Archive for the ‘Kaifeng Travel’ Category

Top 10 Attractions in Kaifeng

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
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Plan your Henan tourHenan Province is situated in Central China. Henan literally means “South of the River”. Here “the River” refers to the Yellow River, the second longest river in China after Yangtze River.  This province  is an essential cradle of China’s civilization bestowed with long and thick Chinese history.

Henan Province often reminds us of such important places as Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, and Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang. Well, the ancient city of Kaifeng is not to be missed if you cab afford one or 2 day to explore the city. Located approx. 80 km east of Zhengzhou, Kaifeng was once the capital city of Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126) and other 6 dynasties. Today Kaifeng still keeps its old glamour though the ongoing  massive city reconstruction is threatening its original appearance.

Getting to Kaifeng is relatively convenient. You may take a bus from Zhengzhou ( one and half hour ), Luoyang ( three hours). Or you may take an overnight train from Beijing West Tran Station (12 hours ), Shanghai ( seven hours).

The city of Luoyang within the ancient city wall is compact and walkable. Like a grid pattern city of Xian and Pingyao, Kaifeng has its own axis of Zhongshan Road lined up with major attractions like Temple of the Chief Minister, Kaifeng Fu, Kaifeng Museum, Dongda Mosque, Former Site Kaifeng Synagogue, Shanshangan Guild Hall, Longting Park, Qingming Garden and City Wall.

I’ve rounded up the top 10 attractions in Kaifeng. September and October are the best time to visit Kaifeng with chrysanthemum blossoms everywhere,  the city flower in Kaifeng.

1. Temple of the Chief Minister 大相国寺
Originally built in 555 AD, the temple were rebuilt for many times in Tang Dynasty, Northern Song Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Fires and Yellow River breaches were the main causes for the fatal damages to the temple.  The present temple was renovated to a great extent in 1990s.

Temple of the Chief Minister was in its prime during Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126),  the monks totaling 10,000, 64 subordinate temples and an area of 540 mu ( 35 hectares ), an imperial temple for Northern Song Dynasty.

The present temple is mainly composed of the Heavenly Kings Hall, Mahavira Hall, the Octagonal Glazed Hall,  Sutra Depository Building and the Four-Faced Thousand Eye Guanyin within the Arhat Hall.

Entrance Fee: RMB 45
Opening Hour: 08:00 – 18:30
Add: 36 West Section of Ziyou Road, Gulou District, Kaifeng 鼓楼区自由路西段36号
Tel: 0378 – 5665090
How to get there
Take Bus 1,2,5,8 or walk from Kaifeng Bus or Train Station ( 2. 5km).

Temple of the Chief Minister

Temple of the Chief Minister

2. Shanshangan Guild Hall 山陕甘会馆
Shanshangan Guild Hall was the former lodging and meeting place for the merchants from Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province. It was first built from the ruins of Xuda Palace in 1775 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Xuda was one of the founding fathers of Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644). The name of the road where the present Guild is located is called Xuda Palace Road.

The past 200 years have seen Shanshaangan Hall going through numerous ups and downs. What we we see today is a small part of the riginal guild. Or more exactly it is the only remaining Guangdi Temple building inside the original guild hall. The whole temple architecture is rife with exquisite carvings out of stone, brick and wood, which vividly tell the Buddhist stories and folk tales with great artistic value.

The remaining Guangdin Temple is mainly composed of 7 parts- A huge screen wall, Opera Tower, Bell and Drum Tower, East Wing and West Wing Halls, Traditional Pailou (decorated archway), the Great Hall.

Entrance Fee: RMB 30
Opening Hour: 8:00 – 18:30
Add: Xufu Street, Kaifeng. 开封市内徐府街
How to get there
Take Bus 1,13,18 and 31 or walk from Temple of the Chief Minister

Wood Carving at Shanshangan Guild Hall

Wood Carving at Shanshangan Guild Hall

3. Kaifeng Fu 开封府
Kaifeng Fu, literally Kaifeng Government Administration Area ( popularlly known as South Yamen in Chinese ) , is a tourist site reproducing the government office for the Prefecture of Kaifeng in Northern Song Dynasty ( 960 – 1126 ). Historically,  Kaifeng Fu was originated in the later Liang Dynasty ( AD 907 ) with a history of over 1000 years. Kaifeng Fu went through Jin Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. It was at its primary time in Southern Song Dynasty. So this replica of Kaifeng Fu is mainly built in light of the original buildings in Northern Song Dynasty.

