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Banpo Museum

Bnapo Museum locates east to downtown Xian is the first museum themed at prehistorical site in China. The site was discovered in spring of 1953 and the excavation work lasted from 1954 to 1957. Finishing the excavation the museum was built on the discovering site in 1957. With three years, 45 huts, over 200 caves, 6 pottery-kiln sites, 250 tombs, 10 thousand living and production tools, and seeds of crops and vegetables were found. The huts were built in either round or rectangular shape with half part under ground and half part up ground. A few of the huts were built completely up ground. That site is the largest village ruins of the Neolithic Age in China discovered by now. And it is the best preserved village ruins of matriarchal society in northern China.

The primitive society is the first social form in the history of mankind. In the long run of the development of human history the Chinese nation, like other nations of the world, have undergone a classless society, the period of primitive communist which lasted tens of thousands of years. The Yellow River reaches at that time were one of the most developed areas of the ancient culture. The ruins at the Banpo Village is part of the Yangshao Culture of the Neolithic Age and one of the typically complete clan commune in the maternal society located in the Guanzhong area of Shaanxi Province. The ruins of the village can be traced to six or seven thousand years back in history. The village was discovered in 1953 and the existing space it covers totals 50, 000 square meters. The area excavated from 1954 to 1957 occupies only one fifth of the total areas that has been excavated.

Banpo Museum

Situated on the No. 2 terrace along the eastern bank of the Chan River in the eastern suburds of the city of Xian the “Banpo Ruins” lies by the Chan River on the east, joining the White Deer Highland and it also has Zhongnan Mountain to the south. During the time of about 6,000 years ago the place enjoyed an affable climate and abounds with dense forests, abundant water and grass and was rich in fish and shrimps. And so it was an ideal place for gathering in provisions and hunting. On its north there was an expanse of the Wei River Plain with fertile soil, which was a good place for primitive farming. Of course, all these were only favorable conditions, but to go on living and achieve some development in production the ancient people had to live a collective life in order to fight indefatigably against natural calamities. Because productive activities were the primary activities of mankind and why the people at Banpo could stay on was mainly due to the development of the productive forces.

Agricultural production enjoyed a primary importance at the Banpo Village. As women succeeded in finding out the agricultural production. this decided their status in the clan commune. Furthermore, the way of manage at the time was in a transitional stage from communical to pairing marriages and under this unstable situation children knew only who was their mothers but didn’t know their fathers. And so finders of agriculture, the organizer of production and also supporters in primitive economy they have really made no small contributions to the development of human society.

The ruins can be classified into three blocks: dwelling district, burial district and pottery kiln district. The dwelling district locates at the center of the ruins and surrounding the dwelling district the villagers dig a occlusive entrenchment to protect villagers from wild animals. The entrenchment is 6-8 meter wide and 5-6 meter deep. The axis of the dwelling district is a little entrenchment which is about 2 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep. In this way the dwellings district falls into two different parts. Outer side to north of occlusive entrenchment is the public burial district. East side of occlusive entrenchment is the pottery-kiln district.

Banpo Museum
In dwelling district up to now we’ve found more than 40 complete dwelling ruins and over 200 cellars. In the very early ancient people lived in round dwellings, which looked very much like a nowadays “Mongolian Yurt. ” With tile door facing south and cooking-pit in the center the dwelling is made half underground and the entrance is a declined slope. The people of the Banpo Village already had their fixed sleeping-places and things were put in an orderly way. The houses of later times were built into rectangular shape with doors open to south and on the floor were paved with planks. The four sides of the houses were rounded up with big posts but strengthened with small pikes and boards in between. They were fastened and linked up with cane-strips, and the insides and outsides were applied with clay-and-grass mortar. This shows that the house of the Banpo Village has begun to bear some characteristics of Chinese traditional buildings, Cellars were dug outside houses and those of later period were bigger and more middle of the village, which might be a public place for the in to have a gel together or hold meetings with. Round the living quarters there is a big trench of 300 meters in length, 6 -8 meters in width and 5-6 meter in depth. It is probably used for warding off floods or beasts.

