Wuwei, the east gateway of Hexi Corridor and located 280 kilometer north of Lanzhou, was once called Liangzhou, reputed as 'Silvery Wuwei' for its prosperity in ancient time. Though a regional city, Wuwei boasts a population of 989,000 and a total land area of 5,081 square kilometer, making it the second largest city of the province.
Wuwei is a city of rich historical and cultural traditions, and is home to many important artefacts and ruins. Major industries include agriculture (which employs one third of the workforce), food processing, stone ware and liquour production.
The Confucian Temple is also known as the Wenmiao Temple in Chinese, and is situated in the southeast of Wuwei City. This ancient complex dates from the Ming dynasty having been established in 1439 on instructions from the reigning emperor and with the strong backing of public subscription. The construction of the original temple took just 2 years but various extensions have been added over succeeding centuries. The complex covers an area of a little over 1,500 square m and is the largest and best-preserved temple dedicated to Confucius in Gansu Province.
The well-preserved and symmetrically aligned historic buildings together with the collection of stone steles and fine collection of scriptures means that Confucian Temple occupies a very important position in the cultural heritage of the Chinese nation as a whole.
In 1981 the Gansu Provincial Government declared that the Confucian Temple should be a Provincial Relic Protected Unit and at the same time the Wuwei Museum was established on the site. The Museum has a magnificent collection of artifacts that include in excess of 36,000 books, scriptures, calligraphies, paintings and other cultural relics.
Wuwei once occupied a strategic position on the famous Silk Road. In 1969 a farmer discovered a tomb dating from the Han dynasty and which has become a main tourist attraction in the city.
The tomb is situated in Leitai Park so called, as there was a Temple built to honor the Chinese god Leishen on the 10 m high earth platform that was erected during the middle Ming dynasty. The inscription on the tomb shows that it was constructed circa 186-219 BC for an officer from Zhangye, another major town on the Silk Road.
The most important find was the Bronze Galloping Horse. Known in Chinese as "Ma Chao Long Que", the horse is depicted in a full gallop supported on just one foot upon the back of a bird in flight. The statuette is roughly 35 cm high and 45 cm long, weighing 7 kg. The artist is unknown but the vitality and exquisite modeling of the piece has meant that it has been adopted as a symbol for Chinese tourism. The horse may be seen in the Gansu Provincial History Museum.
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