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Luoyang / Lonyang / Honan-fu

China History Map - Luoyang Luoyang [Lonyang / Honan-fu], located in the west of Henan Province and on the southern bank of the middle reaches of the Huanghe River (Yellow River), is one of the seven ancient capitals of China, known as the ancient capital of nine major dynasties. Since China's first dynasty - the Xia Dynasty - set up its capital here, Luoyang was the capital city at different times of 13 dynasties, including the Xia, Shang, Eastern Zhou, Eastern Han, Cao Wei, Western Jin, Northern Wei, Sui and Tang, over a period of 1,529 years. By possessing Loyang the dynasty of Zhou lasted several hundred years, but by abandoning it the Ch'in dynasty came to grief in two generations.

The ruined sites of the 5 ancient capitals of the Xia, Shang, Zhou, Han-Wei and Sui-Tang Dynasties are invaluable rare treasures of the whole world. Major historical sites include the historical sites of Longmen Grottoes, Baima Temple, Guanlin Monastery, and Liuxiu Mausoleum. On the west is the famous mountain defile, Lung Men, decorated with many huge carvings, which include statues of Budha over 60 feet high. To the south is the sacred mountain of Sung Shan.

From the very beginning of Chinese history Honan was for hundreds of years the center of administrative power, holding dominion over the lands now known as Shensi, Shansi, Shantung and Chihli, and in later days its influence extended to the southern banks of the Yangtsze and to the regions of Szechuen. Geographically it is the gate to the impregnable stronghold of Western China the provinces of Shensi, Kansu and Szechuen. According to the ideas of ancient strategists, the person who could conquer Honan had the best chance of capturing the scepter of China.

Of all the historical places of Honan, Loyang, popularly known as Honanfu, is perhaps the most interesting. Situated on the edge of the great plain of Central-North China, it has easy access to the immense quantity of foodstuffs raised in eastern Honan, Chihli, Shantung and other provinces situated further south. Strategically it is the throat of the mountainous regions to the west. Between it and the border of Shensi lies the steep and narrow valley of Hanku, at the western end of which is situated the "brass walled and iron fenced garrison town of Tungkwan." It dominates or rather rides astride the only main road into western China. An ancient strategist once said that with a small lump of earth he could defend that most important place against any invader.

Loyang is full of historical interest. It was built in the Zhou dynasty as the eastern capital in recognition of the successful establishment of Zhou. The city was called Lo-yi or Wang Cheng because it was the city of the King. The reason for the establishment of this eastern capital in addition to the western capital was that Lo-yi or Loyang was the center of the country and equi-distant to all parts of the country which brought in tribute to the Emperor. The latter lived in the western capital; but he always went to the eastern capital, Loyang or Lo-yi, whenever he granted an audience to the feudal lords of the various states. The site, however, was not decided upon until the Emperor had consulted the oracles which said "the inheritance will last thirty generations for 7oo years." Actually the Zhou dynasty lasted for thirty-nine generations, aggregating over 8oo years. Thus the city of Loyang wasto the Zhou dynasty, at leastexceedingly "lucky."

As the Zhou dynasty is the longest and at certain periods the greatest of all dynasties in Chinese history, this little fact must be a source of brilliant inspiration to any superstitious person who has an eye to the throne. On the other hand, it may be interesting to point out that the downfall of the Zhou dynasty, according to Chinese historians, began with the day the formal capital was removed to Lo-yi. In reality, however, it was the beginning of the downfall of the Zhou dynasty which compelled the court to remove its capital. The formal occupation of Lo-yi by the Zhou dynasty was, therefore, the setting of the Imperial sun of Zhou, the reason being that the Imperial Court was then afraid of the "uncivilized people" of the west.

The earliest notice of this city as a royal seat was during the reign of Ping-wang (BC 770720) of the Zhou dynasty, which monarch, it is said, being pressed by the western Tartars, fled from the capital Haou eastward, to the city of Lo, which was hence denominated Eastern Zhou. P'ing-wang (r. 770-720 BC), feeling the weakness of his dominions in the western portions, owing to their being so much exposed to the attacks of the barbarians, removed his capital to the city of Lo, previously known as Tung-tu, i.e. eastern capital. This city, known also as Lo-yang, later Ho-nan-fu, was later the capital of the eastern Han dynasty.

After the fall of Yu-wang the feudal lords arranged with the Marquis of Shon that the late emperor's legitimate son I-kiu, who had been staying with the marquis, should be raised to the throne, and he occupied it under the name of P'ing-wang, Ssi'-ma Ts'ien says, "in order that he might be charged with the sacrifices of the Zhou dynasty." This, it appears, was henceforward the most important duty of the Zhou emperors, who, with the great respect for legitimacy characterizing the Chinese, were required to see that sacrifices were duly offered to their distinguished forefathers. But that is all; the real power went more and more into the hands of the emperor's vassals.

It is perhaps characteristic that under the reign of P'ingwang an important change takes place in our historical sources. The Shu-king closes here its account of the Chou emperors, which is merely a collection of documents or speeches placed on record as being attributed to kings and other historical personages, and contains important lacunae for long periods, during which nothing remarkable is recorded. This fact is sufficient to prove that Confucius did not compile the Shu as a history of his country, or even intend that it should afford materials for such a history. His design was to bring together such pieces as might show the wonderful virtue and intelligence of ancient sovereigns and statesmen, who should be models for those of future ages, but between P'ingwang and Mu-wang there had reigned seven sovereigns of the house of Zhou; and it is remarkable that not a single document of the reign of any of them was incorporated by Confucius into the Shuking.

