Chinese Famous Mosques
Worship Temple on the Niu Street
The Worship Temple on the Niu Street is a mosque with the longest history and the grandest scale in Beijing and also one of the world famous mosuqes. It was built in the 14th year of Tonghe period in the Liao Dynasty, namely, in the second year of Zhidao period in the North Song Dynasty (the year 996). In the 10th year of Chenghua period in the Ming Dynasty (the year 1474), it was bestowed with the name of "worship temple".
The Worship Temple on the Niu Street was originally built by an Arabic learner called Lasuluding, who entered the political field during the Liao Dynasty. It was expanded and renovated during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, and hence it has a concentrated, precise and symmetrical overall layout. The whole temple has a total area of 6000 square meters. The main buildings include the grand worship hall, the Wangyue Tower, the Minarets, the lecture hall, the stele pavilion and the bathroom, etc. The temple faces the west. The halls, towers and pavilions are arranged on a central axis with a clear distinction between the primary and the secondary. It is a unique Islamic ancient building complex in the Chinese style that combines the two architectural styles of Chinese classical palaces and Arabic mosque.
The Worship Temple on the Niu Street is one of the treasuries of Islamic cultural relics in our country. The two Shaihai (the transliteration of an Arabic word, which means a religious learner who is advanced in age and high in virtue) Tombs in the temple are the tombs of two Islamic presbyters who came from Arbic nations to give lectures in the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty. The tombstones are carved with vigorous and forceful Arabic characters, which are rare cultural relics with a long history in the country. There are also a tablet of "decree" bestowed in the 33rd year of Kangxi's reign in the Qing Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty's ancient porcelain incenser, monuments of historical events and a hand-written copy of Alcoran that have been kept for more than three hundred years, and copper and iron incensers and copper boiler of the Qing Dynasty. They are all precious historical relics.
Light Tower of the Huaisheng Temple
Built in the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, the Light Tower of the Huaisheng Temple is one of the mosques built at an early time when Islam was introduced into our country. In honor of the "sacrosanctity" Mohammed, the founder of Islam, it was named Huaisheng Temple.
Occupying an area of 2966 squre meters, the Huisheng Temple faces the south. There are three gates, the Moon Watching Tower, the worship hall and the scripture pavilion successively built on the principal axis; the Light tower is at the southwest corner of the temple. There are also cloisters and monument pavilion. Built in the Tang Dynasty, the Light Tower with a height of 36.3 meters was built of black bricks. The tower has a cylinder shape and narrows upwards. Its surface is plastered with grey. Its body is chiseled with oblong lighting pinholes. There are two spirality staricases in the tower, which whorl up around the center of the tower and each lead straight to the top. There was originally a golden chicken at the top of the tower, which can notify the direction of wind when it circumrotates with the wind. However, in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, it fell down due to hurricane. It was rebuilt in 1939. The pointed top is built by folding and laying brick tooths. The tower is one of the earliest and most characteristic relics of Islamic architecture existent in the country.
Kashgar Aitika Grand Temple
The Kashigar Aitika'er Grand Temple (the Aitika'er Mosque) is built about more than five hundred years ago. The present apparance was developed in the later part of the 19th century. It is the largest Islamic worship temple in China. The temple faces the east with the entrance door opened at the southeast corner. The gate building is built of bricks with a large pointed arch niche in the center and two Minarets connected through courtyard walls on both sides of the gate walls. On the left of the gate, the courtyard wall is very short and the Minaret is relatively thick and strong while the right wall is relatively long and the two is relatively slender. Taking the door as the center, it has an asymmetrical equilibrated composition of a picture. There are also pointed arch niches on the courtyard wall. The round Minaret has small pavilions with cove top. The constant appearance of many large and small pointed arches and tops stresses the unification of design techniques. The worship hall is on the west sided of the courtyard and faces the east. The worship halls of Chinese Islam all adopt this drection so that when believers face the holy niches in the back wall of the worship hall to prayer, they are facing the holy temple in Mekka of Arabia at the same time. The worship hall is composed of the outer hall and the inner hall. The outer hall is very long and completely wide open forward. It adopts the local structure of wooden post, close beam and flat top that has existed since the ancient times. The inner hall is surrounded by the outer hall on three sides. The front wall has a cave serving as a door in the center with very exquisite gesso geometrical patterns.