Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BP1: Niuheliang, Mongolia

Spread over a 50 square kilometer of hill tops lays the Niuheliang ritual center and burial site of the Hongshan Culture, located near the Laoha, Yingjin, and Daling rivers that empty in Bohai Bay. 

The site includes 14 burial mounds with artifacts with in them including jades, pig-dragons, and clay female sculptre pieces. There is a main ritual building where the female sculptures were found giving the temple its name of the “goddess temple”. The temple rest on a loam platform, with a cairn and an altar made of stone platforms, supported by clay cylinders. The stone altar is surrounded by pottery vessels that had open mouths and bottoms; this is know as the "heavenly ritual" and is used as a means to communicate between heaven and earth. The temple complex is connected with a central peak of the Zhushan mountains, also know as "Pig Mountain", or known to local residents as Mulan.

The tombs around the temple area are made of stone and built in clusters. The carved jades found within the tombs often depicted pig-dragons or bears. The near-by mountain known as Mulan is described as the shape of a reclining animal. Many believe there is a connection between the shape of the mountain and the shapes of the jades. High-status Hongshan burials often included jades, which gives evidence that there was a social ranking upon the culture.

Many chinese religions have strong relations with the heavens and earth, connecting the people to a higher power. I believe this culture had the same belief. The connection of the temple and the mountain is great evidence of that because a mountain is usually something pointing upward, maybe toward the heavens. The burial mounds were set up and built much like a mountain is which could all be ways the Hongshan culture connected to their deities.