China is the largest of all the Asian countries and has the largest population of any country in the world. It covers an area of 9,560,900 square kilometers (3,691,000 square miles), which is approximately one-fifteenth of the land area of the world. According to the recent census, China's entire population was estimated to be 1.2 billion as of February 15, 1995. Both in area and in population, Europe (excluding Russia) is only half of China. China is reputed as the single oldest uninterrupted civilization in the world. The four inventions of the ancient Chinese, namely, the compass, the gunpowder, the papermaking and printing, greatly promoted the development of human society. In the long history of thousands of years, the unique Chinese culture, living styles and customs make China a charming tourist destination.
The Offspring of the Dragon
The Chinese dragon is said to have the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of a cow, the neck of a snake, the belly of fog, the scales of a carp, the claws of a hawk, and the palm of a tiger. It has whiskers and a beard, and is deaf. It is generally regarded as benevolent but is also the source of thunder and lightning.
As a matter of fact, the dragon creation is the of Chinese ancestors' imagination. What the dragon is like is of little significance. What is important is that the dragon is now a kind of cultural phenomenon.
It has become a spiritual tie linking the nation. The dragon, as the symbol of the Chinese nation, has become part of the Chinese people. They have deep feelings for the dragon, and are proud to call themselves " the offspring of the dragon".
China is the birthplace of dragon culture. This has been shown by relics of the Neolithic Age discovered in the Yellow River, Yangtze River and Liaohe River Basins. The first discovery occurred in Chifeng in Inner Mongolia, and in Yulong, in northeast China's Liaoning Province. Archaeologists found dragons depicted on pottery. This gave rise to serious study of dragon culture. Dragons from the Liaohe River Basin have the head of a pig and body of a snake, but no horns. They are a typical dragon pattern with local variations. They reveal the origin on the dragon culture.
Archaeologists predicted that in the Yellow River Basin where primitive culture started, they would eventually find the original dragon culture. Three years later, in the autumn of 1987, three sets of dragon patterns were discovered in central China's Henan Province. One of the dragons was 1.78 meters long with its head to the north and back to the west. Shells were used to shape its teeth and claws, eyes and tongue. Sharp shells were used for the body and hair, giving a vivid three-dimensional image similar to the dragon described in legends. The three dragon patterns belong to the Neolithic period and have a history of more than 6,000 years. They are the earliest and most vivid patterns yet discovered in China.
Tuyang County, where the dragons were discovered, is located in the lower reaches of the Yellow River. It's the cradle of an ancient Chinese civilization and the place where the legendary ancestor Fuxi lived. The discovery of dragon patterns in this region has provided important materials in studying the origin of the dragon culture.
In June 1993, a giant dragon pattern made with cobbles was found in central China's Hubei Province. It was also formed in the Neolithic period. It's four and a half meters long, with its head to the west and tail to the east. On the head, there's a horn. Its mouth is wide open, and its long tongue rolls up to the head. It has two claw-shaped feet, and its tail is turned upward. The different coloured cobbles are built into the pattern, which looks as though it's flying. The dragon was first found in the Yangtze River Basin. Its discovery shows that like the Yellow River Basin, the Yangtze Basin was also a birthplace of the dragon culture. It also shows that Chinese ancestor's worship of the dragon dates back to early primitive times.
Chinese people claim to be the offspring of the dragon on the basis of the legendary figure, Fuxi. Fuxi is generally acknowledged as the earliest ancestor of Chinese nation. He's said to have had a human head, and the body of a dragon. He lived in northwest China's Gansu Province. Later, he led his tribe down the Yellow River and settled in central China. He created weaving and musical instrument skills. Even the "Eight Diagrams" are said to have been worked out by him.
Years after his death, a magnificent tomb and temple were built in his honor in his burial place, today's Huaiyang County. Because of this, Huaiyang gets the name" Dragon City". Today, on the second day of February in Lunar Calendar, thousands of people will go to Huaiyang to worship Fuxi. People hope to be protec .Photo Gallery of CHINA TRAVEL GUIDES