Monday, 29 February 2016

Terracotta Warriors February 23

We started out day at 8am with a coach ride to the terracotta warriors. Ricky our tour guide proceeded to try to teach us two more chinese words - toilet and thank you. None of us were very successful with the pronunciation of the tones. Ricky explained the Chinese language has 4 different tones and many different dialects. He indicated the word ma can have 4 different meanings dependant on the tone. He indicates Cantonese has 10 tones and he believes it is the most difficult to learn. Ricky also gave us some information on the squat toilets. He said in most places we will be able to find western toilets but not all. He said that the flushing mechanism for the squat toilets are not in standard locations; they may be at the back of the stall or on the side - they will be somewhere but you may need to look for it. He also recommended that we all carry toilet paper as most restrooms do not stock it.

The first empire occured more than 2000 yrs ago. At that time Xi'an area was capital of shin dynasty.  The Emperor ordered his tomb to be built in 246 b.c. when he was only 13 yrs old and this included the terracotta army to protect him in the afterlife. He was a successful warlord and defeated 7 empires by age 27. After the defeat of the surrounding areas he standardized the coins for all 8 empires creating the round coin (round with square circle). The emperor hunted for immortality continuously but was unsuccessful. On method used for immortality at that time, was the ingestion of mercury. It is said the Emperor died of natural causes on a mission. The  prime minister travelling with him felt the death needed to be  kept secret to allow body to be brought home. He ordered the servants to continue to prepare three meals a day to serve to the Emperor and continued to act as if the Emperor was alive. He brought in fish to cover the smell when the body began to decay. When body was back to the home base, the prime minister declared youngest son to be prince which was against tradition as usually the oldest child is heir to family titles. The mother asked oldest son to kill himself which he did. The new prince was cruel. Taxed the people extremely.
After the death of the emperor a civil revolt occurred and all the terracotta warriors were destroyed, smashed in 209 b.c.. They are still in the process of excavating and restoring the warriors. It took over 30 years to built the layout for the warriors to stand and the warriors etc. It was estimated there was 70,000 people tasked to complete this job. The warriors are approximately 6 ft. tall, much taller than the average people at that time. 

The official finding of the terracotta warriors occurred in 1974. The country was experiencing a drought and farmers were attempting to find more water by digging new wells. One farmer found a terracotta hand that was so life-like that he reported it to the officials. The farmer has been given an honorary position at the site and frequents it regularly: he is now 82 yrs old. He also got meet President Clinton during Clinton visit to China.

Three pits are in the process of been excavated.  It is speculated that there are more areas that will be found. Pit one has commoners and warriors. Pit two has warriors.  Pit three appears to be a command center as some of the terracotta warriors are higher ranking warriors.  Given the way the warriors were arranged between walls of clay in battle formation it is speculated that their may be a crystal coffin.  It is believed that once the excavation is completed 80,000 horses warriors, and chariots will have been found. Most of the terracotta pieces that are excavated still have colors on them. Within three months of being exposed to light and air the color fades. No flash photography is allowed in the complex.

A tomb has been found but hasn't been entered as yet. It was determined in 1982 that the mercury content is very high .
5 yrs ago considered entering tomb but concerns that technology may not be able to preserve items. In 1982 found the mercury content is very high. Believed there may be a crystal coffin. Historic records say crossbows and other traps have been set to protect wealth - jewels, jade, pearls, rives of metal, etc. 

Just outside of the terracotta complex we had a lunch at a local home. At least 12 different dishes were served. In this area rice is not grown so local dishes are often served with potatoes, or breads, noodles or dumplings made with corn or wheat. We were served a noodle dish traditional for this area and a flat bread to dip in chilli oil. All dishes were great and the final was apples glazed with carmel. Because it was Niamh's birthday yesterday, turning 21, the second youngest in the group, we also had a birthday cake for her.

We them went to the Muslim market in Xi'an.  This area has the largest population of Muslims in China. A specialty item is a beef in a bun combination that is sold from the street vendors. Ricky recommended that we find food items to take on the train for supper and breakfast. He says food items are sold but they may not meet our tastes.

We then proceeded to board the night train

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