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, city (1994 est. pop. 2,114,900), capital of Shaanxi prov., China, in the Wei River valley. Situated on the Longhai RR, China's principal east-west line, it is an important commercial, tranportation, and tourism center in a wheat- and cotton-growing area.
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a city in China, in the valley of the Wei River, a tributary of the Huang Ho. Population, 2.8 million (1971). Sian is the administrative center of Shensi Province and Sian Municipality.
Sian is a large industrial center in Northwest China. A major highway junction and an important transportation junction, it has a station on the Lunghai railroad. Sian has various industries, notably ferrous metallurgy and machine building, which produces machine tools, machines for agriculture and the textile industry, drilling equipment, electrical equipment and instruments, motor vehicles, and tractors. It also has a chemical industry, which produces mineral fertilizers, toxic chemicals, detergents, and plastics. The city’s textile industry is represented by the spinning and weaving of cotton, the weaving of wool, dyeing and printing, and the manufacture of knitwear; one of China’s largest textile combines, the Hsipei combine, is located in Sian. Sian is known for its leather and porcelain; various enterprises in the city produce foods and condiments. Sian has several steam power plants. It is a major cultural center, with a university and other institutions of higher education.
Sian is one of China’s oldest cities. The area around the city was settled during the Neolithic by tribes of cultivators, who created the Yangshao culture (seePANTO). Later it was the area in which the Chou ethnic group took form. During the Chou period (1027–249 B.C.), it was the site of the ancient capitals of Hao and Feng. In 202 B.C.. the capital of the Han empire, called
Ch’angan, was founded here; by the beginning of the common era, it had become one of the largest cities of the ancient world, with a population of more than 300,000 (excavations since 1956 have uncovered the remains of the city walls and several buildings).
From the third through sixth centuries, Ch’angan was the capital of a succession of states in North China. In 583, during the reign of Emperor Yang Chien, the new capital of China, Tahsing, was built where Sian now stands; subsequently renamed Ch’angan, it remained the capital until 923. From 881 to 883 the city was held by rebels under Huang Ch’ao.
After the tenth century, as economic and cultural activity shifted to the east, the city gradually declined in importance. In the 14th century it became the capital of the newly created Sian district (Sianfu); since then, the city has been known as Sian. In the second half of the 17th century, Sian was made the capital of Shensi Province. In December 1936 it was the scene of the Sian Incident. Sian was liberated from Kuomintang rule by units of the People’s Liberation Army on May 20, 1949.
Sian is essentially laid out in the regular grid typical of a T’ang city. Architectural monuments include three-tier towers of the 14th century—Ch’unglou and K’ulou. The Shensi Provincial Museum has collections of bronzes, coins, ceramics, stone stelae, and inscribed tablets. Near Sian are the remaining city walls from the Han capital of Ch’angan, the Ta yen and Hsiao yen pagodas (707–09), and the T’ang burial mound Shunling.