The great mosque of Li Pai Sze in Sian, Shensi [Shaanxi] province. Sian was the most important city in China for more than 2,000 years. From as far back as 1122 B.C. it served as the Imperial Capital for the greatest and most illustrious of China's dynasties, including the Western Chou, the Chin, the Han and the Tang. Islam flourished here under the Imperial guarantee for religious freedom. The powerful Chinese influence, however, is evident in the Chinese-style architecture (carved [illegible] tiled roof, upturned eaves) employed in [illegible] construction of this mosque which is believed to be the oldest in China. The Chinese characters under the eaves read: I Cheng -- 'One Truth'