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Xi'an / Chang'an / Si-ngan

China History Map - Xi'an / Chang'an Xi'an (Western Peace) was called Chang'an in ancient times, and is now the capital of Shaanxi province. Xi'an is situated in the center of Weihe Plain with the towering and verdant Mt. Qinling in the south, with the meandering and rolling Beishan mountain system in the north and eight rivers around it, all of which are at Guang Zhong Plain (the center of passes). Historically, it was famous for being called "a gold city stretching a thousand li" with its fertile soil, mild climate, adequate rainfall and rich products.

Since the earliest societies, humanity lived and multiplied here. It served as a capital for twelve dynasties, including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang dynasties, spanning over 1120 years. It became the oriental cultural center of the Silk Road. Many dynasties kept the city beautiful and magnificent. More than two hundred and seventy palaces and temples, for example, were built in the Qin dynasty, in the Han dynasty the "Three Han Palaces", namely Changle, Weiyang, Jianzhang Palaces, and numerous other palaces and watch towers were built.

Si-ngan was a great and flourishing city in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. When, nearly 2,700 years ago, the Emperor Ping established his capital in Honan, Si-ngan, or Changan as it was then called, became the capital of the princes of Tsin who were destined 500 years later to mount the Imperial throne. In 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty established the first centralized feudal dynasty in China. After his death, he was buried at the north foot of Lishan Hill in the east of Lintong county. The tomb is a rammed-soil mound, 47m. high and its base is 485m. 515m. In 1974, three large pits of terra-cotta figures were found 1.5 km. east of the mausoleum. Among the three, the largest one is pit No.1, covering 14,260 sq.m.. The pit is divided into eleven corridors in which arrayed 38 columns of life-sized clay warriors, horses and chariots.

Liu Pang when he ascended the throne took the dynastic title of Kao Ti, that is, "The August Emperor," and named his Dynasty the Han, from the small state in Shensi over which he had ruled, and from the River Han near which he had been born. This may be considered the first national dynasty and even to the present day the Chinese, with the exception of the Cantonese, commonly speak of themselves as the "Sons of Han." The Emperor began his reign by pacific measures, and conciliated the scholars by repealing the decree issued by Shih Huang Ti, for the destruction of the classical literature. A search was instituted for all the books which had escaped the flames, and honor was again paid to the teaching of the Sages. Kao Ti was the first of the Chinese Emperors to offer sacrifice at the tomb of Confucius. The capital was established at Changan near the present Sianfu in Shensi. This locality was chosen as the Emperor desired to be in a position where he could watch the movements of the Northern barbarians, whose inroads from this time began to assume serious proportions.

At the outset of the Sui Dynasty (581 or 589 to 617 or 619), Wen Ti (581-604) ordered a survey of the empire to be made, and introduced a new principle of administration by making the several administrative departments independent of one another. He was a patron of literature and a supporter of commerce, and made a vain attempt to introduce the Indian system of caste into China. In 604 he was apparently murdered by his son Kwang, who succeeded him as (Sui) Yang Ti (605-617). The three capitals of the kingdom were Changan in Shensi, Loyang in Honan, and Chiangtu (Yangchou) in Kiangsi. However, as early as 613 emperors of new petty States existed in different parts of the empire. Li Yuan, duke of Tang, or more correctly his son Li Shi min, set up an opposition emperor in 617 against Yang Ti, who had plunged into the wildest excesses.

The Tang dynasty (618-906) was a glorious period of Chinese history. The reign of Kao Tsu (618-626), the first Tang emperor, was almost entirely occupied with struggles against more than twenty usurpers, who had been in existence under the Sui dynasty. It was not until 628 that the last of these petty kings was conquered in the person of Shi tn, who had made himself lord of Liang in 617. The Tang dynasty was then recognised throughout the empire. The Sui and the Tang dynasties both lived in Changan. The Dzui were overthrown in the second generation, whereas the Tang lasted for 300 years.

The Tang metropolis, Changan, was taken for model in building Kyoto. Commenced in April, 794, the new metropolis was finished in December, 805. The city was laid out with mathematical exactness in the form of a rectangle, nearly three and one-half miles long, from north to south, and about three miles wide, from east to west. But although China under the Tang dynasty in the ninth century presented many industrial, artistic, and social features of an inspiring and attractive nature, her administrative methods had begun to fall into disorder, which discredited them in Japanese eyes.

The Sung, who reigned from AD 960 to 1125, made Si-ngan their first capital. It has been besieged, destroyed and rebuilt. Dynasty has succeeded dynasty, palaces have succeeded palaces, city has succeeded city; but for nearly 3,000 years it has been a princely, an imperial-or a provincial capital. Theodosius sent envoys here, bearing presents of emeralds and rubies to the Chinese monarch of the day; Marco Polo visited it and noted its greatness and wealth; and though time and political changes have lowered its earlier rank, it continued to be one of the first cities in China a focus of ancient legend, a center of archaeological interest, and a point of the first strategic importance.

All the emperors of the Qin, Han, Tang and other dynasties had their magnificent mausoleums built. Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum at the foot of Lishan Hill in Lintong county, for example, is the earliest example of a grand mausoleum for an emperor in ancient China. The twelve emperors of the Western Han dynasty were mostly buried on the plateau to the north of the Weihe River. Their tomb-mounds were man-made and quite imposing, but emperors of the Tang dynasty began to have their bombs constructed into hills. They are scattered in the counties to the north of the Weihe River and called the "Eighteen Tang Mausoleums".

The Xi'an City Wall is the best preserved, oldest and largest ancient city defense system in China. It is also one of the most important landmarks of the Xi'an city. The original foundation of the Xi'an City Wall was based on the ruins of the Imperial City Wall of Chang'an City--the capital of the Tang Dynasty. In 904 AD when the capital of the Tang Dynasty was moved eastward, the Governor-general Han Jian had the city renovated and turned it into an army garrison and named it "New City".

Through fifty years development, Xi'an has already set up sordid industry basement in certain areas. Aviation, aerospace, electronics, machinery, communications, instruments and meters, and electric power are typical industry in Xi'an. In some of these areas, the industries in Xi'an has not only reached the top level in China, but also has equaled to the world advance level.




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Page last modified: 20-06-2012 20:36:03 ZULU