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The 7 wonders of the world are:
- Taj Mahal – India
- Colosseum – Italy
- Chichen Itza – Mexico
- Machu Picchu – Peru
- Christ the Redeemer – Brazil
- Petra – Jordan
- Great Wall of China – China
The Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal is one of the crowning architectural achievements of the Mughal empire, which ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from 1526 to 1761. It took around 20,000 workers and 16 years to build. The building reflects the Mughal architectural style, stressing symmetry and balance. In recent years, restoration efforts have been focused on protecting the ivory marble facades from pollution.
The Taj Mahal is well known across the world for its historical value, its tale of love, and its stunning beauty. The Taj Mahal is located in the historic Indian city of Agra. It houses the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It is said that the Emperor loved his wife dearly and was prompted to build the Taj Mahal after her death as a testament to his love.
The construction of the Taj Mahal was completed by 1632. It took 17 years, 22,000 laborers, stonecutters, painters, and embroidery artists, and 1000 elephants to complete the Taj Mahal. The construction of the temple cost the equivalent of US$827 million today. 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones were used to decorate the Taj Mahal. The monument changes color depending on the time of the day and the moon. In 1983, the Taj Mahal was inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Today, it attracts 7 to 8 million annual visitors each year.
The Taj, neither on canvass nor on celluloid, can adequately express its conceptual imaginary nor convey the legend, the poetry and the romance that shrouds what Rabindranath Tagore calls “a teardrop on the cheek of time”.
The Taj Mahal, a spectacle in white marble, unparalleled in grandeur that depicts the sheer opulence of an era. The awesome structure, the monument of love that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan gave to the world, stands as a testimony of his intense love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
It is a romance celebrated in marble and glorified with precious and semi-precious stones and that’s the way to appreciate it!
Uttar Pradesh, the Land of The Taj is rich in its cultural heritage and has always been a prominent arena of politics since the ancient times. Agra, the City of The Taj and once the capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th through the early 18th centuries, enjoys a close proximity to the National Capital City of New Delhi.
Tourists from all over the world visit Agra to make a pilgrimage to Taj Mahal, India’s most famous architectural wonder, in a land where magnificent temples and edifices abound to remind visitors about the rich civilization of a country that is slowly but surely lifting itself into an industrialized society as well.
Taj Mahal means “Crown Palace” and is in fact the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. The English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold has described The Taj as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”
It is a romance celebrated in marble and glorified with precious and semi-precious stones and that’s the way to appreciate it!.
Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide most defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his third but the most favourite wife, in fact a soul-mate Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 13th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.
When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. However, due to ill health and being under house arrest by his own son and successor to the throne, Aurangzeb, barred him from continue to keep the last promise.
The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen. So exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been described as “having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers”. The only asymmetrical object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor which was built beside the queen’s as an afterthought.
Legend has it that during his eight years long ailment and imprisonment, Shah Jahan used to intensly view The Taj lying on the bed through a diamond fixed in the wall in front at a particular angle.
As a tribute to a woman of exotic beauty and as a monument of a love story, which is keeping us engrossed even when we are reading through these pages here, truely an ever-lasting romance of a love not ended as yet, the Taj reveals its subtleties to its beholder!
The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In Indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj.
The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours change at different hours of the day and during different seasons.
The Taj sparkles like a jewel in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch and reflect back its glow with a better gleam. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of a beauty of any kind.
Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble. A masterpiece of the art and science of architecture, a representative of an era called The Mughal Period surpassing any authority to add or de-add anything in any sense in or out of the Taj!
The Colosseum was constructed over a short decade, between 70-80 AD, by up to 100,000 slaves. Its building was overseen by three different emperors who ruled under the Imperial Flavian dynasty, lending the structure its original name. Emperor Vespasian began the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater and his son Titus oversaw the construction of an additional tier after his death in 79 AD. His youngest son Domitian constructed the underground tunnels and added an extra level to increase its seating capacity.
The amphitheater takes its more commonly attributed name from the Colossus of Nero, an enormous bronze statue of the Emperor which was located beside the structure (and in the vicinity of his famed villa complex, the Domus Aurea). The Colosseum was a recreational and gathering space that was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, historical re-enactments, mythological theatrical performances and of course, executions.
It could hold between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators and the seating arrangements reflect the stratification of Roman society: senators were seated closest to the stage while the poorest Roman citizens (and women) stood at the highest level. Its skilled architects developed an ingenious design which included 80 entrances and exits with a numbering system to allow access in and out of the structure. Unlike most ancient amphitheaters which were built into hillsides for support, the Colosseum is so impressive because it is a freestanding structure: it is made of travertine stone that was sourced from the nearby Tivoli area and held together with iron clamps.
