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The Great Wall of China

The Wall Made from Sweat and Blood, Love and Tears, and Thousands of Lives


Among countless China attractions, the Great Wall is the most popular of all. It is the icon of China. Of over 8800km in length, the Great Wall can even be spotted up in the space by satellites. This greatest engineering feats of the ancient world was classified as UNESCO cultural heritage in 1987.

The Significance of the Great Wall

The main purpose of the Great Wall is for defending against the attack from the north to the Chinese empire, so it was built along the northern mountain borders.

The idea of building this defensive wall came early from the 9th century BC, Western Zhou Dynasty. Due to the frequent attacks by northern enemies, the Zhou Army begun to built moulds by earth, by then beacons were formed by lighting the moulds when enemies were detected.

During the Warring States Period when China was partitioned into seven warring states, the northern kings of the states begun to connect the beacons by building walls in between as to protect their land. This forms the early stages of the Great Wall. Besides the northern kings, several other kings also built defensive walls along the borders of their territories.

In 221BC it was Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang) who finally reunified China. Qin was aware that the leading threat to his empire was the northern tribes because they were nomadic; once there was draught the nomads would attack the south for food. In order to protect his territory Qin had ordered to relocate the walls built between states to the north to group into a series of defensive fortifications. The Great Wall project was then initiated for the renovation of the existing walls.

Lacked of machinery, the construction of Great Wall at that time was distressing. Besides ordinary materials like rammed earth and stones, it was often said that the Great Wall was built by human blood. According to the statistics, one out of twenty people were summoned to the huge project.

7 years later, the Great Wall, of 5000 km in length, was completed. However, this was not the end of the work. 200 thousand soldiers were appointed to safeguard the Great wall. Apart from keeping the boarders clear, they were also responsible for the maintenance of the Great Wall and farming so that they could feed themselves. They spent most their lives on isolated towers on the wall, never had a chance to return home.

The Temple of Mengjiangnu (Mengjiangnv)

A common tale related to the Great wall is about the story of the girl Meng Jiang Nu. Meng Jiang Nu’s husband had been captured to the construction site of Great Wall to work as a labour. Not hearing from her husband for a couple of years, Meng Jiang Nu went to search for him with some clothings she sew. After a long journey of thousands miles, she learned that he had dead for some time, and was buried under the wall. Meng Jiang Nu cried so hard that her tears were turned into rain, the rain which burst over the Great Wall.

The story of Meng Jiang Nu was spread to Qin Emperor. The emperor felt sorry for her, Meng Jiang Nu then suggested the emperor to mourn her husband. The emperor agreed. When the Chinese ceremony was over Meng Jiang Nu, holding her husband’s bones in her hands, drowned herself. A temple was built in that location to honour Meng Jiang Nu. Lucky red bands are tied on the tree in the temple to give blessings to Meng Jiang Nu.

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