World Heritage in China: Huanglongsi Scenic Spot
Huanglongsi Scenic Spot was added into World Heritage List in December 1992. Huanglongsi Scenic Spot, with an average altitude of more than 3,000 meters, is situated in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. Huanglongsi Scenic Spot is one of the tourist attractions with the highest altitudes in China. Colored ponds, Snow-capped Mountain, deep valley and forest are Four Wonders of the Scenic Spot. The Scenic Spot consists of Huanglong Valley Scenic Area and Mounigou Valley Scenic Area.
Scenes such as snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, primitive forests and valleys spread in the 3.6-km-long Huanglong Valley. Calcium carbonate deposits cover the terraced slopes of the valley, making it look like a golden giant dragon. The Huanglongsi Scenic Spot is famous in the world not only for its karst scenes, but also for its abundant fauna and flora resources. From the bottom of the Huanglong Valley (2,000 meters above sea level) to the top of the mountain (3,800 meters above sea level), there grow in succession subtropical evergreen forests. mixed forests of deciduous and broadleaf trees. mixed forests of coniferous and broadleaf trees. sub-mountain coniferous forests and high mountain bushes and grassy marshland. Apart from that, the Spot is home to more than 10 precious animal species such as giant pandas and golden monkeys.
The water from melted snow and the karst emerging from below the earth flow together in the Huanglong Valley. The calcium carbonate in the water concentrated to form solid travertine dikes. This gives rise to groups of colored ponds.
Colored travertine ponds are the main landscapes in Huanglong. Altogether Huanglong has over 2,300 colored ponds in eight groups. Different layers of ponds are Joined together just like terraced fields. Large ponds are dozens of square meters, while the small ones are only a few square meters. The calcium carbonate in the ponds deposited to form travertine bodies together with organic and inorganic substances. The water in the ponds is in different colors when the sun shines on it. So the ponds in Huanglong are called five-colored ponds.
With an elevation of 5.588 meters, Xuebaoding Summit, the summit of the Minshan Mountain Ridge, is covered by snow all the year round. It is often shrouded in mist and clouds. The Tibetans, Qiang People, Hui People and Han People regard the summit sacred.
Historic remains of glaciers are still maintained around the summit, some of which have developed into several stripes of huge glaciers, giving rise to thousands of ponds and lakes on the mountain.
Virgin forests spread on the hillsides by the two sides of the Valley.
Different types of flowers and plants are found in the forests. The evergreen coniferous trees and precious flowers and plants add to the charm of the Valley. Statistics show that Huanglong has a forest coverage of 65.8% and a vegetation coverage of 88.9%.
Located in the Huanglong Valley, the Huanglong Monastery was the first Taoist building in northwest Sichuan Province. It was first built during the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu. It is now a religious place for the local Tibetan, Han, Qiang and Hui people with different religious beliefs. The architecture of the Monastery combines both Chinese and Tibetan styles. The annual Huanglong Monastery Fair attracts large numbers of people, which usually lasts for three days.
About 10 meters left behind the Huanglong Monastery perches Huanglong Cave, The exact size of the cave is still unknown. A hall with a height of 20 meters and a width of 50 meters is in the entrance of the Cave, in which stalactite with different types can be found everywhere. Three sitting Buddhas, cast in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are in the hall. Covered with crystal travertine, the Buddhas are the perfect combination of magic force of nature and manpower. In winter, ice stalagmite, ice sheet and icefall in the Cave form a spectacular picture.
Five-colored Ponds Scenic Area
Located near Huanglong Monastery, with an altitude of 3,552 to 3,569 meters, Five-colored Ponds Scenic Area is composed of a series of colorful ponds, which are claimed to be the most beautiful ponds among all the ponds in the Valley. The ponds integrate different colors such as dark blue, grey, gold and azure. Under the Five-colored Ponds stand a tower and a stele, which are believed to be built in Tang Dynasty (618-907). Covered with travertine, the shrubs and grass in the ponds take the shape of bonsai, which are of great artistic value.
