Provinces

Home - Explore China - Provinces - Shan Xi
  

Provinces

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shan Xi

 

 

 

Shanxi (Chinese: 山西; pinyin:  Shānxī; Wade–Giles: Shan-hsi; Postal map spelling: Shansi) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" (pinyin: Jìn), after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period.

 

The name Shanxi means "mountain's west", which refers to the province's location west of the Taihang Mountains.[3] Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north and is made up mainly of a plateau bounded partly by mountain ranges. The capital of the province is Taiyuan.
 
 

History

 

Shanxi, the territory of state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 403 BC), underwent a three-way split into the states of Han, Zhao and Wei in 403 BC, the traditional date taken as the start of the Warring States period (403 BC - 221 BC). By 221 BC all of these states had fallen to the state of Qin, which established the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC).

 

The Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) ruled Shanxi as the province (zhou) of Bingzhou (幷州 Bīng Zhōu). During the invasion of northern nomads during the Sixteen Kingdoms period (304 - 439), several regimes including Later Zhao, Former Yan, Former Qin, and Later Yan continuously controlled what is now Shanxi. They were followed by Northern Wei (386 - 534), a Xianbei kingdom, which had one of its earlier capitals at present-day Datong in northern Shanxi, and which went on to rule nearly all of northern China.

 

The Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) originated in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. Modern Chinese people are called Tang Ren globally due to the power and impact of the Tang Dynasty in history. During the Tang Dynasty and after, the area was called Hédōng (河東), or "east of the (Yellow) river". Empress Wu Zetian, China's only female ruler, was born in Shanxi Province.

 

During the first part of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907 - 960), Shanxi supplied rule for three of the Five Dynasties, as well as being the only one of the Ten Kingdoms located in northern China. Shanxi was initially home to the jiedushi (commander) of Hedong, Li Cunxu, who overthrew the first of the Five Dynasties, Later Liang Dynasty (907 - 923) to establish the second, Later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936). Another jiedushi of Hedong, Shi Jingtang, overthrew Later Tang to establish the third of the Five Dynasties, Later Jin Dynasty, and yet another jiedushi of Hedong, Liu Zhiyuan, established the fourth of the Five Dynasties (Later Han Dynasty) after the Khitans destroyed Later Jin, the third. Finally, when the fifth of the Five Dynasties (Later Zhou Dynasty) emerged, the jiedushi of Hedong at the time, Liu Chong, rebelled and established an independent state called Northern Han, one of the Ten Kingdoms, in what is now northern and central Shanxi.

 

Shi Jingtang, founder of the Later Jin Dynasty, the third of the Five Dynasties, ceded a large slice of northern China to the Khitans in return for military assistance. This territory, called The Sixteen Prefectures of Yanyun, included a part of northern Shanxi. The ceded territory became a major problem for China's defense against the Khitans for the next 100 years, because it lies to the south of the Great Wall.

 

During the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), the sixteen ceded prefectures continued to be an area of contention between Song China and the Liao Dynasty. Later the Southern Song Dynasty abandoned all of North China to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) in 1127, including Shanxi.

 

The Mongol Yuan Dynasty divided China into provinces but did not establish Shanxi as a province. Shanxi only gained its present name and approximate borders in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), Shanxi extended northwards beyond the Great Wall to include parts of Inner Mongolia, including what is now the city of Hohhot, and overlapped with the jurisdiction of the Eight Banners and the Guihua Tümed banner in that area.

 

During most of the Republic of China's period of rule over mainland China (1912–1949), the warlord Yen Hsi-shan held Shanxi, regardless of the frequent political upheavals shaking the rest of China. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan occupied much of the province after defeating China in the Battle of Taiyuan. Shanxi was also a major battlefield between the Japanese and the Chinese communist guerrillas of the Eighth Route Army during the war.

 

After the defeat of Japan, much of the Shanxi countryside became important bases for the communist People's Liberation Army in the ensuing Chinese Civil War. Yen had incorporated thousands of former Japanese soldiers among his own forces, and these soldiers became part of his failed defense of Taiyuan against the People's Liberation Army in early 1949.

 

For centuries Shanxi served as the center of trade and banking, with the term "Shanxi Merchant" (晋商 jìnshāng) once synonymous with wealth. The well-preserved city of Pingyao in Shanxi also shows many signs of its former dominance as a center of trade and banking. Due to Shanxi's geographic location in the Great China and its natural environment, Shanxi was the richest province in Zhongyuan or Center China. In the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao served as the centre of Chinese banking industry. This county, in contemporary time, is famous for its UNESCO ancient city walls and ancient China's equivalent of modern day Wall Street for its financial importance in history. In modern times, coal mining is important in Shanxi's economy, but severe critics have complained of deplorable mine conditions. Since 2004 the province has been plagued with labour safety issues, including a slave labour scandal involving children, causing significant civil unrest and national embarrassment.

 

 

Geography

 

Shanxi is located on a plateau made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang Mountains) and the west (Lüliang Mountains) and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River runs. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) in northeastern Shanxi with an altitude of 3058 m. The Great Wall of China forms most of the northern border with Inner Mongolia. The Zhongtiao Mountains run along part of the southern border and separate Shanxi from the east-west part of the Yellow River. Mount Hua is to the southwest.