On the unearthed pottery objects we’ve found a total of 113 signs of 22 types carved on the pottery of the Banpo Village. What do these signs actually mean? Up to now there are still contending opinions. Some say the same sort of signs on the different pottery pieces are probably the signs left by workmen as did in later times and they do not actually represent any sort of sounds or significance. They were just like those illiterate workmen who carved signs on the pottery pieces to denote what they made. Others hold that these signs do have some significance and probably they are the rudiments of Chinese characters in its earliest stage. Which is right and which is wrong? Or is there arty other argument? This still remains to be further discussed and probed. The ancient people of the Banpo Village loved vet} much their children. The dead children were put into pottery jars and covered up with bowls or plates, And still with some holes left on the pottery jars mother’ hours. But why did they leave holes on the burial jars for the dead Children? Because the people of the Banpo Village believed made some holes on the jars so as to let the souls come out and in freely.

Of over 170 burial sites found in burial district and the posture of the bodies explain the burial system of the matriarchal society and some tell modern people their unfortunate life. the most popularly used is that the dead bodies are laid fiat on back with their limbs straightened. Still discovered at the place are the two tombs, of which one has 4 females buried together and another has 2 males. Besides, there are still second-time burials, burials with bodies lying upside down or burials with lower limbs bent. For children they used to be buried in urns. And in addition to all this, found in the ruined area is a girl’s tomb in which wooden board was used to hold the dead body with rich and beautiful burial articles.

Banpo Museum

The special characteristics of the objects unearthed here are: the stone- ware is mainly made by grinding into certain shapes and that can be bone objects are quite exquisite: the pottery wares are mainly made of brown or dark brown clay and many of them me painted with metric Patterns, or animal or flowery patterns, hence the name of colored pottery. Agriculture is mainly its means of economy with fishing and hunting or animal husbandry as subsidiaries. The ” Banpo Ruins” in Xi’an is an important type of the Yangshao Culture. The earthenware the Banpo people used already had many kinds. Take the food-containers for instance, they had bowls, plates, urns, cups, pans and other utensils. The water containers had water-jars, narrow-necked pots, pointed-bottom pots and gourd-shaped water-containers and in addition there was cooking pots and pottery bottles and some artistic earthenware pieces. The banpo people used clean and fine yellow soil to make roughcasts and dried them up and then put in- to kilns for firing. When finished they left there for cooling and then pressed on or added them with other decorative patterns. The Banpo people had already learned how to spin and weave. With jute or beast and they used bone-needle and cloth to make clothes with. Apart from all those they still used reeds, bamboo and rattan strips to make mats and baskets with. Painted on the earthen ware of the Banpo Village are mostly fish and deer. Some of the fish patterns had their mouths wide-open and some deer were running. They are bright in color and life-like in shape and also there are some water-wave and plant’s patterns on them. All these works of art bear not only a realistic style but also a decorative taste, showing that the people of the Banpo Village already knew how to get something abstract out from the realistic. They were already able to treat them in a way that had developed from realistic into expressive with a higher ability of summarization.

The human faced fish patten on the earthen bowl is an exquisite drawing done by the Banpo people. The human-head is topped with a the mouth. What does this picture actually mean? To get to know the meaning of it, even the people of modern limes have to think hard over it. Some say they meant to expect rich catch in fishing but others hold this expressed a mystic concept of a certain religion.

Banpo Museum

Entrance fee:
March 1st- November 30th : RMB65 per person
December 1st- February28th/ 29th : RMB30 per person

Opening hours:
March 1st- November 30th : 08:00-18:00
December 1st- February 28th/ 29th : 08:00-17:30

Advised visiting time: 2 hours

Public transportation: Bus No 15, 406, 913, 11, 42, etc.

 Tours including Banpo Museum:

Old Xian City Day Tour

One Day Xian Bus Tour

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