We began our day with a ride to the village of Banpo to visit the Banpo Museum. This museum houses the settlement remains from the Neolithic Stone Age (over 6,000 years ago), reflective of the Yangshao culture – a matriarchal society that was situated along the Yellow River. Some 10,000 pieces of production tools, everyday life utensils, and ornamental articles have been excavated and are on display within the walls of this museum. It never ceases to amaze me how some of the tools that were created so many years ago by early civilizations are still the tools that we turn to today to get the job done!
After meandering through the museum we spent some time at a pottery factory and watched craftsmen (and women) work with clay, wood, and lacquer.
Today we also had the amazing opportunity to visit the pits and museums dedicated to the Terra Cotta Warriors. Qin, the 1st emperor of China (self-proclaimed) decided to prepare a tomb/monument for himself complete with all the people and items he would need to serve him in his next life. He filled the tomb with what experts believe is over 5,000 life size warriors, their horses, and chariots. There are five pits but only three have been excavated to date. The tomb was discovered in 1974. The museum, similar to the one in Banpo, is built right over the excavation site – thus preserving the integrity of the site.
Big Goose Pagoda – built in 652 AD was also on our itinerary and we stopped in a square near the pagoda just in time to catch the water performance. A myriad of fountains, arranged throughout a space (part of a public square) about two blocks long and one block wide and on multiple levels, sprayed rhythmically creating a beautiful dance of water. The Big Goose Pagoda is 13 stories high and is the setting for the story (legend) of the Monkey King (Su’in oo Kong – phonetically in Chinese) about the life of a monk. In “The Journey to the West”, the monk travels to India to gather information and when he returns he works on translating the Buddhist Scriptures. The scriptures were then housed in the Big Goose Pagoda.
In the pictures for today – note how our meals here are often served on huge ‘lazy susans’ which you spin to bring your dish of choice to you and then self-serve from there. This set up really seems to increase the social aspect of the meal; no one person needs to serve the food, everyone shares, and conversation flows freely.