 

The Huang He (Yellow River) forms the western border of Shanxi with Shaanxi. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of the Huang He, run north-to-south through the province, and drain much of its area. The north of the province is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers. The largest natural lake in Shanxi is Xiechi Lake, a salt lake near Yuncheng in southwestern Shanxi.

 

Shanxi has a continental monsoon climate, and is rather arid. Average January temperatures are below 0 °C, while average July temperatures are around 21 - 26 °C. Winters are long, dry, and cold, while summer is warm and humid. Spring is extremely dry and prone to dust storms. Shanxi is one of the sunniest parts of China; early summer heat waves are common. Annual precipitation averages around 350–700 mm, with 60% of it concentrated between June and August. 

 

 

Major cities:

 

Taiyuan

 

Datong

 

Changzhi

 

Yangquan

 

 

Culture

 

Language[edit source | editbeta]

 

People in most regions of Shanxi speak dialects of Jin Chinese, a subdivision of spoken Chinese named after the province, traditionally considered part of the Northern (Mandarin Chinese) group, but since 1985 treated by some linguists as a top-level division, based on its preservation of the entering tone, unlike other dialects in northern China. It is also noted for extremely complex tone sandhi systems. Some areas in southwestern Shanxi near the borders with Henan and Shaanxi instead speak dialects classified in the Zhongyuan Mandarin subdivision of the Mandarin group.

 

Cuisine[edit source | editbeta]

 

Shanxi cuisine is most well known for its extensive use of vinegar as a condiment and for its noodles. A dish originating from Taiyuan, the provincial capital, is the Taiyuan Tounao (太原头脑, literally "Taiyuan Head"). It is a soup brewed using mutton, shanyao (山药, Chinese wild yam), lotus roots, astragalus membranaceus (黄芪, membranous milk vetch), tuber onions, as well as cooking liquor for additional aroma. It can be enjoyed by dipping pieces of unleavened cake into the soup, and is reputed to have medicinal properties.

 

Music[edit source | editbeta]

 

Shanxi Opera (晋剧 Jinju) is the local form of Chinese opera. It was popularized during the late Qing Dynasty, with the help of the then-ubiquitous Shanxi merchants who were active across parts of China. Also called Zhonglu Bangzi (中路梆子), it is a type of bangzi opera (梆子), a group of operas generally distinguished by their use of wooden clappers for rhythm and by a more energetic singing style; Shanxi opera is also complemented by quzi (曲子), a blanket term for more melodic styles from further south. Puzhou Opera (蒲剧 Puju), from southern Shanxi, is a more ancient type of bangzi that makes use of very wide linear intervals.

 

Ancient commerce[edit source | editbeta]

 

Shanxi merchants (晉商 Jinshang) constituted a historical phenomenon that lasted for centuries from the Song to the Qing Dynasty. Shanxi merchants ranged far and wide from Central Asia to the coast of eastern China; by the Qing Dynasty they were conducting trade across both sides of the Great Wall. During the late Qing Dynasty, a new development occurred: the creation of piaohao (票號), which were essentially banks that provided services like money transfers and transactions, deposits, and loans. After the establishment of the first piaohao in Pingyao, the bankers in Shanxi dominated China's financial market for centuries until the collapse of Qing Dynasty and the coming of British banks.

 

 

Tourism

 

Jinci in Taiyuan, famous for its temples and Song Dynasty paintings and architectures.

 

Zuoquan County, famous for its China Communist Party battlefield sites.

 

The Ancient City of Pingyao is a World Heritage Site near Taiyuan. Once a great financial center of China, it is noted for its preservation of many features of northern Han Chinese culture, architecture, and way of life during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

 

The Yungang Grottoes, its literal translation being The Cloud Ridge Caves, are shallow caves near Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall.a World Heritage Site in Datong, consist of 252 caves noted for their collection of 5th and 6th century Buddhist grotto sculptures and reliefs.

 

Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) is the highest point in the province. It is known as the residence of the bodhisattva Manjusri, and as a result is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination, with many temples and natural sights. Points of interest include Tang Dynasty (618−907) era timber halls located at Nanchan Temple and Foguang Temple, as well as a giant white stupa at Tayuan Temple built during the Ming Dynasty (1368−1644).

 

Mount Hengshan (Heng Shan), in Hunyuan County, is one of the "Five Great Peaks" of China, and is also a major Taoist site. Not far from Heng Shan, the Hanging Temple is located on the side of a cliff and has survived for 1400 years despite earthquakes in the area.

 

Pagoda of Fogong Temple, in Ying County, is a pagoda built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty. It is octagonal with nine levels (five are visible from outside), and at 67 m (220 ft) in height, it is currently the tallest wooden pagoda in the world. It is also the oldest fully wooden pagoda in China, although many no-longer-existing wooden pagodas have preceded it, and many existing stone and brick pagodas predate it by centuries.

 

Hukou Waterfall is located in the Yellow River on the Shanxi-Shaanxi border. At 50 meters high it is the second highest waterfall in China.

 

Dazhai is a village in Xiyang County. Situated in hilly, difficult terrain, it was a holy site during the Cultural Revolution, when it was set out to the entire nation as exemplary of the hardiness of the proletariat, especially peasants.

 

Niangziguan Township is located in north-east of Pingding County which is in the junction of Shanxi and Heibei Province. It is an old village famous for Niangziguan.