Xi’an, China

The first question, for many, is just how to pronounce the word, “Xi’an.” For reasons that elude me, the “X” is pronounced like “Sh.” An the “an” is pronounced like “on.” So we have Shee-on (accent on 2nd syllable).

Xi’an is found in the province of Shaanxi in China. Here’s where it gets really strange. The “Sh” in Shaanxi is pronounced like the “X” in Xian. So, phonetically, we have Shee-on, in Shon-shee Province.

Whew! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dig into the story. And digging is an appropriate metaphor for approaching this place.

An army of terracotta warriors was discovered in Xian. Photo by Len Kaufman
An army of terracotta warriors was discovered in Xi’an. Photo by Len Kaufman

Discovery of the Terracotta Warriors

Back in 1974, some farmers were digging a well in China’s Shaanxi province. They came upon some clay artifacts that were to one day put this area on the tourist map and for sure on your bucket list.

They found pieces of a clay soldier. Not the tiny figure that a GI Joe brings to mind; rather a full human-sized figure.

This was the beginning of a major archaeological discovery. The archaeologists were called in, and continued digging revealed thousands of these life-sized clay warriors, in various stages of disrepair. Some (a lot) of assembly required.

So far, over 8,000 warriors, 100 chariots, and 400 horses have been found. Additional figures are still being discovered, and another 200 were brought to light this past year.

It turns out that this underground army was built by the emperor Quin Shi Huang, after he rose to the throne of the Quin state, at the tender age of 13. Maybe that young age accounted for his obsession with the clay soldiers. Those soldiers were supposed to accompany the boy emperor to the afterlife, upon his death.

The aforementioned soldiers were each unique; no two exactly alike. And all of this clay army conscription took place about 2000 years ago.

Xian at night. Photo by Len Kaufman
Xi’an at night. Photo by Len Kaufman

But there we go again: focused on what is just a small aspect of Xi’an’s attractions.

The topic of border walls is currently very much in the news in the U.S., these days. Turns out, back then Xi’an built a truly monumental wall.

Much of it still stands today, and you can actually rent a bike and ride around portions of that wall. It’s even wider than many roads I’ve seen. 40′ wide in some places, and a great vantage point for viewing the city.

Musicians in Xian. Photo by Len Kaufman
Musicians in Xian. Photo by Len Kaufman

Muslim Quarter in Xi’an

When we think of China, most of us probably don’t think about Muslims. But in the Xi’an area, there are about 30,000 Muslims. And a trip to Huimin Street, in the Muslim Quarter that is within the city wall is a culinary and visual treat. They’re descendants of the merchants that plied the Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty, in the 8th Century.

But enough talk. Let’s take a look. Check out our video above on Xi’an, China.

Photographer Len Kaufman in China
Photographer Len Kaufman in China

Bio: Travel photographer Len Kaufman is famed for the dramatic images he’s made in 90 countries. His advertising photography has been featured by cruise lines, airlines, and tourism destinations around the world. Len’s works have also appeared in a wide variety of major U.S. publications, including Travel and Leisure, Travel Holiday, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. Airline magazines worldwide have featured Kaufman’s images. His YouTube channel (www.theOTHERHollywood.TV) has over 3/4 MILLION VIEWS. Len is based in Hollywood, Florida….the OTHER Hollywood.

His philosophy in the game of life: “Whoever finishes with the most experiences wins.”

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