loess plateuax of the region, then smoothened out and calmed in sight of the green cultivated lands and the Sand dunes of the Tengger Desert (Gobi).
The river-harbor of Yinchuan is Hengcheng town, located some 15 kilometers away. The port however is mainly deserted as several dams have been constructed on the Yellow River, among things inside the Qingtong (Bronze) Gorge in 1968 AD. This huge hydro-electric dam has since supplied much of the electricity to develop the region and economy. Trading ships no longer sail but have been replaced by Industrial ships moving coal or ores, tour boats and some small fishing or pleasure craft.
Already during the end of the Neolithic Age the fertile Ningxia Plains were inhabited by humans as several archeological finds and relics confirm. The most convincing evidence of human settlement was provided by the find of the remains of several early villages near Yinchuan. Apparently, even in that early age the Yinchuan location in the North was preferred by humans for their living and livelihood. At the time the yellow river plain consisted of large swamps and lakes in- and around which wildlife and fish were abundant. The climate was more tropical and wet then today, and the yellow river provided. It was a good place to be.
Reconstruction of a ceramic Statue from the Tangut (Xixia) Era depicting a Buddhist Angel or Apsarah praying with hands folded. Clearly visible is the 3rd eye.
capital of ancient Western Xia Kingdom, and the "camlets" mentioned in his book are apparently a kind of cloth made of camel wool.
At around the same time that Marco Polo reached China a Mongol-Chinese born Nestorian Monk named Bar Sauma (or Rabban Bar Sawma)(Born: 1260 AD) is known to have traveled from Dadu (Tai-Tu) westward along the Yellow River to Ningxia, and from there on to Kashgar and the Silk Road. The journey started in 1278 AD, however there are no details of his visit that describe Yinchuan or Ningxia.
most obvious and therefor first targets of 'Red Guard' aggression. Famous and irreplacable landmarks destroyed and art works ruined, burnt and smashed are numerous. Among the religious buildings destroyed in Yinchuan are the Nanguan (South Gate) Mosque and the Xi Guan (West Gate) Mosque. Although their constrcutures were the Chentian Si and the Haibao Ta were raided and saw statues destroyed. In the vicinity of Yinchuan, the Najiahu (Na Family) Mosque in Yongning County was destroyed except for its early Qing Dynasty Era main prayer hall, and out west the 100 Buddhist Monasteries of Baisikou, completely unique relics and remnants of the Xixia (Tangut) Dynasties were burned to the ground leaving only two stone pagoda's as a reminder. And not only religious buildings were sacked and destroyed. As the guidelines for 'eliminating' the four olds were rather vague and open to interpretation, in the case of historic objects anything made before 1949 AD became to be taken as 'old'. Red Guards thus set to work smashing museum collections, burning libraries of books and more. Museums and theatres were supposed to introduce a whole new version of art, dubbed proletarian art. People were encouraged to burn or destroy their own 'old' items, and penalties were established for
people who turned out to own such objects. Anyone in posession of such 'contraband' would certainly suffer at the hands of the Red Guards. That meant serious trouble and quite possibly a violent and painful death. And so many priceless historic artifacts, big and small were lost forever.
Apart for the immense cultural and historical damage caused by the 'Destroy the Four Olds Campaign'. there was an equally large human toll. After destroying the physical olds in 1966 during the early stages of the Campaign, the Red Guards quickly set about changing the perceived 'olds' in fellow members of society. That meant attacks on anyone previously in a respectable position, people with bad family ties (i.e. derived from landlord or rich peasant background, etc), people with a religion and people with other traditional values, thoughts and views.
Clearly the minorities suffered immensely for their religion and other cultural traditions. The Hui especially because they had previously been strong backers of the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-Chek. Another suspect category were Christians,
A Copy of the 'little red book' which became the bible' of the Red Guard Movement. Everything was carefully orchestrated by General Lin Biao, Mao's second man, in their battle against party bureaucrats for decision making powers.
- CLICK BOOK FOR MORE INFO -
YouTube Video: Cultural Revolution, a Rosy and overly theoretical explanation with great images and impressions
who, although very rare in Ningxia, were specifically mentioned as targets for the campaign. Among the popular slogans of the Cultural Revolution were “beating down foreign religion” and “beating down Jesus following”. Obviously, in such a world of political overzealousness combined with paranoia, all of them were presumed yo be counter-revolutionaries. Many were thus denounced, beaten and sent through re-education and self-criticisms. Other cases, among whom the later Bishop of Yinchuan, landed a job doing hard labor in a state re-education camp.
There were too many human casualties that resulted from this radical rejection of old traditional society and a violent creation of a new one which excluded traditional elements and values.
In July of 2008, preceding the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the Olympic Torch relay passed through Yinchuan, the Capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The route of the Yinchuan Beijing Olympic torch relay was as follows: From the starting point at Crescent Square to Beijing East Road, then via 'the source North Street' in the direction of Helan Shan and via hydrophilic North Street back to Beijing Road and then finally on to 'People's Square (South Gate Square)', the ending point. The length of this route is around 13 km. A total of total of 226 torchbearers, escort runners and 55 others participated in the relay, at an average of 58 meters each torch pass. As according to plan, the first torch bearer for the run was Chinese Olympic Shooting coach Qi Chunxia. Other Ningxia Natives participating in the Olympic Games also participated.