The Colosseum is most closely associated with its gladiatorial shows, although often the combatants were not skilled professionals but rather unlucky slaves and criminals pitted against each other for the enjoyment of the public. In fact the venatio, or animal hunt, was one of the most popular shows for its novelty and shock appeal. Always in pursuit of ostentatious displays of wealth and power.
the Romans procured exotic animals such as elephants, giraffes, lions, bears and crocodiles from the far reaches of the empire and sent them out into the pit, often along with unfortunate souls who would be torn to pieces. During the inaugural games of the Colosseum, most likely held in 80 AD, over 9,000 animals are believed to have been killed. The Romans also constructed elaborate stage sets on the arena floor, simulating forests and other natural environments, as backdrops to the events taking place.
The Colosseum, or ‘Colosseo’ in Italian, was once the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. It was built in the 1st century AD by the Emperor Vespasian as a place for the people of Rome to enjoy. Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre after Vespasian’s family name, the man who brought the Roman Empire back from the brink would not live to see its completion.
The construction of the Colosseum was very much a symbolic gesture to create a clear distinction between Vespasian and his predecessor, Nero. Nero had committed suicide after suffering military coups, partially a result of his extravagance, which included building the opulent Golden House and a vast statue of himself. By contrast, Vespasian was building the Colosseum for the citizens of Rome. As if to emphasise this point, the Colosseum was built in the former gardens of Nero’s palace over the site where Nero’s colossal statue had stood.
Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was opened with great fanfare by Titus, Vespasian’s son and successor. He marked the opening of the Colosseum with one hundred days of games, including stunning battle recreations on artificial lakes of water. The fact that the Colosseum was completed by this date was particularly impressive considering the building’s incredible complexity, vast size and the fact that Vespasian only came to power in 69 AD.
Even despite the short timescale of the build, the result was spectacular. Not only was the Colosseum able to take up to 50,000 spectators, it was also perfectly symmetrical, ornately decorated in marble and stone and an incredible feat of engineering.
The Colosseum remained the amphitheatre of Rome until the end of the Roman Empire. This was the place where gladiators, lions and those accused of crimes were put to the test, often fighting to the death.
Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum has suffered from various destructive forces, including extensive pillaging of its stone and marble as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes. In fact, its materials contributed to many famous Roman buildings such as St Peter’s Cathedral and the Palazzo Venezia. Yet, even though a third of the Colosseum has been lost over time, this magnificent structure remains one of the most fascinating and beautiful historic sites in the world.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Stunningly well-preserved and imposingly beautiful, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most visited historical sites, and for good reason. The site has been extensively restored, and whilst it is far from untouched, it is hard not to feel a sense of the power and sophistication of the Mayan civilization which built this city.
The name Chichen Itza literally means ‘at the mouth of the well of the Itza’ in Mayan, and the site was chosen for its location: it has four large cenotes (waterholes) close by, which would have provided plentiful fresh water to the city’s inhabitants. At its height, it was one of the largest Mayan cities, sprawling over 25 square kilometres and home to up to 50,000 people.
Mayans first occupied the Chichen Itza site around 600AD, although the city only rose to prominence in the 10th century: it eventually became a regional capital, controlling large swathes of the Yucatan peninsula following the decline and eventual collapse of the nearby cities of Yaxuna and Coba. Whilst the city began to decline somewhere around 1100AD, it was never deserted.
When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the early/mid 16th century, they found a thriving population in the locality of Chichen Itza, which initially drove them out when they attempt to colonise the city. Control of Chichen Itza and the Yucatan by the Spanish was gained by mid 16th century.
Explorers including Desire Charnay, Augustus Le Plongeon and Alfred Maudslay were some of the first Europeans to photograph and explore Chichen Itza in the late 19th century: their photographs of Chichen Itza entered the popular imagination.
American archaeologists were the first to excavate the site in the early 20th century: much of what was found was shipped back to Harvard’s Peabody Museum. Mexican and American archaeologists began to fully restore the site in the 1920s.
Viewed as a whole, the incredible complex reveals much about the Maya and Toltec vision of the universe—which was intimately tied to what was visible in the dark night skies of the Yucatán Peninsula.
