Today’s the day – I’m SO excited! We’re going to see the Terra Cotta Warrior Army!!! I’ve read about this site, seen the pictures, and now get to see it in person. Our driver takes us East of Xi’an about 45 minutes. As you get closer, there are lots of places selling tourist items, including full size replicas of the warriors! That would scare you in the middle of the night at home!
The first emperor of the Qin (pronounced ‘chin’) Dynasty, the first person to unify China, started building his tomb immediately upon becoming emperor. The actual tomb is about a half mile west of where the warriors are buried. Current archeology technology shows some of the interior of the tomb which has a small moat of mercury around it. No one is sure where the mercury came from – but they have chosen to not disturb the actual tomb for now.
There are several pits – one for soldiers, one for the headquarters, one for archers and one for concubines. The soldier pit is the largest in size; easily the size of a football field under roof. I am awed by the immensity of the site and detail of the warriors. Each warrior has a different face reflecting the diversity of the population at the time. There are about 30 different artists who worked to make the upper bodies and heads; they each had a signature. The warrior lower legs are solid and the lower bodies are hollow and were cast in molds. The figures were placed into the battalion formations but prior to the project being finished, the emperor died. In the ensuing confusion and battles, much of the work was smashed. Eventually it was all buried. As the warriors are uncovered, they have to be put back together. Another issue the archaeologists deal with is the paint on the figures. Whatever they used for colors at the time oxidize when in contact with oxygen. New techniques for artifact recovery accommodate this issue.
Another beautiful find were 2 miniature scale carriages, complete with horses. These were buried underneath the bodies of the tomb builders. A risk in being a tomb builder was staying with your work! So a pit of worker bodies was discovered by raiders, but not bothered. Scanning technology found the pit underneath with the carriages. They are intricate and detailed and a sight to behold. The lead horse has a fez on top of its harness. You can almost hear the clank and jingle of the harnesses and the rumble of the wheels as the carriages pass by carrying the emperor!
There is a museum housing many of the other artifacts found on the site. There are many items from daily life and some special ceremonial items. A new pit that was found had acrobats in it – entertainment in the afterlife! These are full-size figures like the warriors, but set for entertainment.
This is an impressive place to go – it should be on your bucket list!!!