13Apr – Xi’an; Terra Cotta Warriors; Museum; Ancient Wall; Dumpling Dinner with Show
While our day started a bit later than our typical 8:30 start, none of us is too smug about lounging around ... we know it’s going to be a long day. Our very informative guide, Lucy, is an encyclopedia of information. She has dates and details that boggle the mind and she is keen to start our “lesson” as soon as we board the bus.
Our first stop is a visit to the only standing city wall in China. The original wall was built in 582 by Emperor Kaihuang. The current structure is an extension that was completed in 1370 by an emperor who thought that enclosing himself in a city with lots of provisions and proclaiming himself emperor was the way to go. it is nearly 14 km around, 12 metres high and 12-14 metres wide. We had 40 minutes to walk as far as we’d like; three of our group rented bicycles and road as far as they could go in the allotted time. Many of us wished we’d all had at least 90 minutes to make the bicycle trip around and take photos. Of course, we’re also anxious to get to the Terra Cotta Warriors.
It’s about a 45 minute bus ride to the Terra Cotta Warrior site in the outskirts of Xi’an. Lucy continued our lessons and taught us common Chinese characters for mountain, China, exit, boy, girl and more. At the Terra Cotta Warrior site, we were surprised by the vast expanse of buildings, a pedestrian causeway and shops. It’s a good 20 minute walk at a brisk pace to get to the entrance. There are new buildings going up around the area; I’m sure a hotel will be here in years to come.
The warriors were discovered in 1974 by four farmers who were digging a well. They thought they had hit a burial site or a place possessed with spirits, so didn’t originally report their find. It is now one of the major tourist attractions in China. Pit number one is completely covered with a metal roof and protected from the sun. Unfortunately, when archeologists first started digging, the colourful soldiers quickly faded when they were exposed to air and sunshine. It’s quite mind boggling to see thousands of soldiers standing, each face a unique.
The first Emperor of the Qin dynasty ordered the creation of the warriors. Pit 1 is the largest of the three pits. It measures 755 feet (230 metres) long from east to west, 322 feet (62 metres) wide from north to south. A Canadian football field is 330 feet by 195 feet wide, so it’s more than double the length and a bit wider. All pottery warriors and horses were made using local clay then baked in the kiln. After firing the figures were completed with painted detail. Pit 1 is a subterranean earth and wood structure. Eleven corridors, divided by ten earth-rammed partition walls, are paved with pottery bricks on which the terracotta figures were placed. The earth walls held up a wood roof that was composed of huge and strong rafters. The roof was covered with layers of fiber mats on which fine soil was filled. It’s quite an engineering marvel. After viewing the two pits, we also had a chance to see the bronze horses that were also found in Pit 2. The entire experience was overwhelming and there’s too much to put into one journal entry ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta_Army
After the long drive back to Xi’an, we arrived at the Tang Palace Dance Show where we enjoyed a sumptuous feast of dumplings (like little won tons), soups and vegetable dishes. Once dinner finished, we were treated to a music and dance production that was based on the tradition of the Tang Dynasty. The sets, costumes and music were a delightful way to end the evening. There are a couple of videos on youtube, but I cannot access them to send a link ... worth a look though.