Five-colored rushing water climbs over the dyke, leaving an impressive travertine waterfall in Huanglong. The main part of travertine waterfall is 2,500 meters long and 30 to 170 meters wide. Under the sun, the calcium water slowly flows down just like golden sand. The flowing golden water makes the valley look like a golden dragon lying between the snow-capped mountain and the forest. Basically, the colored ponds in Huanglong came into being when limestone was eroded by water. Geologically, this is known as karst landform. Karst landforms are found in many areas in the country. The typical feature of karst topography is that limestone was eroded by water to form stone forests, rock columns, caves and underground rivers. In Huanglong, travertine is deposited in water to form colored ponds. A careful observation shows that many plants such as azaleas and willows grow by the colored ponds in Huanglong. The branches of these plants have long been immersed in the water. As a result, the water is covered by travertine and algae. The minerals in travertine and algae combine to make the water appear in blue, yellow and green. Thanks to the beautiful water, Huanglong appears to be gorgeous against the snow-capped mountains and forests nearby.
The Ancient Town of Songpan
Songpan is a historic city and the gateway of West Sichuan. It is a city with great strategic value. in which the world-renowned Huanglongsi Scenic Spot is located. Up till now, Songpan has been the largest fair on the borders of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.
The ancient city of Songpan was first built in 1378. It took 60 years to complete. Although the city was ravaged by long wars in history, we can still feel its magnificence from the remaining thick walls and tall gates. Songpan, including Huanglong, is home to people of the Tibetan, Han, Qiang and Hui nationalities. But the main residents here are Tibetans. According to experts, they began to live here over 2,000 years ago. They raise yaks and grow high barley. The residents here believe in Buddhism. Both monks and ordinary villagers can recite Buddhist scriptures. Buddha statues are handmade with high barley powder. They are replaced by new ones once every fortnight.
Covering an area of 160 square kilometers, the Mounigou Valley is located 36 kilometers away from the ancient town of Songpan. With an altitude of 2,800 to 4,070 meters, the valley embraces breathtaking natural sceneries and the residents there have maintained old tradition of living.
The valley combines the charms of both Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong Valley. Moreover, it is more tranquil and accessible all the year round. Hills, groves, caves and ponds crisscross in the Valley, with numerous wild vegetations and travertine waterfalls.
In the vast expanse of the virgin forest in the Valley lies the largest travertine waterfall in China, that is, Zaga Waterfall. With great power. it is poured from a terraced travertine rock with a height of 10 meters. At 3,270 meters, the Waterfall is 93.2 meters in height and 35 meters in width. The upper reach of the Waterfall is a series of ponds, while the lower parts are terraced riverbeds.
The Mounigou Valley is endowed with rich natural resources, with luxuriant virgin forests. numerous wild animals, rare wild plants and precious medicinal herbs. The diversified geographical conditions and ecologies of the Valley provide favorable living conditions for the animals. It is the paradise for giant panda, golden monkey, black-neck crane and golden eagle.
During the Han Dynasty, once Duke Zichuan had his hair washed, went to bed before it’s dried, and caught a cold with a syndrome of headache, fever, melalgia, and upsets (known as the chill cold nowadays). The famous doctor Chun Yuyi covered his forehead with ice water to lower the body temperature and prodded Lidui, Xiangu and Fenglong points of the stomach meridian to release the heat of skin, and the disease was cured at once. Emperor Renzong of Song Dynasty once suffered hemiplegia and almost got paralyzed, and was cured by Doctor Xu Xi of the imperial hospital by applying the acupuncture and moxibustion therapy.
The bronze acupuncture figure, made during the Tiansheng period of Emperor Renzong of the Northern Song Dynasty, was the first bronze acupuncture figure in the world, and the first bronze human figure used for teaching acupuncture and moxibustion. The bronze figure is an imitation of the real human body of a young male, who is naked and upright, 162cm high. It is made by bronze casting, with the front part and the back. The outer shell is removable and easy to open and close. When open, the internal organs are exposed; when closed, all parts form a whole integrity. The bronze statue has fourteen incised meridian and collateral running routes and names of 354 acupuncture points on the surface. All acupuncture points have corresponding excavated holes, about 1.2fen deep. The acupuncture point holes connect with the hollow body cavity. After the mercury is injected into the bronze figure, the mercury will come out if the acupuncture point is impaled by the needle. At that time, before the examination on acupuncture and moxibustion, the mercury would be injected into the bronze figure first, and then a coat of yellow wax would be coated on the surface of the bronze figure to cover all the meridians and collaterals, as well as acupuncture points. All examinees would have to rely on their experience completely to place the needle. If they could accurately insert the needle into an acupuncture point hole, the mercury would come out; otherwise, the needle could not enter into the hole.
