Great Wall of
China — The Chinese Dragon by
When seen from above the
Great Wall of China looks like a dragon zigzagging over mountain tops. The
Chinese call it “Wan Li Chang Cheng” which means “Wall of 10,000
Li”. (10,000 li = 5,000 km)
the Great Wall is 7,200 km long. Height wise, it is 4.5m to 9m. Depth
wise, it is 4.5m to 8m. The entire structure was built by hand using
stone, bricks, soil, sand, straw, wood, clay or whatever was available
depending on the terrain.
Three main Chinese dynasties
— the Qin (B.C 221-207), Han (B.C 206-A.D 220) and Ming (A.D 1368-1644) — built the Great Wall of China. All had one purpose —
to keep out the “barbaric” Huns
in the north who frequently invaded Chinese border areas. In all, tens of
millions of people labored on the Great Wall. Many died.
Qin Shi Huang, the First
Emperor of China, is credited with kicking off this massive project 2,200
years ago. By connecting old sections with newly built ones, the Qin
Dynasty erected 4,800km of wall in 10 years — more than one km a day!
After the Qin, the Han
Dynasty extended the Great Wall through the Gobi Desert. Watchtowers were
added to the walls. Smoke spirals produced by burning wood and straw mixed
with wolf dung functioned as an alarm system. One smoke column meant a
force of 100 men was attacking, two columns signaled that more than 500
men were approaching, and so on.
The Great Wall of China we
know today was built by the Ming Dynasty 600 years ago. By then the
ancient wall was in ruins. The Ming rulers rebuilt most of it over a
period of 200 years. That the wall is still in good condition today is due
to an invention of that era, the adding of rice flour to make super strong
bricks and mortar!
Kah Joon Liow is the
author of the children’s book "A Musical Journey: From the Great
Wall of China to the Water Towns of Jiangnan". This book allows
children to experience China’s diverse land and people through
interesting facts, beautiful drawings and delightful music. You can read
chapters of the book and listen to the music at Living