Friday, November 25, 2011

Terra- Cotta Wariors

Because Xian was one of the four imperial cities over China's long history, it is also the resting place for many of its Emperor's.  As we drove from the airport you could see a couple of the huge burial mounds.  The most famous was the first Emperor in Chinese history, QuinShihuang, who came to power in 247 BC when he was 13, after his father died.  When he was 22 he came into his full position as King, and by the time he was 39 he had unified the 6 other states, instituted many reforms, standardized units of measurement, money and the Chinese writing, built part of the Great Wall we know today and then declared himself the Emperor!!  He also managed to build a huge mausoleum and an army of Terra-cotta Warriors to go with him into the afterlife.  He was apparently totally frightened of death and no one dared mention the word in his hearing.  At his death in 210 BC his massive tomb was not quite finished, and his son who succeeded him, decreed that all of his concubines who did not have children were also sent to the grave with him along with many of the artisans and laborers so the tomb would be kept a secret.  They have found many mass graves that look as if the people were buried alive.

Outside the entrance to the actual pits, state licensed tour guides wait to be hired.  The whole complex
is massive with many buildings and you really need a guide, or you would just be wandering
This was our guide which the hotel had already chosen for us.  She spoke very good English
and was friendly and funny!!

You have to walk quit a distance to get to the actual complex from where you get your tickets, so we chose to ride in the little cars.

There are six different buildings that cover the various excavation sites and exhibition halls.  I think
this is pit #2.

The story in modern times began in March of 1974 when this man and some other local farmers were drilling a well for water when they discovered large pottery fragments about 1.5 km away from the Emperor's Mausoleum.  This find led to the discovery of the concealed army buried underground!!  Later on two more pits were found and it is estimated that there are around 8000 life sized warriors, and horses
 in the 22,000 sq. m. area.
This is a picture of the Emperor's buried Mausoleum.  The actual tomb has not been opened yet but around 600 other sites around it have been excavated with all kinds of treasures being found.  According to records
they have of the building of the tomb, there are palaces, lakes (possibly filled with mercury) and
many treasures inside.

In 1980 a pit was discovered that contained two half life size painted bronze chariots and horses.

The artifacts had been placed in a wooden box, which over time had rotted and collapsed, leaving thousands of pieces that were painstakingly put back together over a period of 8 years.

The back of the covered chariot.  The window on the side was extremely thin so light could come through,
 and was a sliding window so it could be opened.  It was once painted with many designs,
and some of the color still shows.

I was so excited to actually be here.  It's one of the things l really wanted to see.
This is the largest pit and covers an area of 14,260 sq. m., but that really doesn't mean much till you actually
stand there and see how large it is, and see the rows upon rows of these soldiers made of clay!!!.  And it
was all done before the time of Christ!

I could have stood and looked at these things for a looong time, because all their faces are different, and
the hand positions are  different, and the uniforms are each a little different.  It's just amazing!!

The earth rammed partition walls had wooden beams over top to protect the soldiers, with more beams
and fiber matting on top of that, then all the earth as another layer, and there they stayed through all these
years.  The u shaped protrusion in the middle of the picture is a more modern day tomb that was
dug into the pit.

Pit #1 is made up of infantrymen and charioteers with horses.  The chariots which were made of wood
have rotted away, leaving only the men and horses.

Remains of the pillars which held up the crossbeams can still be seen.  The three rows of soldiers in front were the vanguard and were originally equipped with genuine bows and crossbows.

Behind the vanguard came the columns of soldiers, horses and chariots.
I think these horses are so neat!!!  Even their tails were different.  Some were braided and some tied up! You can see the outline of the crossbeams here.
Excavation in progress.  There were people working in the back section of this picture.

It was such an amazing sight to see!!  Loved it!!
These guys are a work in progress!  You can see they are still  missing parts of themselves!   How patient you must have to be to pick through all those pieces and put a whole body back together. Beneath them
lay many more waiting to be unearthed.  As each man is finished he is put back in the same
position that he was found in.  The base they stand on has been added for stability, but originally
they stood on the paving stones at the bottom of each trench.

Blaine's brother Dallas didn't know what he let himself in for when he came on this trip!!
 I think he enjoyed it as much as we did.

This chariot driver has the horses but no vehicle!!
In one of the other halls they had various ranks of soldiers.  This is a cavalryman.
All these figures were found in pit #2.
This fellow is a high ranking officer and has the fancy hair style and splashy uniform!!

