Libmonster ID: CN-1319
Author(s) of the publication: V. KUZNETSOV

V. KUZNETSOV, Doctor of Historical Sciences

Beijing is being built furiously. This impression did not leave me all the time driving from the capital's airport to the hotel "Feng Yuan" ("Maple Park"), where I was going to stay. It was preserved during numerous walks around Beijing.

...I'm heading away from the Feng Yuan Hotel toward the place where the peaked dome surmounted by a cross rises into the sky. On the edge of the fence is a plaque that reads: "Cultural monument. Protected by the state." I enter the courtyard. Straight ahead - the majestic dark-gray bulk of the temple. To the left is a squat, nondescript building. Apparently, they live there. On the right - piles of broken bricks, piles of garbage. Apparently, there was some kind of structure here, and now it is a site for future construction. And in the midst of this destruction, the likeness of an obelisk with a niche looks unusual: it contains an image of the Virgin Mary and artificial flowers - a sign of reverence for nameless parishioners. They themselves are not visible in the church at this time: there is no service yet. But it's not completely deserted, as it first seemed. In the dimness of the room, I could make out a woman in faded clothing, her knees bent, her head leaning silently against the wall of the front seat. Her motionless figure gives off a detachment from all the mundane, everyday things that remained there, behind the heavy doors of the temple.

Before I left, I took another look at its bulk. His whole air of detachment and nonchalance seemed to say: "I stood and will continue to stand. I don't care what's going on around me."

Meanwhile, the city is changing its shape very quickly. Instead of the old buildings, not only in terms of age, but also in terms of style, modern buildings appear. There is no longer any Chinese identity in their appearance. Skyward-looking boxes. Geometry without pretentiousness and embellishments. But on the territory of the Sihuang Si Monastery, you feel like in a corner of the old China of imperial times. He was surrounded on all sides by gray standard blocks of houses, and the taxi driver stopped the car more than once, asking how to get to the monastery.

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It was built in 1652 by order of the Emperor to house the Fifth Dalai Lama, who was visiting Beijing. In 1780, the sixth Panchen Lama stayed in the same monastery. He visited the capital to congratulate Emperor Hong Li (1736-1795) on his birthday. The first hierarch's arrival at the celebrations had a fatal outcome: he died of smallpox within the walls of this monastery. I can't help but recall the lines of G. Derzhavin from "Ode to the death of Prince Meshchersky": "Where the table was full of food, there stands the coffin."

By order of the emperor, the Qingjing Huacheng pagoda was erected in the western part of the monastery to store the canons of the late first Hierarch. His spirit seems to resist the idea of a gentile visiting the pagoda: the attendant had to make some effort to open the lock on the fence of metal bars that bordered it.

In the east of this pagoda, by order of Bogdkhan, a bay was erected - a memorial stele. Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan writings tell the story of the Qingjing Huacheng building, which has been grayed out by time. In the opposite direction is another memorial stele. It reproduces the text written by Emperor Hong Li in his own hand: "In memory of the holy monk Panchen".

The current residents of the monastery are students of the Institute of Chinese Tibetan Buddhism. Vice-rector of the Institute, Mongol Cao Ziqiang, spoke in detail about the tasks and curriculum of this educational institution after greeting and presenting the traditional hada, a silk scarf. The vice-rector's story was supplemented by a smiling Danzhong-Radnabajra, the head of the academic department. The third disciple of the conversation was also Mongol Li Decheng, Deputy manager of administrative affairs. Before I left for China, I read his article in Fain Magazine, the organ of the Chinese Buddhist Association. In addition to the author, Cao Zijiang and the "living Buddha" Danzhong-Radnabajra helped to explain certain provisions of the article. "By the way, "he said," the current concept of a 'living Buddha' is not entirely correct. It is more correct to use the term "rinpoche" instead. Such a judgment really seems legitimate: if we say "a living Buddha", then in contrast to this, there must also be a "dead Buddha". The latter contradicts the very meaning of the Buddhist teaching."

- See you soon! - it was a common wish when parting at the Sihuang Si Temple.


...And I happened to visit Nyujie Street (Bull Street) a few years earlier.

