China’s Ancient Capital: Part 5 of 5

January 30, 2016

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD), China attempted to isolate itself from the world by rebuilding the Great Wall and a string of impregnable fortresses to protect China’s heartland from Mongol invasion.

One of those fortresses was a new military city built near the ruins of Tang Chang’an, and the Ming named this city “Western Peace”—which in Chinese/Mandarin is “Xi’an”.

Xi’an was one-sixth the size of Tang Chang’an, but nearly six hundred years later, its walls are still standing.

Charles Higham said these walls are the most extraordinary, largest, best-preserved set of defensive walls in the world.

The last segment of Neville Gishford’s Discovery Channel documentary introduced Zheng Canyang, the engineer responsible for preserving Xi’an’s walls, and Zheng explains how the walls would have been defended.

History records that when the walls of this third city faced its first attack, they stood firm, but the attack did not come during the Ming or Qing Dynasties. The attack came five hundred years later from April to November 1926.


Xi’an’s six hundred year old city wall today

As China bled from the Civil War between warlords, the CCP and the KMT, a powerful Chinese general by the name of Liu Zhenhua attacked Xi’an with a large army and modern artillery.

However, the 20th century artillery rounds only dented the walls, and after months, Xi’an’s walls still stood and Liu Zhenhua’s army retreated.

The siege was part of an anti-Guominjun campaign lasting from late 1925 to early 1927, which raged across North China and had nothing to do with the civil war between CCP and KMT, explaining why this military campaign received no coverage in the popular media or academic circles.

The newest enemy to Xi’an’s ancient walls comes from modernization and the millions of inhabitants of the city. As the water table below the city is sucked dry from so many people, this has caused the earth to sink, which is pulling down the walls, and engineers and scientists are working to discover ways to save them.

This link to Xi’an will take you to the photo page on my Website for our trip there in 2008.

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Ancient Capital: Part 4 of 5

January 29, 2016

Although Christianity and Islam were both introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism has deeper roots in the culture since it first arrived in China from India about 200 BC.

Christianity arrived in China more than eight centuries after Buddhism and only a decade before Islam when a Nestorian monk named Aluoben entered the ancient capital city of Tang Chang’an in 635 AD.

In addition, in 629 AD, the Buddhist monk Xuanzang left Chang’an against the emperor’s orders to travel the world in search of enlightenment. He went west toward India along the Silk Road with a goal to find original Buddhist scriptures.  He traveled 10,000 miles over three of the highest mountain ranges in Asia and was gone 16 years.

When Xuanzang returned in 645 AD, he had 1,300 scrolls of Buddhist Sutras, and requested the building of a pagoda, which became the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda—nearly 65 meters tall (more than 213 feet).  It was made of rammed earth, and the pagoda would collapse more than once and be rebuilt.  No one knows exactly how the Tang Dynasty engineers managed to build a structure that tall of rammed earth.

Neville Gishford’s Discovery Channel documentary revealed the answer to a mystery when a hidden crypt beneath the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was discovered using ground based radar. When The Tang Dynasty collapsed due to rebellion, the city was destroyed, but the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was left untouched.

Gishford revealed that even though Tang Chang’an was destroyed, the city was copied throughout Asia and one city in Japan, Kyoto (formally the imperial capital of Japan – 794 to 1869 AD), was a scaled replica of Tang Chang’an.

In fact, in 1974, the modern city of Xi’an and Kyoto formally established a sister-city relationship.

However, this was not the end of Chang’an. It would be rebuilt a third time but with a different name, Xi’an.  In 1368, nearly five hundred years after the fall of the Tang Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD) would rebuild the Great Wall in addition to the third city called Xi’an as a defense against the Mongols that had conquered and ruled China during the Yuan Dynasty (1277 – 1367 AD).

Continued on January 30, 2016 in Part 5 or Return to Part 3

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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China’s Ancient Capital: Part 3 of 5

January 28, 2016

From the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BC) to the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), 62 emperors ruled China from Qin Xianyang and Han Chang’an. The China Daily reported that there are about 500 burial mounds where the remains of emperors and aristocrats rest.

The largest tombs mark the resting place of Emperors Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), Tang Gaozong (628 – 683 AD), and his wife Empress Tang Wu Zetian (624 – 705 AD).

Map of China showing location of Chang'an

When I mentioned Neville Gishford’s documentary, China’s Most Honourable City, in Part 2, Chang’an was the capital of the Tang Dynasty with a population of over a million — six times the size of ancient Rome.

