Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites :Site of Taihe City

The Site of Taihe City is located at the foot of Xicang Mountain in Taihe Village of Dali City, Yunnan Province.
Leaning on Xicang Mountain on the west side and close to the Erhai Lake, the city, strategically located and difficult to access, guarded the strategic passage from Xiaguan to Dali. The city was originally the inhabitation place of the Erhe tribe. In 25th year (737) of the Kaiyuan reign in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the ruler of Mengshezhao, with the support of the Tang regime, defeated the Erhe people, united six zhaos (zhao is a minority group in ancient southwest China), and built the Nanzhao State with the city as its first capital.

The city was built on a large scale. As described in Tang Fanchuo's Man Book, roads in the Taihe City were built with stones and were more than one zhang (1 zhang = 3.3 m) high, stretching several li (1 li = 500 m). The only sites left were two tampered-earth walls. The north wall of 3,225 meters long stretched from the mountainside of the Fuding Peak northeastward to the shore of the Erhai Lake. The south wall of 3,350 meters long stretched from the foot of the Wuzhi Peak eastward to the village on the shore of the Erhai Lake. The remains of the city wall were 4-5 meters wide, and 2-4 meters high. The whole city covered an area of about 3 square kilometers. With surrounding area about 0.3 meters higher than inside ground, the Fuding Temple was built on the Fuding Peak. The base was a 4-meter-thick earth platform, covering an area of nearly 3,600 square meters. It is said that a summer resort and a solid city of the Nanzhao State were constructed here.

A Nanzhao stone tablet was unearthed in the Site of Taihe City, about 140 to the west of Taihe Village and on the west side of the ancient road linking Shangguan and Xiaguan. Erected in 766, the tablet is 3.97 meters high, 2.46 meters wide, and 0.6 meters thick. Taking a rectangular shape, the tablet has a mortise on its top. The top part of the tablet has already disappeared.

The inscription on the tablet was badly damaged. The original text inscribed on the tablet had over 3,800 words, with only 256 words left. The inscription mainly described a series of historical events that happened in the early days of Nanzhao regime, such as the unification of six zhaos by the Mengshe during the reigns of Kaiyuan and Tianbo in the Tang Dynasty, the three expeditions of the Tang regime against the Nanzhao, Nanzhao's surrender to the Tubo, the construction of the East City (today's Kunming City), and the official systems. 41 rows of inscription left on the back of the tablet provided information on official systems and participation of various minority groups in the Nanzhao regime.

It is said that the inscription was written by Zheng Hui, a Nanzhao official, and inscribed by Du Guangting, the censor of the Tang Dynasty. With stylish wording, the article was tactfully written and touching. Taking the feature of both the running script and the standard script, the style of the chirography is vigorous and powerful, resembling the style of Li Beihai. In the first year (766) of the Dali reign in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the tablet was erected outside the Taihe City gate by the ruler of the Nanzhao regime. In the 53rd year (1788) of Emperor Qianlong's reign, the tablet was found by epigraphist Wang Chang. In the 3rd year (1798) of the Jiaqing reign, a pavilion was built by Li Heng to protect the tablet. The tablet provided valuable material for the study of the history of the Nanzhao regime and the relations between the Nanzhao and the Tang Dynasty.

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