Before this visit, I read in one of the popular publications of the People's Republic of China that Nyutse Street will be turned into an exemplary one. This street is a kind of center of life for the Muslim community in Beijing. Signs on various buildings, written in Chinese characters and Arabic script, read:: "Islamic tea shop", "Islamic products". On one of the sections of the street, a banner reads "Huimin Elementary School" (Huimin is the full name of "Huimin huizu" - a people who profess Islam).

Contrary to expectations, I did not find any impressive changes in comparison with my previous stay here. What was particularly striking was the restoration of the ancient Nyutse Mosque. It is one of the oldest in China. It was built in 996 by the Arab theologian Nasriddin. It was not possible to examine it from the inside. The attendant, having consulted; "Am I a Muslim?" After receiving a negative answer, he refused to allow anyone to enter the prayer hall.

Representatives of the leadership of the Chinese Islamic Association, which is located on the same Niujie Street, were cautiously attentive when meeting. The conversation also focused on contacts between Russian Muslims and Chinese co-religionists. As it turned out, official representatives of Muslim organizations of the Russian Federation did not come here. In the time allotted for the meeting, it is clear that not everything was learned about the life of the Muslim community in China. "We hope," the hosts would say as they gave you the latest issues of the Chinese Muslim magazine, " that this will fill in your expectations."

Next to the city center, I saw a Catholic church with a black cross on the spire. One Chinese historian involuntarily recalled the statement: "The Great Wall of China, contrary to the plan of the initiators of its construction, did not protect the Middle Kingdom from the penetration of foreigners and their ideology into the latter's borders."

The presence of the West on Chinese soil, in the capital of China, represents not only the Catholic church. The real presence of the West is in the influx of a wide variety of goods: from wines and confectionery to televisions and haberdashery. But the old familiar China is alive, it is right there... In the twilight hutuns-alleys where there is an inconspicuous life. In the markets located between residential buildings, where they sell from stalls and carts, they also roll out dough, cut up meat and cook-fry-steam.


European-made limousines rush past Tiananmen Square. And right there in the square - bike rickshaws. Seeing a foreigner, they offer

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your services. After hearing my reply: "Sese, buyao "("Thank you, no need"), leave.

Tiananmen is a witness to the official birth of the People's Republic of China. This is recalled by the flagpole on which the five-star banner of the People's Republic of China was raised. The changing of the guard of honor attracts a crowd of onlookers who crowd the square at the exit from the walls of the Forbidden City. In order not to interfere with the audience to see the solemn event, buses passing along the central Changanjie highway stop for a while.

Tiananmen means "Gate of heavenly Peace". For centuries, the sky hangs over the capital's square, being an outwardly impassive witness to the events that took place here. A demonstration of students demanding political freedoms took place on this square in June 1989. Here, followers of the Falun Gong sect tried to commit acts of self-immolation, protesting against the persecution of its adherents by the authorities.

Tiananmen Square is a kind of historical relic. And there are also such exhibits related to the modern life of the PRC, which are not so easy to publicly display for all to see. Let's take at least the same gifts of foreign figures to the state leadership of the People's Republic of China. The exhibition of these gifts is located in the building of the Historical Museum, next to the square. The exhibition fit in one room. This is not like several buildings in the Mekhansan Mountains near Pyongyang, where gifts to Kim Il Sung from foreign heads of state were put on display. The local exhibition clearly reflects the political realities of today. Here is a gift from the President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev - a silver flat dish with the image of Abai Kunanbayev, a Kazakh thinker and educator of the XIX century. There was no place on the platter for Akyn Dzhambul Dzhabayev, a Soviet-era phenomenon. Although, of course, it is fair to say that Abay and Dzhambul are not comparable in importance figures. At the sight of this silver dish, the most banal thought came to me: everything changes. In the XVIII century, the sultans of the Kazakh Middle zhuz (zhuz-rodo-tribal association), which also included the rod N. Nazarbayev, sent horses as a gift to the Chinese Bogdykhan. Kazakhs ' offering of horses to the Chinese sovereign was captured by the Milanese court painter Giuseppe Castiglione (Lan Shinin, as the Chinese called him).

Now other times, and the choice of items for a gift is different.

