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Four Famous Mosques in China

Islam is Arab's religion first, which was introduced into China during the Tang Dynasty and then developed. The first mosque was built in the Tang Dynasty in China.
There are two kinds of sryles for the construction of the mosques in China: one is cylindrical dome of the Arab architecture, and the other is with Chinese characteristics, palace-style architecture.

There are four most well-known mosques in China -- Guangzhou Huaisheng Mosque, Yangzhou Crane Mosque, Quanzhou Kylin Mosque and Hangzhou Phoenix Mosque.

Huaisheng Mosque
That Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou is one of the oldest mosques in China is not surprising, given that Guangzhou was where Islam was introduced to China in the 7th Century. The mosque is established for remember the ancestor of Islam, Mohammed. So the name of the mosque, Huaisheng, means 'remember the sage'.

Huaisheng Mosque is located at No. 56, Guangta Road. Built in 627, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the mosque covers an area of more than 2,966 square meters (3,547 square yards) and features six important buildings, the Imam Hall, the Wangyue Attic, the Covered Corridor, the Storehouse of Islamic Scripture, the Stone Steles Pavilion and the Light Tower.

The ancient here was once the luxuriant workshop where a Arabic businessman lived in concentrated communities. The temple is called cherished holily, is the purpose that the religionist cherishes the memory of the greatest sage of Islam founder Mohammed. It is the important relics of the exchange of friendly visits of China and Arab countries. In the temple door it is watch monthly building, long corridor, stone-tablet pavilion, Book hall, water room, week the hall building to have, the southwest corner stands the famous light tower. The light tower is also called the Huaisheng tower. This is Islam tower, built by laying bricks or stones, appearance is built and wiped with the shell dust of small clam, cylindrical, without level, like the silver pen directs at the skies. By nearly towers of river bank in ancient times, among May and June of every year, the religionist mounted the top of the tower and prayed for the wind news, look at the oceangoing ship of Arabian Sea and take advantage of coming in monsoon.

The mosque is also named Light Tower Mosque. The Light Tower is a minaret, which used to serve as a beacon for boats on the Zhujiang River. In addition, sailors often climb up to the minaret to observe the weather conditions. Although the mosque presents a typical architectural style of the Tang Dynasty, the Light Tower seems to develop a new school of its own, which is deeply influenced by Arabic architectural flavor, an attractive feature of the mosque.

Yangzhou Crane Mosque
The Fairy Crane Mosque was first built in 1275 to serve the needs of the Arab traders and was rebuilt twice in the Ming Dynasty. Its ancient pine and gingko trees are believed to be around 800 years old. The mosque is supposed to resemble a crane in shape: the main entrance is the head; the wells on either side, the eyes; the left-hand path, the neck; the prayet hall, the body; the north and south halls, the wings. Arabic scrolls executed in Chinese calligraphic style hang in one of the halls. There are some 3,600 Muslims in Yangzhou, but the congregation at Friday prayers is less than 50.

Quanzhou Kylin Mosque
The Qingjing Mosque (Quanzhou Kylin Mosque), also known as the Ashab Mosque, is located in the center of Tumen Street in Quanzhou. Throughout the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Quanzhou City was one of the key ports of foreign trade and attracted many Arabs. The mosque, built and repaired by Arab Muslims, reflects the friendship and cultural exchange between China and Arabic countries. Imitating a mosque in Damascus, Syria, it was initially built in 1009 and today is the oldest Arab-style mosque in China. This magnificent mosque covers an area of 2,500 square meters (0.62 acre) and features a gate, the Fengtian Hall, and the Mingshan Hall.

Facing south, the gate is made of diabase and white granite and consists of four conjoined archways. Many of the gate's domes are carved with hanging lotus, symbolizing respect for sanctity and purity. Each carved lotus is surrounded by a web of liernes, which add depth to the carvings. A platform on the roof of the gate allows worshipers to watch the moon and decide when Ramadan begins. To the east of the gate are two stone tablets recording the reconstruction of the mosque in the Yuan (1271-1368) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. Another stone tablet is located just near the gate, engraved with the imperial edict of Zhu Di - the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He spread this edict to protect the Mosque and the Islam in China.

