Xi’an Language and Culture Learning Resources

Xi'an icon with text - 75 x 75This page features Mandarin vocabulary terms and cultural information relevant to places and attractions in Xi’an that are featured on our tours. For additional information on learning Chinese, especially while traveling in China, visit our Chinese Language Resources Page. See photos of Xi’an attractions and get information such as tours that feature Xi’an, Xi’an travel tips, and Xi’an-related links on our Xi’an Photo Gallery and Information Page.

Note: The materials on this page are © China International Travel CA, Inc. (all rights reserved) and are intended for private, personal, and noncommercial use only.

CIT tour participants: For a list of the specific attractions featured on your tour, please refer to the itinerary.

Quizlet icon - 75 x 75 Study these words on our Xi’an-Related Words Quizlet page! Quizlet offers a variety of useful study features and is compatible with a wide range of apps on popular mobile platforms. See the Quizlet links in each section below for more specific lists.
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Click on the pinyin pronunciation key for each word below to hear its pronunciation.

西安 (Xī’ān): Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, population 8,252,000 (2010); Xi’an also served as the capital of numerous dynasties

长安 (Cháng’ān): Chang’an (literally, “Eternal Peace”), Xi’an’s former name in imperial times (prior to the Ming Dynasty)

陕西省 (Shǎnxī Shěng): Shaanxi Province, the province in which Xi’an is located; Shaanxi played a large role in the imperial history of China

Note: The name of the province is officially spelled “Shaanxi” to distinguish it from Shanxi (山西, Shānxī), a different province with a phonetically similar name

Big Goose Pagoda

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大雁塔北广场 (Dàyàn Tǎ Běi Guǎngchǎng): Big Goose Pagoda’s North Square

Xi'an - Big Goose Pagoda - CIT - 180 x 120
Big Goose Pagoda, Xi’an
(photo by CIT)
  • 大雁塔 (Dàyàn Tǎ)
    Big Goose Pagoda (also called “Great Wild Goose Pagoda”), a pagoda originally built in 652 CE to house the Buddhist scriptures brought to China by the monk Xuanzang (玄奘, Xuánzàng)
  • 音乐喷泉 (yīnyuè pēnquán)
    musical fountain, fountain with an array of jets coordinated with music to create a live show; North Square’s musical fountain is the largest in Asia

陕西历史博物馆 (Shǎnxī Lìshǐ Bówùguǎn): Shaanxi History Museum, a large, modern museum built in Tang Dynasty architectural style with a collection of 300,000 items

Muslim Quarter

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回民街 (Huímín Jiē): Huimin Street; literally, “Street of the Hui People”; a term for Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, an area of the town heavily influenced by Xi’an’s Silk Road history

  • 回族 (Huízú)
    the Hui ethnic group, numbering almost 10 million in China
A food market in the Muslim Quarter of Xi'an, China
Muslim food market, Xi’an
(photo by Andrew Eland)
  • 回教 (Huíjiào)
    Islam, also called 伊斯兰教 (Yīsīlánjiào); the term 回教 comes from the fact that the Hui people are predominantly Muslim
  • 丝绸之路 (Sīchóu Zhī Lù)
    Silk Road, ancient trade route whose eastern endpoint was Xi’an
  • 西洋市 (Xīyáng Shì)
    Xiyangshi Street, famous street in the Muslim quarter featuring a traditional market; 西洋市 literally means “Western Sheep Market”
  • 小贩 (xiǎofàn)
    street vendor, as in an outdoor market
First Emperor’s Terracotta Army

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秦始皇兵马俑 (Qín Shǐhuáng bīngmǎyǒng): the First Emperor’s terracotta army, located in the Xi’an-area district of Lintong (临潼, Líntóng); literally, the full name translates to “the First Emperor of Qin’s soldier and horse funerary statues”

Xi'an - terracotta soldiers - main pit - CIT - 240 x 120
Main excavation pit, terracotta army, Xi’an
(photo by CIT)
  • 秦始皇 (Qín Shǐhuáng)
    Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor, king of the state of Qin who ruled a unified China beginning in 221 BCE; the period from 221-207 is known as the Qin Dynasty (秦朝, Qín Cháo)
  • 秦始皇陵 (Qín Shǐhuáng Líng)
    Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum, the tomb of the First Emperor, of which the terracotta army is one part; the burial mound itself has not yet been excavated
  • 秦始皇兵马俑博物馆 (Qín Shǐhuáng Bīngmǎyǒng Bówùguǎn)
    Museum of the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang, the official name of the museum where the terracotta army is located
  • 兵马俑 (bīngmǎyǒng)
    soldier and horse funerary statues (“soldier” + “horse” + “funerary statue”)
Xi'an - terracotta soldiers - closeup - CIT - 200 x 150
Terracotta soldiers, Xi’an
(photo by CIT)
  • Categories of Terracotta Soldiers:
    军吏俑 (jūnlìyǒng): military officers of junior and middle rank
    高级军吏俑 (gāojí jūnlìyǒng): senior military officers
    武士俑 (wǔshìyǒng): warriors; general soldiers
    跪射俑 (guìshèyǒng): kneeling archers (“kneel” + “shoot”)
    立射俑 (lìshèyǒng): standing archers (“stand” + “shoot”)
    骑兵俑 (qíbīngyǒng): cavalrymen; mounted troops (standing figures leading their horses)
    御手俑 or 驭手俑 (yùshǒuyǒng): chariot drivers
    车士俑 (chēshìyǒng): chariot soldiers
  • 战车 (zhànchē)
    war chariot, one of the most famous features of the terracotta army; though most of the chariots were wooden and have disintegrated, their terracotta-constructed horses remain
  • 陶 (táo)
    earthenware, pottery; the character 陶 often appears in combination with other characters:

    红陶 (hóngtáo): terracotta or terra-cotta (literally, “red earthenware”); clay-based ceramic earthenware used to create the bingmayong (also 赤陶, chìtáo)

    陶俑 (táoyǒng): terracotta funerary statues

    陶土 (táotǔ): potter’s clay (also used in reference to the terracotta army)

饺子宴 (jiǎozi yàn): dumpling banquet

仿唐乐歌舞 (fǎng Táng yuègēwǔ) or 仿唐歌舞表演 (fǎng Táng gēwǔ biǎoyǎn): Tang Dynasty-style performance, a show with music and dancing in imitation of Tang Dynasty performances; 歌舞 (gēwǔ) literally translates as “song and dance”

  • 唐朝 (Táng Cháo)
    Tang Dynasty, 618-907 CE, one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan periods in Chinese history; it is particularly admired for its poetry
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