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The Great White Pyramid of China

by Shelly Barclay

The legend of the Great White Pyramid of China does not go back very far. In fact, the story appears to have originated less than a century ago. There are two accounts of it dating back to World War II. The first is that of a United States Army Air Corps pilot named James Gaussman who reportedly saw a massive pure white pyramid with a large jewel for a cap. He was flying from India to China when he spotted it to the southwest of Xi’an. Unfortunately, this story does not seem to go back to an original source. However, Gaussman’s story, whether it is true or not, is neither the only story nor the most fantastic.

great white pyramid of china

Small white pyramid at the Shaohao Temple in China

Just two years after the supposed Gaussman sighting, Colonel Maurice Sheahan told The New York Times that he saw a pyramid that was roughly 1,000 feet tall in a mountain valley southwest of Xi’an. The article ran on March 30, 1947. Those measurements would make the pyramid more than twice the size of the Great Pyramid. It would be the largest such pyramid ever found, if it is ever found. Many explorers have gone out in search of the Great White Pyramid, but none have discovered it.

Interestingly, there are several pyramids in roughly the same area that the legendary pyramid is supposedly located. They are dissimilar in material to most other ancient pyramids. In fact, they are more like the burial mounds of northern Europe than the pyramids of Egypt. They are made of soil, stones and sticks. They are pyramidal, but most are covered in grass, not carved stones and jewels. Furthermore, none of them is equal in size to the pyramid Sheahan reportedly saw.

One clue to the location of the Great White Pyramid of China is a photograph posted in The New York Times a few days after Sheahan’s statements ran. The pyramid in the picture was not pure white. It was not capped with a jewel and it was later identified as a well-known mausoleum. That would seem to put paid to the story of the Great White Pyramid of China, but it does not. Sheahan would later speak about the article and state that some of the translations from Chinese measurements to U.S. standard were incorrect. He allegedly never said anything about the picture, which many think was not associated with him at all, but rather filler added by the magazine. It was not the first nor would it be the last time a magazine would run a photo that was misleading, if that was the case.

The mountain range in which the Great White Pyramid is said to sit is very steep and very rugged. It could potentially hide a pyramid, but many doubt that it could hide a pyramid of such grand size. Satellite images, planes and searches that were specifically for the pyramid have yet to turn up anything. Not even a valley that would fit such a structure has been uncovered.

China’s Lost Pyramids, retrieved 7/20/12.

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