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Selasa, 17 Jun 2008

The Great Mosque in Xian, China

The Great Mosque in Xian is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved mosques in China and its location is northwest of the Drum Tower (Gu Lou) on Huajue Lane. According to historical records engraved on a stone tablet inside the mosque, The Great Mosque was built in AD742 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). This was a result of Islam being introduced into China by Arab merchants and travelers from the Middle East during the mid-7th century when some of them settled down in China and married women of Han Nationality. Their descendants became Muslim of today.

Occupying an area of over 12,000 square meters, the Great Mosque is divided into four courtyards, 250 meters long and 47 meters wide with a well-arranged layout. The first courtyard contains an elaborate wooden arch nine meters high covered with glazed tiles that dates back to the 17th century. In the center of the second courtyard, a stone arch stands with two steles on both sides. On one stele is the script of a famous calligrapher named Mi Fu of the Song Dynasty; the other is from Dong Qichang, a calligrapher of the Ming Dynasty. Their calligraphy because of such elegant yet powerful characters is considered to be a great treasure in the art of handwriting.

At the entrance to the third courtyard is a hall that contains many steles from ancient times. The Chinese pagoda styled minaret is located in the third courtyard. A "Phoenix" placed in the fourth courtyard, the principal pavilion of this great mosque complex, contains the Prayer Hall, the surrounding walls of which are covered with colored designs. This Hall can easily hold 1,000 people at a time.

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