The Daming Palace, where the Tang Emperors ruled China, was 800 years older and nearly five times larger than Beijing’s Forbidden City, and this huge palace was built in one year.

However, it wasn’t the Daming Palace that made Chang’an powerful. Long before Manhattan, Hong Kong, Paris and Dubai, Chang’an was where the world came to shop.

Over a thousand years ago, the wealth of the West poured into China and arrived at Chang’an over the Silk Road.

But wealth wasn’t the only thing China gained. Major religions also arrived in China at this time.

Islam was barely a century old when Silk Road traders brought this religion to Chang’an. In another post, A Road to the Hajj from China, I wrote, “The ancient city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province is home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims.”

Chang’an and Xi’an have a Muslim history going back thirteen hundred years when Islam was first introduced to China in 650 AD.

In fact, the oldest mosque in China was built in 685-762 AD in Chang’an during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

Continued on January 29, 2016 in Part 4 or Return to Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Ancient Capital: Part 2 of 5

January 27, 2016

In Part One, I mentioned the subway system under construction in modern Xi’an.  That was in September 2008.

For an update, Travel China Guide.com says, “The Xi’an subway system is scheduled to have 6 lines, with a total length of 251.8 kilometers… While the first phase of subway Line 2 has been in use since Sep 16, 2011, the other five lines are designed to be finished in 2018 in sequence.”

When the second phase is completed, the full length of Line 2 will be 26.64 kilometers (about 16.5 miles).

The population of Xi’an has also increased since Neville Gishford hosted The Discovery Channel’s documentary of China’s Most Honourable City. Today, there are more than 8 million people living there.

Gishford’s documentary started with Archaeologist Charles Higham (born 1939), a world famous authority on ancient Asian cities. Higham is a British archaeologist most noted for his work in Southeast Asia. Among his noted contributions to archaeology are his work (including several documentaries) about the Angkor civilization in Cambodia, and his current work in Northeast Thailand. He is a Research Professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Higham said, “A delegation of jugglers from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD, who is regarded as one of the greatest emperors in Roman history) traveled and performed in the Han Court of Chang’an.”

More than two thousand years ago, the walls of Chang’an were made of rammed (compressed) earth and much of the city from kiln fired clay bricks, which was a revolutionary building material at the time that changed the history of architecture.

The builders of Han Chang’an used this new technology in revolutionary ways. For instance, building an underground sewer system connected to the moat that surrounded the city.

Continued on January 28, 2016 in Part 3 or Start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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China’s Ancient Capital: Part 1 of 5

January 26, 2016

China’s Ancient Capital: Part 1 of 5

Most people outside of China only know of Beijing—first known as Peking—as the capital of China. However, another city was China’s capital for more than a thousand years, and more than 4,000 historical sites and tombs have been excavated there.

That city was Chang’an and it served as the capital of China from the Han to the Tang Dynasty spanning more than eleven hundred years. It was also the cultural center of the Silk Road.

In 2008, the last time we visited Xi’an (near the original site of Chang-an), subway construction was running behind schedule due to a law that does not allow the destruction of historical sites such as the tombs of emperors.  There are so many of these tombs below ground that the subway tunnels must be diverted to avoid them causing construction delays.


This is the first part of a documentary about Xian produced by the Discovery Channel. I watched the five-part series on You Tube in 2011 but only found Part 1 to share with this series of Blog post.

To learn about Chang’an and Xi’an’s also teaches us a lot about China’s civilization.

In the Discovery Channel’s documentary, Neville Gishford said, “It (Han Chang’an) was more powerful than Rome. If any Roman army had actually gone there, they would have been absolutely annihilated.”

The city of Han Chang’an was larger than Constantinople and richer than Egypt’s Alexandria.

The three cities of Xian

Today, another city called Xi’an, near the original location of Chang’an, is home to millions of people and thousands of men made of clay, the Terra Cotta Warriors guarding China’s first emperor.

In addition, the current massive city wall for Xi’an is more than six hundred years old and longer than 12 kilometers. Cracks are appearing and an engineering team keeps close watch and makes repairs

Soon after the Qin Dynasty capital of Xianyang was destroyed, the Han Dynasty built the second city Chang’an, which is close to the modern city of Xi’an, and the old eroding walls of Chang’an are still visible.

