THE CHINESE CIVILIZATION

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Coming from outside of Fujian, except for a Longquan type twin fish plate, which may have been produced in Zhejiang but could also be a Fujian product, definitely leaves any tourist with due information about how antique the city may have been. While the range of variation of glazes is difficult to establish from brief written descriptions, the grey body, yingqing (pale bluish white), greenish grey, celadon, thick yellow and brown glazes with a propensity to peel, all appear to indicate wares made locally in Fujian, such as Nan’an, Cizaoshan, and Jianyang.

Several evidences still remain as proofs of ancient civilization in the Chinese settlement. We know of the Shangai empire and others in the Chinese belt, but little or no much information is had about the much later civilization in the Chinese settlement of Quanzhou, Fujian, not until the abandoned monoliths drew the attention of interested archaeologists towards that area. The history of Quanzhou has been discussed by recent writers (Clark, 1991; Schottenhammer, 2001; So, 2000; Wang, 1999). Because of its importance as an international trading port, Quanzhou figures in discussions of world trade in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Abu-Lughod, 1989). The city was visited in the fourteenth century by Ibn Battuta who said that it was the largest or one of the largest ports in the world and that in the harbor he saw 100 large junks and innumerable small ones. The making of porcelain and the existence of bazaars are mentioned as well (Gibb, 1994, pp. 894–895).

In this document, we provide an overview of published accounts of the archaeology of the Chinese city of Quanzhou, Fujian, mostly from the Tang (A.D. 618–960) through the Song (A.D. 960–1279) and Yuan (A.D. 1279–1368) Dynasties, the time of its greatest power (Table I). Quanzhou was an extremely important port for trade with Southeast Asia. Its archaeological heritage sheds light on life in the Fujian region of Southern China. The history of Quanzhou has been discussed by recent writers (Clark, 1991; Schottenhammer, 2001; So, 2000; Wang, 1999). Because of its importance as an international trading port, Quanzhou figures in discussions of world trade in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Abu-Lughod, 1989). The city was visited in the fourteenth century by Ibn Battuta who said that it was the largest or one of the largest ports in the world and that in the harbor he saw 100 large junks and innumerable small ones. The making of porcelain and the existence of bazaars are mentioned as well (Gibb, 1994, pp. 894–895).

Cylindrical bottles, of the type found in Penghu, are represented, as well as a pottery “bank” or money box, containing coins (see below). The vessel forms, including bowls, plates, small cups, spouted pots, and bottles, belong to utilitarian vessels of daily use. Of a total of 58 coins, 44 come from an earthenware “bank” found in Layer 7B, which contained a wide range of coins from the eleventh and twelfth centuries, including the earlier and ubiquitous Kaiyuan Tongbao. Layer 7A yielded one coin of Yuanyou Tongbao (1086) date, while Layer 5 yielded one each of Shunhua Yuanbao (990), Zhaosheng Yuanbao (1094), and Zhongning Zhongbao (1228). The earliest possible date of the bank is 1111. There seems to be a trend of possessing coins for long periods after their minting, and so a general date of the twelfth century would be acceptable. In Layer 3B and the layers above it, 10 coins were recovered, including one Tianxi Tongbao (1017), one Yuanyou Tongbao (1086), as well as coins from the Qianlong (1736–95) and later reigns. Over 300 Hindu architectural and sculptural fragments have been identified in Quanzhou since they were first discovered in 1933 (Guy, 2001).

On the slopes of Qingyuan Shan, several kilometers to the north of the city, are a number of important relgious sites including a colossal granite statue of a Daoist deity, which may have been part of a Daoist complex (Fig. 6). Also, there is an important stone Buddhist triad shows stylistic links to the sculptures found at Feilai Feng near the Lingyinsi Temple in Hangzhou. The Feliai Feng carvings show the spread of Lamaist Buddhist ideas which came with the Mongol conquest and imperial patronage of Tibetan Buddhism (Swart, 1987).