Though Kaifeng Fu is a bit of historical kitsch, often packed with domestic tourist groups, it is still worth your experiencing Song Culture for a 40-minute short trip if you can have the time to spare. This Song Dynasty government office model takes an area of 4 hectares with 50 buildings and halls.  You can visit government offices, prisons, imperiale examinations,  Taoism and imperial life.

Entrance Fee: RMB 60
Opening Hour: 8:00 – 18:30
Add: North Bankof Baogong Lake, Gulou District, Kaifeng 鼓楼区包公东湖北岸
How to get there
Take Bus 1,9

Kaifeng Fu

Kaifeng Fu

4. Iron Pagoda Park  铁塔公园
Iron Pagoda is located in the same name park – Iron Pagoda Park in the northeast corner within the ancient city wall. The Iron Pagoda was originally built in 1049 AD with over 1000 years.

It elegantly stands on the park, slender, a 55m high brick tower coated with rust-color glazed tiles, hence the name of Iron Pagoda. There is an inside narrow stairs ascending to the top for entrance fee RMB 30.

Entrance Fee: RMB 40
Opening Hour: 9:00 – 20:00
Add: 210 Beimen dajie, Kaifeng 北门大街210号
How to get there
Take Bus 1, 3, 6,20

Iron Pagoda Park

Iron Pagoda Park

5. Kaifeng Museum 开封博物馆
Kaifeng Museum is located by the south bank of Baogong Lake. Kaifeng Museum is housed in a magnificent Chinese traditional building with yellow glazed covers.

It has an display area of over 5000 square meters with 13 halls. It has a collection of over 50,000 artifacts and 50,000 professional books. Notably, you will see archaeological finds, woodblock prints and more.

Entrance Fee: Free ( closed on Monday )
Opening Hour: 9:00 – 17:00
Add: 26 Yingbin Road,Kaifeng
How to get there
Take Bus 1

Kaifeng Museum

Kaifeng Museum

6. Longting Park 龙亭公园
Dragon Pavilion is the main structure in the park for the same name sake with an  area of 83.13 acres half covered by two lakes – East Dad Lake (Pan Family Lake) ans West Good Lake (Yang Family Lake).  Dragon Pavilion is actually not a pavilion, but a palace built on the 13m-high blue brick terrace.  A flight of 72-steps leads up to the platform of the terrace with stone balusters on both sides. In the middle of the flight  of steps are cloud-dragons.  The Palace Hall atop the terrace is a wooden structure with double-gable roofs. The terrace is fenced with stone balusters. Pleople have a good view of the surrounding scenery – the downtown, Qing-Ming Street and the two lakes.  The terrace is aperfect place to view the sunset with beautiful glows.

The building of the Dragon Pavilion dates back to to 1692, the 31th year during the reign of Kangxi Emperior in Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911).  Originally known as Wanshou Pavilion, it was built on the coal hill of the former palace buildings of King Zhou in Ming Dynasty (1638-1644).  It housed the emperor tablets for the local officials to pray. Later the Coal Hill wad renamed Dragon Pavilion Hill, hence the nane for Dragon Pavilion.

Kaifeng is the ancient capital city for  8 dynasties with their palaces successively built on the location of the present Dragon Pavilion and the two lakes. The first man who chose this place with fengshui that prospered for 0ver next 1200 years was Li Mian, the local governer in Tang Dynasty who had moved his office building from Shanqiu to the present Kaifeng in the year of 781 , thus starting the axis of the ancient Kaifeng for over 1200 years.

Entrance Fee: Free ( closed on Monday )
Opening Hour: 9:00 – 17:00
Add:  at the northern end of Zhongshan Road, Gulou District, Kaifeng 河南省开封市鼓楼区中山路北段
How to get there
Take Bus 1,15

Dragon Pavilion

Dragon Pavilion

7. City Wall 开封古城墙
The present Kaifeng City Wall is almost the same length of Xian City Wall, 14,4 km long. Its original building goes back to 365 BC when Weihui King during Warring States Period moved his capital here and builts a city wall known as Dalingcheng City Wall with a history of over 2300 years.