On September the 27th of 2010 the City of Yinchuan became the host of the First large Chinese-Arab trade convention which was intended to promote investment between China and Arab states and coincided with the 2010 China Investment and Trade Fair. As Ningxia has contributed significantly to Chinese-Arab ties over recent history, the location was chosen accordingly.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming said the forum will strengthen and deepen the traditional friendship and enhance win-win cooperation between China and Arab states, as well as Muslim regions, to realize mutual development.
The five-day forum and fair has attracted more than 6,000 government officials and businessmen from 66 countries, regions and international organizations. Among the nations attending were the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Jordanian leaders say their country welcomes China's enterprises to invest in energy and water resources and also in other promising fields, including hi-tech industries, food processing and electrical manufacturing.
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is home to at least 10 percent of China's 20 million Muslims. It has drawn up plans to expand trade and economic cooperation with the world's Muslim community.
Arab states are a large market and attractive for Chinese producers especially for those from Ningxia who are engaged in the prodction of Halal meat and various other Islamic Products.
With a population of 339 million and even a maximum total of 1.3 billion consumers, the Arab and Muslim Nations could become a large export market for China and Ningxia in particular.
In the larger equation for China as a whole is that China is a large importer of oil and its machinery exports take up a large market share. On the other hand, Oil and Gas producing Nations have traditionally focussed on gaining incomes from on oil and gas production and through a lack of focus, have made little investments in a manufacturing base. Muslim nations are increasingly looking towards China for a steady and cheap supply of various consumer products, industrial machinery and other technologies.
conquered some lands (near current day: Ejin Horo Chi and Ordos City). This first southward invasion which threatened to cut off the Ningxia Region and expose the Chinese heartlands caused quite a stir at the Beijing Court. The Ming Emperor was merely lucky to have an extraordinary officer posted in Yinchuan, the nearest garrison city in defense of the Border. One Yu under leadership of the Yinchuan Garrison commander Wang ambushed the Mongolians at their encampment destroying their livelihood and killing women and children. While the Mongolians were forced to retreat a strong counter-attack was launched by the Ming, nearly capturing Dayan Khan.
Barely escaping the Ming attack, Dayan Khan relocated far northward to the Kherlen River (Kerulan), however large-scale raids all along the frontier continued through 1507 AD. A few decades later the Khalka's would return in force in order to launch a full scale invasion of north China taking Datong in North Shanxi and threatening Beijing in the year 1550 AD.
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In the 1960's Ningxia was a model agricultural province and a base for recalcitrant student intellectuals and unguided city-proletarian youths who had been been sent 'to the country-side to learn from the Peasants' by the Communist Parties High Leadership. When the so called Cultural Revolution (1966 AD - 1976 AD) was launched by Mao Zedong in 1966 AD, the remote location of Ningxia, the presence of large groups of radical leftists inter-mixed with a still very much traditional and rural society , proved to be a volatile mix. In fact, it was just the right setting in which the so-called 'Red Guards' could agitate against the woes of traditional society represented among things in 'the four olds (四旧)' - Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas, and actually go ahead and attack and destroy it. Ningxia was very traditional, it was very Religious and by anyone's estimate it was not likely to change fast. Naturally, this called for a total war a.k.a. Revolution and the destruction of the Old Society. The 'Red Guards' eagerly set to work in name of the Revolution and a better future.
The local Mosques and Temples (only a few Churches had been built in the wider regions) were the
In the year 1649 AD, the second Manchu Emperor of Chinese Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD), Shunzi, invited the Fifth Dalai Lama to visit the Chinese Capital at Beijing. Versions of what happened next vary slightly but significantly. According to the office of the Dalai Lama (in exile), "Upon reaching the borders of Ningxia (Region) in 1652 AD, the Dalai Lama was met by the Shunzi Emperor himself, a High Minister of the Court, a General and no less than 3000 Cavalry Men". The meeting supposedly took place at a town named Khotor. The whole party then supposedly traveled on to the Capital Beijing.
Other sources have it that the Shunzi Emperor only met with the Dalai Lama in Beijing, which is not unlikely the correct depiction of events as it is established that the Fifth Dalai Lama traveled through the city of Yinchuan in Ningxia in 1652 AD, especially to meet with local Hui Islamic Leaders. The visit was a welcome opportunity for both sides to discuss matters of opposition against the Qing Dynasties offensive and hostile treatment of both Tibetans and Hui's. Although officially, the Tibetan and Hui religious leaders discussed philosophical and religious matters, there was certainly a political dimension to the visit.
From Yinchuan the Dalai Lama and welcome party then traveled on to Beijing, where the Dalai Lama stayed for three whole months after his exhausting overland journey.
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