Since many fragments were found in the vicinity of the Tonghuai Gate in the building material of the city wall constructed in the Ming, it is likely that there was a Hindu temple in the southeastern part of the city; the exact location is not clear. Also of great interest are two pillars and the basement frieze of the main hall of the Kaiyuansi, the Daxiong Baodian. Early field work by Gustav Ecke led to an article by Ananda Coomaraswamy (1933). Coomaraswamy concludes that the pillars are careful Chinese copies of wooden originals which were made by Indian craftsmen. They are chamferred to a 16-sided form in sections alternating with cubical blocks bearing medallion panels, some of which have illustrations of familiar themes of Hindu mythology, while others have floral patterns, such as lotus, rose, and tea flowers, which are Chinese motifs. Examples of Hindu themes are Vishnu riding on a garuda, the release of the king of elephants, Krishna tied to the mortar between two arjuna trees, and Vishnu seated in a lotus pedestal with two Sakhti on lotus petals. Two more pillars are built into the rear building of the Tianfeigong, the Temple of Tianhou, the Heavenly Consort. These are likely the same as the pillars identified by Coomaraswamy from the Daoist Hailongwang Temple in Quanzhou (Coomaraswamy, 1933, pp. 9–10).

In the 1930s a “cult image of Visnu” 1.15-m high, holding a conch, disc, and mace, was found at Nanjiaochang, Quanzhou (Guy, 1994). Two other carved stone pieces with Saivite subjects were also discovered in the 1930s, in a small shrine near the Kaiyuansi in the northern part of the city. One shows an elephant making an offering of a lotus to the linga, while the second shows a cow offering milk to the Sivalinga and licking it. Guy proposes that these pieces must have come from a separate Saivite temple, and that the patrons must have come from Thanjavur, the Chola capital served by the port of Nagappatinam. Guy concludes that the Quanzhou Hindu remains are the legacy of temples conceived in the South Indian Dravidian style of the late Chola Period (thirteenth century) (Guy, 2001). The discovery in 1956 of an inscription in Tamil and Chinese dated April 1281 confirmed the presence of a Tamil-speaking merchant community in Quanzhou.

The east (Zhen Guo) and west (Ren Shou) five storied stone pagodas were built in 1238–48 and 1228–37 respectively, replacing earlier wood and brick structures (Fig. 5).

The East Pagoda, 48.24-m high, has greenstone base panels decorated with human reliefs, while the west pagoda, 44.06-m high, sits on a white granite base. Demieville, in his analysis of the iconography, noted the distinctiveness of the narrative panels carved in soft greenstone (diorite), which contrasts with the hard granite of the upper stories. The construction details imitate wooden pagodas, but the central core is solid stone, which has resisted very strong earthquakes, such as the 1604 quake, estimated to have been of magnitude 8.08. Ecke and Demieville note that the architecture is of a local Song style (Ecke and Demieville, 1935, p. 7). The Shanmen Gate of the Nanshansi, in Zhangzhou, Fujian, was noted to have been based on similar principles (Ecke and Demnieville, 1935, p. 9)

Each pagoda is decorated with 80 panels with life-size figures carved in middle relief. The main motifs are “Patriarchs and Arhats, real or imaginary monastic portraits, and a series of Bodhisatvas and Guardians” (Ecke and Demieville, p. 11). Originally the 40 outer and inner niches of each tower were filled with sculptures