The most recognizable structure here is the Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo. This glorious step pyramid demonstrates the accuracy and importance of Maya astronomy—and the heavy influence of the Toltecs, who invaded around 1000 and precipitated a merger of the two cultural traditions.
The temple has 365 steps—one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, and the top platform makes the 365th.
Devising a 365-day calendar was just one feat of Maya science. Incredibly, twice a year on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls on the pyramid in the shape of a serpent. As the sun sets, this shadowy snake descends the steps to eventually join a stone serpent head at the base of the great staircase up the pyramid’s side.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Archaeologists believe the city was built around 1450 by the ninth Sapa Inca (1438-1471/1472) of the Kingdom of Cusco, also the first Imperial Ruler of the Inca, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (also called Pachacutec), and was only inhabited for approximately one hundred years, abandoned around the time of the Spanish invasion of Peru in 1532. The intended purpose of the city has been a matter of debate, particularly since the Inca kept no written records.
Bingham’s team showed a male to female ratio of more than four to one, leading to the widely held belief that Machu Picchu may have been a training ground for Inca Sun Virgins. More recent examination of the bones by physical anthropologist John Verano dispelled this idea, showing a more balanced ratio of women to men, as well as the presence of children and the elderly.
Believed to have been constructed by the Inca Yupanqui people sometime during the mid-fifteenth century for the then-emperor Pachacuti, the ruins of Machu Picchu sit high atop a granite mountain. The high standard of engineering and construction employed by the Incas, such as the fact that each stone on the site fits together seamlessly, accounts for Machu Picchu’s incredible state of preservation.
Believed to have a population of just under 1000 people, many of whom were immigrants, the site was primarily for the emperor’s enjoyment and pleasure. Past speculation has included theories such as that Machu Picchu was a mostly female city and that it was built as a last attempt by the Incas to preserve their culture. The former of these theories was due to the fact that, of the hundred skeletons found in Machu Picchu’s fifty burial sites, 80% were initially believed to be female, although this has since been disproven.
Animals were brought here for food and pelts – primarily llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs – and the surrounding terraces would have been used to grow food. These were an impressive feat of engineering given the site’s location: Machu Picchu’s location meant it received high levels of rainfall, so additional drainage had to be built into the soil.
The site was never discovered by the Spanish, and it was gradually reclaimed by jungle growth. It’s thought it might have been rediscovered in the mid 19th century, but the American explorer Hiram Bingham is generally credited with the site’s discovery in 1911. Bingham led several further expeditions to the site in the subsequent years, and excavations continued throughout the 20th century.
The collection of archaeological artifacts in the collection of Yale’s Peabody Museum was the focus of an intensive reinvestigation by archaeologists Richard Burger and Lucy Salazar, who began looking at the Bingham collection in 1982. Their research refuted many of the previously held beliefs concerning the purpose and function of the ancient Inca city, and culminated in a traveling exhibit entitled “Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas,” as well as the 2004 publication of a book of the same name.
Archaeological evidence put forth by Burger and Salazar, and research on early colonial documents, indicate that Machu Picchu was more likely a country retreat town for Inca nobility. It is estimated that a maximum of about 1,200 people resided in Machu Picchu when the royal entourage was in residence, and probably only several hundred lived in the town otherwise. Many of the bodies found appear to have belonged to artisans, such as metal workers and potters, who were a diverse mix of people from throughout the Inca Empire.
The circumstances leading to the abandonment of the site are also somewhat of a mystery. The inhabitants left the city around the time of the Spanish invasion of Peru, but there are differing opinions as to whether or not the Spanish ever set foot in Machu Picchu. The fact that the Intihuatana stone is intact led some to believe that the Spanish were never at Machu Picchu, as they destroyed most similar stones in other Inca cities. Based on this evidence, speculation arose as to why the inhabitants chose to abandon the city. Others argued that the lack of valuable gold artifacts, the inoccupation of all the elegant tombs, and evidence of severe fires indicate that the Spanish did, in fact, discover Machu Picchu. Without definitive evidence either way, no explanation has been agreed upon.
Christ the Redeemer – Brazil
Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) is a 30 metre high statue, mounted upon an 8 metre pedestal, and of course the 700 metre high mountain of Corcovado. It was constructed between 1922 and 1931 from soapstone and reinforced concrete. Today it is a Brazilian cultural icon and global symbol of Christianity.
An earlier proposal for a Christian monument on Mount Corcovada was dismissed after the country became a republic in 1889, when the roles of church and state were separated. However a second proposal came in 1920 from Catholics motivated by the perceived atheism of contemporary Rio de Janeiro.
