Friday, October 26, 2012

The old Silk Road - Day 6 - Xi'an

Bacon, eggs, cereal, toast and juice!  A real American breakfast!  What bliss!  It was a wonderful reminder of home.  Then, on to the Terra Cotta Warriors!  But first, a message from our sponsor...
Terra Cotta Mosleys

We had to stop first (before we'd even SEEN the warriors) at the factory where they make the REAL replicas!  They suffered us to sit through a spiel about how they were molded and baked and kiln-fired and painted and stamped authentic.  We watched the same routine with the porcelain figurines, the lacquered furniture and the other products that were conveniently for sale after the "tour".  We were warned that these figurines were the only ones we could be sure weren't painted with lead paint, so we went ahead and made our purchases here.  Be sure to read your receipt before signing it (when using Visa) because I had talked them into a lower price, but they charged me higher.  I didn't discover that until later when I got out my glasses.  That spoiled the day for me, as I felt cheated.  That's why I don't like shopping in cultures where you are expected to barter.  I never feel like I do it right! 

But we finally made it past the holiday crowds and shoved our way to the front of the pit where we could gaze down at the famous Qin Terra Cotta Warriors.

I was surprised to learn that almost all of the warriors were found smashed when they were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers trying to dig a well.  (This farmer lost his livelihood when the government took over his farm, so now they let him work in the gift shop autographing books and selling his photo!)  Many of the statues you see are only reproductions.  But there is a huge "hospital" at one end of the enclosure where the pieces of the warriors are being painstakingly reassembled and prepared for display.  The armies originally were painted in bright colors which faded after only 4 minutes of contact with oxygen.  There are still huge pits which have been left unopened until such time as they can learn a method to protect the artifacts from the oxidation which will destroy the paint.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, put 720,000 people to work on this army (and the Great Wall) to protect him after his death, and give him people to rule over.  (One-fourth of these people died in their efforts.)  He was also the originator of the Great Wall, meant to protect his Empire from invaders.  Qin (pronouned "chin" and where the word "China" originated) died at age 49 because he was drinking mercury-laced elixirs thought to bring eternal life.  You can read more about it on Wikipedia!
Bronze chariot for escorting the dead to the afterlife.

With my hands on the kneeling archer.
 This was the only warrior so far who was found still in one piece.  He's a kneeling archer, but his bow has long since deteriorated.  You can tell what rank the men have by their uniforms and hairstyles!  Each warrior is unique in appearance because they made separate pieces, assembled them in different patterns, then added extra clay to create differing facial features.

Of course Kirk wanted to pose by one of the 8 generals who have been found so far (even though Kirk's only a Captain).  There are a total of about 8000 terra cotta warriors in all.

Xi'an has an old city wall built in 1370 that is still completely intact with a moat around the outside.  Unfortunately, we were so long at the warriors (because of the mobs of people) that we didn't have time to rent a bike and ride all the way (8-1/2 miles) around the wall.  But we did walk along and see some lovely sights.
Yes, that's air pollution clouding the views.

The wall was meant for protection, of course, and has some beautiful Chinese pagoda-style buildings along the ramparts.  It's quite wide so there was plenty of room to march a whole army along the top of it (40-46').  No stairs, though, as on the Great Wall of China; only those that you take from ground level to the top.

Watching the Chinese people is always an interesting pastime.  Heartstrings are tugged when you see some of the more destitute.
Some kind of "garage sale" on the dirt.

See the woman just above the yellow box?  I don't know if she lives here or what?
Then again, there are some tender mercies when you see something that reminds you of a loved one or brings you back closer to home.
My Dad walked just like this the last years of his life.
   We went downtown to the large fountain near the Buddhist Temple and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.  It was fun to see the Chinese boys enjoying some familiar long board skating.
Hey Mark & Caitlin--what do you think?  Want to join them? (Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the background.)
We enjoyed hearing the music and watching the fountain show, but had the most fun talking to the Chinese youth and watching the little children.  Everyone is so excited to talk to the foreigners, and they all want their pictures taken with us, making the traditional "V" with their fingers.
Largest Musical Fountain Show in Asia

Mmmm, cotton candy!

Little Tang Princess

Trees lit up after the show--red, of course!

Our new friends in Xi'an

1 comment:

  1. Dad and Evelyn and I saw a handful of Terra cotta warriors on display at the BYU Art museum one year when we went. When I glanced at that picture I immediately thought it looked like grandpa too.