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In the first episode of our series we’ll be looking at the beginnings of the Empire, which coincides precisely with the birth of the Great Wall. The first dynasty, the QIN with a reign starting 221 B.C. brings an end to countless wars between feuding kingdoms to form the Middle Kingdom, an Empire with gigantic proportions. And at its heart a capital named Xi’An where the order was given to commence construction of the wall in order to secure the boundaries of the new Empire. Protected by the Seas in the South and the East, and by the Himalayan Mountains in the West, the new Empire was vulnerable in the North. Nomadic Mongols and other war-faring peoples from Central Asia needed to be kept at bay. It is here, in Xi’An, where the founding Emperor is buried and to this day guarded by the famous army of terra cotta warriors.
We’ll encounter a photographer, also an amateur-archaeologist, who had the opportunity to buy a piece of the Wall. He spends his week-ends excavating unknown treasures on his “property”: to him knowing the past means you are prepared for the future. Also on our discovery trail along the Great Wall, we’ll meet a master potter specialising in creating terra cotta soldiers according to techniques two millennia old, replicas of the ones at the imperial tomb. Finally, we’ll participate in a tiny village at the foot of the Wall, in a rare Taoist ritual to free a poor woman from the demons that are believed to have caused her illness for many years. Through this memorable experience we’ll understand the place Taoism has held in the olden days, and, in some ways, still does today in these remote parts of China. Some say that this religion, this philosophy would be, in a matter of speaking, the cement of the Great Wall, and one of the major forces to hold together the entire Chinese community.