shadow puppet shows
No schedule that I ever figured out, but occasionally held in one of the artists' quarters on Democracy Road.
Standing in front of the party building, head east, cross the side road, the entrance is the first on your left - an alley lined with art supply vendors opens into a building complex that houses a rather lot of artists, and also the small city god's temple.
Wander the Muslim Quarter
Though much of Tianshui is 'modernized' there still remains a good number of the old coutryard houses in the ambling alleyways of the muslim quarter. From Jiefang Road (heading west) take any of the small streets on the left and allow yourself to get lost for a while.
You won't be dipping into natural ponds, but the pool's pleasant and the private natural hot tubs (some big enough for groups) are a pleasant relief after a long day of walking.
Bus or taxi can take you right to the door, either from Tianshui, Beidao, or direct from Maijishan (it's closest to the latter).
Fuxisi - Fuxi Temple
The Fuxi and Shennong tribes are said to have inhabited the area around Tianshui many centuries ago, and Fuxi is claimed to be the ancestor of the Chinese people. Fuxi created the eight diagrams which would predict Chinese civilization, set rules for Chinese marriages and even established the original Chinese calendar. This multi-talented person also invented the qin and se instruments and introduced written property deeds. The Fuxi temple was built in his honour.
It is a huge complex, with the Taiji palace at its centre. Both the doorframes and the windows have unusual carvings of plants and animals. Particularly notable is the inscribed mysterious, almost masonic, diagrams at the top of each of the eight supporting pillars in the hall.
The roof panels are painted with the 64 divine symbols of the Book of Changes. Pride of place is given to a sculpture of Fuxi, the city's most famous son.
Behind the Taiji palace is the Xiantian palace, built in honour of the Shennong people
Nanguosi - South Kingdom Temple
Nanguosi sits by the bank of the Jihe river which flows slowly through Tianshui. The temple grounds are renowned locally for the old cypress and juniper trees, and for one particular old cypress tree which is split in two at the base with another tree growing up from the base. This seems to particularly interest the Chinese as there are famous trees like this in Zhongshan Park in Beijing and in a park in Guangdong. The local legend is that during the Tang Dynasty, two generals, Qin Qiong and Jin De, visited the temple to pray. Their horses were tied up outside and began to fight each other, splitting the tree in the process.
Another curiosity is that a spring in the temple dries up during heavy rain, and guses during times of drought.
Stone Gate Mountains
The Stone Gate Mountains start 80 kilometres south of Tianshui urban city, and are part of the Maijishan 'park'. This area is stated as being particularly beautiful.
Historical records claim that there are:
- one building: a bell tower holding a large cast-iron bell from 1688.
- two caves: on the cliffs of Unicorn Peak. One is called Pangu Cave, where Nuwa is worshipped, and the other is the Healing cave, where Song Simiao, a legendary healer, once lived.
- three grotesque elements: which are not specifically named, but the Chinese do love the juxtaposition of grotesquely shaped rocks and trees.
- four fir trees: dragon spruce, metasequoia, fir and Chinese larch trees
- five animals: the paradise flycatcher, the muntjac deer, the mountain rabbit, the musk deer and roe deer
- six treasures: prickly ash, pine nuts, zushima, akebi, xiecao and cool fungus
- seven flowers: jade flower, yulan, azalea, lilac, yuexiu, false spirea and eglantine chrysanthemum
- and finally eight scenes: The Stone Gate under the Moon, White Deer's Mark on a Gate, Pine Waves, Peering among the Clouds, the Sleeping Tiger, Winding Dragon, the Hanging Pangu Cave, and Watching the Clouds from Heaven's Gate. These 'scenes' usually have no cultural or historical significance and are developed by people with an over-active imagination.
The Cliffs of the Immortals
The three Cliffs of the Immortals were started in the later Northern Wei dynasty, and there are also six temples...the Flower Lotus, Iron Lotus, Water Lotus, Wood Lotus, Stone Lotus and Miraculous Lotus temples.
The whole complex contains many pavilions and houses from the Ming and Qing Dynasty, and there are several hundred statues, especially from the Northern Wei and Song periods.
The name of the place seems to be because the cliffs were believed to be haunted.