Day 8: Xi’an part II
Saturday, July 16, 2005
The days are hot in Xi’an and today was no exception, yet surprisingly, we were anxious to get up and out of the hotel, because today we were seeing a sight that each one of us has waited all week for: The Terra Cotta Warriors. We packed our backpacks, grabbed some bottled water, and boarded the bus for the one hour drive to the tomb.
The Terra Cotta Warriors are a part of the Qin Mausoleum, discovered in 1974 by a peasant farmer digging a well. The thousands of pottery warriors, it turns out, were commissioned by the emperor Qinshi Huangdi, in the creation of his mausoleum. The warriors would surround his tomb as his eternal imperial guard after his death. (This emperor was also responsible for other huge construction projects including the Great Wall). The Qin Mausoleum took 38 years to complete, and over 800,000 took part in the construction of some 8,000 warriors and figures, 100 wooden chariots, and 20,000 bronze weapons. All of the figures – including the horses – are full-sized, and the tallest warrior stands over 6 feet tall.
We decided to see the introductory film (in a 360° theatre) to give us some background before entering the pits of warriors. There is no way to accurately describe the experience of seeing these warriors other than to say that it is no wonder this site is known by the Chinese as the 8th Wonder of the World. The best advice we can give is: come to China to see them.
After a simple light lunch (by Chinese standards) we continued to our itinerary’s next step: The Forest of Stone Tablets. Originally a Confucian Temple, this Chinese pavilion contains exquisite stone tablets (protected now by glass facings) that are inscribed with the complete text of ancient classics, documents and historical records. Our attraction to this exhibit is one tablet in particular, however: the Nestorian Tablet. The Nestorians were a small group of Christians from Syria who lived in this area, and it confirms the existence of Christian faith in China as far back as the seventh century. It was a fascinating thing to see, and we spent a good hour browsing the tablets.
And as of this writing we’re on the road once again. We’ve packed our bags and are heading for the train station. We will travel overnight, as the Chinese do, in a sleeper train to Beijing. Although we are all a little bit apprehensive as to what this will involve, we’re also looking forward to it with a sense of adventure. It will also bring us into our last full day in China, and as we approach the end of our journey, we contemplate the passage which appeared in our daily devotional for this day:
You will bring back pots and pictures.
A sheaf of photographs.
A jingle of coins.
But you will bring back more.
A vision of a wide world.
From the other side of the world,
Your loving band of pilgrims,
Megan Weymouth and …
Dana Baker, Pam Koller, Peggy Matteson, Daniel McDuffie, Alicia Perras, and Joe Tripp