Friday, August 8, 2014

Part H - Teaching in China - History

History is something China has a lot of, it's well documented and goes back many centuries. Even so, accidents and archaeologists are constantly unearthing new things and the Terracotta Warriors in Xuzhou (also here) are a good example. 

They were only found in 1984, when a field was being dug and some machinery scraped into some figurines exposing them 2 centuries after being buried as part of the funerary objects for King Liuwu, the third king of the Chu Kingdom in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD).
Sculpted warhorses outside the park.
The warrior emerging from granite.

The area is quite extensive and well presented, with small train-like carriages carrying visitors between the main historic areas.

Apparently not long after Liuwu became king he started planning his burial chambers and the construction and design continued till his death. 

Walking many steps down into the bowels of the chambers, and through the large underground caverns, all hacked by hand out of deep, deep rock was ... thought provoking. There were rooms chiselled out of solid rock and stocked with cooking vessels and implements, arms (as in lances, arrows, javelins etc) and all sorts of expensive and intricate items. 
It's accepted that not only his armies, but captured people were used to construct the extensive final resting place for him and his family. As with today it seems that rulers use people and acquired money and goods for their own benefit rather than the general populace ... and for all he may have hoped otherwise, it hasn't been of eternal benefit, with tourists coming from far and wide to gawk and wonder.

A few years ago I was delighted to see the terracotta warriors in Xi'an and hadn't known any others existed so was surprised to see these. They're significantly smaller, being just on knee height whereas the others are full sized. However, they're ... I'm not sure what word to use ... charming is wrong as they represent men in full battle dress with war horses, archers and chariots - and that's hardly something to be charmed by! 

It's a bit like being confronted with a very focused and dangerous Lilliputian army in full regalia - and the figures are menacing. But they're also beautifully constructed, the workmanship is detailed and interesting. I understand they would have originally carried scale weapons and the archers would have had tiny wooden arrows in their quivers. The rank and role of the figures is designated by their hair style or head dress. 

The figures are arranged in battle formation and form 3 pits. One is fully excavated, one only partially and the last one is more or less as originally found.

I wondered at the object below which was described as being a bell, a musical instrument forming part of an orchestra - a problem with translation perhaps? 
But no, we were given a recital and the various instruments were melodious and tinkling,  a little bit like a xylophone, but with richer tones, and the piece was finished all too soon.
There's a woman in blue behind the bells tapping them with something like drum sticks, and she came out towards the end and took the upright item in the centre of the photo and swung it towards the large bells. If you'd been wandering off into a reverie, that'd have brought you back with a boom!

Of course, no trip is complete without a small drama is it? Unfortunately one of our group had been ill and needed ongoing medical attention, which consisted of revisiting the hospital for medication. So instead of having time to visit all the attractions at the cultural area, and exploring more of the city, we headed back to the hotel and our interpreter went with her to the hospital. (More on this in the next post - Being ill in China.)

My previous posts about Teaching in China were our ArrivalBanquets,  Culture and comfort foods, DrivingExercise, Fabulous Food and Games. The next one will be about Illness! 



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. I saw the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition in London - so that was a treat ...

These look as you say Lillipution .. or like an extravagant train set, or like an army or battle of lead soldiers ...

Fascinating to see them though ... and that bell instrument I bet sounded fantastic .. cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

I took a video of the bells, but can't remember how to put it on youtube and then on here ... and at the moment I don't have the patience to work it out - one day it'll happen!