The silently beating heart of China

Asia | | August 19, 2010 at 12:05 am


The Chinese are often spoken of in very high regard when one talks of culture and civilizations, so just how hallowed would talk about Shanxi be given that it is considered to be the cradle of Chinese civilization? Brimming with ancient beauty, leafing through any old tome on China will reveal to you several references to the sway Shanxi held on Ancient China. It is referred to on multiple occasions as the ‘heart’ of China and the term ‘cradle’ pops up over and over again, just to dispel any doubts. Just in case you did have any doubts about its importance in the giant scheme of things, it is responsible for giving the western world the most recognizable facet of China, the name itself. The name ‘China’ is a derivative of the Qin dynasty (pronounced as ‘Chin’) and this by itself is the largest indicator of Shanxi’s worth in China’s history.

Shanxi China
Times have changed, and much of the sheen of the Qin dynasty has disappeared so much so that it no longer seems like the heart of China anymore, but in its pomp the Wei River was a perfect source of sustenance. The land was fertile and capable of feeding several generations of population and all the major trade routes of China passed through the Shanxi region making it the face of China to the outside world. Of course, like with any self-respecting empire the Chinese too developed a strong standing army to fend off nomadic invaders or greater forces, but it was in China that Yin and Yang emerged and so it is that in the Oinling Mountains to the south a completely opposite force was blossoming.

Reclusive hermits that deemed the incumbent administration too corrupt were taking to the mountains to lead a more austere life. The most famous of these was Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, but even if you are not of a spiritual bent of mind Shanxi has something of wonder for you; its architectural style and archaeology. It is little wonder then that this region, and the hilly haven of Yan’an in particular, was chosen as the staging grounds of the Chinese communist revolution right from 1936 to 1948. Shanxi was the hotseat of politicking and administration for nearly a millennia until the imperial court moved duly eastwards and the region started to lose much of its pelf and power but what remained intact throughout famines and revolutions was the regions beauty. Much of the region is mountainous and hilly, and this is where Shanxi comes to life just as it brought China to life millennia ago.

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