In 960, Kaifeng was dedicated as capital of Northern Song Dynasty which lasted 168 years with 9 emperors. The 168 years found the city wall in Kaifeng developed into Outer Wall, Inner Wall and Imperial Wall, massive and magnificent.  The present city wall was the remains of the city wall renovated in Qing  Dynasty featuring the building style of Ming and Qing dynasties.

Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hour: all day

Kaifeng City Wall

Kaifeng City Wall

8. Kaifeng Synagogue 开封犹太教堂
Almost nothing remains of Kaifeng Synagogue. The former synagogue site is located at Nanjiaojing Hutong on the east side of north section of Beitu Street, Kaifeng 南教经胡同(开封北土街北段东侧). The synagogue was originally built in 1163 at the end of Northern Song by  the Jewish Neighborhood in Kaifeng  who had come to Kaifeng in Northern Song Dynasty for trade. At their prime time in Ming Dynasty, there were over 3000 Jew residents in Kaifeng.

The synagogue was rebuilt in 1279 (Yuan Dynasty) and 1461 ( Ming Dynasty).  Li Zicheng ( 1606–1645), a Chinese rebel leader who overthrew the Ming Dynasty, led his army attacking Kaifeng. In 1642, his army made the breaches of the Yellow River dykes by both sides and had Kaifeng heavily flooded  and thus ended the siege of Kaifeng and killed over 300,000 residents in Kaifeng, destroying the Jewish neighborhood of Jewish people. Again in 1841, the synagogue was turned to be used to protect the city Kaifeng threatened by the the breaches of the Yellow River dykes. With the last chief Rabbi passed  away in 1905,  the synagogue gradually disappeared  from the world stage.

Nanjiaojing Hutong

Nanjiaojing Hutong

9. Tiancheng Woodblock New Year Painting Old Shop at Zhuxian Town  朱仙镇天成老店
An ancient town known as Zhuxian Town 23km south of Kaifeng. Zhuxian Town is notable for its over 1000 year-old craft of woodblock new year paintings.

Traditionally, when Chinese lunar new year ( Spring Festival ) comes, families would paste new year paintings on their door frames and houses with the prints of new year pictures. New year paintings represent a good luck and fortune to say goodbye to the past year and welcome the new year. New year pictures are kinda of unique Chinese traditional folk culture.

Today many people would buy the prints of mass-produced new year paintings from the factories. But still many people and collectors prefer to buy hand-made new year paintings. The Zhuxian Town woodblock new year paintings are one of the most famous man-made new year paintings in China.

The woodblock new year paintings in Zhuxuan Town is an untangible cultural heritage in China. It has been on the verge of extinction due to the new printing technology. Recently the governments at all levels have allocated funds to support and develop the craft of man-made new year paintings.

10. Xisi Night Market  西司夜市
Xisi Night Market is one of the two night markets on Kaifeng with the other being Gulou Night Market.  Xisi Night Market is at near No.88, Dingjiao Road, Kaifeng.  You will be bombarded with all kinds of snacks, local and from other provinces.

You may have a bite of Muslim kebabs, cold noodles, peanut cakes and sip almond tea, and the list could be much longer.

Xisi Night Market

Xisi Night Market

Any questions, just drop a line.

Shanshaangan Guild Hall

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
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Plan your Kaifeng travel on your Henan tour? Kaifeng is listed as one of the seven great ancient capital cities in China.  In kaifeng, you can see some authentic relics and old architectures. Shanshaangan Guild Hall is an interesting place you cannot afford to miss if you are going to appreciate  its ornate carvings out of stone, brick  and wood done over 200 years ago.

Shanshaangan Guild Hall was the former lodging and meeting place for the merchants from Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province.  It was first built from the ruins of Xuda Palace in 1775 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor  in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).  Xuda was one of the founding fathers of Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644).  The name of the road where the present Guild is located is called Xuda Palace Road.

