Friday, January 9, 2009

xi'an series: Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang----an unexcavated treasure house


The Terracotta Warriors and Horses we talked about in the last post was unparalleled and dazzled the world, but it’s only part of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, which is yet unexcavated. Located approximately 30 km outside of X'ian, the mausoleum remains a symbol of the infinite power and ego of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Qin Shihuang(259 BC - 210 BC) holds a central place in Chinese history for being the first emperor who united the country. He is also well known for his part in the construction of the spectacular Great Wall and his splendid terracotta army. To ensure his rule in the afterlife, the emperor commanded more than 720,000 conscripts to build him a grand mausoleum as luxurious as any of the palaces he had in mortal life. The mausoleum is even larger than the Great pyramid in Egypt.

Legend says that many large-scale alhambresque buildings housing numerous and precious treasures are buried inside the tomb. Since the grand mausoleum is not yet open for some reasons, details on the mausoleum remain mysterious. But the records of Sima Qian, a great historian who wrote in early Han dynasty, offered archeologists great insight on the mausoleum's construction. We learned from him that the tomb is huge. The coffin of Emperor Qin Shihuang was cast in bronze. Underground Palace was gem-studded replica of imperial housing above ground. Moreover, booby traps with automatic-shooting arrows were installed to deter would-be tomb robbers. Heaven and earth were represented in the central chamber of the tomb. Ceiling shaped into sun, moon and stars by inlaying pearls and gems symbolizes the sky and the ground was an accumulation point of rivers, lakes and seas, like Yellow River and Yangtze River, which stands for the earth. It is said that the underground palace was brightly lit by whale oil lamps for eternity.

The mausoleum unexcavated is worth studying, many experts work on it. Qin bricks and tiles, engraved with decorative patterns, are strew everywhere around the tomb. There are many satellite tombs built for accompanying Qin Shihuang. Ministers, princesses and princes, the famous and the not so famous were inhumed there. The burial pits for horses, rare birds and pottery figures were ever regarded as the sacrificial objects to the Emperor. Hence the remains from these tombs and pits are beneficial for archaeologists to make further research.

Although the tomb itself is a miracle and very elaborate, it’s considered to be a notorious crime scene according to historical records. Many laborers died of hardship during its construction, and all the workmen were entombed along with the emperor in order to keep their mouths shut. Also all the barren royal concubines accompanied Emperor Qinshihuang on his last journey.

We hope that one day, the entire mausoleum will be unearthed and displayed to the public.

2 评论:

iWalk said...

My co-author Tiny visited there last year,She told me some interesting details about these Terracottas. She said it's the first time she knew that some Terracottas wore the Shoe Cover!

Xian Travel said...

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Superb Quality, fantastic price