Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 8th Wonder of the World!

The trip to the TerraCotta Soldiers Museum started with a stop at a local pottery making site, where they make the replica warriors for sale in the gift shops. We got the obligatory Soldier shots, which totally cracked Miss Aidan up - she really got a kick out of seeing us appear up there and the other tourists got a kick out of her delight. Complete with smiles, giggles, and kicking feet.

I'm pretty sure the real soldiers didn't grin like we did, but who could help it?! We knew it was gimmicky, but it was fun.

This worker is closing up a the stone and coal-fire kiln with local clay. Just like they did when the original soldiers were being crafted. Emperor Chin had all these soldiers made to protect him in his afterlife, confident that he was going to rule over all the dynasty from there, too. Pretty cheeky of him, eh?

Here are some replicas in different stages of being dried. Our guide at the factory said that many people buy them in various sizes for yard or garden ornaments, and that some Chinese restaurants in larger U.S. cities buy them for guards at the door to the restaurant. Wouldn't one of those look crazy in our front yard?! Those adorable new neighbors of ours might wonder what they've mortgaged themselves into :)

The replicas get pressed into molds and dried in separate halves for a little while. Then they are pressed together, dried some more and fired in kilns like the one above for 4-5 days at 900 degrees F. They are made hollow like the originals to allow them to dry adequately without blowing up in the kiln.

In the gift shop, Aidan was the center of attention. One sweet Canadian lady stopped and wanted all the scoop on our sweetie. Turns out, she adopted domestically in Canada 47 years ago. She commented that Aidan was a lucky baby. When I said that we felt like the lucky ones, she agreed - and said that adoption will do that to you!

From there, we hopped back in the van and drove to the museum. Along the way, we passed many roadside stands of farmers selling pomegranates and corn. The pomegranates were huge. It was hard to get good pictures, as our driver was clipping along.

We also saw the man-made mountain that houses Emperor Chin's tomb and underground castle. It's the biggest tomb in the world and has been left untouched by archaeologists. Jo mentioned that this is because there's not technology available yet to help archaeologists open the tomb and preserve its contents quickly enough given that it was covered and sealed in 210 B.C. I kinda like the idea that the site is left untouched - it lends itself to the mystery surrounding the man and his empire. Did you know that he tried to keep the building of the TerraCotta soldiers and guards for his tomb a complete secret? He forced the soldiers and farmers and peasants into slavery to build all of this for his empire and at one time there is thought to be over 700,000 workers involved. Sadly, when one got sick or died, they were often thrown right into the pits with the soldiers they were creating. The whole story gave me shivers, thinking of the parallels to the Israelites and their slavery in Egypt. Greed and power look the same, all through history even through current times, don't they?

This is Pit One, the largest and most populated of the three pits. In this pit alone, there are over 6, 000 soldiers in varying stages of repair and restoration. It's not likely that they will ever get to restore all of them. We came away from this particular pit astounded at the breadth and intensity of one man's vision for his kingdom. Each soldier has a different face, carved and formed by the life-experience of the worker who crafted him. Some of them were stern and harsh, some were watchful, some were scared. You could see all the ranges of emotions. There are four different ranks represented in this museum, but this pit was mainly infantry man and some cavalry soldiers. We learned that these clay soldiers all carried real weapons of the Chin dynasty. When the emperor died and the local farmers and peasants revolted, they broke into these pits, destroyed the soldiers and stole the weapons for their uprising.

The TerraCotta Soldiers were originally unearthed by a common farmer while he and his family were working their fields and digging a well for their family in the mid 1970's. We saw the original location where he was digging in the corner of this pit. Imagine, if he's dug just a few more feet away - this whole treasure might still be under layers and layers of sand and dirt. These buildings were built right over the original pits and their finding locations. There are three pits, named in order of their finding.

We bought a book in the gift shop and got the autograph of the farmer. He used to allow pictures and conversation with a translator. But Jo said over the years that has become wearisome for him and he's very rude to tourists. So they just have him sit there and sign book after book. The books are available in about 10 different languages and are quite beautiful.

This is a completely restored general, one of only 7 that they have been able to find and fix up. He was so stately and imposing up close! According to the ties on his front and shoulders, he is the equivalent of a five-star general.

