Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Great Wall

“A Chinese saying goes that ‘he who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man’” (Badaling Great Wall museum)


As you can see from the picture, we were not the only ones to become “true men” that day. We arrived early to the wall and there were many many people when we arrived but by the time we left there were so many people that I literally had to squeeze through the towers! The crowd however was far from a nuisance, the energy of every person’s excitement to be at the Great Wall just made it that much more special to be there.

Many times while I was in China I wished that I had a time line of the dynasties and emperors (you probably will too after reading the quotes from the museum in the following paragraph!) Chinese history is vast and complex. It was amazing to be there and to grasp even small pieces of it.

“The Great Wall started to be built in the Spring and Autumn period over 2,500 years ago, and continued to be built in many dynasties afterwards it was constructed by various peoples.” “The Qin Great Wall was built by the first unified multi-ethnic feudal state in Chinese history. The Han Great Wall was the longest in length in Chinese history” “From the Wei and Jin Dynasty to the Song and Yuan dynasties, northern nomadic peoples established regimes in the Central Plains. Among these, the Northern Wei, the Eastern Wei, the Northern Qi, the Northern Zhou, and the Liaojin all built Great Walls” “After it was founded, the Ming Dynasty built the Great Wall to reinforce its reign. The Great Wall was built almost incessantly during the 200-odd years of the dynasty, when its length reached more than 8,800 kilometers. The Ming Great Wall surpassed the Great Wall in any other dynasty in the time and extent of construction and the completeness of defense system and structure.” (Badaling Great Wall Museum).

One of the most fascinating things that I learned about the Great Wall was that not only did it serve as defense against Northern tribes, it allowed for “political, economic, and cultural development” because it allowed for a safe communication East to West across the dynasty.


(A Ming Calvaryman delivering official documents)

It goes without saying that they Great Wall was built by man power. As you look at the pictures and all of the individual stones that make up the Great Wall remember this and it will give you even more perspective on the wonder of the amazing construction.



The sign below this sculpture in the museum says, “During construction, working people accumulated much valuable experience. The most important was ‘building forts suited to terrain.” I don’t know why they chose the path they did for the wall, it certainly wasn’t the most convenient path. I would imagine that they looked at the landscape and chose the places where nature and wall put together would provide the best defense.




As you can see in this picture, this tower is larger, both in footprint and in height, than the other towers. I read that some of the towers were used for houses for the higher ranking officers and this tower is perhaps one of these.


Detail looking into a tower


Detail of stairs on the Great Wall



Far across the landscape you continue to see the Great Wall


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