The proposal attracted donations to support the construction, which came largely from Brazilian Catholics. Designs included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus holding a globe in his hands and a pedestal that symbolised the world. The resultant Christ the Redeemer statue symbolises peace.
Christ the Redeemer was created by French sculptor Paul Landwoski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, working with French engineer Albert Caquot. It weighs 635 metric tons. The face of the Christ the Redeemer statue was created by Gheorghe Leonida, a Romanian sculptor living in Paris hired by Landowski.
On the 75th anniversary of the statue’s construction, in October 2006, the Archbishop of Rio consecrated a chapel beneath the statue. The statue was hit by lightning in 2008 and in 2014, causing damage, while it has also been the focus of recent renovation efforts.
Christ the Redeemer is the largest of all art deco Statues in the world. The monument is also the fifth largest constructed statue depicting Jesus Christ in the world. The construction began in 1926 and took five years to complete. It measures an impressive 30 meters tall, sits on a pedestal that is 8 meters high and has an arm span of 28 meters. The statue is located at the highest point of the 700 meter tall Corcovado Mountain and weighs 635 tons. The statue is made of soapstone and reinforced concrete. Soapstone is resistant to climate changes and tough weather conditions. The price for the construction of the statue is believed to have been around $250,000.
The designer of the statue was a Brazilian named Heitor da Silva Costa. Christ the Redeemer was sculpted by a French man named Paul Landowski. The arms of the statue are stretched out to resemble that of a cross. The statue’s inauguration took place on October 12, 1931.
Christ the Redeemer’s history shows the statue to be synonymous with the city of Rio de Janeiro. The statue is an icon for the people of Rio de Janeiro and symbolizes Brazilian Christianity. At the tip of the Corcovado mountain, the statue is symbolic of the hospitality and the warmth of the Brazilian people. Just like Jesus was said to be welcoming of the downtrodden, the people of Brazil are said to welcome all people who come to them with open arms.
As of July 7, 2007, the statue was classified as one of the “new” Seven Wonders of the World. People flock to Rio de Janeiro to marvel at the immensity and positioning of the statue.
Requests for the construction of a religious statue in Rio de Janeiro were made as far back as the 1850’s. These requests were however turned down. It was not until 1921 that a monument fundraiser took place in the city and donations were collected for the building of a statue. It took much consideration to decide what type of statue should be built.
The Petra history starts a few centuries prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. The city was founded by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab tribe. Apart from stone-carving, the Nabataeans had outstanding skill in agriculture, engineering and trade. Presently, the archaeologists are in the process of bringing to light various facts about the ancient Petra history. They could collect various interesting objects that reveal various Petra history facts that were hidden so far.
The Nabataeans demonstrated their architectural skills by erecting numerous monuments in the memory of their kings and other eminent persons. These awesome, monumental tombs were made by carving the stones of the cliffs that surround the city. The Petra history of 2000 years back says that camel caravans carrying loads of spices, textiles and incense from different places used to pass through Petra thereby facilitating the flourishing of trade and commerce in this place. History Petra is in fact closely associated with the history of the Nabataeans .
Petra, or “Raqmu,” as the Nabateans called it, is one of Jordan’s most recognized cities because of its archaeological and architectural history. Because of its pink granite formations, the city is also known as Rose City.
Petra was founded in 312 AD and became the capital of the Nabateans, who were mentioned in the Bible. They lived in the Petra region between the IV AC and the II DC. Petra was also a highly important trading center between the Arabic peninsula and Damascus in Syria; now, Petra is Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction.
In 106 A.C, the Romans conquered Petra of Jordan and made it a Roman province. Petra grew in importance throughout the second and third centuries. By the seventh century, the Romans had lost control of the city to Islam.
Petra was conquered by new lords again in the 12th century. For a while, it was buried until it was discovered by Swiss explorers Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who was responsible for introducing the city to the world with his poem, a rose-red metropolis half as old as time.
Today, visitors may discover various blends of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectural styles in the city’s tombs, many of which were robbed by criminals, and their contents were thus lost.
Today, Bedouins sell tourist goods not far from the site where Arabs say Moses smashed a rock with his staff, causing water to break forth.
Petra of Jordan was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, and UNESCO characterized it as “one of the most treasured properties of humanity’s cultural inheritance.” Petra of Jordan has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
we come to know that around AD 50 the city of Petra was having its golden days. Right from the first century BC up to the first century AD, Petra was one of the international centers of commerce and culture. The Nabataean traders were selling luxury goods such as perfumes, spice and textiles to Rome, Egypt and Greece. Though it was a desert the Nabataeans succeeded in harnessing water and suddenly the population in Petra rose to 20000.
