Thursday, May 20, 2010

Xian Journal Day 7 The Great Mosque

Hello Thursday! We go to China today! Day 7 in Xian turned out to be quite a journey around town exploring different venues and... we finally made it to the Great Mosque. Yay! Click here to see all posts on our trip.

At the entrance, we were greeted by a worshipper who chatted with us in English and French as soon as he heard we were from Canada. Thank goodness for high school French lessons, I knew enough to get by with bonjour and au revoir. Just past the ticket office we came across this magnificent roof structure. We were blown away by the intricate details of its Chinese design and the rich color of the wood.
The setting Autumn sun cast a golden glow on the mosque grounds. We quickly realized this was no ordinary mosque, there were no domes nor minarets and found the Chinese influence on the architecture most enchanting. In the middle of the garden, a pagoda, typical of an Eastern Chinese mosque.
A man's voice filled the air, the worshippers were asked to gather at the main prayer hall. Several men appeared from various corners of the mosque, I caught a few of them strolling past, they all wore the Taqiyah and the Changshan. We found this combination of Islam and Chinese attire fascinating.
We decided to follow them to the prayer hall and walked past a small collection of penzai, a feature of classical Chinese gardens.
We were told non-Muslims could not enter the prayer hall, so we wandered around and recorded the architectural details with our camera. The evening light brought out the intense colors of the glazed roof tiles. The roof decorations were similar to the ones on the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda on this post.
A close up shot of the roof framed with a fruit bearing tree, this portion of roof tiles were stripped of its glaze.
The men prayed in Mandarin but the tone was similar to an Islam prayer, it sounded interesting. As they prayed, I thought about the times in Jakarta when the whole city stopped to perform this daily ritual. It was a peaceful and calm atmosphere, a feeling I again experienced at the Great Mosque. Delighted with this memory I stumbled upon a pavilion and a decorative Chinese scholar's rock, two more characteristics of classical Chinese gardens.
One of the bigger pavilions on site posed as shady resting spots and was strategically placed to have the best views. The one below is hexagonal, it faces one of the smaller prayer halls.
A moon shaped doorway, just like the one I saw at Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown.
One of many stone relief designs, each one is unique and decorative. The one below illustrated the lotus in its bud, blossom and seed cup stage.
Right above the doorway a piece of Islamic calligraphy carved in stone, an attribute of Islamic architecture, one of the few we noticed.The prayer session ended, the men left the hall and strolled through the garden, the two below wore turban like headwear.
A final shot before leaving the site, old bicycles basked in the evening sun. It has been 2.5 years since we were in Xian, somehow this picture in my mind. We enjoyed our visit at the Great Mosque tremendously, I wished there was more time but alas, like every travel story, we move on... until next week, the China adventure continues!

1 comment: