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The History of Xian (3)

Changan was the Sui Dynasty's (581 – 618 AD) capital initially, but the prolonged wars and chaos had seriously damaged the buildings and infrastructures. Moreover, hundred years of sewage accumulation had made the drinking water supply so hard to meet the demand of Changan's population. Royal authority saw this was not an ideal city for a proper capital of a new born and unite nation. The emperor ordered his staff to build a new capital city located in the south of the old one in 582 AD. It had been called Daxing City (大兴城). The architectural project was quickly completed in the following year.

In addition to the great contribution of architecture of Xian, the Sui Dynasty had also established the imperial examination (科举考试), of which the exam method had tremendous influence to China's highest educational system historically. Imperial examination chooses officials capable of handling state affairs.

In 617 AD an uprising had been led by Li Yuan (李渊) the father of the founder of the Tang Dynasty, Li Shimin (李世民), attempting to overthrow the Sui Dynasty in Changan. The uprising was a great success. In the following year the Tang Dynasty was founded. Tang had renovated and expanded the city so much. A grand imperial palace had been built as well. Changan had then become a successful city in culture and scholarship. Ancient Chinese scientist Wang Xiaotong's (王孝通) Jigu Suanjing (缉古算经, Ancient Book of Mathematics) was written in 625 AD in Changan. The book recorded the earliest solution of cubic equation in China.

The first Japanese envoy delegation to China was arrived in 631 AD, there were thirteen times of visits by Japanese official envoy. The last one was in 894 AD.

In 640 AD, Tibetan king Songtsan Gampo (松赞干布) dispatched one of his staff to Xian and sent 5,000 taels of gold with lots of precious jewelries. He managed to conciliate with the Tang Dynasty. The Tang's emperor betrothed Wencheng Princess (文成公主) to Songtsan Gampo. The marriage of the Tang princess in Tibet had successfully introduced the advanced technology and fine culture to the region.

The wiz kid Xuan Zhuang (玄奘, 602 – 664) had become a monk at the age of 13. Two years later he was accompanied by his elder brother and went to Changan, where they had visited many great Buddhist masters and from whom they learnt a lot. When he had grown up he had already mastered the great sutras and he became a famous Buddhist master of his time. However, the local Buddhist teachers had their own views in Buddhism, so Xuan Zhuang would like to further the study himself abroad in India. But his trip was refused by the royal court. Xuan Zhuang did not take serious of such refusal, he went on the trip alone at the age of 28. He came to India after four years of long and dangerous journey. Xuan Zhuang painstakingly studied in the country for five years and warmly welcomed by Chinese people when he returned to Changan, during which he brought with him 657 Buddhist books. He then preached in royal monasteries in Changan and chose twenty senior monks to translate sutras and classics. The unprecedented project took nineteen years to complete. The legendary story, The Journey to the West, which the hero is Xuan Zhuang, whose adventure in searching Buddhist truth is well known among generations of Chinese readers. Xuan wrote the famous work The Anecdotes of the West (大唐西域记). Traditional Chinese Medicine, studies in history, calendar making and ancient geography had been well developed in Xian during the Tang Dynasty too.

The Rebellion of An Lushan (安禄山, 703 – 757) and Shi Shiming (安史之乱) was happened in the year 756. An Lushan was a ethnic Turki born in what now called Liaoning in northeast China. He led rebellious forces invading Xian, killed and looted a lot. The following years his force was defeated by Tang's army and peace returned to the city.

The declining power of the Tang Dynasty had led to the occurrence of many riots and uprisings. In late 880, the rebel forces of Huang Chao (黄巢) attacked Xian and he declared himself as the emperor, but he was expelled from there three years later. In 904, rebel armies abducted Tang Zhao Zhong Emperor to Luoyang and destroyed the imperial palaces and residential houses in Xian. It was a fatal damage for the majestic city. The Tang Army abandoned the original outer city wall and the palace area, but to intensify the fortification of the imperial city, which was called the New City.

The building of the solemn Forest of Stele (西安碑林) had begun in the late Tang Dynasty. Important calligraphy was carved on the steles erected in the garden, which had been moved to the city's center in the Song Dynasty.

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