Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Thursday, March 22, 2007 Xian

Out the door by 8 am we were off to our first stop at the Jin Jian Jade Shop. There we had a short lesson in what makes jade valuable, had an opportunity to watch several skilled artists creating sculptures using diamond drills to create works of art. We learned that jade has several characteristics: hardness (diamonds are 10 and jade is 5); translucent; color…the lighter green is the best as it deepens in color as it ages and the tone when you tap it….much like a crystal water glass.

The shopping was fun but expensive and only a few made some purchases. A very small Buddha was about $60.00.

Then on to the main attraction of the day: the Terra-Cotta Army. Discovered in 1974 by four farmers who were digging a well; this has been declared a national treasure. They had always known where the Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s Tomb was because there is a man-made hill. But until this discovery, the whereabouts of the Terra-Cotta Army was unknown. One of the farmers is employed by the government and he signed our books at the museum as we purchased them. We also purchased a small knelling statute as a memento of our visit. There are three buildings housing the exhibits. The most recent was built in 2001. They are still discovering and recovering artifacts. The area is under major construction of shopping centers for the hundreds of vendors that crowd you on the walk into the museum. The government knows that this is a money machine and just as popular with the Chinese and foreign tourist as the Great Wall.

The actual army is unbelievable in that they have managed to put so many of them back together. The first and largest building is about the size of three football fields. Truly worth the time to visit China just to see these soldiers and horses.

[Two of the reasons that we made this tour in 2007 is that Bowers Museum, where Jim is a docent, was exhibiting "Treasurers from Shanghai" (from the Shanghai Museum that we visited) during 2006-2007. Secondly, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were scheduled to open on exhibit in May of 2008 at his Museum. This gave him personal experiences to share with the visitors as they toured with him through the exhibits. His autographed book and personal photos were enjoyed by those that had an opportunity to tour with him.]

After the Army we drove to a local hotel called Flourishing International Hotel for a Chinese lunch that included two types of noodles and also candied potatoes. It was nearly 3 o’clock before we finished lunch and headed back toward Xian.

We stopped along the way at the Chinese Medical Market where the pharmacists and others people purchase their ingredients for Chinese medicine. A warehouse with large bags full of " things" that could be scooped out and purchased by weight; but again we decided to stick with western medicine. The "things" were dried bugs, plants, fish, organs from animals, etc. Some were tempted by the large bags of saffron but no one purchased anything.

After a brief rest we walked to the hotel theatre for a marvelous Tang Dynasty Show that lasted about an hour. Young male and female dancers were dressed in very beautiful traditional costumes and performed traditional dances. There were also several musical solos; very unexpected and delightful. We then walked back to the hotel for a Dumpling Dinner in the hotel restaurant. Stuffed and sated we toddled off to bed for an end to another perfect day in China.

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