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Gallery

China

The great flowering of Chinese civilisation took place during the brief Tang Dynasty period (618-907AD) during which time Tang culture in the form of a writing system, art, architecture, ceremonies, systems of government, town planning, religion, philosophy (Confucian) and indeed "civilisation" as a whole was benignly exported wholesale around the Asian continent.

The four nations of today's Korea and of course Imperial Japan adopted writing ststems, religion and philosophy. The dissemination of this enterprise being assisted by the development of printing where the world's first widely printed book (diamond sutra) was "published" in China in 868 AD.

Toni Kowal's photographic work has been centred on Japan where many examples of Tang Dynasty architecture remain to this day - not as museums but as living entities continuing with the purpose for which they had been built.

Click to a larger version of China Xi An - guardians at the small goose pagoda.

China Xi An - guardians at the small goose pagoda.

The small goose pagoda was completed in 648 AD and remains standing to this day.
I have not sought to portray this or any other Chinese monuments in detail, leaving the awesome task to more able sinologist photographers.
Click to a larger version of China Xi An - in the grounds of the small goose pagoda.

China Xi An - in the grounds of the small goose pagoda.

Click to a larger version of China Shanghai - a tea garden amidst the bustle of the city.

China Shanghai - a tea garden amidst the bustle of the city.

Click to a larger version of China Beijing - detail from the temple of heaven.

China Beijing - detail from the temple of heaven.

Capitals of China have moved with a multitude of successive dynasties.
The area now known as Beijing has hosted a number of important cities since around 1000 B.C.
The first capital sited there was that of the state of Yan during the warring states period 473 BC to 221 BC and following this the subsequent Qin, Han and Jin dynasties set up prefectures centered on the area.
During the great Tang dynasty (the flowering years of an exported and much welcomed Chinese civilisation) spanning the years 618 to 907AD, the area became the headquarters of a local military government.
In 936, the Later Jin Dynasty (936-947) of northern China ceded modern Beijing, to the Khitan Liao Dynasty where in 938 a secondary capital was set up by the Liao.
The following dynasty, the Jurchen Jin set up a capital the area of modern Beijing.
Following what appears to be an inter-dynastic "burn and build" tradition, Mongol forces burned the previous capital to the ground and the following Yan dynasty founder Kublai Khan set up a capital here in 1267 calling it Dadu (Khanbaliq in Turkic and Cambuluc according to Marco Polo).
After the fall of the Yuan in 1368 the city was rebuilt by the Ming as a prefectural capital. In 1403 the Ming Emperor moved his capital from Nanjing here and renamed the new capital city Beijing.
The "Forbidden City" was constructed together with the Temple of Heaven from around 1406 onwards.
After the Manchus overthrew the Ming and established the Qing dynasty in 1644 Beijing remained the capital of China and home to the Qing Emperors.
The Qing continued the practice of hosting Civil Service examinations within the forbidden city with Emperors invigilating examinations from time to time.
The Qing Emperors welcomed the Jesuit order (including luminaries such as Matteo Ricci, Giuseppe Castiglione) into their own courtly circles and studied astronomy, horology, painting and many other arts and crafts to add to their own considerable knowledge. They were remarkable scholars, able to write in the exacting calligraphy of four or more writing systems (including Manchurian, Han Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian).
The Empire effectively came to an end in 1911 and has left behind a rich legacy in the finest traditions of millenia Chinese culture.
Click to a larger version of China Beijing - detail from the temple of heaven 2.

China Beijing - detail from the temple of heaven 2.