the southern bank of the Yellow River, Kaifeng is an important
city in Henan Province. With a recorded history close
to 3,000 years, Kaifeng was known as one of the six major
centers of ancient Chinese civilization. As early as the
Yin-Shang period (1334-1066 B.C.), when Chinese society
turned away from nomadic life to an agricultural existence,
a city was built there. It then became the capital of
the Kingdom of Wei in the Warring Sates Period (475-331
B.C.), the Liang, Han and Zhou dynasties of the five Dynasties
(907-960), the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1137) and the
Jin Dynasty (1115-1334). The Northern Song, in particular,
established its capital in Kaifeng for 168 years. The
Eastern Capital, as Kaifeng was then called, was the political,
economic and cultural center of the whole country,
handicrafts, bustling commerce and fine communication facilities.
An old saying went that "Kaifeng was unsurpassed
anywhere in splendor and prosperity".
Repeated Yellow River floods, however, caused damage to the
ancient capital of Kaifeng through the years. Many of its
historical relics were destroyed. Among those that have survived
are the "Iron" Pagoda, Pota Pagoda, Dragon Pavilion,
Xiangguo Monastery, King Yu's Terrace and Yanqing Taoist Temple.
These are all fine works of architecture. Their majestic beauty
bears testimony to the wisdom, the cultural and artistic standards
their creators attained. The city today has well-developed
commerce, transport, communications and educational facilities,
and medical and public health services. The Yellow River that
flooded its banks and wrought havoc for a thousand years has
been harnessed. The Liuyuan Ferry at Kaifeng is now open to
tourists as a scenic spot.
City of Song Dynasty
the Song Dynasty capital for many years. The "Song
City" is a street flanked by small shops and taverns
a thousand years ago. The street has been taken a reconstruction
on pattern of the old Imperial Street between the ancient
imperial palace and another street called Sihoujie.
The palace has already been restored, and is open to
the public. And another major part of the street, Xuandemen,
has been built in the recent years. The City of Song
Dynasty is now one of the most popular tourist scenic
spots built for the visitors to get a familiar impression
of the scene of the old days.
on a hill, north of the Henan University in the northeastern
part of the city, the pagoda was first built in 982
(during the Song Dynasty). It is a Buddhist pagoda where
the finger bone of a dignitary is kept. The pagoda,
made of an entire timber frame, was kept in Kaibao Temple
when it was originally built. Later in 1049, the surface
of the pagoda was covered with iron-colored glazed tiles
and it gained the name Iron Pagoda. The temple was renamed
several times in the successive periods and was finally
pulled down during the Qing Dynasty. The thirteen-story
pagoda rises to about sixty meters with an entire timber
frame interior. On the brick basement are exquisite
carved patterns of animals, Buddhist motifs and flora.
It has stood for over 900 years and remains intact.
A park has been built for the pagoda to which several
halls and temples have been added. It provides a good
venue for the appreciation of Chinese carvings, inscriptions
and color-painted statues.
Dragon Pavilion At northwest of the city, the Dragon
Pavilion is a palatial hall built on a thirteen-meter-high
marble terrace. During the Song and Jin dynasties, this
was the site of imperial palaces. In the Ming period,
an official's residence with garden was constructed.
Inside the pavilion are enshrined the emperor's tablets.
Two dragons playing with a pearl are carved on a plaque
on the pavilion, hence the name, Dragon Pavilion. It
became an important place for local and official ceremonies
and festivities. Another hall was added during the reign
of Qing Yongzheng. The great hall features traditional
Chinese temple architectural style on a marble terrace.
Stone tablets exhibited in the hall bear Chinese calligraphic
inscriptions. Wax figures and portraits of Song emperors
are also on display. From the hall, a short distance
walk will bring you to Wuchao Gate, the site of the
imperial palace of the Song Dynasty.
River, or Huanghe, is the second longest river in China.
Tracing to a source high up the majestic Yagradagze
mountain in the nation's far west, it loops north, bends
south, and flows east for 5,464 km until it empties
into the sea, draining a basin of 745,000 sq km, which
nourishes 120 million people. Millennia ago the Chinese
civilization emerged from the central region of this
basin. As the most heavily silt-laden river in the world,
the Yellow River got its name from the muddiness of
its water, which bears a perennial ochre-yellow color.
The river is commonly divided into three stages. In
the upper reaches, the river runs through mountainous
and arid regions for 3,472 km, ending at Hekouzhen of
Inner Mongolia just before it makes a sharp turn to
In the middle reaches, ending at Zhengzhou in Henan
province, the river flows south between the Shaanxi
and Shanxi Provinces, draining a basin consisting largely
deposits of unmodified aeolian loess which is eroded
readily by rainfall and wind and accounts for over 90
per cent of the sediment in the main channel downstream.
After traversing a 1,206-km course from Hekouzhen to
Zhengzhou, the river emerges from narrow mountainous
constrictions onto a flat alluvial plain shortly following
a sharp turn to the east. The river descends from an
altitude of 4,575 m above sea level at the source to
1,000 m at Hekouzhen and 400 m at Zhengzhou. In the
lower reaches, from Zhengzhou to sea for a distance
of 786 km, the river is confined to a levee-lined course
as it flows northeasterly across the North China plain
before emptying into the Gulf of Bohai.
be hard to believe. But there is indeed a large Jewish
community in Kaifeng. The ancestors of these Jews were
said to have arrived in China from Persia and India
during the Tang Dynasty. For centuries, the Jews of
Kaifeng uttered the prescribed daily and Sabbath prayers,
kept their religious holidays and observed strict diets.