Zhangye
A Brief Survey
Zhangye is located in the middle section of the Hexi Corridor. It used to be called "Gan',which forms part of the name "Gansu'. It was considered a location for reaching out to the western regions. It has an area of 4,240 square kilo-meters and is 1,410 to 2,230 meters above sea level. The population is around 400,000, most of whom are Han,but also includes Muslim,Man,Tibetan and Yugur. The average annual temperature is seven degrees centigrade with the minimum of --10.2 occurring in January and a maximum of 21.4 degrees in July. The annual rainfall is 129 mm. Zhangye is a fertile land. Wheat ,corn,rice and linseed are the major crops. Watermelons,sweet melons and pepper are three other market products. In addition to agriculture, Zhangye stresses forestry,animal husbandry, fisheries,and industry,especially food processing and chemical, plants. De-hydrated vegetables and furfural (liquid aldehyde -- -- a sol-vent), for example, are two of the products produced by combined efforts with Zhangye foreign trade companies and coastal area partners.
Historical Narrative
Zhangye has had a long history. In 111 BC,Emporer Wu Di of the Han Dynasty dispatched General Huo Qubing to the Western Part of Long (present - day Gansu)and es-tablished the Prefecture of Zhangye;thereafter,it became a political ,economic ,cultural ,and diplomatic center of the lat-er dynasties. In 609 AD, Emperor Yang Di of the Sui Dy-nasty made an inspection tour of the west and held the world - renown meeting in Zhangye with delegations from 27 kingdoms of the Western Regions. From these flourishing periods on ,Zhangye was an important town along the Silk Road.
Zhang Qian, a famous envoy to the Western Regions and General Ban Chao,both of the Han Dynasty;Fa Xian,a famous Buddhist monk and translator of the Eastern Jin ;and China's most famous monk, Xuanzhuang, of the Tang Dy-nasty,all went to the Western Regions via Zhangye. West-ern merchants,scholars and monks passed through Zhangye on their way to Chang'an. It is recorded that Marco Polo, the Italian traveler,lived there for about a year.
Scenic Spots

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

 

Giant Buddha Temple
The temple is located in the southwestern area of Zhangye ;according to archeological research,it was first es-tablished in 196 AD and reconstructed and expanded during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is now the largest temple in Gansu Province. The major building is the Sleeping Buddha Palace in which there is a sculpture of Sakyamuni in the state of nirvana. The sculpture is made of wood and clay and is gilded and painted; 34. 5 meters long,7.5 meters wide at the shoulders,its feet are four meters long and the ears two meters long. The sculpture is exquisite ,well—proportioned, and natural looking. Behind the sleeping Buddha are his ten disciples and ,on the sides ,eighteen arhats,each with a dif-ferent expression and manner. On the walls of the upper and lower floors are painted murals, totaling about 530 square meters,which add to the grandeur of the temple.
Wood Tower
The brick—and—wood tower of Longevity Temple is located on the campus of the Number One Middle School of Zhangye. It was built in 582 AD and is nine storeys tall; at a height of 32.8 meters,it is the highest building in the city. The upper storeys are supported by twenty huge wooden columns. On each corner of the octagonal storeys are carved dragon heads with pearls in their mouths. Behind the tower is a rectangular building for the storage of Buddhist scrip-tures.

Xilai Temple
Situated in the southwestern area of the city, Xilai Temple was built in the Ming Dynasty and reconstructed during the Qing Dynasty. The major buildings of the temple are Guanyin Palace and the Cangjing (Scripture Preserving) Building.
Bell Tower
The Bell Tower is located in the city center. It was first built in 1507 AD and reconstructed during the Qing Dy-nasty. Among the bell towers built in cities along the Hexi Corridor,it is the largest. In this tower,there is an alloy bell cast during the Tang Dynasty. Weighing 600 kilograms ,it is 1.3 meters high and 1.15 meters in diameter.

Folk Customs
Yugur Costumes
With a population of 8,400,the Yugurs are one of the largest minority groups in Zhangye. The Yugur costume is very unique. Men wear long wool "pulon" coats and wool hats. They always carry a knife in their belts. Women wear high—collared gowns with short jackets embroidered around the cuffs ,collars and bottom edges. They also wear small , horn—shaped hats with red tassels and head ornaments of a-gate , shells, gold, silver, and pearls sewn together with beautiful panels of silk patterns, two in front and one in back. Single young women and married women wear differ-ent dresses ~the young women wear bright—colored gowns, green belts, and finely - decorated head bands. Girls at the age for marriage plait their hair into many small braids which are woven into three large braids----two in back and one toward the front.

Local Products
Dragon Beard Vegetable
This is also called"hair vegetable"because of the simi-larty in appearance. It is tasty and highly nutritious ;it enjoys fame as the "Treasure of the Gobi Desert". It is one of the best dishes at banquets and also the best present for friends and relatives.

Apple ~ Pear
The apple - pear combines the best of both apples and pears; it is crisp,juicy,and sweet. Among all apple - pears, Zhangye's are the best.

Wujiang Rice
The planting of Wujiang rice originated in the Tang Dy-nasty ;in the Qing Dynasty,it was designated as a tribute rice. Its grains are plump and highly nutritious.
Chicken Heart Dates
Big dates with small pits,they are bright red and dili-ciously sweet. They enrich blood and vital energy and im-prove digestion. Date soup is a popular local favorite.

Onions
Zhangye onions have purplish red skin and pungent white meat. They are a good vegetable for autumn and win-ter and are sold both at home and abroad.