Sunday, July 22, 2007

Longest Cemetery on Earth

I recently started reading my True Singapore Ghost Stories vol 14 which I have purchased like more than a few months ago and I was in for a shocking discovery when I stumbled upon one of the stories revolving one of the Wonders of the World.
I couldn't believe my eyes and yeah, laugh at my naive mind, I just couldn't believe it and this has led me to numerous researches and readings (yeah, including looking up my own encyclopedias) on this.

The Great Wall of China (aka Wan Li Chang Chen in Chinese which means a Thousand Miles) was a historic structure which stood tall as the defender from Mongolians and invading parties from the province and borders of China; one of the giant powers in Asia or the world.
Established during the reign of the first and notable emperor in the history of China, Qin Shi Huang, this was an amazing structure which remains one of the wonders until this day. The origins of the wall actually started in the Spring, Autumn during the warring periods and was a fort of defense by the 3 states at war; which include Yan, Zhao and Qin. Following the continuous and endless modifications, the wall was finally joined together - hence the birth "Great Wall" today as the brainchild of the mighty Shi Huangti in his efforts to defend the country against the Huns residing in the northern borders of China.

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The complexity of the structure and also the drawback in technology back then was not a deterring factor from a solid barrier to shield the country from attacks and this is one of the main reasons this wall earned its place in the World's Wonders' list.In fact, the wall itself took more than centuries to complete and in the process; it has also gone through re-structuring, re-building, and also relocating of the wall which span across several regions; from the boundaries of Korea all the way to the Gobi Desert. In fact, this wall was also the joint combination of several local walls built by the warring states.

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The structure of the wall resembled that of a dragon as it winds in a wave of upward and downward shape due to the platform it was built upon; ranging from deserts, pastures, hills, mountains and plateaus and boast of an astounding distance of 6,700 kilometres; which is about 4,163 miles all the way from the East to the West of China.

The wall has gone through numerous remedifications; renovations and extensions across the succeeding dynasties as well until forming most of what it is today in the Ming Dynasty; (source from Webster)
1. 208 BC (Qin Dynasty - the origin)
2. 1st Century BC (Han Dynasty)
3. 1138-1198 (the Five Dynasties and the 10 Kingdoms Period)
4. 1368 (Ming Dynasty)

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Stretching all the way across all the warring counties; a total of 100 counties and 9 provinces, the Great Wall starts from the eastern end of the Shanhai Pass, Qinghuangdao in the Hebei province next to Bohai gulf; and traverses through Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia;ending at the Jiayu Pass in the Gansu province which was also the opening to welcome the Silk Road travellers.

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The glory of the Wall stood; defending the country from harm until the invasion of the Manchus through the same great wall.
The wall fell to the hands of the Manchus who succeeded in entering China after convincing the general guarding the Shanhai pass and hence, the whole troupe of Manchus came into China where they ruled the throne thereafter.
Following the admission of Manchus, the wall lost the original value it was built for - which was to guard against the biggest foe who were the Manchus themselves.
Thus the wall became a legacy and a landmark in the China history.

Besides the history of the purpose and the strength of the wall, the basics of the foundation of the wall was built by human. Yes, with the bare hands of the men back then who knew no day and night and most of whom have perished in the process as well.
The marvellous works of the men despite the limitations in the construction technology back then attributed mainly to the status of the structure (the Wall) being one of the Wonders in the World.
However, this also contributed to one of the tragedies; the loss of the human lives in the process of the building of the wall.
The labour then comprised mainly of convicts, prisoners, political criminals, and slaves who were forced to work on the wall. It was a strenous and tiring process and as history states, the wall building spanned over a period of century and thus, most of the workers perished along the way.
Furthermore, the burden and the exhaustion had also caused most of them to collapse and their remains were buried along the way; beneath the sand and bricks which build up the wall.
Besides this, it was known that most of the men in the workforce were so tired and they could not take it anymore that they attempted escape.
However, any runaways or any attempts to escape will be caught immediately under the watchful eyes of the soldiers guarding the wall. The punishment for some of them will be a live burial; yes, these people attempting to escape will be buried alive with the sand and the ingredients under the wall.
It's pretty scary back then and it is a misery to hear those cries of agony.
With regards to those incidents and the number of deaths; with the length of the wall, it is understandably that the building of the wall had also claimed numerous lives; and this has linked to the Wall's nicknamed as the 'Longest Cemetery on Earth'; a fact to prove that more than the number we ever imagined were buried along with the wall and as part of the building structure.

I came across this featured story in the TSGS whereby a man was possessed by one of the spirits trapped here and he related to the miserable and pitiful spirits who died an unjust death and still begs for freedom.
It is really a pain to discover that a wonder is actually constructed of pain and tears but yet, gazed at in awe by visitors and history enthusiasts today.
This is a realistic depiction of the Chinese saying " Of blood and perspiration"....
Let us just admire and be solemn as to respect the perished souls involved in the labour process of the Wonder of the World and the pride of the people who have contributed not their hands and strength but also their lives for a legacy which stands until this day.

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Sources: Travel China Guide, Webster

2 comments:

j00ky said...

I actually knew of this when I had to do a project about the Wall when I was in HS.. but anyways, to watch the Olympics this year and seeing so many people walking on the Wall, and then hearing stories about people actually urinating and spitting on it too is kinda of freaky knowing it is the world's biggest grave! People ask me if I want to go there and as much as I love reading and watching supernatural stuff my answer is heck no! lol

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