Xi’an and the Terra Cotta Warriors

Finally made it to Xi’an (Jee AHN) to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.  Unny and I spent the last week traveling around Beijing.  We visited the Forbidden City, Baita Zu, the Confucius Temple, the Lama Temple with it’s huge Buddha statue, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo and all of the Pandas and Albino Bengal Tigers, The Temple of Heaven and, of course, Tienanmen Square.  We tooled around the Hutongs and Bei Hai Park as well.  We had a great time.

After 7 days in Beijing, we flew down to Xi’an to see the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and the beginning/end of the Silk Road.

The night we arrived, we were exhausted.  I was down with a cold from Jinshanling and Simitai.  We both just passed out.

The next day, we arose early and headed out of the city to see the Soldiers.  It’s about a 35 minute drive from Xi’an to the Qin Terra Cotta Warrior and Horse Soldier Museum.  Nice little drive through the country.

We had an “English speaking” tour guide who spoke English.  Just not so well.  He guided us around but didn’t really provide much detail and couldn’t really articulate much for us.  So we just took it in and read the literature ourselves.

Near the end of the main Museum Hall, you pass through a book store.  A small, ancient looking Chinese guy is sitting there surrounded by books and postcards about the Terra Cotta Warriors.  He’s one of the Seven Farmers who found the Warriors while digging a well.

We purchased one of the books and a packet of postcards and he signed the book for us.  It’s kind of funny, though.  As they call him “the founder of the Warrior Museum.”  Meaning simply that he’s the guy who found the Warriors.  Not the actual FOUNDER of the Museum.  I got a good little chuckle out of that.

He signed our book and posed for a couple of photos with us.  We told him; “Xie Xie” and shook his hand.  He was quite proud and signed our book with huge Chinese characters.  He signed his name and “Founder of the Warrior Museum” on the inside of the book.

We moved on our way and continued through the Museum to the brass  chariot and horses.  They’ve only found one set of these Chariots and horses.  Though they speculate that there are three more.  One for each of the four cardinal directions.  The one that they found was painted White which (I think) designates South in Chinese mythology/symbolism.  Eventually, as they continue to excavate the site of the Warriors, they expect to find three more spread out in the other three directions.

No timeline, though.  They’ll get around to it as they get around to it.  China doesn’t seem in much hurry to do anything in so  far as these antiquities are concerned.  I reckon they figure that they’re under there and aren’t going anywhere and they’ll get around to finding them eventually.

They take a long term view of the whole thing.

Of course, I took hundreds of photos.  These are 95 or so of them.  I didn’t resize them.  So they may take a bit of time to open if you are on a slow network.

The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 in the eastern suburbs of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province by local farmers drilling a water well 1.5 miles east of Lishan (a mountain).[2] This discovery prompted archaeologists to go to Shaanxi Province, China to investigate. The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the First Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang, “shi huang” means the first emperor) in 210-209 BC. (He declared himself the first emperor of China in 221 BC.) Their purpose was to help rule another empire with Shi Huang Di in the afterlife. Consequently, they are also sometimes referred to as “Qin’s Armies.”

The material to make the terracotta warriors originated on Mount Lishan. In addition to the warriors, an entire man-made necropolis for the emperor has been excavated.

According to historian Sima Qian (145-90 BC), construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and involved 700,000 workers. Qin Shi Huang was 13 when construction began. He specifically stated that no two soldiers were to be made alike, which is most likely why he had construction started at that young age. Sima Qian, in his most famous work, Shiji, completed a century after the mausoleum completion, wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, scenic towers, officials, valuable utensils and “wonderful objects,” with 100 rivers fashioned in mercury and above this heavenly bodies below which he wrote were “the features of the earth.” Some translations of this passage refer to “models” or “imitations,” but he does not use those words.[3]

Enjoy.  We certainly enjoyed seeing them live.

One comment on “Xi’an and the Terra Cotta Warriors

  1. Neat Dave! I had not heard of this before…kinda like the pharrohs

    I like the phrase…”so we just took it all in and read…” reminded me of being in Thailand (of course there was a trip when I had an excellent guide who never tired of my foolish questions!)

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