The Twilight of Morning in the Qianning Plain
Written by the Prospecting Team of Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau
People who once arrived here always could not understand the place names. Seeing the place name “Bamei”, they may raise some doubt that when they heard someone call it Qian Ning while others gave it the name Taining, what is the evolution of these appellations? How do they relate? Therefore, as Bamei is the base camp for our expedition team, it is necessary to narrate the historical evolution of this place and have a good knowledge of the history and current situation of it is essential for our prospecting work.
Qianning is an old place name, and young people may not know its history in detail. In fact, Qianning was once an independent county. But since the foundation of the Republic of China, the warlords in different places of Sichuan have been fighting fiercely together, and the rulers have experienced political chaos under feuding parties, which probably led to the ambiguity of the understanding of the names. Thus, I only found the following few clues from the historical data:
In 1939, on the early days since the establishment of the government of Xikang province, Qianning appeared in the form of the Taining Experimental Area, which was under the jurisdiction of Kangding autonomous area among the Xianing, Kangding and Ya’an areas. But only a year later, in 1940, the Taining Experimental Area was changed to Taining Administrative Bureau, and in 1945, it was officially changed into Qianning County. In 1955, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Xikang Province was incorporated into Sichuan Province, and then it was renamed Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture while Qianning was supervised by the office located in Kangding of Ganzi Prefecture. In 1956, the far-away Qianning County was relocated in Bamei from Qianhui Village. In 1978, Qianning County was officially revoked, and it was merged into Daofu County and Yajiang county. Since then, Qianning County has disappeared in China's administrative maps. In fact, when the Red Army went through Qianning in 1936, they once established a Tibetan revolutionary regime --The central government of the Republic of Boba Yidewa -- in this area. This republic power belonged to the Northwest Federal Government of the of Chinese Soviet Republic Central Government, while Taining was one of several Boba governments at the county level.
Taining, Qianning, Bamei all refer to the same place, that is, the Bamei Town and Xiede Town as we see today. It does not have a long period of history, but until today a lot of people still call it Qianning or Taining, including the Taizhan Ditch we are going to arrive tomorrow. The official name is “Taining-Yuke Provincial Nature Reserve”. People keep such appellation because they don’t want their descendants to forget the history.
Qianning Plain is located in the foot of the Geda Liangzi Mountain, which is the actual Xiede Village that has a former name Qianning County, and the famous Huiyuan Temple lies in the center of the Plain. Qianning Plain is geologically called graben basin, which is one of a series of tectonic basins formed in Xianshuihe fault zone.
The graben basins on the plateau are often not very large, unlike the vast expanse of the top four major basins in China, such as the Sichuan Basin and the Tarim Basin. The basin has an area of only a few square kilometers to tens of square kilometers. It seems clear that the graden basin is surrounded by mountains where you can see the winding flows of the Shequ River below. Besides, you will deeply feel the remains and continuations of the Tibetan civilization. I have ever been to many of this kind of basins such as the Maoyaba basin in Litang, the Zhangde basin in Batang, and the Xialatuo basin of the Luhuo. They all have a visibly complete, harmonious combination of beauty where every beautiful factor on the basin is completely unreserved. The view is spectacular, especially in the morning or evening when the basin is bathed in the morning light or in the setting sun.
Yesterday, I began to pay attention to the angle of the sun shining on the basin when I went down the Geda Liangzi Mountain. I found that the Geda Liangzi Mountain was located on the south side of the basin, and the northern slope of Geda Liangzi Mountain was the best shooting position when the sun rose in the morning. If the weather is good, I am sure to take the most beautiful morning light. At night, I reopened the topographic map again and checked it, then I decided to try my luck in the next morning.
At 6 a.m., both of my brother’ alarm clock and mine rang almost simultaneously. I opened the curtain, and it was still dark. I was scarcely awake and hesitated whether or not to get up when Mr. Lin Ka was fiercely knocking our door. When I finished getting dressed and went downstairs, the others were all waiting for me. You can imagine how expected they were.
The distance from Bamei to the north slope of Geda Liangzi Mountain ranged more than 20 kilometers. The driver Mr. Peng pulled us back and forth to find the best shooting point before we found one position on a hill side of the highway. We let our tripods and cameras be ready, the formation of lines of photographers was spectacular.
In the morning, the sun does not live up to expectations and shone brightly. The far mountains were first dyed red, and the faint red mountains were dense in the thin morning air which looked misty. As the sun rose up, the morning lights dyed the basin bit by bit from east to west. The sun shone on the red tiles in the Huiyuan Temple dazzlingly. Clouds were floating over the roofs of the temple as if the cast had a layer of fairy spirit. The mystery and the sanctity of the Huiyuan Temple were foiled in a deeper way. The village at the foot of the mountain was filled with sunshine, and the water in front of the villages was glowing with white light. The poplars embellished in farmlands, cottages, and river valleys were immersed in the autumn scenery. Golden leaves were burning in flames under the sun, which seemed gorgeous and rich in color. The sun moved as where places were lit. Xiacun Village, where the tenth Dalai Lama Kezhu Gyatso was born, was located in a corner on the foot of the mountain below where we live. The memorial hall built for him was a square two-story building with a red roof and white walls.
In the Tibetan Buddhism, there are not many records about Kezhu Gyatso. He was selected by the Golden Urn System and enthroned at 4. When he was 8 years old, the seventh Panchen Lama baptized him. However, he passed away shortly after he took over the reign at 18. The record for the cause of his death, in the historical materials, is "A sudden death in the Potala Palace”. The reign over the Tibetan areas of 11th Dalai Lama last quite short, so it is not rare that history does not record him in detail while his hometown people all bear him in mind. When he left Xiacun Village for Lhasa, he was only a 4-year-old child, but he died at 18. There was doubt that whether it was lucky for him to accept the glory from heaven or not. Every time when the locals passed by the Palace, they would point to building with red roof and white walls, saying “Look, that’s the birthplace of the Eleventh Dalai Lama! “This young man’s death left his hometown with endless glory and pride.
When the sun shone on us, it was nearly 10 o’clock, while the direct sunlight could not create glamour. Having finished our breakfast, we returned and went to Bamei stone forest on which our expedition focused!