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Torch adds to region's history
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09:01, July 28, 2008

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· Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
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LUOYANG, Henan: In a part of the country where 3,000 years of history have left indelible impressions on place and people, Chinese calligrapher Zhang Hai also got the chance yesterday to leave his mark for posterity.

The Luoyang-based calligrapher, who is chairman of the Chinese Calligraphers' Association, became the first torchbearer for the Olympic flame's leg in the city of Henan province.

Luoyang was the third stop of the four-day, four-city relay in Henan. It became the Chinese capital as early as 25 AD, when the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) was founded.

The Luoyang leg started at the historical site of the capital of the Sui (AD 581-618) and Tang (AD 618-907) dynasties.

Luoyang was the capital of the Sui for 15 years and of the Tang for 60 years.

The leg was particularly significant for Zhang, because Luoyang is also known among calligraphers for its numerous, ancient stone steles inscribed with some of the finest examples of the art.

"The Beijing Olympics benefited from calligraphy when its logo included elements of Chinese seal carving and calligraphy," Zhang said.

"In this digital age, it is of utmost importance to calligraphers to have their ancient art as loved as the sacred Olympic flame," he added.

The relay went on for about 7km in Luoyang, with some of the 208 torchbearers passing through new district after leaving the ruins of the ancient capital.

The torchbearers ran 33m each in less than 1-and-a-half hours altogether.

On Saturday, the relay had gone through the 2,700-year-old city of Kaifeng in the province, which was the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty

(960-1127).

Wang Liqun, a history professor at Henan University, was the first torchbearer of that leg.

Wang himself is known for hosting a series of lectures on the Han Dynasty on a channel of national broadcaster CCTV.

The torch relay is scheduled to run in Anyang, Henan, today.

The region is known for being where the 3,000-year-old "oracle bones", the earliest form of Chinese script, were found.




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