ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Dynasty

DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China

In the morning, we hired a taxi to head north of Xian.  Our taxi took the airport highway, passed by a number of new residential developments and coal power plants, and arrived at another popular attraction near Xian, the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum (漢陽陵).  As the capital of 13 dynasties, there are many royal tombs around the area of Xian (formerly known as Changan).  Other than the Mausoleum and his Terracotta Army of the First Qin (秦) Emperor, royal tomb complexes of Han and Tang Emperors are also impressive in scale and significant in historical values.  Belonged to Emperor Jing (漢景帝) of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD), Han Yang Ling Mausoleum is a major archaeological site to study the Han Dynasty.  There are 86 outer burial pits (22 of which are opened for visitors) around the central mausoleum mount.  Over 50,000 mini terracotta figures were found in the pits along with other valuable artefacts, allowing historians a glimpse what Han China might be like under Emperor Jing.  During his reign in 157 – 141 BC, the Han Dynasty underwent a relatively peaceful period.  Influenced by Taoist beliefs, his policies of non-interference with the people and heavy tax reductions allowed the Han society to rejuvenate itself after years of internal power struggles and civil wars.

After arriving at Han Yang Ling, we walked on the designated boardwalk to have a look at the ruined foundations of the Southern Double Gate Towers (門闕).  The earth foundation structure of the two huge gate towers survived to the present, and is now protected under a huge structure constructed in traditional Chinese style.  The ancient gate towers were gone, but from the interpretative displays and a close look at the remaining foundations, we could imagine the scale of the original structures.  We followed the boardwalk to walk around the mausoleum mount, which had yet been excavated.  Saving the best for the last, we found our way down to the underground museum which brought visitors to have a close encounter with the outer burial pits.  We put on the museum shoe covers and entered the underground world of the tomb.  Inside the museum, we followed a designated route where we could look through the glass floor to the artefacts in the burial pits.  Artefacts seen included mini terracotta human figures, terracotta animals such as pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc., skeletons of large animals, ancient tea leaves, barley, wooden tools, etc.  It was such a big contrast compared with the Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor, who died 69 years before Han Emperor Jing.  The Qin royal tomb was all about presenting the Emperor’s military might and his fear of revenges from his enemies in the underworld.  The Han tomb, on the other hand, was a mausoleum built during a time when China was beginning to enter its first peaceful golden age.  It was a time to celebrate good economy, abundant food, and agricultural advancement.  It was weird to see the thousands of naked arm-less terracotta figures until we realized that their wooden arms and clothing made of fabrics had long perished.

dsc_7774Boardwalk heading to the ruins of the Southern Tower Gate (hidden within the museum constructed as a traditional Chinese building.

dsc_7785Foundation of one of the two Southern Gate Tower.

dsc_7786Looking at the passageway between the foundation of the two Gate Towers.

dsc_7773Stone structure of the burial pit was visible from the plain aboveground.

dsc_7787Boardwalk leading to the foot of the mausoleum mount of Han Emperor Jing.

dsc_7798Walking into the underground museum of Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

dsc_7801A model of the reconstructed Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

dsc_7804Interior of the underground museum.

dsc_7807Looking into the burial pit through the glass.

dsc_7814The burial pits were long and linear with rows of artefacts inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADesignated route with glass floor in the underground museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStanding above one of the burial pits.

dsc_7821Terracotta livestock and pots in one of the burial pits.

dsc_7835Terracotta human figures at Pit 18.

dsc_7839Partially excavated terracotta figures at Pit 14.

dsc_7844Closer look at the terracotta figures and cows.

dsc_7858Terracotta livestock with pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc.

DSC_7862.JPGDisplay of the terracotta figures, with the middle one wearing clothing in the Han style.

dsc_7863Thousands of artefacts were unearthed at Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

 

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Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

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DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China

After we finished with the Terracotta Army, we exited the site via a designated route through lanes after lanes of souvenir shops, restaurants and theme-park like tourist traps.  Prominent national treasures have once again fallen victims to mass tourism and consumerism in today’s highly commercialized China.  At the parking lot, we took one of the many buses returning to Xian Railway Station.  At the station, we had a late noodle lunch at one of the basic eateries right next to the station plaza.  After a forgettable bowl of noodles, we flagged down a taxi and headed south to our next place to visit, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔).

Xian, formerly known as Changan (長安), was the national capital during the Qin and Han Dynasties, as well as the Tang Dynasty during China’s golden age.  Other than artefacts in the museums, not many traces of Tang Dynasty remained in the city, except two well-known pagodas that had dominated the city’s skyline for over a millennium, namely the Big Wild Goose and Small Wild Goose Pagoda.  The original Big Goose Pagoda and the entire Ci En Buddhist Temple complex (慈恩寺) were built in the Tang Dynasty at AD 652.  The complex was built to store the relics and Buddhist texts that Buddhist monk Xuanzang (玄奘) brought back from India.  Xuanzang, the famous traveler, translator and Buddhist master who inspired Ming author Wu Cheng En (吳承恩) on writing the epic novel Journey to the West (西遊記), left Tang China for India in AD 629 and returned to Changan in AD 645.  Not only did Xuanzang enhanced his Buddhist studies from a number of famous Indian masters, he also wrote a magnificent travelogue that depicted his 16-year journey throughout Central Asia, brought back hundreds of Sanskrit texts on Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism, and returned with many sarira relics.  At the original Ci En Temple, Xuanzang spent the remaining 19 years of his life translating the Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese.  His translation efforts helped to spread and consolidate Buddhism in East Asia.

