Sunday, July 23, 2006

wandering in a mosque in China

quite a surreal experience to be sure! the ancient city of Xi'an (Chang'an) as the start point of the Silk Road has a large muslim community since the Tang dynasty. apart from visiting the terracotta warriors while in Xi'an, we explored the muslim quarter and its mosque.

more of other photos here.

Islamic calligraphy has been morphed with chinese brush strokes on the plaque of the main prayer hall. Inside the hall, the Koran was carved on the wooden wall panels. Over the millenia, Arab immams had preached in the mosque and left behind stone steles of their writings. the mosque were expanded over the centuries by Chinese emperors stressing on religious harmony.

entering the mosque we were greeted by one of the uncle caretakers. when told that we are from Singapore, he started talking to us in pidgin Malay. I countered with my own half-past six Malay as well. He had received many Muslim tour groups from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It was again quite surreal, speaking Malay inside an eighth century AD mosque in the historical heart of China.
the whole area reminded me of the muslim Arab quarter in Jerusalem, with many tiny stalls selling tourist trinklets. but the character of the place came of the living streets that cater to the local muslims as well as Chinese and foreign tourists. it was very interesting to see muslim women walking around in tudong (head scarf) and the men in white caps. don't really feel like China at all, until you walk two streets away.
our driver brought us to this halal restaurant to try soup-filled dumplings. they were delicious and bursting with flavourful broth!
Out on main street, there was a bazaar selling dried fruits and nuts, like dates, walnuts and even dried kiwi fruit!


Post a Comment

<< Home