Han Tombs Atmosphere
After visiting the famous and crowded (even on a cold early December day far from tourist high season!) Qin Tombs with the terracotta warriors, I thought it would be nice to see a pair of Han Dynasty tombs that sit outside Xian on the other side of the city. The Han was the first long-lasting and really
glorious dynasty: the terracotta warriors come from the Qin dynasty (pronounced Chin, hence the name we all know China as), which only lasted one emperor more or less — about 25 years or something like that. (Its claim to fame is it was the first to unify – conquer – the whole Chinese
heartland under one ruler.) The Han, by contrast, lasted from about 224 BC to 220-something AD, and was an enormous high point in Chinese culture.
These tombs are for one of the earliest Han emperors and his wife, from a period known for a major flourishing of culture and art. They also have amazing armies of terracotta warriors, but they are all much smaller and feel less grandiose, perhaps more artistic. I couldn’t get any pictures of them, because at that museum you can’t take pictures. But they’re beautiful, and one guidebook describes these tombs as much more Daoist and humble than the grandiose Qin tombs. I agree — and the atmosphere is utterly different, since there are no big tour groups and hordes of tourists of all nations walking around: in fact, it was almost hard to find the entrance and the museum, even though this big mound sits right by the main highway between the airport and downtown Xian!