This is one of two miniature bronze chariots found in Pit 3. One was for guarding the Emperor's spirit and the other was for escorting that spirit to the afterlife. The fine, intricate detail on these horses and the chariots was truly a sight to behold. It's easy to see why this site is considered the 8th Wonder of the World.
It was a long ride home, about 1 1/2 hours, and Little Empress was well beyond her nap time. However, as you can see below, that did not deter her from silly games and funny faces. Oddly enough, I think I have a picture of all 5 kids with their pants on their heads now, too! Some more recent than others, right Dr. D? :)

It was a gorgeous day for all the walking and sight-seeing we did and we feel as if this particular tour gave us a deeper appreciation for our daughter's culture and heritage. We were especially pleased to learn that the famed panda bears are found in the mountains around Xian, and so we bought a delicate little porcelain and bamboo tea set as a gift for Aidan to remember her province. It's painted with scenes of a little panda family. And yes, boys, we got you all your very own TerraCotta soldier. Just not big enough for the front gardens. Believe me, there's no soldier mighty enough to guard that against all the weeds I hear Grandpa has been pulling for you! :)
We just heard from Jo that Aidan's passport will be ready for pick up at 3 p.m. today! Praise the Lord. That means that we can catch the early flight out to Guangzhou (which incidentally falls over Aidan's nap time!!!) and settle into the famed White Swan well before dinner time. We're very excited to begin the next leg of the trip. However, it is a bit bittersweet, as we know that this means Aidan will be leaving all that is familiar to her. We smell differently, we act differently, and we speak differently than everything she's ever known. At least while we were here, she's still had plenty of Xian-ian exposure and attention. We are so grateful for this beautiful land that our daughter came from, but we know this moving on is God's plan for all of us. We feel honored that He chose us to be the ones to walk her through these big changes into her new life!
Since we have to leave the hotel so incredibly early tomorrow, this will be our last post from Xian. We hope you have enjoyed our journey, the good the bad and the ugly, as much as we have enjoyed sharing it with you all! Pray for smooth flights and a sleeping baby tomorrow, please :)


A Beautiful Mess said...

safe travels to GZ!

Could I please just smooch that cute baby!

Anonymous said...

Again, I felt like I was right there in the museum! TW, please bring pics with you. I got a map of China to show chickie where you were and where you were headed next. VB

Aus said...

Very cool - the Terra Cotta trip was the one that we skipping during our travels - maybe we should have made that journey too - but at the time we felt that 'rest' was more important!

Good travels to GZ - you will enjoy your time there I'm certain - looking forwad to the 'red couch' pictures!!

aus and family

Brittany Ray said...

Hi Gang,

We are at the White Swan and really like it here. We can't wait to meet Aidan. We're all getting closer to home every minute. See you soon. The Terra Cotta museum pictures are great.

Brittany, Bayley, and Addie

Anonymous said...

It is such a blessing to see the Lord guide and direct each step. We are happy you are in the home stretch. All your sights are such a great experience.We sure miss you. Love GramO

Anonymous said...

Good morning i loved all the pic it was really interesting waking up with my cup of coffee and following your trip day by day ,,have a save trip home ;Love Aunt Ga.
Prayers are with you all house is all ready for you guys

Salzwedel Family said...

Wow! That looks interesting. Thanks for the very cool history lesson.

Praying you guys have safe journeys.

Carol said...

Almost done...see it goes fast.....we were really busy in GZ!!

Hope you guys have fun!!

julie said...

That was a great tour, I really enjoyed all the pictures.

Praying for safe travels for you guys.


VikingClanEnMass said...

That general looks like the Pringles guy...or the narrator from all the Rudolph Christmas movies!
Nice outfits in the first two pics! So cute that you match! ...will you be wearing those for church on your first Sunday back in the states??
such a cool museum...sorry the guy was grumpy! Maybe he prefers diggin' in the dirt alone!

TCC said...

Praying for a safe trip.

I've truly enjoyed touring the province with you and look forward to more posts now that I've finally caught up.

Words cannot even begin to express the joy I feel inside for you as I read each post. Praise God!

David and Sarah said...

I certainly am enjoying your journey. Many blessings to you as you travel to GuangZhou.

Elissa said...

Cool pictures! But you know we all skim the scenery pictures to find the ones of Aidan :)

We also felt bittersweet leaving Lily's hometown, and I didn't expect that at all. GZ was no match at all for what we experienced in her province, but it brings you one step closer to HOME, which I'm quite sure you're ready for!

Anonymous said...

I loooove the first pics of the "soldiers"! Something your Mommas will be proud of to be sure!

Truly thought provoking to think of all the tomb, etc... entailed... even eerie.

Enjoy your sweet A. snuggles and smiles!


Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

Somehow in moving my blogs around, I lost you and missed the last couple of days - ugh!!

Anyway, Aidan is so precious and I'm overjoyed that everything has gone so well. Blessing on the rest of your journey towards home.

Jonni, John & Sofia said...

First off I love the photo of Aidan with her pants on her head, too funny. Now she will match the other kids, ha-ha.

I loved the history that you shared about the Teracotta soldiers and so glad you got a chance to see them after all. You will appreciate documenting all of this later for your little sweetie. You can forget things so fast. I wish you guys good luck on your flight to GZ. That's where things get really fun when you meet up with all the other families.