The hit TV series “The Longest Day in Chang'an” has brought the city of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, to the attention of the internet. Chang'an was the ancient name of the metropolis located in Northwest China.
The characters and scenes in the play reflect in detail the unearthed cultural relics of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Here are the real figures and scenes, which are treasured items in the collection of the Xi’an Museum.
Figure of maid [Photo by Xi'an Museum Collection]
The maid figure of the Tang Dynasty in the Xi’an Museum was unearthed in the eastern suburbs of the city. As there was no epitaph found, the tomb owner couldn’t be identified. However, from the size and shape of the unearthed maid, the tomb owner was either rich or honored. The leisurely expression also shows women's self-confidence in the prosperous Tang Dynasty.
Figure of Hu people [Photo by Xi'an Museum Collection]
As many Hu people, which literally mean non-Han people, served as military officers in the Tang Dynasty, their cultural elements such as dance, costumes and lifestyles were introduced into the Central Plains, further enriching the Tang culture. Among the more than one million people in Chang'an city, there were about 50,000 to 60,000 foreign people.
Figures of Kunlun slaves [Photo by Xi'an Museum Collection]
Kunlun in the Tang Dynasty was not today’s Kunlun Mountain. It refers to an area in Southeast Asia which at that time was still subject to slavery; the slaves trafficked from it to Chang'an were called "Kunlun slaves".
Figures of acrobatics with a pole [Photo by Xi'an Museum Collection]
This group of acrobatic figures with a pole was unearthed from the tomb of the head of Jinxiang county in the Tang Dynasty, reflecting the rich cultural life of Chang'an people at that time. The excavation of acrobat figures confirms that acrobatics was not only popular for ordinary people, but also favored by the nobles in the Tang Dynasty.
In the Tang Dynasty, the curfew system was implemented from about 7:00 pm to 7:00 am, except for the Shangyuan Festival (the current Lantern Festival, the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of the first lunar month) when people enjoyed displays of beautiful lights on the street.
Chang'an city was built on the basis of Daxing city of the Sui Dynasty (581-618). It was laid out on a north-south axis in a grid pattern, divided the enclosure into 108 wards and featured two large marketplaces, in the east and west. It had 12 gates, three in each direction.
During the Tang Dynasty, the East and West markets were the economic centers of Chang'an city, and were important places to carry out economic exchange activities between Tang and foreign countries. There were many royal families and nobles in the wards around the East market, so the market mostly sold luxuries. The West market had many civilians' houses in the wards around it, and most of the goods on the market were daily necessities such as clothes, candles, cakes, and medicines. The West market was more prosperous than the East market, and was the main commercial area and economic and political center of Chang'an city.
Xi’an is a marvelous city, said a graduate student of archaeology at Peking University visiting the Xi’an Museum after watching the TV series. He said he was surprised by the large area and population of Chang'an city, as well as the advanced, reasonable, convenient city planning and design and management system it enjoyed more than 1,400 years ago.
In recent years, Xi'an has been actively building its city image, highlighting museums with rich history and culture.
The city has been striving to integrate various historical and cultural resources and accelerate the construction of museums to present the Silk Road culture and Chinese civilization.
It also plans to build museums with the theme of the Belt and Road Initiative and develop cultural and creative industries, maximizing display of their collections, promoting tourism and cultural and creative industries, and building the entire city into a museum of history.