Moxibustion is to light the moxa wool, moxa stick or moxa cone made from wormwood to fumigate and roast acupuncture points of the human body for the purposes of relieving pain and making people feel comfortable. Moxibustion has been used in China for a very long time and recorded in many medical publications. The moxibustion therapy emerged after people knew how to use fire. Initially, people did moxibustion with various lighted branches, and then, wormwood. The moxibustion therapy has a very good effect on curing cold syndrome, and is easy to be applied at home. The therapeutic range will be expanded and the curative effect improved if the moxibustion is performed in combination with other medicines.
There are many methods and tools for moxibustion. The moxa stick and the moxa cone are commonly used in moxibustion for health care. While performing moxibustion with the moxa stick, one should first tear apart the packing paper at one end of the moxa stick, then light the moxa stick and keep the lighted end right over the selected acupuncture point at a proper distance so that one can feel the temperature immediately; one can raise the moxa stick higher or move it back and forth if he feels too hot. The elderly and the children are not sensitive to temperature and easy to be scalded, so they need the help of another person to perform the moxibustion. When performing the moxibustion, put the index and the middle fingers of one hand on the two sides of the acupuncture point to feel the temperature. The moxibustion box can be used on flat parts such as the belly and the back: put the lighted moxa stick with an appropriate length into the moxibustion box, and then place the box on the acupuncture point.
For moxibustion with moxa cone, it is needed to make moxa wool into small moxa cone first, or directly buy finished moxa cone in the drugstore, and then place it on the acupuncture point and light the upper end. When the patient feels heat, it is time to replace the moxa cone with a new one. To prevent scalding or to strengthen the effect of moxibustion, the ginger slice, garlic slice, salt or other medicines can be placed between the moxa cone and the skin.
Both acupuncture and moxibustion should be performed under the guidance of the meridian and collateral theory and by relying on meridians and acupuncture points. In ancient times, many famous doctors such as Bian Que, Chun Yuyi and Hua Tuo were also masters of acupuncture-moxibustion. Proper application of the acupuncture therapy can also cure chronic disease.
In addition to acupuncture and moxibustion, the acupuncture therapy also includes cupping, skin scraping, bleeding, car acupuncture, etc., which are simple, practical and popular among the ordinary people.
The cupping therapy is a unique therapeutic method of traditional Chinese medicine and has a history of more than 2,000 years. Cupping was called “horncupping” in ancient China, that is, to empty the horn of cattle or sheep and grind it into a cone with a hole, and then stimulate the abscess repeatedly with it: pierce through the abscess at first, and then extract the abscess and pus-containing blood with the hollowed horn. This might be the earliest cupping therapy. The cupping therapy is to use various cups as the tool, and form a negative pressure condition inside the cup by burning the air inside so that the cup can be absorbed on the body surface. The temperature will stimulate the skin and cause dermohemia, so as to achieve the purposes of expelling cold and clearing dampness, dredging meridian and collateral, promoting flow of qi and blood circulation, drawing out poison and purging heat, and regulating yin and yang.
The skin scraping therapy was developed based on the massage therapy, acupuncture, and moxibustion, cupping and bleeding. Zhang Fengkui, a medical scientist of Ming Dynasty, wrote in his book Sunstroke Encyclopedia that if poison and evil entered into one’s body via skin, body hair or mouth and nose, they would block the circulation of the venation, qi and blood of the human body. In this case, the skin scraping and bleeding therapy is the best way to expel the poison and help the patient to recover. The theory of preventing diseases by skin scraping is simple. It is to scrap skin repeatedly on relevant parts with the help of scraping tools, and cause subcutaneous congestion and rupture of blood capillary by stimulating acupuncture points and meridians to produce autohemolysis, so that the poison and evil retained inside the body can be expelled. When blood circulation becomes smooth, the human body will recuperate.