The eye does not linger on the gifts of American officials. Here is a bird presented by American President Nixon. It seems that this is a product of on-line production. Smooth, even tones. Cold glow. This is how artificial snow or refined sugar glows. There's something soulless about it. To match this craft and another, from another representative of the American establishment. Static and pompous. There is no sense of the master's soulful search. Here, for example, is a figurine of an elephant with a mahout. A gift from Thailand. How much expression there is in the driver's straining body! It was as if he had taken on some of the weight of the log that an elephant holds in its trunk.


..It was like an invisible giant hand shaking the kaleidoscope tube. It was as if there were no noisy streets or crowds. A jumble of rocks, trees and bushes, with openings between them where the cold water had quieted down to come alive in the spring and glisten at the touch of the sun's rays. The road rises to the north and through one of the arches painted in red, white, and green colors we enter the temple of Wo Pho si, the "monastery of the Sleeping Buddha". As if to protect his peace, the warrior snarled fiercely, holding out his dagger. "Stop! Not a step further!" But he remains motionless, and we enter the hall without hindrance, where Shakyamuni Buddha reclined, his eyelids closed, his bent arm propped up under his head. So it remains, no matter how much you look at it. Indifferent to offerings, whatever they may be. Since this statue was cast in bronze during the non-Chinese Yuan Dynasty (late XIII - first half of the XIV centuries), how many different people have been here! And how many pairs of shoes were worn by pilgrims, climbing the mountain paths to the divine monastery.

The monastery itself is much older than this sleeping Buddha statue. It was erected during the heyday of the ruling house of Tang and, quite significantly, the rulers of subsequent non-Chinese dynasties, such as the Yuan, Qing, as well as the sovereigns of the Chinese Ming dynasty itself, which came to power under the slogan "Overthrow the rule of Yuan foreigners!", were concerned about the safety of the temple. And it got its current name from the statue of the sleeping Buddha, cast by order of the Mongol Emperor of China. This is a detail for a story about the role of foreign invaders, barbarians, according to popular concepts, in the fate of Chinese culture.

In the Beijing Botanical Garden, on the territory of which there was a temple in Fo si, there is also a memorial hall for Cao Xuejin, the author of the classic work of old Chinese literature "Hong Lou Meng "("Dream in the Red Chamber"). The exhibition presents numerous materials and documents about the writer and his works. Liang Qichao (1873-1929), a prominent figure in the social and political life of China in the late XIX - early XX centuries, also found his last refuge in the Botanical Garden. His grave looks inconspicuous under the shade of a pine and cypress tree.

Like his teacher Kang Yuwei, Liang Qichao advocated for reform in the Middle Kingdom, and in this they were supported by Emperor Zai Tian. The reforms, however, were opposed by the all-powerful Empress Dowager Ci Xi. Liang Qichao, fleeing for his life, had to seek refuge in Japan. Before him, in the vicinity of Beijing, his implacable opponent, Ci Xi, rested. To the place of her burial .they carry journalists. Them,

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among other things, they talk about the recipes used by Ci Xi, known for her predilection for earthly pleasures, in order to maintain an attractive appearance. Liang Qichao's grave doesn't get much attention. His political activities are more prosaic and not as entertaining as the turbulent life of Tsi Xi, which is sometimes referred to as the Chinese Messalina.

At Tang Zhe Si Monastery, which is located in the Xishan Mountains, near Beijing, the prayer service has already ended. And now invisible monks in low voices intently read the sacred texts, warning and edifying instilling that the future life will turn out as you behaved in this current incarnation.

The Buddha remained impassively detached as I placed a bundle of smoking sticks on the pedestal and a few yuan in a nearby donation box. What does he want with me and my offerings? How many people had passed before him since he had sat motionless here. Perhaps the mountain could have been made up of the gifts that were offered to him.