The spacious Fengtian Hall was once the main prayer hall of the mosque. The hall's design depicts the popular architectural style of Islamic prayer halls before the 10th century. Unfortunately, the hall's spectacular roof collapsed in an earthquake, leaving only the granite walls intact. The ornamental walls house stone inscriptions of Alcoran, lit by the large windows carved throughout.

After the earthquake damaged Fengtian Hall, Mingshan Hall became the mosque's central prayer hall. Located in the northwestern portion of the Mosque, Mingshan Hall was built in a more Chinese style and is smaller than Fengtian Hall.

The Phoenix Mosque
The Phoenix Mosque is one of the four great mosques along the coastal area of China. It is also called Zhenjiao Mosque. It is located at Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. It is a mosque established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was ruined in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In 1281, A Laoding, a famous Islamite during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), began to reconstruct the mosque. It was repaired and expanded during the period from 1451 to 1493 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and finally the complex of the Phoenix Mosque was formed. In 1646, the Qing government ordered to rebuild the mosque, making it one of the largest mosques. In 1929, the gate and the five-storeyed wooden Wangyue Pavilion (a place to view the moon) on the top of the gate were removed because of the city construction, seriously damaging the overall image of the mosque. Later the mosque underwent several reconstructions. This mosque, like its precedents, is illustrative of the changing attitudes towards the synthesis of local Chinese and imported Islamic styles throughout the centuries.

At present, the Phoenix Mosque covers an area of about 2,600 square meters, and consists of the entrance hall, the auditorium and the worship hall, etc. The worship hall was built without any girder during the Yuan Dynasty. Many cultural relics and artworks, including some wooden lections and steles, are preserved in the mosque.

The mosque consists of a prayer hall joined to a monumental gateway via a two-storied open pavilion, all clustered within a dense urban complex. The oldest remaining segment of the mosque is the qibla of the prayer hall, which consists of three bays with brick corbelled domes that open into each other with double archways. The central dome is the largest and measures 8.8 meters in diameter. It is flanked to the north and south by lower domes measuring 6.8 and 7.2 meters across.

These three domes, which are visible only from the inside, are covered with distinctly Han-style hipped roofs on the exterior, each with curved surfaces culminating at a finial at the dome apex and covered with convex and concave green tiles. The central octagonal roof is slightly taller than the two hexagonal roofs to either side. The eaves are exquisitely carved, giving the roofline a silhouette resembling the partially outstretched wings of a mythical phoenix bird ready for flight; hence, the popular name, "Phoenix Mosque." Lantern-like box finials in the roof act as skylights for the interior. Brick domes concealed by a temple style roof is representative of the transitional period in Chinese Islamic architecture.

Inside the original three bays of the mosque are covered in black and white tiles, much like a typical home in southeast China. The stark color contrast enhances the boldness of the high domed, beamless space. The wooden mihrab is decorated with delicately carved and more colorful religious inscriptions.

This original prayer hall was expanded during the Ming Dynasty using the local timber construction techniques. A grandiose portal was joined at this time to the enlarged prayer hall. The portal has a high, multifoliate archway from which wooden frame doors with stained glass insets are inset. It is crowned by an Arabic inscription. The entry fa?ade has crenellations at top, flanked by cylindrical finials that resemble Arabic style minarets. The prayer hall extension has a second story encircling a courtyard-like space in the center. Adorned with balconies in the traditional Chinese fashion and accessible via two staircases, this second story also serves as a minaret for the mosque.

The widening of the adjoining Zhongshang Road in the mid-twentieth century has lead to the partial demolition of the prayer hall extension. Presently, the entry to the mosque is a doorway on the west side of the complex. ,
Author/Editor By : Athena