Terracotta ArmyThe Fascinating Terracotta Army Guarding The Tomb Of China's First Emperor
“Rather surprisingly, I had received a lot of negative Terracotta Army feedback from fellow travellers prior to arriving in the city. The words ‘disappointment’ & ‘overrated’ were bandied about quite a bit, as were the words ‘boring’ & ‘avoid’. I’m glad I didn’t avoid them as I found the Terracotta Army anything but boring. In fact, I found them fascinating.”
Vault 1 of the Terracotta Army. September 30, 2004.
Terracotta Army, China
The Chinese city of Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province & one of China’s 4 historical & ancient capitals, is a nice enough city to visit (for a Chinese city). The historic City Walls, the central Bell Tower & the Muslim Quarter are all worth a look. That said, the city is world renowned for one attraction in particular, an attraction that isn’t even in the city itself but some 35 kilometres from it – The Terracotta Army/Warriors, one of China’s biggest draws, a famous UNESCO World Heritage listed attraction that was the reason that saw me visiting the city.
Rather surprisingly, I had received a lot of negative Terracotta Army feedback from fellow travellers prior to arriving in the city. The words ‘disappointment’ & ‘overrated’ were bandied about quite a bit, as were the words ‘boring’ & ‘avoid’. I’m glad I didn’t avoid them as I found the Terracotta Army anything but boring. In fact, I found them fascinating.
Terracotta Army || Standing to Order for Over 2,200 Years
No records exist, or at least none has yet been found, of the warriors which were only discovered in 1974 by locals sinking a well. They are 2,200 years old and were built during the Qin Dynasty to guard the tomb of China’s first Emperor, the aforementioned Qin Shi Hunag who ruled from 247-210 BC, & from 221-210 BC over a unified China. It is believed construction of his tomb, and the Terracotta Army guarding it, began in 246 BC and took 700,000 workers & craftsmen from all over China 36 years to complete. According to historians, Qin Shi Hunag was interred inside a 51 metre-high tomb complex alongside great amounts of treasure and objects of craftsmanship, as well as a scale replica of the universe complete with gemmed ceilings representing the cosmos and flowing mercury representing the great earthly bodies of water. Although the tomb complex itself has not yet been excavated, the three vaults – Vaults 1, 2 & 3 – that have been partly unearthed to date are estimated to house some 15,000 terracotta soldier figurines in battle formation, as well as horses, bronze chariots, & weapons. Built never to be seen, today it is one of the most viewed attractions in China, not to mention one of the best.
– UNESCO commenting on the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
The Museum of The Terracotta Army
From Xian it was north to Datong in Shanxi Province, on the outskirts of which you’ll find the fascinating Hanging Temple of Heng Shan and the equally fascinating UNESCO-listed Yungang Grottoes.
In Context || Part of #China2004
Part of a 13-stop, 6-week loop of the country, a first visit to China. All posts from that trip can be viewed here.