Wednesday, October 13, 2009
This day we are to visit the Banpo museum, big Wild-Goose Buddhist Pagoda Temple, and the magnificent site of the terra cotta buried warriors.
The Banpo museum site is an archeological human settlement, dating back 6,000 years. It was discovered during the construction of a power plant. The power plant was relocated due to the important find. The settlement along an ancient riverbed has been unearthed and covered with a pavilion. We saw the remains of homes, community building foundation, pottery, and open graves with bones. It was quite an amazing site to see, made even more ponaint by the fact that it is located near the center of a city of 10 million people. Leaving 6,000 years ago and on our way to 2.000 years ago, we first had to stop at a shopping opportunity.
The government run terra cotta warrior factory store is interesting to see. It shows visitors the various processes the ancient warriors statues had to undergo in their creation. The factory store also features modern Chinese furniture reproductions and thousands of soldier sourviors—from pocket-sized to life-sized.
One of our customers had asked us to find two to three, life-sized, terra cotta warriors for them. This is the place we found quality made terra cotta warriors with replica painted faces and bodies. So, two life-sized, terra cotta warriors will leave their home in Xi’an, be wrapped and packaged for a long journey to a far-away land, and will wake up in Florida.
Emperor Qin of China, over 2,000 years ago, had crafted about 6,000 life-sized, terra cotta warriors, horses, chariots, and weapons. Each warrior statue was crafted with a unique face and was modeled as per the rank they served in his eternal army—generals, archers, horsemen, infantrymen, etc. The battalions of terra cotta warriors were positioned in each direction surrounding his tomb. After the warrior, statues were put into place they were covered and sealed in trenches topped with wooden beams and earth. Thousands of people were employed and/or enslaved to construct these warriors and the tomb area and the cost nearly bankrupted the country. Over the hundreds of years, the trenches were looted, robbed, and pillaged, as well as damaged by earthquakes and time.
When rediscovered in 1974 by local famers digging a well, the trenches and warriors were in pieces. Since that time, the Chinese have repaired about 2,000 of the warriors and allowed them to remain in the unearthed trenches for the world to witness. They are an amazing site to see-hundreds of warriors standing, ready to protect their emperor.
The Chinese have decided not to unearth all of the buried soldiers. When the fragile soldiers are exposed to oxygen in the air, the paint on their faces, clothing and armor quickly disintegrate.
The people in our group snapped picture after picture of each soldier’s face that called out to them or had a cunning expression.
Upon leaving the burial site, we boarded our bus for our lunch stop and then the trip back into the city with a stop at the big Wild Goose Buddhist Pagoda. A scholarly Chinese monk traveled to India to learn more about Buddha and his teachings. Upon his return to Xi’an many years later, he began a Buddhist monastery in Xi’an. The big Wild Goose Pagoda is the site of his monastery and school. As in other Chinese building, it is a collection of buildings, opening onto courtyards and then onto other buildings. At the center of this monastery is a pagoda styled building, 7 stories tall, housing a large golden statue of Buddha.
Just outside the spiritual beauty of the grounds is a modern-day commercial, entertainment area with shops, cafes and even a dancing, singing fountain—similar to the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas.
With the lights of the city now on, we took a short walk on the top of a section of the ancient city wall. It was much larger than I imagined-perhaps 20-30 feet across. On top of the wall were stores, restaurants and it is common to rent a bike and cycle around the city on top of the wall.
With our touring day now almost complete, Marion had one final request, “can the bus driver find the store where I saw a vase I liked when passing earlier in the day?” Our tour guide had made a note as to the store’s location when Marion first eyed the almost five foot tall, burgundy, blue, and white vase.
Half of our group (Joe, Trish, Gerald and Ellen) wanted to return to the hotel and the other half (Marion, Judy, Robert and me) was interested in finding Marion’s vase. Therefore, the hotel group was told which direction to walk (only a few blocks) and Marion’s merry band of shoppers stayed in the bus. However, both our tour guide and the bus driver understood just the opposite. We shoppers who stayed in the bus were brought back to the hotel and the hotel group was left walking further than they expected. When the tour guide and the driver were made to understand the error, they agreed to take the Marion shoppers to the store. We found the store and Marion’s vase. However, she wanted two identical vases to place on either side of her home’s front door but this shop only had one. Nevertheless, a few small vases were purchased as gifts and we were returned to the hotel.
After a long day of touring, the Marion shoppers group, was ready for a club sandwich, a glass or two of wine and a chocolate dessert—which we found in the hotel’s café.
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