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The Great Wall - Monument to the Chinese Nation

The human race is rich in creative power but has never been content with its lot, with material limitation, but instead has tried hard to transcend it spiritually. A batch of ancient artistic creations such as oral literature, dances, music, drawing and sculptures, were admirable evidence of this in the distant past. Architectural art, considered to be the earliest art of mankind, naturally also found expression. China's Great Wall is a famous example that transcends ideology. Far back to the Western Zhou Dynasty in the 9th century BC, people began to build beacon towers along the borderline. When the enemy came, people used fires on the towers to provide early warning. During the Spring and Autumn Warring States Period, mutually defensive beacon towers were also built along the national boundaries between various countries. In the middle of the 7th century BC, in order to link up various isolated beacon towers bordering the state of Qin, Chu State was the first to set up city walls, becoming the earliest part of the Great Wall. Later, similar walls were built one after another by various states. After Qinshihuang unified China, he demolished the walls between the various states, leaving behind only those of Yan, Zhao and Qin and linked them together, so as to resist the attack by northern nomadic people. This section of the Great Wall goes west from Lintao and east to Liaodong. 

The Han Dynasty extended the Great Wall toward the west and setup the Yumenguan Pass and the Yangguan Pass in Gansu's Dunhuang. Various post-Han dynasties all maintained the Great Wall, with the Ming Dynasty seeing the largest scale of maintenance work, by completing the greatest human project stretching more than 11,3OO li (O.5 km =one li) across north China east to Liaodong and west to Gansu's Jiayuguan Pass. The Great Wall has inner and outer layers, and has more than 2Olayers in some sections. When all the city walls are put together, the Great Wall built during the 2,OOO years throughout all dynasties totals 1OO,OOO li, long enough to circle the globe. Historically, the Great Wall had played a great role, guarding against the inroads of the northern nomadic people and guaranteeing the tranquillity of the central plain, ensuring the unimpeded traffic of the Silk Road for economic and cultural exchanges between Chinese and Western countries, and promoting peace, trade and exchanges among various nationalities at frontier points. 

Today, the practical functions of the Great Wall as defense work no longer exist, but its beauty has long remained up to this date, becoming the object of beauty for sightseeing.

The city walls of the Great Wall extends mostly along the undulating mountain ridges, with close interdependence of precipitous topography-mountains and walls in the Outer side of the mountain ridges often made use of to reinforce the structure. The mystical picture resulting from the combination of points, lines and areas formed by the majestic passes, rotating city walls, strong towers, turrets, enemy fortresses and solitary and unique beacon towers have all become part of the rhythm of beauty. Nature, which originally is completely unrestrained and lacking in feeling, once it become part of people's judgment, becomes a thing closely related with their feelings. Esthetic critics say that the Great Wall "looks like a momentous running hand written in one stroke on the vast land of north China with a huge mystical brush". The enemy tower represents the modulation of the running hand, and the impregnable pass the turning-point of the running hand, forming a complete artistic work. The beauty of the Great Wall comes from its grandeur, a kind of noble beauty characterized by magnificence, firmness, grandeur and boldness. It is an expression of the pioneering spirit of the Chinese who pursue peace and dare to make progress, conveying deep national sentiment. 

Therefore, the Great Wall is not only beautiful, but is also a symbol of the character of the Chinese nation. It is clear that the nature of architectural art not only demonstrates the form of a certain beauty, it also demands playing up a certain kind of strong feeling, temperament and interest, countenance and appeal and finally exhibiting a tendency related to a certain thought and concept, such as the outlook of nature, ethics and religion as well as aesthetic interest, so as to influence and stir people's hearts. If stressing esthetic beauty that only pleases the eye is shallow delight, then stressing the artistic beauty that gladdens the heart is all the more a pursuit of artistic conception, and richer and deeper heart-stirring sincerity. Therefore, Auguste Rodin said, "our France as a whole is contained in Our large church, just as the whole of Greece is contained in the Batenong Temple." Contemporary Western artistic historian Jian Sen also said, "When we recall past great civilizations, we have a habit of using visible and commemorative buildings as a unique symbol of each civilization." Victor Hugo defined a building as a monument to human ideology: "Like all rules of religion, people's thoughts have their own monument. No important human thought is not inscribed on rocks by the architectural art." He also said that architecture is an historical record of rock." Then we can say the Great Wall is the monument to the Chinese nation. 

Based on the broad and profound Chinese Culture, China's architecture has gained unique and great achievements, giving a profound expression to a culture which is the pride of the Chinese people.

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