Covering 36 square kilometers, Han Chang’an (202 BCE – 24 CE and again in the 4th to 10th centuries AD) was more than one and a half times the size of Rome.

Continued January 27, 2016 in Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Celebrating the New Year but not always on the same Day or Month

December 30, 2015

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—a day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year.

If the first recorded New Year’s celebration was in March, how did it move to January 1st? The answer may be found at History.com where we discover that Emperor Julius Cesar introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries use today, and Cesar made January 1st the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Therefore, if you celebrate the New Year on January 1st, you are celebrating a pagan holiday. But all is not lost. Later, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian leaders in medieval Europe during the Dark Ages replaced January 1st as the first day of the year with days carrying more religious significance such as December 25, the anniversary of Jesus’s birth—until Pope Gregory XIII (Born 1502 – Died 1585) reestablished January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582.


Countries that do NOT celebrate the New Year on the first of January

For China, the first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.  The Chinese New Year is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar, also known as the Spring Festival.

The Chinese New Year gained significance because of several myths and traditions. History.com says, “The ancient Chinese calendar, on which the Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that it existed as early as the 14th century BC, when the Shang Dynasty was in power.”

Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities (gods) as well as ancestors. The Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories that have significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, and the Philippines.

In 2015, China witnessed 261 million people on the move to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, and they traveled by road, rail and air—all over a short period of time. The Chinese Lunar New Year for 2016 takes place on Monday, February 8, and it is a national holiday that runs from February 7 – 13.

When we visited China in 2008 during this holiday, the Lunar New Year on February 7, the Year of the Rat, and 2016 will be the Year of the Monkey. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle. Years of the Monkey include 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, and 2028.

Back during the Year of the Rat in 2008, my sister and her youngest daughter traveled with us as we toured China—and both are evangelical Christians who did not agree with China’s one-child policy. I heard this more than once but after they arrived in China and experienced that migration, they both stopped preaching about why the one-child policy was wrong.

At times, it was so crowded that it felt as if we were swimming upriver through an ocean of people minus the water—just people packed tight like sardines in a can.

That’s when I decided that my next trip to China will not be during any of China’s national holidays—especially the Lunar New Year.

For readers who haven’t been to China, this may be your only chance to experience a taste of what it is like to live in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. By the way, 261 million people are more than 82% of the population of the United States. Imagine the gridlock if that many Americans took to the roads and air all at once.

In China, it is so crowded on trains and busses during this holiday, that it’s possible for a passenger to end up standing for a trip that might take 16 to 48 hours.

For the United States in 2014, the Automobile Club reported that 98.6 million Americans traveled during the Christmas to New Year holiday season, a four percent increase over 2013.

 
2014 Lunar New Year in Beijing, China


Sounds like a War!

In 9th century China during the Tang Dynasty, Chinese alchemists, searching for the elixir of immortality, because the emperor wanted to live forever, accidently created gunpowder instead and then the invention of fireworks followed in the 10th century.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What did it take to turn the lights on in China: Part 1 of 2

December 15, 2015

Access to electricity is the key to developing a modern country with the potential to grow a large, consumer driven middle class.  Poverty reduction is also linked to access of electricity, because without electricity people live in the middle ages.

In fact, to reduce poverty,  over the last 50 years China has introduced electricity access to 100% of it’s people.  – World Bank.org

In 1949 when the People’s Republic (PRC) was founded, there were only 33 small hydropower stations in rural China, with a total installed capacity of 3.63 megawatts, and total electricity consumption in rural areas was 20 million kilowatts. Today, there are thousands of hydro-power stations, and the PRC has more than any country on the earth.

China Racing Ahead with Hydro Power

Of the world’s 65 operational hydropower stations with an installed capacity of at least 2,000 MW, China operates 20 (more than 30%).

In 1979, China’s Xinhua state run news agency reported a serious electric power shortage. The agency said China produced about 150,000 million kilowatts of electricity a year and ranked about seventh among the world’s electric energy producers. In fact, China’s output was about one-eighth that of the U.S. back then.  – History of China’s electricity use

In a previous post, China’s Goals to Go Green, we discovered that China now produces more electricity than the U.S., but the U.S. still produces 17.0 metric tons of CO2 emissions for each person in the United States compared to 6.7 metric tons for each person in China.

Imagine what the CO2 pollution would be like in China if the Chinese eventually match the U.S. per capita. – CO2 emissions World Bank data

Part 2 continued on December 16, 2015

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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