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Published: August 26th 2011
The Great Mosque of Xining, Qinghai, China
At Friday prayers, the Great Mosque of Xining, Qinghai's capital, and the surrounding streets are filled with the tens of thousands of Muslim faithful.
In this TravelBlog #132, Part II of my visit to the Province of Qinghai, I am introducing the "GREAT MOSQUE" of Xining, Qinghai's capital city.
After some research, here is some additional information about this least visited and poorest of the China's provinces:
Qinghai is bordered by Tibet, Xinjiang, Gansu and Sichuan at an average altitude of more than 13,000 feet on the Tibetan plateau. Here, summers are hot and winters are cold and dry.
The province is home of a mix of minority peoples, mostly Hui Muslims and Tibetans, along with Kazakhs and Mongols.
Geographically part of Tibet and historically a distant and obscure region, Qinghai for centuries supported nomadic herdsmen. Later it found fame as a distant "Gulag"!
The central government is making great efforts to develop the capital of Xining, infusing much money into the area, bringing along thousands of Hun Chinese into the region. But Qinghai remains for the time being an undeveloped backwater region, amidst huge mountains, expansive plateaux, and vast deserts.
The capital of Qinghai, Xining is a pleasant, tree-lined city. From the 16th Century, Xining served as a stopover on the Silk Road's lesser-used southern route.
sections surrounding Xining are under intense and un-imaginative construction. Still, most fascinating are the old sections of the city, especially the Muslim quarters surrounding the Grand Mosque, one of the most impressive and largest mosques in Northwest China, located in Xining's city center.
The Chinese-style Great Mosque, one of China's most distinctive, has been restored recently. It was first built in the 11th Century.
XINING DONGUAN GREAT MOSQUE was named for the Dongguan Street inhabited by the Hui nationality and the Sala nationality and has had a history of more then 1,000 years. It is considered one of the most important mosques in Northwest China and "Islam's Highest Seat of Learning in Northwest China". In 1988 it was determined by the Chinese Islamic Association to be the mosque with the most religious service attendants in China.
In the interior court-yard, 2 hexagonal shaped minarets, each about 60 feet tall stand in sharp contrast to the 2 newer and over 180 feet tall minarets. The two pairs are also quite distinct in their architectural styles. The older, smaller pair looks very Chinese. The two tall and newer minarets, attached to the structure at the main entrance, look very
much more Arabic.
Dongguan Great Mosque covers a total area of over 60,000 square feet, and contains such supporting facilities as pools for men and women's bathing, feet washing rooms, classrooms, kitchens, dormitories, public latrines, power and boiler rooms.
Over 7,000 persons attend the religious services every day, more than 20,000 are present at the Friday "Salat al-Jum'ah" (as you can see by the photos in this Blog), and over 120,000 during Islam's holy days.
The "main prayer-hall" is thoroughly Chinese in design, with elements such as flying eaves and brightly colored arches, enclosed within a grand public square, that is usually bustling with devotees and tourists.
The 91 photos will introduce you to the Great Mosque, and my fortune was to meet a young, English-speaking Iman, who gave me permission to enter and take some photos of the interior of the "grand prayer-hall", usually off-limits to non-muslim visitors.
I hope you enjoy the effort I have made to introduce you to this little known corner of China. It was a special experience for me.
I look forward to hearing your comments and your thoughts, and as always, I urge you to enlarge these
91 photos for greater details.
Soon, I will begin my 6th year at Taizhou Teachers College, and I am eager to see all of my returning students again within the next week. Many changes are taking place on our campus, as our college prepares to be incorporated, along with several other colleges in Taizhou, into TAIZHOU UNIVERSITY. A new campus has been planned and will be under construction within months.
It is certainly a special and important change for our students, but for me personally, it has been the small college campus and feeling of family that has encouraged my lengthy stay in China.
Please remember, that I miss all of you, and you are in my thoughts and in my heart daily.
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