The awe-inspiring temples, about 3000 stone-carved tombs, the banquet halls, altars and dwellings demonstrate the engineering, architecture, technology and artistry of the Nabataeans. They made all the structures appear spectacular by adorning them with bright paints and covering with stucco. The most exciting part of Petra history is the technological development brought by the Nabataeans facilitating the booming of the population. They developed the technology to provide irrigation to crops and gardens by harnessing the natural springs.
In that desert land they had a technologically efficient system of pools and reservoirs. The history Petra city is the history of the Nabataeans who developed the city and made it the thriving capital of Nabataea. The Nabataeans were highly powerful as well as rich. They took pride in the development of Petra and they considered the city of Petra as their crown jewel. During the first century BC these desert traders had the control of the incense and spice trade all over the Arabian Peninsula. The origin of these migrants as well as and the reason for their migration to Petra is still a mystery
Great Wall Of China
The Great Wall of China is an ancient series of walls and fortifications located in northern China, built around 500 years ago. Estimates of its length vary from 1,500 to 5,000 miles, but an archaeological survey carried out in 2012 by China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage suggested the wall is more than double than that length.. some 13,000 miles – or 21,000km – long.
A first set of walls, designed to keep Mongol nomads out of China, were built of earth and stones in wood frames during the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BCE).
Some additions and modifications were made to these simple walls over the next millennium but the major construction of the “modern” walls began in the Ming Dynasty (1388 to 1644 CE).
The Ming fortifications were established in new areas from the Qin walls. They were up to 25 feet (7.6 meters) high, 15 to 30 feet (4.6 to 9.1 meters) wide at the base, and from 9 to 12 feet (2.7 to 3.7 meters) wide at the top (wide enough for marching troops or wagons). At regular intervals, guard stations and watch towers were established.
Since the Great Wall was discontinuous, Mongol invaders had no trouble breaching the wall by going around it, so the wall proved unsuccessful and was eventually abandoned. Additionally, a policy of mollification during the subsequent Ch’ing Dynasty that sought to pacify the Mongol leaders through religious conversion also helped to limit the need for the Great Wall.
Through Western contact with China from the 17th through 20th centuries, the legend of the Great Wall of China grew along with tourism to the wall. Restoration and rebuilding took place in the 20th century and in 1987 the Great Wall of China was made a World Heritage Site. Today, a portion of the Great Wall of China, about 50 miles (80 km) from Beijing, receives thousands of tourists each day.
It was during the reign of the first Emperor Qin Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC that the Great Wall of China was amalgamated into the single structure we know today.
This process took around 10 years, 180 million cubic metres of earth, and over 1 million workers to complete. Amongst the many legends surrounding The Great Wall of China is the belief that some of the structure is made of the bones of workers who died during its construction.
At its peak, the Great Wall of China stretched for approximately 5,500 miles from Shanhaiguan in east China to Lop Nur in the west. Though it was built in order to protect China’s borders, it never really fulfilled this goal, even when it was reconstructed during the Ming era after the Battle of Tumu in 1449. This project took a staggering 100 years to complete.
Nevertheless, whilst this stronger, brick renovation did provide some defensive qualities, even this didn’t stop the invasion of China by the Manchu armies in 1644. After this, the Great Wall of China was left untouched for centuries.
With all of its sections, the wall is approximately 13,171 miles long. The section built by the Ming Dynasty is 3915 miles long. Some sections of the wall measure up to 30 feet wide and 26 feet high. It was built using a variety of materials that were available at the time. At first it was built using compacted dirt, straw and stone. Later the Ming Dynasty used materials such as stone, brick, wood, and tamped earth. The wall extends through varying terrains and even along high mountains.
It was built using the labor of peasants and prisoners that the emperor punished. Building the wall was very difficult and dangerous. Workers faced the threat of falling stones, exhaustion, disease, hot and freezing weather, animal attacks and starvation. Shi Huangdi, emperor of the Qi Dynasty, ordered the wall to be built to provide a barrier between the Chinese and the northern invaders such as the Mongol, Turic, and Xiongnu, from modern-day Mongolia and Manchuria. It also provided strategic placement for watchtowers, beacons for signalling, and shelter for soldiers. The wall coupled with the large amount of manpower that guarded it made Chinese society safe against outside invasions.