This is a kneeling archer.  You can still some of the color on his armor. You can't see it here
but the pebbling on his shoes was visible up close.
All the horses have their forelock wrapped around the ears and cut short along the neck.  Wonder
what significance that had if any!! 
This poor guy looks rather thin and has no armor!!  The guide said that soldiers were required to
supply their own armor so maybe he couldn't afford any! 

When the warriors were first discovered, the paint on the figures could still be seen, but because
of oxidation and time, they are now pretty much all grey.  Apparently they now have something

developed that can be applied once a statue is reconstructed that will preserve the paint, and so in the future
the soldiers can be seen as they originally were!

It must have been incredible to see them still painted, but they almost look too real and
kind of creepy laying there!!
This is part of pit #3 which is the smallest.  They think it is the command center.
 Notice the tiles on the floor.

Still lots of restoration work to be done in all the pits.

After all that walking and looking, we were ready for a break, so we went to a tea house for a rest.
Not being a tea drinker l had hot chocolate.  Isn't the little pitcher cute?  The round dish with many
little dishes in it had an assortment of teas to try.

You put the loose tea into the top part of the mug and steep it then just remove and enjoy!!
Later on we went for lunch at a local place to have their specialty of wide noodles.  It actually
tasted OK except for the meat which was supposed to be chicken, but we decided the bones were
absolutely too large to be chicken (and didn't taste or look like chicken) so we passed on the meat
and ate the rest!!!

We passed this persimmon tree walking back to the ticket entrance.  Maybe we should have eaten those
instead of the wonder meat!
What an incredible place to see!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Muslim Street Bazaar

Xian (pronounced like she an) has been home to a Muslim community since the Silk Road
was in existence.  The city of Xian was the easternmost point of the ancient Silk Road, and this brought traders and people from around Asia and the Middle East, who brought their faith and traditions with them.  Many of the Chinese became Muslims (mostly the Hui people).  In Xian is an old Mosque which dates back
to the 700's and is still used today, but it's architecture is all Chinese.  The Muslim Street Bazaar, which is also called Islamic Street, is filled with shops and restaurants and street vendors selling all sorts of exotic goodies!

These are called Jujube or Chinese dates.
I think these are goat or lamb's feet.  These people and their love of eating animals feet!!! 
Looking down the street of the Muslim bazaar.  This main area is relatively wide, but 
the streets leading off it are very narrow and crowded.
Heading into a silk shop.  Beautiful scarves, jackets and dresses.
Seems funny to see such a  mixture of Chinese and Arabic writing and types of food.
These were walnuts which are roasted in this big vat which has salt in it.  They were sooooo good!! 
Selling all kinds of nut mixtures.
Loved this sellers hat!!
Here you could mix and match your ingredients and then it was put in this big pan for cooking.

These guys dishes looked more Chinese in style. 
This shop had some neat stuff inside and lots of junk outside!!
Kebabs of all kinds cooked over a brazier.
Selling persimmons. The season for pomegranates and persimmons was in full swing while we were
there.  You could see trees full of them and sellers were everywhere.
These may have been a pomegranate or persimmon doughnut like things on a skewer. 
Had to try a lamb kebab.  I wanted to eat it off the stick but his were metal and they
put it in a little bowl.  Really good.  A Chinese lady also getting kebabs asked me if

l wanted them really spicy or not so much.  I opted for the not so much.

These are persimmon cakes which are made with rose petals and walnuts. 
This dish didn't look so appetizing!!  It's cubes of  jelly with some peppers and
 other green stuff on top!

Typical street stall.
Loved this guys big baskets  held on his bike with bamboo poles.
This guy had his stall set up right in front of this fire from the store behind him.  Wonder if
his butt ever good singed!!
The streets are very narrow and filled with vendors plus  people riding bikes, motor bikes and  bikes loaded with everything under the sun and everyone is packed in there standing looking at the stalls, eating and buying.  The horns are blasting and people yelling and it's a great experience, if you can manage to not get run over!!

Blaine bought himself a Russian looking winter hat for when we come home!!!
Dallas negotiating a deal!!  As you go further into the market there are all kinds of little shops.
This lady did Bible verses on Chinese scrolls.  You picked the verse and scroll you wanted and she'd 
write it out in Chinese script.  It was interesting to watch her write, and to see a
 Christian influence.  Her family had owned this shop for many years.
 Xian has around 50,000 Muslims in its city.  It's a fascinating place with all its diversity and history and 
there were a lot of things we didn't have time to see but l'm glad we got a glimpse
 of some of  its many sights.