It seems that of all the deities of the Buddhist pantheon, the goddess of mercy Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara) is most reminiscent of herself through the efforts of people. Shakyamuni Buddha is already in nirvana. Maitreya (Milofo), the Buddha whose appearance is yet to come, sat down impressively. He greets me with a satisfied smile. But he's still a long way from us. And will our prayers reach him? Is it up to them? Guanyin is another matter. In the very name of the goddess is hidden her vocation: "She who hears prayers." And Miao Yang, the daughter of the first Yuan sovereign Kublai Khan, went to her place to worship from year to year. And from her to this day, as they say, there are footprints in the tomb of the goddess. "This is them," they will confidently tell you. Time has preserved the footprints of the tsar's daughter for centuries thanks to her inspired zeal. And how long will it take to preserve the prints of the limbs of movie stars on Sunset Street in Hollywood?

At the barred window of the tower, a stone fish hung like a charm. And the wind that tears the last year's leaves from the trees cannot move the stone body. It is as strong as the faith of those who profess the teachings of the Buddha. For those, it is sacred because it is among the marks on the footprint of the Buddha (Skt. "s'ripada"). It was left by Shakyamuni Buddha before entering nirvana as a memorable gift to later generations.

The fish is also believed to have the power to ward off evil. The text on the tablet for the enlightenment of the uninformed states that during various kinds of disasters (famine, pestilence), people came here to the monastery and prayed to this stone fish to avert trouble.


Tang Zhe Monastery, or Dragon Pond and Tree Monastery "zhe", is a witness to many events in the centuries-old history of China. It is much older than Beijing itself. Tang zhe Monastery was built before Beijing came into being, says an old parable. And this is not an exaggeration! The ancient Buddhist sanctuary claims more than a thousand-year history of existence.

The monastery was built during the Jin Kingdom (265-420) and was originally called "Jia Fu si" - "Temple of good fortune". Later, under the sovereigns of the Jin, Yuan and Ming dynasties, the temple was repeatedly rebuilt and received a new name. In 1692, the temple was expanded to its present size and by the will of the emperor during the reign of Kang Xi received the name "Xiu Yuan si" - "Monastery among mountain peaks and clouds". But the people did not reckon with the monarch's will. In everyday life, the monastery is better known as Tan Zhe Monastery. This name was given to it by the Dragon Pond (tan) in the mountains behind the monastery and the numerous "zhe" trees (Cudrania Tricustoidata) on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the monastery on all sides.

In the courtyard, two old ginko trees attract attention with their appearance. They have their own names: "King of Trees" and "Companion of the king of Trees".

In the same monastery in the 30s of the XX century, as the magazine "Bulletin of Manchuria" wrote, snakes lived, which were called "kings" and had corresponding apartments-lacquered red boxes. Now, however, they are not.

The reverence that snakes enjoyed here is not accidental, but goes back to the mythical ideas of the ancient Chinese. According to these beliefs, their ancestor, the goddess Nuwa, had a snake body. Among the paintings of Master Wu Zhongguang that were displayed in the Beijing Art Gallery, my attention was drawn to the canvas "Nuwa". However, compositionally, the artist placed it so that no matter how much you look, there are no signs of a snake in sight. The view shows the naked body of a large woman sitting half-turned around. You can't imagine any other foremother of the human race. With her skin the color of clay (and the land where the Han family originated is yellow) and her hair down her back, she resembles the Tahitian women of Gauguin. And as if some feeling of sadness or fatigue comes from her...

I went up the mountain to the monastery monastery. A leisurely walk gave him time to tune in and empathize with those nameless worshippers of the Buddha who were carrying the burden of their worries and thoughts to him, seeking solace from him.

The road leads back downhill. On the outskirts of the monastery again surrounded by merchants, offering various kinds of souvenirs and crafts. Market competition, a characteristic feature of life in modern China, is also making itself felt here. These merchants are vying to offer their goods. And much of what they put in their hands can be bought in the shop on the territory of the monastery itself. Smoking candles, however, are better bought here than there in the monastery. "They are cheaper here," a Chinese companion gives practical advice.

Those who folded their hands in prayer in front of the statues of deities were apparently wealthy people. But apparently it wasn't just idle interest or a tribute to tradition that drew them here. The low bows, the concentrated faces, gave one reason to think so. Human life is not only in smart clothes and with a camera on its side. Each of the worshippers was obviously thinking of something different and intimate. The words didn't come out of his mouth, but they were frozen in place...


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