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Imitating Ceremony of Going Out for Battle is an annual event that takes place at the site of Jiayuguan Fortress, a couple of kilometers away from the city of Jiayuguan, in Gansu Province. Jiayuguan City is known for its various historical and folk features and Imitating Ceremory of Going Out for Battle is its most well-known celebration. Jiayguan Fortress is a defensive structure which was built during Dynasty and is included in the defensive mechanism of the Chinese Great Wall.
It was first erected during early Ming Dynasty and had already gone under for expansions before Qing Dynasty. In Qing Dynasty the walls and towers of the fortress went under reconstruction and a tablet, which wrote “First and Greatest Pass under Heaven”, was added. The tablet no longer exists. The fortress used to hold a key role in the area’s security during both Ming and Qing Dynasties and therefore the opening and closing of its gate was a very important procedure, strictly dictated by each government in great detail.
The imitating ceremony that is held here shows the official preparation of the opening of the gate when the imperial army was ready to merge out and join a battle. This ceremony helps the locals remember and honor their history and the visitors to understand the importance of Jiayuguan Fortress as a vital military structure, but also a gate, through which, passed all the economic and cultural exchange in older times.
Things to do
Imitation Ceremony of Going Out for Battle is a major event held by the official state and attended by representatives of the army, the state and local authorities, businessmen and civilians. All official participants are dressed in traditional historical clothes. The opening act of the ceremony is an impressive firework show which lights up the sky of Jiayuguan.
The main gate of Jiayuguan Fortress is first unlocked by an official and then pushed open by soldiers. Once the gate is open a person dressed up as a courtier reads the protocol and afterwards official members begin to check the passports, or other identification documents, of the participants. After the check is over the participants start passing through the gate, leaving Jiayuguan, by vintage vehicles or riding camels.
Camel riding is a typical element of Jiayuguan folk culture. Starting their voyage to the West, participants bid farewell to the image of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu Yuanzhang was the founder and first Emperor of Ming Dynasty. It is believed that he was the one who built Jiayuguan Fortress, in 1372, after the advice of General Feng Sheng who noticed the strategic location of the spot when returning to the capital after winning over the army of Yuan Dynasty.
Additional folk events such as Dunhuang ancient dances and Qinqiang song performances take place in the city of Jiayuguan as well. Furthermore, a show, which includes the playing of the Peace Drum, and other historical presentations are held during Imitation Ceremony of Going Out for Battle.