Relics | Hanba Erwang City, Once the Battlefield between Liu Bang and Xiang Yu

At the end of the Qin Dynasty, the four-year Chu-Han War ended up with Xiang Yu defeated by Liu Bang and the establishment of the Western Han Dynasty. As the main battlefield between Chu and Han in Xingyang, the evenly-matched Liu Bang and Xiang Yu had a fierce struggle, which not only left many vivid and touching stories, but also left the military fortress that both of them had defended and constructed–Hanba Erwang City. After the gunfire faded away and the drums became the past, the glorious history made this city shine like pearls in Xingyang, becoming the cultural property cherished by all people here.

Hanba Erwang City is a collective name for Hanwangcheng Village and Bawangcheng Village in Guangwu Town, Xingyang City. It is bordered by the Yellow River in the north, the plain in the south. Surrounded by intersected gullies, it blocks up the transportation fort from Luoyang to Chang’an with difficult and strategically important terrain. Bawangcheng City and Hanwangcheng City (also called the East and West Guangwu Cities in ancient times respectively) stands at Guangwushan Mountain and are separated by a canal (which is also known as Guangwujian).
In the late Qin and early Han dynasties, Liu Bang led his army to build a city called Hanwangcheng at the west side of the canal while Xiang Yu built another one called Bawangcheng at the east with his army. They had been pitted against each other for many years, during which many oft-quoted stories about Liu Bang and Xiang Yu became popular among people. One of them is that in order to make Liu Bang surrender, Xiang Yu put Taigong (father of Liu Bang) on a high chopping board and threatened to cook him if Liu Bang refused to give in. However, Liu Bang claimed that they used to be sworn brothers and that his father was also Xiang Yu’s father. Liu Bang asked Xiang Yu to share the flesh soup if he really wanted to kill Taigong. Xiang Yu had no choice but to give up the idea of killing Taigong. In another story, Xiang Yu demanded to talk with Liu Bang, saying that he would fight alone with Liu Bang. However, Liu Bang refused, because he would prefer to solve the conflict through wisdom rather than fight. Also one time, Liu Bang scolded Xiang Yu by enumerating his ten wrongdoings. Xiang Yu got furious, and shot Liu Bang’s chest with an arrow. Later, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu agreed on a peace treaty so as to rule separately by taking the canal as the border.
Hanba Erwang City has long been eroded by the Yellow River. The northern wall and most parts of the city fell into the river. Fortunately, some part of the eastern and western walls and most of the southern wall are still well preserved. The total area of the two existing cities is about 80,000 square meters, and the total length of the city walls is more than 1,000 meters, of which the southern wall of Hanwangcheng is 515 meters, the southern wall of Bawangcheng is 319 meters. The wall can reach 10 meters, and the widest part is about 30 meters. The city wall is built up with segmented slabs and consists of two parts, the outer slope protection and the bearing core. The soil of the former is yellowish brown and loose. The compacted layer is as thick as generally 8-18 cm and the diameter of the compacted hole is as wide as 8 cm or above; the latter one is reddish brown. Generally, the compacted layer is as thin as 7 to 9 cm and the compacted nest ranges from 5 to 8 cm, which is very solid (it was built earlier than the outer slope protection). Archaeological excavations have not been carried out at the two cities, and many relic fragments can be collected inside and outside the city and inside the city walls, which are mainly pottery, ceramic building components and bronze weapons. There are pottery pots and jars decorated with rope patterns, and the building components include tiles with rope pattern and tube tiles. Bronze weapons include bronze arrows, bronze spears and bronze swords. There are also a kind of special bronze spears and bronze swords made by the Han state in the late Warring States Period.

The ruins of Hanba Erwang City had been an important military base since ancient times, which has important value for researchers of military geology to study the history of ancient Chinese wars, especially the Chu-Han War. Many famed figures in ancient times, such as Li Bai and Han Yu, had come to pay homage, leaving many famous poems, which have great influence on later generations. The invention of the well-known ancient Chinese chess, including the structure of a chessboard (such as the Chu-Han Border), color, and rules, etc., were inspired by the battles of Liu Bang and Xiang Yu in Hanba Erwang City and the space layout of the battlefield. In 1986, Hanba Erwang City was announced as one of the second batch of key cultural relics protection units by the People’s Government of Henan Province. In May 2013, it was listed as one of the seventh batch of national key cultural relics protection units by the State Council.

Copyright by Zhengzhou Municipal Tourism Administration