24 October 2014

WESTERN XIA IMPERIAL TOMBS

After visited the Xia Museum we continued to the imperial tombs which is a distance away.  We walked through a tree filled pathway towards the open plain where the tombs are.  The place is one of the largest and best preserved imperial graveyards in China.  They are located on the eastern slope of the Helan Mountain range, just south of the Gunzhong Pass. About 17,000 m² so far have been excavated, and efforts are continued to preserve the remains of this mysterious area.


A large marble sign indicating the tomb entrance.  A nice seat to cool oneself in such scorching weather

The West Xia Imperial Tombs, are shaped like giant beehives and dot the valleys of the region.  In the entire tomb area, there are 9 massive mausoleums, along with 250 lesser tombs.  The mausoleums hold the remains of the imperial leaders of the Western Xia Dynasty.

22 October 2014

WESTERN XIA MUSEUM

Some 770 years ago, in the vast areas of northwest China stood a feudal kingdom called "Western Xia" among the Song (960-1279) and Liao (916-1125) dynasties at the same time. The kingdom lasted for 189 years under 10 successive emperors.

In the 13th century, when Genghis Khan united Mongolia and the country gradually grew into a formidable power, he began the process of expansion and invasion.  And the Western Xia bore the brunt of the mighty Mongolian cavalries.  During 22 years, the Mongolians initiated six onslaughts against the Western Xia, of which four were headed by Genghis Khan himself. In 1227, the Mongolian warlord besieged Xingqing, the capital of the Western Xia.  When the city was captured, the Mongolians conducted a vengeful massacre.  The once powerful and civilized Western Xia Dynasty came to an end and the ethnic Dangxiang people had also disappeared.

Only the grand mausoleums under Helan Mountain still display the site's former prosperity.


The Western Xia dynasty were very first built by the founder of the Western Xia Kingdom (1038 to 1227), Li Yuanhao who built about 70 tombs; among which, one was for himself, and a few tombs for his relatives.  Western Xia Museum located near the entrance of Li's tomb.


Based on some excavations, each mausoleum had a unified layout, occupying an area of more than 100,000 square meters, surrounded by inner and outer walls. At each corner of the mausoleum gardens were watchtowers, providing visual indicators of the boundaries, serving functions similar to those of watchtowers of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in Beijing


The Western Xia mausoleums are distributed on a gentle slope along the east base of the Helan Mountains. They are located in an area about 4 kilometers wider, east to west, and 9 kilometers up the slope, north to south, occupying an area of nearly 40 square kilometers.  All of the tombs have stairways or sloping paths leading to their coffin pits




Building materials, broken stone tablets, towers, glazed tiles, walls and steles with Western Xia or Han characters still remain, providing visitors with interesting information on the civilization.





Cultural artifacts and relics related to the ancient Western Xia were collected from across China and exhibited in the museum

19 October 2014

Autumn Festival Dinner

Autumn Festival is a big day in China.  They celebrate grandly by decorating the streets with lights and laterns, live telecast of variety show over all China from Beijing for the night.  On the night of the festival we had a grand dinner with extras of la mian (noodles) and mooncakes. 

We were given a demonstration on the making of noodles.  The chef began making the dough, by kneading and pulling.  With the right consistency he cut the dough into pieces and with each piece he pulled, twisted and turned till they were of long equal strands.  The noodles will then pass on to the next chef to cook and serve in beef broth, with added vegetables and beef cubes. 

At the end of the meal a plate of mini moon cakes were served. The moon cakes were savory in taste, filled with minced meat, different from our sweet varieties.