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Zhangye and Around


Zhangye is located in the middle of the Hexi Corridor bordering Wuwei and Jinchang on the east and Jiuquan on the west. It was first established as a prefecture in Gansu after Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty sent General Huo Cubing on a victorious expedition against the Xiongnu (Hun) in 121 B.C. On of the four ancient prefectures west of the Yellow River in Gansu, Zhangye served as a political, economic, and cultural center, as well as a center for diplomatic activities in Northwest China through the ages.

Zhangye is rich in tourism resources, the best-known tourist attractions being Dafo: (Giant Buddha Temple), Mutasi (Wooden Pagoda Temple), and Gulou (Drum Tower).

Dafosi (Giant Buddha Temple)

Dafosi, is located within the city of ZhangyE It was built in 1098 during the Western Xia period and revamped many times during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The main hall that house the giant Buddha was restored during th, Qianlong reign (1736-1795) of the Qing Dynasty The hall is 49 meters wide and 24 meters deep with a total floor space of 1,370 square meters It is the largest structure dating from the West ern Xia period in Gansu.

The giant Buddha lies in the middle of the hall. A massive painted clay statue with a wooden skeleton, it is 34.5 meters long and 7.5 meter from shoulder to shoulder and its ears exceed meters in length. The walls of the hall are covered with paintings. Apart from some pictures o the Buddha's warrior attendants, most of these murals depict Buddhist stories and episodes from Journey to the West, a classic Chinese mythological novel written during the Ming Dynasty.

The temple has in its collection a great number of brick and wood carvings and a rare cop, of Tripitaka, which provide good material for the study of the history of Buddhism, architecture culture, and arts in the area west of the Yellov River in Gansu in ancient times.

Matisi is located on the west bank of the Mati (Horse's Hoof) River in the Sunan Yugur Autonomous County at the foot of the Qilain Mountains some 65 kilometers south of the city of Zhangye. Legend has it that God Erlang stopped to relax his horse here when he was pursuing the fleeing sun. To remember the god, the locals built a temple here and so named it because the god's horse had left foofprints on the riverbank.


Matisi is a complex of grottoes. It consists of the Asvajit Cave Temple, the Universal Light Caves, the Thousand-Buddha Caves, the Golden Pagoda Caves, and the Upper, Middle, and Lower Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) Caves. Matisi is built within a high cliff face and accessible only via an amazing passageway through the caves.

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