Helanshan Rock Carvings in Yinchuan, Ningxia

Where is Helan Mountain?

Helan Mountain is located in the middle part between the Yinchuan Plain and the Inner Mongolia Prairie, run north-south parallel to the north-flowing Yellow River. Towards its east, there is an irrigated area with the towns of Yinchaun, while towards its west, there is severe desert. It is over 6561 feet above sea level with a peak 11,666 feet.

History of Helanshan Rock Carvings

In the ancient times, Helan Mountain was the place where the northern minorities such as the Xiongnu(匈奴), Xianbei(鲜卑), Tujue(突厥), Huihu(回鹘), Tubo(吐蕃), and the Dangxiang(党项) were stationed. They carved out the scenes of production and life on the rocks of Helan Mountain to express their yearning for and pursuit of a better life, recreating their aesthetics, social customs and life. In the hinterland of Helan Mountain, which is more than 200 kilometers long from north to south, there are more than 20 remains of rock paintings. The most representative of these is the Helankou rock painting.

Content of Helanshan Rock Carvings

The Helan Mountain rock paintings have different contents in different places: the Shizuishan area is dominated by forest grassland animals, such as the northern goat, rock sheep, and wolf; the Helan Mountain area is dominated by various kinds of humanoid heads; The rock paintings in Qingtongxia, Zhongwei, Zhongning area are mainly dominated by grazing and grassland animals, northern goats. In the Bailangou and other places in Helan Mountain, a series of painted rock paintings were also found. The content is mainly based on the characters of riding and fighting, and the image of animals such as northern goats and horses. The discovery of painted rock paintings adds new content and form to Helan Mountain rock art.

Art style of Helanshan Rock Carvings

The artistic style of these rock carvings is wild and dense and thick, in simple design conceiving a unique artistic conception and value. They provide valuable materials for the study of the ways of life, ideas of religion, and war, farming and husbandry, hunting, and astronomy of various ethnic minority groups in ancient China.

Types of Helanshan Rock Carvings

The “rock painting” of Helan Mountain is exactly rock carving. There are also many rock paintings in Yunnan and Guangxi, China. They are also known as cliff paintings, which are painted with pigments and often use red pigments. Most of the “rock paintings” in northern China are rock carvings. Many of the “rock paintings” of Helan Mountain, only Baijigou(白芨沟) is painted with paint, and others are rock carvings.

  • Mountain Prairie rock painting(山前草原岩画)

It is mainly distributed in Shizui Mountain and Huinong County in the northern section of Helan Mountain.

  • Mountain rock painting(山地岩画)

It is mainly distributed in the middle and northern sections of Helan Mountain, and is carved on the cliffs in the hinterland of the mountains.

  • Desert hills rock painting(沙漠丘陵岩画)

It is mainly distributed in Weining North Mountain in the southern section of Helan Mountain. The rock paintings of Helan Mountain are generally distributed on the mountain slopes inside and outside the Mizoguchi and on the desert grasslands outside the Mouth.

Distributed of Helanshan Rock Carvings

Helanshan rock paintings include rock paintings in Shizuishan City(石嘴山市), Pingluo County(平罗县), Helan County(贺兰县), Qingtongxia City(青铜峡市), and Zhongwei County(中卫县) rock paintings:

Shizuishan City Rock Paintings

  • Mai Rujing rock painting(麦如井岩画), which is a rock painting point at the northernmost end of Helan Mountain, generally has a small picture, mostly individual patterns, and has few combined patterns. The picture is mostly animal, and there are also individual characters, plants or symbol patterns. Rock paintings use two methods of tapping and scribing.
  • The black stone rock painting(黑石峁岩画), which is more concentrated, mainly using the chiseling method, a small amount of the pattern carved, and individual scribing methods.
  • Jiucaigou rack painting(韭菜沟岩画), the rock paintings in this area have the image of a tiger, the shape is strong, and the body is decorated with stripes, which are composed of double hooks. The other content is the tower.

Pingluo County Rock Paintings

  • Guitougou rock painting(龟头沟岩画), the rock paintings are mostly facing the west, and the preservation is poor. A considerable part of them are shed or unclear. The contents of the rock paintings are mainly animals, and there are also images of individual figures.
  • Baijigou rock painting(白芨沟岩画), this is the only color painted rock painting of Helan Mountain. It is located on the east side of a natural stone cave in Baijigou. The rock paintings are painted in red. There are 37 groups and more than 100 pieces, which are rich in content. There are battled riders and hunting hunters in the characters; animals include northern goats, snakes, and dogs. The rock paintings here also show the content of reproductive worship and sun worship. 
  • Daxifenggou rock painting(大西峰沟岩画), which is located at the junction of Pingluo County and Helan County, and is more than 30 kilometers away from the county town of Pingluo County. The rock paintings of Daxifeng are like people, figures and animals. There are 8 points in rock paintings.

Helan County Rock Paintings

  • Baitougou rock paintings(白头沟岩画), the rock paintings are engraved with antelopes, rock sheep, northern goats, flying birds and other animals, and there are also horse-drawn horse figures.
  • Helankou rock paintings(贺兰口岩画), rock paintings are distributed on the cliff walls on both sides of the valley. Helankou is the most concentrated rock painting of Helan Mountain. The vast majority of the paintings are human faces, and other characters, dancers, celestial bodies and horses, sheep and tigers. Wait for animals. The rock paintings are mainly based on the chiseling method and the grinding method.

Qingtongxia City Rock Paintings

  • Kouzimengou rock painting(口子门沟岩画), the content is mainly animal performance, and the production method is chiseling. The rock paintings are mainly scattered on the mountain beams, and the number of rock paintings on each mountain beam is small and scattered.
  • Siyanjin rock paintings(四眼井岩画), the rock painting are engraved on the cliffs and rocks of the east side of the Helan Mountain. The rock paintings of each rock painting point are relatively dense.

Zhongwei City Rock Paintings

  • Kujingou rock painting(苦井沟岩画), which is located in the Weishan North Mountain at the southern end of the Helan Mountain. The rock paintings are widely distributed and dense. Rock paintings are carved into almost every vein. Most of its production uses the chiseling method.
  • Damaiyan rock painting(大麦地岩画), which is distributed in the northeast of Zhongwei County and has a wide area of gangs and gullies. The theme is mainly animals, reflecting the characteristics of hunting and grazing. In addition, there are stars and Xixia inscriptions.
  • Zuandongzigou rock painting(钻洞子沟岩画), made on the cliff side on the north side of the ravine. The contents include flocks and horses, deer and camels; horse hunting and hunting scenes, as well as scenes of tribal wars; and double dances, symbols and faces.

How to Get to Helanshan Rock Carvings

Yinchuan—Enter G110 National Road–Go right to Wenchang Road Interchange–turn right to Shiyin Expressway–Helan Mountain Rock Paintings to the left–turn right into Zhenlu Road–turn right into G110 National Road–turn left Zhensu Road– turn right into the rock painting road–Helan Mountain rock painting (Suyukou enters Y051 southward and goes straight for 5 kilometers to worship the temple tower)