The past 200 years have seen Shanshaangan Hall going through numerous ups and downs.  What we we see today is a small part of the riginal guild. Or more exactly it is the only remaining Guangdi Temple building inside the original guild hall. The whole temple architecture is rife with exquisite carvings out of stone, brick and wood, which vividly tell the Buddhist stories and folk tales with great artistic value.

The remaining Guangdin Temple is mainly composed of 7 parts- A huge screen wall, Opera Tower,  Bell and Drum Tower, East Wing and West Wing Halls, Traditional Pailou (decorated archway), the Great Hall.

Well, let’s have a close look at those seven delicate pasts of Shanshaangan Guild or more exactly the well preserved Guandi Temple.

The entrance to Shanshaangan Guild Hall – a left side gate with a huge screen wall.

The entrance to Shanshaangan Guild Hall

The entrance to Shanshaangan Guild Hall

Entering the side gate, you will see a spacious compound with the huge screen wall on the south and the back of the opera tower on the north. First look at the screen wall. The whole screen wall is a trove of incredible carving arts out  of stone  and brick.  The huge screen wall is 8.60m high,  16.5m high and 0.65 thick and composed of three parts  – base, body and full of ornate stone and brick carvings.

In the middle of the sreeen wall is a large stone carving of two dragons playing one spider.

a large stone carving of two dragons playing one spider

a large stone carving of two dragons playing one spider

On the upper part of the screen wall elegantly carved with  Chinese fairy tales.  The vase, flowers and lucky clouds.

The vase, flowers and lucky clouds

The vase, flowers and lucky clouds

Now we  are in a compound or a courtyard surrounded by the opera tower on the south, the  decorated pailou,  two wings building and the north great hall.

The Opera Tower

The Opera Tower

North of the Opera Tower is the Pailou and the Great Hall flanked by East  and West Wing Houses,   Bell Tower and Drum Tower.

North of the Opera Tower is the Pailou and the Great Hall

North of the Opera Tower is the Pailou and the Great Hall

Drum Tower

Drum Tower

Drum Tower

Now let’s look at the wood carvings on the roof of the West Wing Building. This is “Nine Lions play ropes”,  indicating 9 generation family.

Nine Lions play ropes

Nine Lions play ropes

 

A vivid wood carving of folk custom – 25 figures, playing pipa,singing, listening….

A vivid wood carving of folk custom

A vivid wood carving of folk custom

The Decorated Archway with two three-legged poles supporting the Pailou. On the archway is carved with tales about Guan Yu.

The Decorated Archway with two three-legged poles supporting the Pailou.

The Decorated Archway with two three-legged poles supporting the Pailou.

This is the northern tip of the Guild – the Great Hall dedicated to Guan Yu. The Great Hall is the highlight of the wood carvings in the compound. It has seven layers of wood carvings. From the top to the lower, you will have the first layer – Bats ( refers to  happiness and Wealth ); second layer: lucky clouds.

you will have the first layer - Bats ( refers to  happiness and Wealth )

you will have the first layer – Bats ( refers to happiness and Wealth )

The third layer is Two dragons play one spider

The third layer is Two dragons play one spider

The third layer is Two dragons play one spider

 

The fourth layer is the carvings of  animals – deer, horse, elephant….

The fourth layer is the carvings of  animals

The fourth layer is the carvings of animals

 

Two dragons play one spider

Two dragons play one spider

Two dragons play one spider

 

Any questions, just drop a line.

Tiancheng Woodblock New Year Painting Old Shop

Thursday, November 14th, 2013
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If you are going to visit the city of Kaifeng ( one of the seven great ancient cities in China ) on your Henan tour in the central China, you are highly recommended to have a side trip to an ancient town known as Zhuxian Town 23km south of Kaifeng. Zhuxian Town is notable for its over 1000 year-old craft of woodblock new year paintings.

Traditionally, when Chinese lunar new year ( Spring Festival ) comes, families would paste new year paintings on their door frames and houses with the prints of new year pictures. New year paintings represent a good luck and fortune to say goodbye to the past year and welcome the new year. New year pictures are kinda of unique Chinese traditional folk culture.

