Monday, October 14, 2013

'X' for Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China

I am sure many of us have a bucket list of things to be done, before we leave this world. Well, I too have a bucket list and one among them is to visit Xian in China. I have seen lots of pictures, read about it and also seen many travel programs on it on the TV. Here I share with you a few things about this beautiful place, gathered from the net.
I want to see the Terracotta Army, which is supposed to be one of the eight wonders of the world. 

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum.
It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archaeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs.                  .
They had established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).
The State Council authorized to build a museum on site in 1975. When completed, people from far and near came to visit. The Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses have become landmarks on all visitors' itinerary
These soldiers were made to accompany the first Qin Emperor in the after life. The soldiers are hollow, so their spirits can enter,  with each face being different, and they are all  supposed to be very realistic. There are foot soldiers, generals, horsemen and archers, all wearing the proper uniforms.

Emperor Qin ordered the construction of his tomb when he was only 13 years old, an order that involved hundreds of thousands of workers and thirty-six years to complete. It is also believed that Qin ordered that the tomb workers and supervisors involved in its design be buried alive to protect its secrets.
Reminds us of Shah Jahan, who too ordered that all the hands of the workers who were involved in the building of the Taj Mahal be cut. Some say it  was just man made rumors, while some claim it was true.

If one  wants to have an idea about QIn's life, then one can rent the movie,  "The Emperor and The Assassin" a 2 hour 41 minutes  movie which apparently gives an accurate history of Qin's efforts and struggles to unite China. It has sub-tiles in English.

Each soldier is life size and dressed according to his unit within the army. Many carried spears, arrows, swords, and other instruments. However, unlike the warriors and  horses, these were the actual articles and have disintegrated over the two thousand years the army has lain dormant covered by earth.

It is suspected Qin Shi Huang died due to the mercury pills he was ingesting. It is ironic that he thought these would allow him to be immortal.

The site of his tomb is 1.5 km from the Terracotta warriors. The small, forested hill (see photo above) has not been excavated. Supposedly, the tomb contains a wealth of wonders, including man-made streams to resemble the Yellow and Yangtze rivers flowing with mercury to mimic water and pearls inset in the ceiling to resemble the evening sky. Scientists have conducted tests of the area and found the mercury levels are 100 times higher than normal. Nobody knows for certain what is in the tomb. All of the workmen and the artists that built the tomb and warriors were killed. Experts also suggest 3000 concubines were buried alive to escort the Emperor into the after world. All of this will remain a mystery until technology exists which will allow excavation without damaging the artifacts.

It is always so shocking to imagine kings of olden days, spend their money in such bizarre projects. Probably they thought their senseless acts would a source of income for the future generations of their countries.

Sometimes, after reading in detail, how these things have come about, I feel, do I really have to go and see things, behind which lies so much torture and horror: what are your feelings?

Here is a video from Youtube for you and you can watch more of such videos, here telling you the story of this bizarre project of a crazy emperor, they are indeed very spooky and spine chilling:


  1. You always give such good descriptions of places you have travelled and places you want to travel, Rama. You could be a tour guide! Mankind seems to have an innate nature to create something bigger than itself. We do not want to be forgotten.

  2. The wealth of information and the supporting pictures you have given is awesome.But for you I would not have known this place.The kings of the past be it in China,India or Egypt have had weird notions of after life and literally and cruelly murdered countless to accompany them on their supposedly 'onward journey'.Life then had no value then it seems.
    You have kindled a desire in me to watch the film The emperor and the assasin.You must be a voracious reader and browser of the net.Hats off to you!

  3. I had seen these Terracotta warriors for the first time in the movie The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and then in a TV documentary. It is indeed a a very fascinating part of Chinese history. Haven't seen The Emperor and the Assassin...hope I get to watch it too!

  4. I remember watching the TV documentary. It is shocking that the artists behind this massive work of art had to die...Power intoxicates doesn't it?

  5. never knew about this city and havent seen the movie...the pictures are beautful !

  6. Never heard or read about it before.

    does the tomb mimic so many things? Sounds interesting. Will try to watch the emperor and the assasin.

  7. very interesting read! keep posting!

  8. Very useful and informative post.People in olden times(Many now also) spend their manpower and money-power for the life in the other world,not in this world.Thank you for sharing this.

  9. I came to know about it when I visited an exhibit of the terra cotta warriors in Washington DC.
    Your write up made very interesting reading and brought back the memories of this exhibition.

  10. I've always wanted to travel to both China and Japan mainly to observe the way of life there. I am told that the Japanese are very punctual and pay a lot of attention to time. Even public modes of transport are always on time. Similarly, China seems to be associated with people with a strict sense of discipline. It would be interesting to know about the society there and of course the famous Chinese cuisine :-)