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Watermelon And Terracotta Soldiers

July 22, 2011

Tags: order, American debts, Army of Terracotta Soldiers, Beijing, Buddhism, China – unified, Chinese herbs, Confucian scholars, consciousness, Dunhuang, emperor, fiefdoms, Government – USA, Han dynasty, heat afflictions, heat collapse, heat stroke, heat wave, language, measurements, Mogaoku, money, overheating, potassium depletion, pyramid, Qin dynasty, roads, Traditional Chinese Medicine, USA, watermelon juice, Western medicine, Wuhan, Watermelon And Terracotta Soldiers

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are two different kind of heat afflictions: “red” and “white”. Red is what we call a heat stroke - when one is extremely overheated; white is when one has what in Western medicine would be called an electrolyte imbalance. Potassium depletion seems to play a major role.

In Dunhuang, I suffered a heat collapse. Visiting Mogaoku – the Buddhist caves - at around one hundred degrees, was a bit much for my system. In the evening, I refused to eat – which alarmed everybody. At that point, I could barely walk, and in a restaurant they built a make-shift bed for me from several chairs. While they were dining, I waited for them – for about fifteen minutes, or so I thought. In reality, one and a half hour had passed; I lost time (but not consciousness) – a weird feeling.

A few years earlier, after a visit in hot, hot Wuhan – another little dot on the Chinese map; turned out it has twelve million inhabitants – in July, I had a similar collapse in Beijing. That one was worse: I could not lift my head from the pillow anymore.

In both cases, my friend Hong was with me, and she gave me freshly pressed watermelon juice. Within ten minutes, in the Beijing case, I could lift my head, and from there I started eating and drinking again. This time, with the watermelon juice and a good night’s sleep, I woke revived the next morning.

The watermelon juice advice may come just in time for the heat wave in the USA.

Meanwhile, we traveled from dry Dunhuang to rainy Xian – the city that starts the Silk Road. The rain does the land good, and me, too.

Xian is famous for the Army of Terracotta Soldiers – which I have wanted to see for such a long time. It’s magnificent – but also scary because ancient records show that about 700.000 people had to die helping one megalomaniac emperor build his tomb. He, more than 2000 years ago, unified China and became the first Emperor.

Before, the regions had suffered many fiefdoms. The First Emperor of China (of the Qin dynasty) built roads, unified money, measurements and language, and built at his tomb for 38 year; it has the form of a grassy pyramid and is the largest grave installation in the world. When he died unexpectedly at age fifty – speculation goes he was afraid that any one doctor might kill him, so he had several and probably took too many Chinese herbs from too many doctors simultaneously – his son buried him in a pompous ceremony, walked out of the tomb and banged the door shut – leaving all the wives and concubines and court people including 450 Confucian scholars locked in; they died of suffocation. The son then had the tomb entrance camouflaged and killed the people who did the camouflaging. This son was the second and last emperor of the Qin dynasty and hung on only for three more years, then the farmers rebelled against the unimaginable exploitation and killed him. After fierce fights between two rivaling farmer bands, the Han dynasty was established.

Everybody has seen photos of the life-sized terracotta army – but to stand there and look into the faces is amazing. They were built after living models, and we know that each soldier sculpted here had to die for the Emperor. Each face is different. The faces look modern – one sees similar faces now on China's streets. To me it feels less like an army, more like a photo gallery of ancestors. Each gown and uniform has different adornments; even their postures are individual. All look serious and serene, as with a higher purpose.

China’s greatness does not lie in her past only. Every single American owes China about 6,000 dollars. For many years we lived above our means (and was it worthwhile???). Clearly, we can’t put the blame on our Government alone; we were in this together. Only hard work and frugality will get us out now.

I am not saying that everything is better in China than in America – we know that's not true – but I am in awe of the Chinese people who got themselves out of the mess Mao Zedong had put them in.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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