The inscription consists of six lines in Tamil script, with half of the last line in Chinese characters. The Tamil letters are poorly written and often erroneous, suggesting to Guy that the stone carver was not literate in Tamil. The dedication asserts that a Siva image was installed in April 1281 with the imperial authority of Chekachi Khan, possibly Kubilai Khan’s son, Chimkin. Possibly it was installed in an existing temple (Guy, 2001, p. 296). Guy notes that the dedication of the Hindu temple devoted to Siva in April 1281 was preceded in February of that year by the sending of a Mongol envoy to India from the port of Quanzhou (Guy, 1994, p. 300). In addition, a relief of a seated Durga was found in 1986 at the Xinji Pavilion in Jinjiang near Quanzhou (Guy, 1994, p. 296). Further field work in both Quanzhou and Tamil Nadu has added important information on the relations of Quanzhou and South India (Guy, 1994, 2001).
A Manichaean temple built during the Yuan Dynasty is located at Huabiao Mountain, in southwest Jinjiang County adjacent to Quanzhou (Fig. 7). It contains a stone representation of Mani with a height of 154 cm, backed by a gold-plated stone halo with a diameter of 168 cm (Fig. 8) (Lieu, 1980, p. 81). Recorded in the 1920s by Wu Wenliang of Xiamen University (Wu, 1957), the shrine looks like an ordinary Buddhist temple and was used for Buddhist practice in recent times. Built entirely in granite, it has two storeys with the main hall for worship on the ground level and living quarters for a very small number of priests on the upper floor. The Huabiao site is the only Manichaean temple to survive anywhere in the world, all others having been destroyed through centuries of persecution and the extinction of the religion (Lieu, 1985, pp. ix, 312–313). An inscription in the courtyard exhorts worshippers to repeat “Mani, Buddha of Light, the most pure Light, the great and powerful wisdom, the highest and unsurpassable truth” and dates the inscription the 9th month of the Zhizhou year of the Zhengdong period (1445) (Lieu, 1980, p. 81).
The statue in the shrine shows perceptible iconographic differences from a Buddhist sculpture. For instance, the statue stares straight at the viewer, instead of looking downward, and is bearded, with no hair on its head. The birthday of the “Buddha” in the hall is given as the 16th day of the 4th month whereas Quanzhou people celebrate the birthday of the Buddha on the 19th day of the 2nd month of the Chinese Year (Lieu, 1980, p. 81). Lieu believes that Manichaeism came to Quanzhou via overland routes rather than by sea and notes that persecution of Manichaeism decreased but did not disappear under the Mongols, there being about 700,000 families of believers, who were confused with Christians by Marco Polo. The religion had its admirers among officials and scholars for its asceticism (Lieu, 1980, pp. 80, 83).
Tombs and tombstones provide evidence of the communities living in Quanzhou. Most of the gravestones were gathered and used for the refurbishment of the walls and gates in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Since they are out of their original context, it is not possible to link their attributes to places within cemeteries or to define distinctive local status or ethnic groups with a cemetery, as archaeologists often do with burials. However they do provide fascinating evidence for the religious and cultural diversity of the city. In addition to the mosques of Quanzhou and their architectural stone carvings, ancient Islamic cemeteries have been preserved in a few cases. In others, the tombstones and portions of the burial structures have been recovered after cemeteries were destroyed at various times since the fourteenth century.
The Xiamen University Museum and the Quanzhou Maritime Museum both have large holdings of such relics (see Chen, 1984; Chen and Kalus, 1991; Wu, 1957). The historic mosques and tombs of Quanzhou have served as important symbols of cultural identity for members of the Hui minority, since at present the tombs provide evidence that modern groups may be descended from foreign Muslims (Gladney, 1987). Such descent has implications for state recognition of minority status, and in some instances can create economic advantages. Of the 149 gravestones examined by Chen Dasheng, 58 were of unknown provenience (Chen, 1984). Thirty six came from the Renfeng Gate area, either from the walls or from the gate, or as isolated finds in the vicinity. Twelve came from the Tonghuai Gate area, and eight from the walls of the Mingshantang of the Ashab Mosque, where they were presumably placed for safekeeping after they had been uprooted (perhaps more than once) from their original context.
From accounts of destroyed cemeteries mentioned by Chen we can establish the location of some ancient cemeteries which clustered near some of the city gates, suggesting that the Muslim communities were located outside of these gates, rather than being concentrated in one location (Chen, 1984). Such locations are outside the Tonghuai Gate at Jintoupu (Chen, 1984, No. 38), Houlu Donghai No. 82), Fashimei Hill, (No. 91), Dongmujing (No. 92); outside the Renfeng Gate at Secuomei (No. 50), Xiacuo Hill (No. 89), Wailingshan (No. 98), Lingshan (No. 99), Yilupu (No. 106). Other locations are Jincuowei on the west slope of the Dongyue Hills in Quanzhou and Waitingdian outside the South Gate (No. 186). The stone remains associated with burial can be grouped into four categories: inscribed gravestones with inscriptions concerning the deceased, grave covers, grave vaults or structures, and lintels from the cupolas thought to be constructed over the graves. Since most of the examples were not found in their original context, structural interrelationships are often conjectural. They were made mostly of a local hard, grey diabase, or occasionally, local granite. Rarely was limestone or a mixture of lime, sand, and clay employed. Inscriptions appear in ancient Kufic script, large and small regular script, and cursive, ...


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