Xian has been the capital of China for some thousand years. Actually, it was the capital of the First Emperor ( Shi Huang Di, the name means precisely that, First Yellow Emperor. His successor would be the Second Yellow Emperor, and so forever.) He started as king of Qin (the origin of the word China), at the time just one of the Chinese kingdoms, and conquered all the other states.

He was a Stalin/Hitler/Mao type: unified the country, started building the great wall, standardized Chinese script, burned books and buried scholars alive. He was also blessed with some rather monstrous ministers. All his life the First Emperor was preoccupied with immortality, but built himself a huge burial complex near Xian. There is the big mound, which the archeologists have not opened yet, and the terracotta army, found by chance quite recently, in the 1970s. The army would guard his tomb – the former custom of Qin state was to slaughter servants, wives and some unlucky officials and bury them with the dead ruler, so the terracotta is a big humanitarian step forward. But wait till they dig the mound! The general opinion is that there may be many more surprises and treasures in the neighborhood.

The Qin dynasty ended four years after Shi Huang Di's death, when a general revolt established the Han dynasty (Han is the name the Chinese call themselves). The revolutionaries pillaged the terracotta army, to salvage weapons and anything else usefuk; in their fury, they also smashed many of the statues.


The Terracotta Army


A war chariot. It is made of bronze, half scale.

You can see the size of the bronze chariot.

A bronze model of the imperial carriage.

The terracotta troops. About 8000 soldiers have been found, in formation. Their weapons, which were pillaged and the chariots, which were made of wood, are missing. The men and the horses still stand at the ready.

To give an idea of the size of the archeological site. There may be others in the First Emperor's Burial Complex.

Examples of the individual faces – the uniforms are, of course, identical. The heads were made separately and could be slid into the neck opening of each body. It is said that no two faces are the same.

This is a bad photo of the restoration site – visitors are not allowed to come too near. But it shows, IMHO, that the statues are a little taller than life size.

The whole army was standing on a brick floor. Here one can see some disorganized bricks from the diggings.


The City Wall


Xian North Gate

From time to time, they organize a marathon around the city, on the wall. It is a bit shorter than the Olympic marathon.


The turtle-snake, a symbol of the north

The same turtle-snake, on a decorative trashcan

Here we can see from the North Gate the South wall, at the very end of the avenue. Xian is built as a walled square, and had gates only at the four cardinal points. To accomodate modern traffic, there are some new gates opened in the wall, which was, very exceptionally, preserved.

Old and new Xian

The inner court of the gate: ceremonial drums and palanquin.

An elegant row of flags and North symbols.

Another symbol from Xian

Traffic jam, as we saw from the hotel window.

The hotel lobby

Through the window we see the midriffs of the First Emperor and attendants. They form the back wall of the garden behind.


«  simple technology, like making pulled noodles.

Pulled noodles

Actually, Xian is famous for its Dumpling Banquet, which we tried: all kinds of dumplings with various fillings in various forms, flowers, fish, frogs, etc... But I was fascinated by this chef at the restaurant on the terracotta army site. In general, their food is wonderful, and very spicy.



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