Monday, December 26, 2011

Very Superstitious - The Ming Tombs

OMGGGGGGGGGG. I swear that every holiday season gets more and more crazy as the years go on. It's been, like, three weeks since I last blogged! Sheesh!!!

Okay. Next stop - the Ming Tombs. Now, here's the deal - there were 16 emperors in the Ming dynasty, and 13 of the 16 emperors are buried at this site. The tombs are spread out over 15 square miles. This tomb we went to is the most popular, the tomb of Yongle, the 3rd Ming emperor.

This is the first gate you get to - the Gate of Eminent Favor:

The center arch could only be used to transport the body of the emperor to his resting place. Everyone else had to use the other arches to walk through the gate.

This is the Hall of Eminent Favor:

It was a sacrificial hall.

We could not, for the life of us, find Sadie's jacket, and we knew she'd need one, so the night before, when Ben made his run to the silk market, he looked for children's jackets, but they didn't have them. This was the smallest sweatshirt he could find - a women's extra small. It was still huge:

Sadie crouches like this all the time - our Chinese friends loved it, because this is how the Chinese customarily rest or relax:

They kept saying, "Sadie is Chinese! Sadie is Chinese!"

There were these carvings all along all the tiers and stairways:

I read that they are meant to resemble clouds and are supposed to be beacons to guide the souls of the deceased.

Inside the Hall of Eminent Favor (this was the first time that we could actually go INTO an enclosure. A miracle), there is a huge sculpture of Yongle:

I looooove that picture because of Dylan. He had seen a wasp and was freaking out; hence the pinching of the neck of his shirt. For some reason, whenever he sees a bug, he is worried the bug will fly into his shirt. It cracks me up. What a wuss!

So these columns are sooooo tall - 43 feet tall, to be exact:

And each one was originally a tree TRUNK. They're big. And rumor has it that they were transported clear from the south of China (and this was clear back in the 1400s) up to Beijing for this purpose. Can you imagine how long that must have taken???

I love this model of an ancient Chinese ship:

I read that you can actually ride one of these in Hong Kong somewhere. I would have liked to have done that. There were a lot of things I would have liked to have done. :)

Some artifacts they had on display - hairpins:




Ancient artwork:

I love this pic, too, because it shows Dylan holding my hand. I love that he still holds my hand. One of my favorite things about him:

To our immense relief, our tour guide the second day wasn't the loud screaming lady. I think his name was Charles, and he was a doll:

Behind him is a Pakistani guy who was in our group. There were three of these Pakistani guys, and they were hilarious. They got the biggest kick out of teasing Micah and making him scream. I liked them immediately.

This is the funniest thing about the whole Ming Tombs thing. I kept thinking we'd actually see the TOMBS. Being called the Ming Tombs and all. Nope. You see the entrance to the tombs, but only one of the tombs (an emperor named Ding Ling. I think that name is funny) has actually been excavated. What you get to see here at Chang Ling is a hill wherein Yongle is buried:

Charles told us that they're too scared for the oxygen to ruin everything. So it sits there, inside the dirt. I seriously thought I'd see an old casket or whatever, you know? Like you see all over Europe. With intricate carvings on the top, etc. So Yongle, his wife, and 16 of his concubines are all in there. Somewhere.

Micah, making like a local:

At the entrance to the tombs (which you can't actually enter), there is a big building called the Spirit Tower. There's quite a view from the top of it:

This was so interesting - each brick had the brickmaker's name on it:

That way, the emperor would know who to praise/punish for the workmanship, depending on how well it held up. :)

As you can see, Dylan was still concerned about wasps:

This was interesting - a tree that had grown through one of the walls of the Spirit Tower:

You can see how pidgeon-toed Dylan is in this pic:

Right after this picture was taken, for reasons unknown to me, Dylan shoved Sadie and made her fall down this steep ramp. I was pissed. I don't think he even knew why he did it. He is very compulsive like that.

A good shot of the Spirit Tower:

This little gate is really interesting:

According to superstition, you can't walk through it on your way to the Spirit Tower. It's bad luck. You can only walk through it when you are leaving the Spirit Tower. And you have to walk through it holding hands with your wife or husband. You have to step through it with your left foot first. And you have to shout, in your native language, "I'LL BE BACK!!!" If you don't do these things, you're destined for bad luck FORRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR.

So Ben wanted to take a picture of the kids and I walking through the gate and yelling, "I'll be back!"

So we did it. And then Charles came running up to us, brow furrowed.

"Why didn't you walk through this gate with your husband???" he asked.

"Um, because he wanted to take a picture," I said.

"But now you won't be able to be together forever!!" he whispered, dead serious.

"Um, I think we will be okay," I said, smiling sweetly.

Charles told us a lot about Chinese superstitions when we were on the bus on the way to the tombs. It was fascinating. He talked about the animal years. Like, I was born in 1977, the year of the snake. That is supposed to mean that I am pliable, that I bend with each new situation, like a snake can bend its body easily.

Charles asked when Sadie was born. We said 2005. "That's the year of the rooster!" he said. "That means that she must love getting up really early. She is a morning person." Ben and I looked at each other and chuckled. "Uh, not really. She sleeps in and hates waking up." Charles seemed thoroughly confused that the Zodiac animal didn't really match her personality. He seriously treated it as undisputed truth.

Next year, 2012, is the year of the dragon. If you have a baby born in 2012, they will be very powerful, talented, and strong. (Ben likes to brag that he was born in a year of the dragon, which he was.) Charles told us that many, many couples actually timed their pregnancies so that their babies would be born next year. Can you imagine??

He told us more about some of the superstitions of the Chinese. For example, many buildings will not show an eighth floor. Ben and I actually noticed this. You'll be riding in the elevator, and you'll see all the buttons for all the floors - 1, 2, 3, and so on, but then there is no 8. It goes straight to 9. They still build an eighth floor, but because 8 is an unlucky number, they label it the 9th floor. Like I told you, I don't make this stuff up. I just tell you about it.

I love these waterspout thingeys:

The dragons look like they have braces. So I feel an affinity with them, since I've had braces three times in my life. I feel your pain, dude. I feel your pain.

A lot of these trees are hundreds of years old. Each one was labeled according to how old it was. I think this one is 200 years old:

The Ming Tombs were nice and uncrowded. It was a refreshing change from the day before. :) And Charles was so nice. He let us take pictures and wander around. That's my kind of tour guide.


lexykay said...

interesting that they don't have 8th floor. i thought 8 was a really good lucky number. i read somewhere that it was good luck because an 8 sideways is the infinity sign. anyways. did you know that majory of hotels in america don't have a 13th floor because of superstition? fun fact. and in case it marks me as a stranger, this is lex

Emily Empey said...

That is crazy - I think superstition is interesting!

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