Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Xi'an - Part 3

The second day of our visit to Xi'an started at the Shaanxi Provincial Museum in downtown Xi'an.

These are the end caps of ancient roof tiles.

There are a lot of tri-colored glazed pottery pieces. Many of these items were recovered from tombs.

This is another example. It was difficult to take good pictures. It was pretty dark in the museum and there were a lot of reflections.

She is not giving you 2 thumbs up.

This tri-color pottery is from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

I think the beast of burden of choice on the Silk Road was the camel.

This is part of the funerary guard of Prince Qinjian of the Ming Dynasty.

There are more than 300 pieces in the group.

These Buddhas and plinths were carved in 1067 at the foot of Zhongshan mountain.

As expected, they had a section on the Terracotta Warriors.

Notice the details in his hair and armor.

Some of the original color remains on this example.

This bronze goose was recovered from the Qin Shihuang's mausoleum and dates from about 200 B.C. Qin Shihuang was the first emperor to unite China and was responsible for the Terracotta Warriors.

This is an incense burner I believe.

After the museum we headed to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. It was built between 707 and 709 A.D. It is about 43 meter tall.

It was originally 45 meters tall until it was damaged in the 1556 earthquake.

We had lunch at a dumpling restaurant just outside the Pagoda. Here Nancy successfully picks up a mu'er (wood ear fungus) with her chopsticks. Ed wasn't impressed.

The dumplings were made in the form of their ingredients. Here you can see lotus, chicken, and some sort of leaf.

After lunch we headed toward the airport but stopped at new museum at the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi. This is an in-door museum built over the pits. You actually walk over the pits on a glass floor.

Emperor Jing was the 4th emperor of the Western Han Dynasty which followed the Qin Dynasty. He had the same idea as Qin Shihuang but could only afford miniature terracotta figures.

This pictures is looking down through the floor. The human figures are perhaps 20 inches tall. They originally had wooden arms and were clothed but these materials have rotted away over the last 2000 years.

The tomb was equipped with animals for food in the afterlife.

So far they have excavated only 10 of the 86 pits that surround the tomb.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Xi'an - Part 2

Xi'an City Wall
This will be a marathon posting. An all-time record for the number of pictures, I think. That's appropriate since it matches the day.

After the Terracotta Warriors we took a short visit to the Xi'an city wall. This is a 8.5 mile long, 39 ft high wall that completely encircles the old city. Construction on the current wall was started in 1370 during the Ming dynasty. It is the best preserved of all the city walls in China. In comparison, the Beijing city wall was torn down to make way for the 2nd ring road.

From the city wall we headed over to the Great Mosque of Xi'an. The mosque was was established in 742 but most of what exists today dates from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Xi'an Great Mosque Stele

It is an active mosque. The Muslim population of Xi'an is about 60,000. Xi'an is the eastern end of the Silk Road and as a result had residents from all over Asia. It has all the accouterments that we saw in mosques in Singapore and Malaysia but with Chinese characteristics.

Well in Xi'an Great Mosque

These young boys were playing with the well.

Here is a picture of the 4 of us.

This place has a reputation with me for bad signs. At least you can decipher this one. Seven years ago I took the picture below.

The first 2 characters are shengxin which my dictionary translates as 'save worry', or 'to cause no trouble', or 'to be spared worry', or 'worry-free'. The last character is lou which means tower. No idea about the English.

After we left the mosque we wandered through this bazaar to get to the main street in the Muslim area.

Xi'an snacks - chuan

There are all sorts of food on offer. The are skewers of meat called chuan. The Chinese character for chuan is δΈ². There is some logic in the language.

Click to enlarge.

I asked what there are but I don't remember. Pumpkin fried bread maybe?

This is sticky rice, honey and dates.

Peppered walnuts in Xi'an

These are peppered walnuts. The woman's expression is her way of saying, "I can't believe these laowai think I am grinding up these walnuts into powder."

This is doufu or as better known in the west, tofu. Looks spicy.

These are potatoes.

Here is a display of walnuts and dates. The price on the walnuts varies depending on the quality of the walnut - thickness of shell, color of the meat, etc.

I don't know what they are cooking but apparently it takes a hot wok. I thought the flames were neat.

This is some sort of bread.

No idea what is in the wok. Those are baked jiaozi of some sort.

Still not sure what this is. Perhaps some sort of candy. The guy was continuously stretching and twisting the material.

The are sheep feet, I guess. Definitely not pig feet since this is a Muslim shop.

It was a holiday weekend so it was pretty crowded.

Here is a better look at some more chuan. Probably lamb.

Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show

We had a nice dinner in a restaurant off the street and then headed to the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show.

The performances were done very professionally.

The Tang Dynasty lasted from 618 - 907 and was one of the most prosperous in China.

3 dancers in Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show in Xi'an

The sets were quite nice. This scene transformed into the one below as the lights came up.

There is a story here but I can't recall it. They have a nice English and Chinese narration of various performances.

Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show dancers

Very elaborate costumes and well choreographed, I thought.

I did remember to turn on the movie feature of my camera briefly.

Bell Tower in Xi'an

On the way back to our hotel we passed by the Bell Tower and I took this out the window.