Not the weekend anymore, but it was a good weekend, so here’s a post about it.
On Saturday we went to the “Place of Grand Brightness, 大明宫 (da ming gong), or rather it’s former location, just outside the city wall which formerly marked the whole extent of Xi’an during the Ming dynasty (about 14km in perimeter), but during the Tang Dynasty only contained the royal section of Chang’an. It was the largest imperial palace of the Tang Dynasty (one of three in Chang’an) and moreover was the largest palace complex in all of Chinese history (even bigger than the Forbidden city in Beijing). In one exhibit it shows the complex’s size (3.7 square km, same size as Central Park) compared to other historical sites such as the Forbidden City, Pompeii, Athens etc., and the Da Ming Gong dwarfs them all. I felt like there was an element of dick measuring to it.
I did get to see the original foundations, which was awesome, and it’s a bit mind boggling to imagine the scope of this place. It was literally the center of the world at the time. Dignitaries from Japan and tons of Central/South Asian countries would come to pay tribute to the Tang in this absolutely massive palace. Nothing anywhere else in the world at that time could hold a candle to it. That’s a 1:15 model by the way.
Tragic then that it was burned down during the downfall of the Tang about 1,100 years ago. They also had to clear out some “shantytowns” (their words not mine) when excavation started in the 80’s, which lead to an odd exhibit featuring the original living conditions of the local people. I can only hope the residents were compensated and treated appropriately, but you never know with these things.
They also preserved the lake, pictured here, which was quite serene and beautiful. I was glad the air quality cooperated with the outing, even if it was hot as hell outside.
Afterwards went to get food and replace my old junky chinese phone that finally died. Bought a Xiao Mi Hong Mi, with which I’ll finally have the ability to do more than text (which literally no one does here, it’s all on wechat) and call. Xiao Mi is actually known for making cheap, affordable smartphones, and at one time basically being the “budget Apple”. I’ll let you know how it works out.
Sunday started off lazily, read, mailed a letter, and met with a friend, then went to scratch an item off my Xi’an list and bike the city wall. Only 14km of flat ground which we covered in an hour on a rented single-speed, but it was really cool, and really good to get on a bike again.
Swung by the calligraphy street to get my prayer beads restrung. Haven’t used them in a month and a half after the strings started breaking, and once I got them back in my hands an immediate feeling of peace came over me. Proceeded to celebrate with one of my favorite beers I had been saving to celebrate the end of the Beijing competition as well.
Now’s a time to talk a bit about ceramics. Anyone knows that China is good at porcelain. It’s always been a product along the silk road, and the aquatic silk road for that matter. There’s even a line in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, “They are not China dishes, but very good dishes (nonetheless)”. Funny how that works.
The home of Chinese ceramics is Jingdezheng in Jiangxi, eastern China, but they’ve been doing it for their entire history. The terra cotta warriors are even related. There’s a whole lot I could go into, but I’m nowhere near qualified. Worth noting though is the plate directly this paragraph that is “三彩“ or “three color” which was the distinctive glaze of the Tang dynasty. The three colors refer to the green, white, and brownish earthy colors, but actually can produce much more. Any time you see a post like this though you can be it’s Tang. Below that is a red glaze that I found quite beautiful. Below that is a statue of a bull I thought was quite funny to be included at the front of a ceramic exhibit (see, “bull in a China shop,” hehe).
And more pics.