Mazhatage Ancient Castle
Last updated by chinatravel at 2014/11/2
Hetian Mazhatage ancient castle is also called Red and White mountain by the local people, while in 《Song History. Biography of Yutian》, it is named "Mountain to the Holy land". During the Han and Tang dynasties, it is an important traffic hinge linking all the directions. The mountain originates from the west of the great Takalamagan desert and stops short when it reaches the Hetian river. The mountain has quite boundless and unique natural view with the white counterfort to its north and the red couterfort to its south. The castle lies within Moyu county of Hetian and is about 180 kilometers north of Hetian city. It is first concluded as a site of the Tang Dynasty. Still some historians think it is built in the time of Banchao in Han Dynasty, but lack solid historic evidence.
The castle is well preserved with the city gate, the observatory, and the circumvallation in good conditions. The total area is 1,100 square meters, and the wall is 1.5 meters thick. All the buildings were made of umber puddle combined with poplar branches.
Under the castle, there are cuniculuses linking the underground storehouse, and the plane of the castle consists of two rectangles. The building can be divided into three layers: the first and the second layers stands on the ridge, joining together the east and the west, while the third layer is a subordinate part closely attached to the other two layers. The first layer consists of a southern chamber and a northern chamber, and is the most important part of the castle with its solid and steady construction. The second layer lies to the east of the first layer, it seems like a barracks, but is not as well protected as the first layer. The third layer is 6 to 7 meters lower on the mountain's northern slope with a door on the east side functioned as the passage to the outside.
Outside of the door is the place for raising livestocks, and is piled with litters and dunghills. 50 meters west of the castle is a signal fire framework of 7.5 meters high. There is also a site of Buddha temple on the mesa 20 meters away from the castle's northeastern slope, it might be a temporary habitat for those wandering monks. On the southern broken cliff of the castle, there is a grotto, and in 1908 and 1913, Stein has been to this place for two times, digging out large amount of cultural relics, such as tortoise-shaped red pottery dishes, the embossment mold of the sitting Buddha, some woodworks, woolen works, metal works and leatherworks, what’s more rare and valuable were various kinds of manuscripts, including many long-stored wood chips. These manuscripts were in Chinese, Yutian language, Arabic language, and Uigur language. We have no means to make sure when the site is abandoned, but according to the record in the manuscript of the Han Dynasty, it occurred during the years between 658 A.D. and 787 A.D..
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rent a cross-country jeep car to reach the site.
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