Today many people would buy the prints of mass-produced new year paintings from the factories. But still many people and collectors prefer to buy hand-made new year paintings. The Zhuxian Town woodblock new year paintings are one of the most famous man-made new year paintings in China.

The woodblock new year paintings in Zhuxuan Town is an untangible cultural heritage in China. It has been on the verge of extinction due to the new printing technology. Recently the governments at all levels have allocated funds to support and develop the craft of man-made new year paintings.

The procedures of making woodblock new year paintings include draft, engraving, rubbing and apply colors. The most difficult part is to engrave blocks. Usually one engraved block takes 5 or 6 days. The Basically, one color needs one block. So one woodblock new year picture needs at least 5 or 6 blocks for 5 or 6 colors (red,yellow,green,black and blue). The Zhuxian Town new year painting is famous for its bright and bold colors. The pigment is made of plants and other natural materials and never fades.

A craftman would brush black color on a woodblock, put on a piece of rice paper and rub it for its outline, then dry it. The process is repeated for other colors required. One color and one block. The themes of the paintings feature Chinese fairy tales and tales of folklore.

Tiancheng Nianhua Old Shop ( Tiancheng Woodblock New Year Painting Old Shop)is one of the oldest woodblock shops in Zhuxian Town. The owner of the shop is Mr. Yin Guoquan, the fifth generation of the woodblock new year paintings. His family has been in woodblock new year painting business for over 200 years. His two grandsons have started to take over his job, so Yin family’s woodblock new year painting has reached its 7th generation.

Yin’woodblock painting shop is housed in a two-storey brick building of a traditional Chinese architecture style with wood doorframes. I’m lucky to meet Mr.Yin, who gives me a big welcome.

Tiancheng Nianhua Old Shop is housed in a two - storey buildings by the canal in Zhuxian Town

Tiancheng Nianhua Old Shop is housed in a two – storey buildings by the canal in Zhuxian Town

He holds up a big man-made rice paper book containing his family line and his representative woodblock new year paintings. Then he gives me a brief introduction to the procedure of the making of a particular woodblock painting. It is quite easy for me to understand it since one of his grandsons is at work attentively on the spot.

Mr.Yin's Family line rice paper book with his materpieces

Mr.Yin’s Family line rice paper book with his masterpieces

A close look at his 7-generation craft of woodblock painting

A close look at his 7-generation ccraft of woodblock painting

A close look at his 7-generation craft of woodblock painting

 

A close look at his materpices  in his family book

A close look at his masterpieces in his family book

 

His grandson is brushing the red color on a woodblock

He is brushing the red color on  the block

He is brushing the red color on the block

 

He checks the red color added to the rice paper

He checks the red color added to the rice paper

When he finishes brushing the red color, he will hang the bunch of redden rice paper outside to dry them. After dried, the same bunch of rice paper will be colored in other colors for the same procedure.

all the bunch of rice paper will hung outside for drying

all the bunch of rice paper will hung outside for drying

Behind the counter and on the wall hung with some Mr Yin’s works of woodblock new year paintings and his photos for social activities.

On the wall hung with his works of arts and photos

On the wall hung with his works of arts and photos

Mr. Yin tells me his woodblock paintings titled “2008 Beijing Olympic Games” have a warm response from foreign visitors with a big demand.

His materpiece of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

His materpiece of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

He then proudly shows me his great 8-meter long woodblock new year painting roll. All the paintings on the rice paper roll are dubbed both in Chinese and English.

His 8-m long painting roll

His 8-m long painting roll

In the transparent glass covered counter, placed with many finished woodblock paintings of various sized tagged in different prices ranging from RMM 8 to a few hundreds yuan. They are themed in plentiful Chinese traditional characters from Chinese folklore and history for good luck, good health and good prosperity – the three “Good”, the basic wish from common people.

Mr Yin Guoquan  smiling behind his counter

Mr Yin Guoquan smiling behind his counter

I ask him whether he will insist on carrying the old craft of woodblock new year painting, he says he definitely will persist in the art form of woodblock. He continues to tell me the local government officials and some influencial artists have given his family great support in all the aspects involved with the craft. He has trained his grandsons to be engaged in the old craft, a determination to live with the old craft.

Any questions, just drop a line.