Friday, April 6, 2018

Xi'an. Back to the Great Mosque.


fter lunch, we plunged ourselves back into the crowd of the streets of the Muslim Quarter and miraculously managed to find our way to the Grand Mosque.  It was funny that at one point, we crossed paths with two Muslim men and without exchanging a single word, they pointed us in the direction of the mosque.  It was that obvious that we were tourists....even with our obviously Chinese faces!  Of course, using our fingers we reconfirmed the walking directions and then smiled and waved to the very friendly men as we  left them behind.

I always when I've arrived at the entrance to the mosque because there's this vendor who sells the skullcaps.  I think he's been operating from this very same location since I first visited the mosque back in 2009.

You do have to pay to enter the mosque though it never seems like anyone really checks for your ticket so in many ways, it's based on the honor system.  I think the honor system should be respected so we we paid the 25 yuan fee.

I wrote a detailed description about the mosque in my 2016 blog post so I'm not going to repeat the words.  After all, this is my third visit to this place so no need to write any more about it.  If you want, you can read the 2016 posting or else just scroll down through the photos.   In all honesty, I like my 2016 photos better than the ones I shot today.  I don't know why.  Maybe because it was cloudy that day and my photos came out better.  Although there were more people in the mosque complex today and I do very much like to incorporate people into my shots.  In any case, I did take a lot of photos today.

I did note one thing different about our visit today and that was that we noticed women praying....something I had not seen previously.  That I do write a few sentences about in this posting - scroll down til you see the writing and then stop and read it.

Seated on the plaza, just outside the entrance to the main prayer hall, was a small group of women praying.  This was the first time I had ever seen women here other than visitors like me.

It was about 1:30p when we arrived here and I think midday (dhuhr) prayer was still in progress.  While I did notice a few tourists, including women, walking right up to the entrance doors, peeking in AND taking photos, I told the other three that out of respect, we should not follow suit.  So we stood where were were and just looked around.  It was then that I noticed all the Muslim women who were standing around us.  It was obvious that they wanted to participate in the prayer session but there was no place for them to sit on the ground as the other women were doing.

Word must have somehow gotten out to the men because a crew of them shortly appeared with rolls of matting which they laid out on the ground for the women.  You would think they would have already done this as I'm sure that every day, women come here to pray as the men do.

Hmmm....freshly slaughtered meat hanging in one of the courtyards.  Not something you typically see in a religious complex.  Perhaps the mosque has a dining hall??

We all took our time wandering about the complex which is not very big at all.  I think for most first time visitors here, the thing that strikes you the most is how un-mosque like this place looks.  Typically you think of a building with domes and minarets but there are neither here.  It looks more like a Chinese temple than an Islamic mosque but it's just another example of how mosque architecture blends in with the typical architecture of a region.

Before leaving the complex, we decided to use the facilities per Yim's recommendations.  Yim has experience here.  According to her, the toilets here are very clean and indeed they were.  Maybe because it's a mosque. Please make a note of this. 😁

In any case, we were done here and it was time to do a bit of shopping as Yim wanted to return back to an art gallery where both she and I had bought some art work.