The original rammed earth pagoda built in Xuanzang’s time collapsed a few decades after it was built.  The Tang Dynasty rebuilt a taller pagoda in AD 704.  The top three levels couldn’t withstand an earthquake in 1556 and reduced to the present height of 64m.  It was a little crowded up the wooden stair inside the pagoda.  Scaffolding was up at the lower two levels, reminding us that the Big Wild Goose Pagoda had gone through a series of extensive repair works, one during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644) and one in 1964.  Apart from the pagoda, other buildings in the complex of Da Ci En Temple (大慈恩寺) couldn’t survive.  The buildings that we visited nowadays dated back to the Qing Dyansty (AD 1644-1912), and occupied roughly one seventh the area of the original Tang complex.

After seeing the pagoda, we walked across the street to the nearby Westin Hotel.  Designed by the emerging architectural office in Shanghai, Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, the design of the Westin Hotel revealed a clever interplay of contrasting colours and variation of materials to express a minimalist interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture.

dsc_7493The Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7503Golden Buddha at the main hall of Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7506Outside the main hall of Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7512Worshiper outside of another prayer hall at Ci En Temple.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Big Wild Goose Pagoda from below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView of public plaza and urban axis from the top of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7527View of traditional architecture below the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7529Staircase inside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7535Urban parks surrounded the Big Wild Goose Pagoda from all four sides.

dsc_7539Statue of Xuanzang in front of Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7540A museum attached to the Westin Hotel designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAtrium inside the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7548A interior courtyard at the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7552Reception lobby of the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7559By the time we left the Westin Hotel flood lights had already lit up at the pagoda.

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Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China


DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China

In Mid-October, we had the opportunity to reunite with two of our travel buddies for a short trip to China.  It was the week after the week-long Chinese National Holiday.  We had a simple travel plan consisted of two distinct parts: Xian (西安) for history and Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) for natural scenery.  Xian, historically known as Changan (長安), was the ancient capital of China for 13 different dynasties, spanning a total period of over 1200 years, including the golden age of Han and Tang Dynasty.  The ruins of ancient royal palaces and tombs, such as the magnificent Terra-cotta Warriors of the First Qin Emperor, revealed the former glory of ancient China.  Jiuzhaigou, on the other hand, has been renowned for its out-of-this-world alpine scenery.  It is located at the north of Sichuan Province (四川) where the plains of Eastern and Central China begins to give way to the Tibetan and Qinghai Plateau.

After a minor delay, we flew out of Hong Kong in a Saturday afternoon.  It was already dusk by the time we landed at Xian Xianyang Interational Airport.  We took an airport bus into the city, and taxied the rest of the way to our hostel south of Xincheung Square (新城廣場).  Our taxi passed by the well-preserved Ming city wall and the brightly lit historical Bell Tower.  After getting off, it took us a while to find the alleyway where our hostel was located.  We were delighted to find our hostel room clean and comfortable.  After checking in, we headed out immediately to grab a quick dinner.  According to guidebook, an old famous restaurant of Shaanxi Muslim food called Lao Sun Jia (老孫家) was just five minutes of walk from our hostel.  We found our way to the restaurant at the fourth floor of a retail centre.  It was about 21:00 and there was only one table of guests finishing off their beer and noodles.  We sat down and ordered the popular paomo (泡饃), or crumbled flatbread in either mutton or beef stew. 

After dinner, we wanted to checked out the beautiful Bell Tower (鐘樓) right at the historical heart of Xian.  It was another five minute of walk from the restaurant.  The tower was already close for the day, but we could still admire the historical architecture across the street from the tower’s roundabout.  This handsome piece of traditional architecture was an icon of Xian.  In the old days since the 14th century, the tower’s main function was to mark the moment of dawn with its bells.  A few blocks away, we noticed another historical building prominently lit up.  It was the Drum Tower (鼓樓), the building that originally housed 28 drums to mark the day’s end at dusk.  Around the corner from the Drum Tower, we entered a busy pedestrian streets packed with snack vendors.  We had entered Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the core of Xian’s Muslim Quarter.  It was almost 10pm but the street was still busy with visitors.  There were a number of vendors selling barbecue lamb kebabs, mutton or beef sandwiches, local pomegranate juices, traditional sweets, nuts, persimmon cakes, and many other kinds of desserts.  After the filling meal of paomo, we gave it a pass for the street food.  We slowly walked back to our hostel, hoping to get some good rest.  In the next morning we would exit Xian and head eastwards to the foot of Lishan Mountains to check out the most popular tourist attraction of Xian: the First Qin Emperor’s Terra-cotta Warriors.

dsc_7127Mutton paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeef paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

dsc_7131Heading towards the icon of Xian, the Bell Tower (鐘樓).

dsc_7152The Bell Tower stands at the centre of a large roundabout.

dsc_7166The 14th century structure is lit up with atmospheric lighting.

dsc_7186The Drum Tower at a distance, and in front, the public square between Bell Tower and Drum Tower.  The square is flanked by local restaurants, a department store, and a Starbucks.

dsc_7204Signage at the Drum Tower.

dsc_7208The mighty Drum Tower near the entrance to the Muslim Quarter.

dsc_7220Street vendor of lamb kebabs at the Muslim Quarter.  There were terrifying lamb skeletons hanging in front of each kebab store.

dsc_7227Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the main pedestrian street at the Muslim Quarter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVendor selling regional pomegranate juice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARose cake, another kind of local dessert.

dsc_7229Kebab stores were the most popular.

dsc_7235Muslim beef sandwiches.

dsc_7244Vendor handling of sweet being heated up.

dsc_7245Persimmon cakes and a friendly smile.

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China