A tomb of a king for over 2,000 years, unearthing the most spectacular chariot and horse formation in China, the owner of which is still a mystery! 138steemCreated with Sketch.

in #mausoleum2 months ago

In ancient China, "death is like life", and since ancient times there has been a very strict burial system, of which the chariot and horse pits are the highlight. Chariot and horse pits are the burial pits used for the burial of carriages in ancient high-grade tombs, including three kinds of pits: chariot pits, horse pits and chariot and horse co-burial pits. This mode of burial was mainly popular from the Shang and Zhou dynasties to the Qin and Han dynasties, with real carriages and horses being used in the early period, and then gradually replaced by models. To put it simply, a tomb in which a carriage or horse pit can be unearthed is either a king or a marquis. Some of the more famous carriage pits that have been unearthed in China include the bronze carriage horses at the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang in Xi'an, the carriage pits at the Qin Gong No. 1 Tomb in Baoji, and the Sixth Emperor of Heaven at the Zhou Wangcheng site in Luoyang, to name but a few.
But in Jingzhou, a famous historical and cultural city in China, the Ch'i King's Horse and Carriage Pits have been unearthed in recent years and are known as the "Terracotta Warriors in the north and the Horse and Carriage Pits in the south". with such a spectacular array of carriages and horses for martyrdom, remains a mystery.
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The Chu King's Horse and Carriage Formation Scenic Area (Xiongjiazuka National Archaeological Site Park) is a little off the beaten track, it is located in Zhangchang Village, Chuandian Town, Jingzhou City, about 26 kilometres from the old capital of Chu, Ji'nan City, and about 35 kilometres from the ancient city of Jingzhou, but the road conditions are quite good all the way, making it more suitable for self-drive access.
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The entrance fee for the Chu King's Horse and Carriage Show was 80 yuan, but it will be free later this year.
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"The King of Chu's Horse and Carriage Array at Xiong Jia Mound is the largest and most spectacular in China, at least in terms of the horse and carriage pits that have been unearthed so far.
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This is a magnificent king's tomb, covering an area of about 150,000 square metres, consisting of the main mound, attached mounds, carriage pits, martyred tombs and ancillary buildings, with a complete layout. The main mound is 70 metres long from north to south and 67 metres wide from east to west, and no tomb of a vassal king or high-ranking nobleman from the Eastern Zhou states has been excavated to date that exceeds the Xiong Jia Mound.
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The most impressive part of the entire tomb is still being excavated, the No.1 carriage and horse pit, which is 132.6 metres long from north to south and 12 metres wide from east to west. Within the 79 metres excavated so far, 43 carriages and 164 horses have been unearthed, including 33 carriages driven by four horses, 7 carriages driven by two horses and 3 carriages driven by six horses.
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According to Yi Li - Wang Du Ji, "the Son of Heaven drove six, the vassals five, the ministers four, the da fu three and the commoners one". In other words, the Zhou rites stipulate that only the Son of Zhou can drive six horses, and the carriage excavated at Xiongjiazuka Cemetery No. 1 has three carriages of the "Son of Zhou driving six" class.
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It is said that this saying, which is more than 2,000 years old, was first used by the king of Chu to disobey the emperor of Zhou, as can be seen from the three carriages of the tomb.
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In other cemeteries, the carriage pits are basically one pit per tomb, but in the Xiongjiazuka cemetery, there are 34 pits, forming a huge carriage array, which is why the expression carriage array is generally used here, rather than just carriage pits.
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Unlike the terracotta warriors and horses unearthed in Xi'an, the carriage and horse formation unearthed at Xiongjiazuka in Jingzhou is full of real horses and real carriages, which are said to have been given to death in poisoned wine before being buried, thus arranging them in a neater, more vivid and picturesque state. The Chariot and Horse Formation dates from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period, before the Qin dynasty, which unified China, and is a majestic and powerful formation, the essence of Chu culture.
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What's a few hundred horses for a king of a country to be buried with, you might say? But you should know that over 2,000 years ago, the state of Chu did not produce horses, and most of these horses were obtained from Yunnan or the land of Ba Shu, making them even more rare and precious.
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These chariots and horses have been buried deep underground for more than 2,000 years, but the bones of the horses are still intact, and the wheels, carriages and umbrellas are still clearly outlined.
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Looking closer, you can even clearly see the teeth of these warhorses, which may have come from Yunnan more than 2,000 years ago and were in their prime when they were poisoned and buried.
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The carriage, which was in the middle of the front row of the formation and guarded by an earthen wall, still has the outline of its lid (umbrella), which is painted in red with a triangular pattern and the wheels have a red diamond pattern and is said to have been the 'king's mikoshi' on which the king rode.
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Standing in front of this massive chariot and horse formation, you can imagine the scene when the chariots were clattering and the horses were shouting, the horses were galloping, the chariots were whistling, the sand was flying and the sound of killing was tremendous.
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The excavation of the tomb began in 2006 and has yet to be completed, so there is no telling what other rare treasures will be unearthed.
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Having said all that, who was the owner of this tomb? It is still unknown, but according to the Jiangling Geographical Names, the Xiong Jia Mound was named after the ancestors of the Xiong surname who were buried there, but the king of Chu was surnamed Xiong. Again, based on the scale of the tomb, some scholars have speculated that the Xiong Family Mound was the tomb of one of the kings of Chu.
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But from 689 BC, when King Wen of Chu started his capital at Ying, to 278 BC, when Qin general Bai Qi plucked Ying, a total of 20 kings of Chu built their capitals at Ji'nan, a total of 411 years. So which of the kings of Chu was the owner of this tomb? It is still a mystery. The main mound of the Xiong Family Tomb has not yet been excavated, so the identity of the owner, who was so prominent in his lifetime, remains to be proven.
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Climbing to the top of the main mound, overlooking the surrounding area, this small house is a martyred tomb of breathtaking proportions. On the south side of the main mound, 92 burial tombs have been identified, 55 have been excavated and over 3,000 pieces of jade, crystal, onyx and other exquisite artefacts have been unearthed, in addition to a small amount of bronze and pottery. On the south, west and north sides of the main mound and to the north-west of the carriage pits, 213 sacrificial pits have been identified.
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"The Terracotta Warriors in the north and the Horse and Carriage Pits in the south are well known to the world, but the Horse and Carriage Pits in Jingzhou are still little known. Perhaps when the main mound is excavated and the historically illustrious king of Chu reveals his true face, more people will pay attention to this world-shattering tomb.
The Ch'u King's Chariot and Horse Formation is not only a burial site for hundreds of horses and dozens of carts, but also a reflection of the prosperity and strength of the state of Ch'u more than 2000 years ago, and a display of the glorious and splendid culture of the land of Jingchu. When you come to Jingzhou, a city of Chinese history and culture, you will not only find the regret of Guan Yu's carelessness in losing Jingzhou and Liu Bei's wisdom in borrowing Jing zhou, but also the glory of the Chu capital for over 400 years and the perseverance of the future "through the Chu has three households, Qin will die in the Chu".

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