Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Our previous article, My Journey to Henan Museum written by Yang LIANG, has been invitingly responded with a new but related article contributed by a current MA in Irish Studies postgraduate at QUB, Martin Duffy, who, with great interest, shared his experience and perspective of visiting the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors in his early years when visiting Xi’an, China.

[The author happily acknowledges the copyright of all videos and pictures included in this article which are reproduced under fair use policy for educational purposes only.]

This is undoubtedly one of the “must see” sights of China. Tickets can be obtained by web, agent or at the admissions desk, and there are a variety of discounts. The Great Wall of China was augmented by the emperor to protect the newly founded Qin dynasty (221–206 BC.). In many ways this is Emperor Qin’s greatest legacy. However, the Emperor’s personal mausoleum and world-famous Terracotta Warriors are treasures to rival even the Great Wall.

Martin duffy

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A spring tour to the City of Springs

It’s not to do with the spring season, nor with trampolines, but the fluidity of the waters.

In late spring, our alumni and volunteers Xiaohui (小惠), left, and Zhenru (珍如), right, who have found jobs in different places of China, joyfully reunited in Ji’nan (济南 Jǐ’nán), the provincial capital of Shandong (山东 Shāndōng). While having enjoyed the beautiful scenes of the city which is famous for its artesian springs (泉水 quán shuǐ), they would like to share their findings with us.

Do you know which city has most springs in China? The answer is Ji’nan, which is known as the Spring City with 72 springs altogether. Among them, the most famous one is called Baotu Spring. During Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Qianlong’s southern tour, Baotu Spring was regarded as the “No. 1 Spring under the Heaven” because of the mellow and sweet taste of tea made from its water.

Zhenru and Xiaohui

About Baotu Spring

If you ever pay a visit to Ji’nan, you will find that Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán) is located in the city centre. The spring pond is 30-meter long and 18-meter wide, accommodating three outlets with streams gushing out from the ground. There is large stone masonry around the Spring. We would definitely recommend you to lean on the railing for a better feel to observe the streams gushing in the pond from underground limestone caves.

The entrance gate of Baotu Spring (the name should read from right to left). Image @Xiaohui LIAO

The famous modern playwright Lao She (老舍, Lǎo Shě) once wrote that “the waters gush up from the spring’s eyes, and rise half a meter above the surface of the water, constantly rolling like boiling”. We were there eager to see this wonder – the “boiling” scene. However, we felt rather disappointed that we didn’t see any “constantly rolling” waters; only three streams were there rippling mildly. Maybe it was because the waters were exhausted after running for hundreds of years.

The grand view of Baotu Spring with a waterside pavilion and two carved stones on each side. The left stone displays its name ‘趵突泉’ and the other marks it as the ‘No. 1 Spring (第一泉)’. The three rippling circles on the water surface at the bottom left corner of the photo are the streams through three outlets. Image @Xiaohui LIAO

What was astonishing was that we found two baby seals in the pond, playing with each other, as seals normally are seen in the sea. It turned out that the waters are specially treated to be in line with sea water quality to accommodate the creatures, according to the local authority that manages the scenic sites, despite the disputes arising from some tourists and people who were concerned with animals right and protection.

One of the reasons to introduce two seals in the Spring is to do with the double puns in the mixture of Chinese and English contexts.

The name in Chinese of seals is 海豹 (hǎibào), literally meaning ‘sea (海 hǎi) leopard (豹 bào), the second syllable of which echoes with the pronunciation of “趵 (bào)” in Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán). “突 ()” sounds similar to ‘two’ in English. So today people jokingly refer to Baotu Spring as the spring having two seals, though “趵突 (bàotū)” originally means jumping and rushing out and forwardly.

Image @Zhenru SHANG

So, what do you think of the idea of keeping seals in the waters? You may share your opinions in the box below and read more detailed report here.

Learn the words and phrases

  • 济南 Jǐ’nán – Ji’nan, the provincial capital of Shandong; 济 – the river of Ji; 南 nán – south
  • 山东 Shāndōng – Shandong province; 山 shān – mountain, hill; 东 dōng – east
  • 泉水 quán shuǐ – spring, the waters; 泉 quán – spring; 水 shuǐ – water
  • 趵突泉 Bàotū Quán – Baotu Spring; 趵 bào – jump; 突 – out and forward
  • 第一泉 dì yī quán – The No. 1 Spring; 第 一 – No. 1
  • 海豹 hǎibào – seal; 海 hǎi – sea; 豹 bào – leopard

If you would like to share your cultural experience in China, you are welcome to contact us by filling in the comment box below with your name, email and proposed topics.

An edible ‘landmark’ of Wuhan

Whilst it rained with ice balls in Northern Ireland only a few days ago, people in China have already turned to ice-creams for the cool taste. More popular than the tastes are perhaps the variety of shapes of ice-creams that resemble those local features and places of interest. Here’s what Xuewei YANG (杨雪薇), a QUB alumnus, brings to us.

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