THE ROCK ART AREA OF HELANSHAN

                                                      SUSHENG

                    HelanShan is the boundary mountain between Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, surrounded by  Wulanbuhe Dessert, Tengli Desert, Weiningbei mountains and Yinchuan Plain,   running northeast at 30. With 200km in long and over2000 meters above sea level, HelanShan is  the  watershed  between the  out flowing  area  and inflaming  area,   and  the  demarcation line  between  the   temperate wilderness grasslands and wilderness, the  monsoon  climate  and  non-monsoon climate.

   The rock art are distributed quite widely  and  relatively  densely overcalls which have 19 sites. There  are  Mairujing, Fanshigou, Great  and Lesser Shoulingou, Hongguozikou, Heishimao, Jiucaigou, Guotougou, Baijigou, Great and  Lesser  Xifenggou,   Baitougoum, Helankou,  Suyukou  and Huohuogou, Kujinggou and Damaidi. Due to big distance between  south  and north in distribution of rock art  and certain difference  in  natural conditions. The Helanshan rock arts are divided characteristically  into three types.

1. The rock art on mountain-front grasslands

   The rock arts of this type are concentrated  on  north  end  of HelanShan. The localities include all groups of rock  art  are sparsely laid out, mixed and disorderly, rock surfaces facing all d directions. The motif designs are animals such as northern goat, sheep, antelope,  deer, horse, dog, snake, bird, and individual hoof-prints, wheel and symbols  as well. The rock arts were done in methods of striking- and- chiseling  and incising, with the former being used more often.

2.The rock art on hilly lands

   The rock arts of this type are mainly focused on the middle  and northern section of HelanShan. They have two  features  in distribution. First they are chiefly scattered over remotes mountains and hinterland. Second most of the rock art are spread over  precipices both  sides  of gullies or along the gullies. Rock arts are densely distributed  .  Rock surfaces varying in size, most of them facing south or east, only a  few facing west. The rock arts are dominated by human masks , with  the  rest of hand prints, foot-prints, the sun and the stars, a few  designs  being animals. The subjects depicted in the scenes include hunting,  herding, life in pastoral area, religious ceremony and fighting with weapons  and vehicle, buildings, plants, symbols. All are  done  by  striking  and chiseling and polishing and cutting, with the  former  being  used  more often. 

3.The rock art on deserts and hills                          

   The rock arts of this type were mainly distributed over  WeiningbeiHills south of Helan Shan. They are scattered  over  exposed  strip- tier-like base rocks on mountain ridges, quite a few of  which  are covered by sand. They are all facing south. Mono- designs  and  combined designer in proportion, most of them are animals.   The  contents deal  with hunting herding and spectacle of religion and scene of daily life.   In addition, the figures include human mask and human figure. All  the  rock arts  are  done  in  the  methods  of  striking chiseling  incising  and polishing-cutting, with the first being often used.

   The upper limit of  the  absolute  date  of  Helanshan  rock art archaeological data indicate those cultural  relics  and  remains dating from all the historic periods since  the  Neolithic  Age. The  lower limits of the absolute date of the HelanShan rock  art were  still carved during the period of Western Xia, Yuan, Ming and Qing.

   By an overall contrast and analysis, the HelanShan  rock  arts are divided into three phases: phase 1,   dating  back  to  Pre- Spring and Autumn-Warring States period. Phase 2, dating from  Spring  and Autumn-Warring States period to Southern and Northern Dynasty and Western  Xia Dynasty. The upper limit of the absolute date is  the Shang  while  the limit of the absolute date is the Song and WeaternXia Dynasties.

   The Helan Mountains rock arts constitute a national cultural art created by different nationalities in different historic ages.   It's reflect that the nomadic tribes of their social form custom and religious belief. Providing valuable materials for the  study  of  the history  of  the minor nationalities in ancient China.                              

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