The first universal emperor Che Hwang-te was determined to break once and for all with the past. To this end he ordered the destruction of all books having reference to the past history of the empire. The measure widened the breach between the emperor and the upper classes, and when, on his death, in 210 BC, his son Urh-she Hwang-te ascended the throne, the wide-spread discontent broke out into tumults. Lew Pang was one of the two generals, who at that time were the leaders of the rebellion, and Heang Yu, the other chieftain, was as blood-thirsty as Lew Pang was merciful. The rivalry between these two chieftains broke out into open warfare, on Heang Yu usurping to himself imperial honors. For five years war raged between the two combatants, and at the end of that lime Lew Pang was left master of the field after a decisive battle before Woo-keang, in which Heang Yu was slain. Lew Pang was then proclaimed emperor (202 BC) under the title of Kaou-te, and the new line was styled the Han dynasty. On ascending the throne Kaou-te established his capital at Lo-yang in Ho-nan, and soon afterwards removed it to Chang-gan in Shen-se.

Wang Mang, rose in revolt, and in 9 AD proclaimed himself emperor. He, however, at best only gained the suffrages of a portion of the nation, and before long his oppressive acts estranged even these supporters from him. In 23 AD Lew Sew headed a formidable rising against him and completely defeated him. He was destined, however, to die by the hands of his followers. In a revolt of his remaining troops his head was struck from his shoulders, and his body was torn in pieces by his own soldiery. His opponent, Lew Sew, was now proclaimed emperor under the title of Kwang-woo-te, and in consequence of his fixing on Lo-yang in Ho-nan as his capital, the line of which he was the first emperor became known as the Eastern Han dynasty. Within this period are embraced some of the most remarkable events in the history of China. During the reign of his successor Ming-te, 65 AD, Buddhism was introduced from India into China, and about the same time the celebrated General Pan Chaou was sent on an embassy to the king of Shen-shen, a small state of Turkestan, near the modern Pidjan.

Buddhism was officially introduced into China in A.d. 67 by the emperor Ming Ti. The envoys whom this emperor sent brought back with them from India two monks with their Pali books, their pictures, and their customs. Their return was celebrated by the erection east of Lo-yang (Honan fu) of the White Horse TemplePai Ma Ssu. This temple has been frequently restored and is preserved to the present time. Tung Cho (died AD 192), in his attempts to bolster up the waning fortunes of the Han dynasty, melted down the bronze statues which he found at the two capitals, Lo-yang (Ho-nan fu) and Ch'ang-an (Hsi-an fu), and also many bronze vessels, melting them into coins.

Lo-yang (later Ho-nan Fu) remained the capital of the Eastern Han (25-220 AD). In 220, under the reign of Chao Lieh-ti, the empire was divided into three kingdoms (San-kwo-chi). The three dynasties include: (1) the Minor Han in Shu (Sze-ch'wan); (2) the Wei, at Lo-yang; and (3) the Wu at Kien-kang (Nan-king). General Se Ma-shao having subjugated China, his son under the title of Wu-ti founded at Lo-yang the Western Tsin (265). During the "period of division between North and South" (Nan Pe Ch'ao), and there were various dynasties: the Sung (420) at Hang-chou; the Ts'i, at Nanking, the Liang, the Ch'eh, the Northern Wei (House of Toba, 386-532 at Ta-tung and later at Lo-yang).

Following the fall of the Tang dynasty came the period of anarchy and civil wars called Wu-tai (five generations) or Ten States: Posterior Liang (907-21) at Lo-yang; Posterior T'ang (923-34), at Lo-yang; Posterior Tsin (936-44), at Pien-liang (K'ai-feng); Posterior Han (947-48), at Pien-liang; Posterior Chou (951-60), at Pai-liang.

There is nothing in Chinese records of travel nor in their archaeological works about the antiquities at Ho-nan-fu, the ancient Eastern Capital of China formerly called Lo-yang. This ancient Lo-yang, of which the name is preserved in the name of the district, is in no way interesting to the explorer, except perhaps the graphic etymology and a significant peculiarity of its name. The authors of the best foreign Chinese dictionaries did not seem quite to understand the value of the word yang. Thus Giles, in his Chinese-English Dictionary, translated this word by "the south of a hill, the north of a river." The word "yang" has to be taken in the sense of "turned to south as to a bright point." Thus, a river's "yang" bank will be the northern bank, as it is turned to "yang".

In the dynasty of Tang, the city of Loyang was made at first a capital and finally a great commercial city. The luxurious life in Loyang was a proverb of those days. Since then, the city dwindled into a half-forgotten town until the completion in the early 20th Century of the Pien-Lo Railway which revived to some extent its commercial importance as the center of distribution for the produce of the provinces of Shensi, Kansu, Szechuen and the regions beyond. Modern Luoyang is a new industrial base in China, famous for its strong heavy industrial strength and congregation of large factories.

China History Map - Luoyang China History Map - Luoyang China History Map - Luoyang




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Page last modified: 20-06-2012 20:36:02 ZULU