An Amazing Discovery
The Terra Cotta Warriors are a massive collection of life-sized statues of troops, horses and chariots. They represented the imperial guard troops of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 – 210BC) and were placed to guard him in the afterworld.
The first pieces of a Terra Cotta Warrior were discovered when a farmer was digging in his fields in 1974. He notified the government and they sent archeologists in. Since that time, the huge area is slowly being uncovered. We were able to see several of the pits but so much more remains buried.
Heading To See The Terra Cotta Warriors
We headed off early on our visit to Xian. The Terra Cotta Warriors were located close to the tomb of the First Qin Emperor. While the location of this tomb is known, the government is concerned about damaging the contents if the tomb is opened. So for now, it remains sealed. We were told that there are many other Tang and Han tombs in the hills around Xian. Some can be toured.
We entered the site by the large statue. Golf carts took us to the pavilions. The queue area to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors wound over and back dozens of times. But thanks to our early start, we walked straight in. We started our visit at the first large excavation site at Pit 1.
The Massive Excavation At Pit 1
There are four pits open to the public at this time. We started in Pit 1. This is the largest pit, about the size of two football fields. The military formation in this pit shows chariots and infantry. Over 6,000 individual figures and 50 chariots were once in this area.
Our first pause point inside of Pit 1 gave us our first visit of how massive the whole site must be. We looked down and saw rows after rows of warriors lined up on the brick roads. It was hard to believe that each statue was life sized!
In a few places we saw horses. At one point these horses had pulled chariots. But the wooden chariots have long since deteriorated. The empty hands of the warriors also once held the reins or different weapons.
When we looked close, it was clear to see that the statues had unique faces. The facial shapes of the terracotta figures can be roughly classified into eight types, and each shape resembled a Chinese character. Their hairstyles and clothing reflected their rank. Most of the warriors were a reddish colour that we associate with terra cotta. But in places you could see remnants of colour.
We walked around the perimeter of the dig site. We saw the archeologists at work uncovering more of the statues. At the back there was a “hospital” that was used to put the pieces that were found back together.
Our first view of the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian was such a fantastic and awe inspiring sight.
We Continued Our Visit To Pit 2 And 3
Our second stop was in Pit 2. This was the headquarters area. It was seriously destroyed at one time and only 68 pottery figures, one chariot and 34 bronze weapons were unearthed in this pit. Most of the statues are still in pieces.
We stopped then at Pit 3. This covers half size of the area of the Pit 1. This pit has the most army units with chariots, infantry, cavalry, and archers. The area includes rows of kneeling and standing archers. Many of the heads were missing from the statues. We learned that the statues were made with the heads a separate piece, so they more easily have been separated from the bodies.
In this building, we also saw the Terra Cotta Warriors that have been restored and have travelled as exhibits to other countries. We saw the standing and seated archers. As well as various ranks of officers.
It was fascinating to see so many of the archeological sites for the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian.
A Final Stop At The Exhibition Hall
We had time for one quick stop at the museum. We went down the stairs behind the massive UNESCO sign to find the bronze chariots and horses. Around the walls there were stone carvings that showed chariots and horses in action. Encased in glass we found two different styles of chariot, each driven by four horses.
This was a great way to finish our visit to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian.
Much To See And So When You Visit The Terra Cotta Warriors
But on the way out we walked there a massive area of stalls selling everything under the sun. It seemed to be a large art and entertainment area. There was even a large theatre.
We stopped by the stone wall relief of the Great Wall of China. This gave us a preview of this iconic Chinese site we visited in Beijing.
There is certainly a lot to see and do when you visit the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian.
Some Time To Shop For Souvenirs
We walked over 10,000 steps on our visit to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. But we were not released for lunch until after our shopping stop. We started with a demonstration of how the Terra Cotta Warriors had been built with hollow bodies and separate heads. The medium and large Terra Cotta warriors for sale were made in this historical manner. Small ones were created from molds. It was interesting to see the bright colours on the small warriors. Since the paint was all gone from the ones in the pits.
We moved from the large display of warriors for sale to see the lacquer work. We watched a man working on the panels for a lacquer chest. The pieces we saw represented several different styles.
The final part of our shopping tour took us through to see several rooms of Chinese furniture. While it was quite beautiful and interesting, at this point I just wanted lunch.
After we had yet another buffet Chinese meal, we had almost an hour for shopping. Lots of people left with souvenirs of our great day visit to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian.
It Was Amazing To See The Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian
We were so glad we got to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. This is one of those iconic Chinese sites that you really have to see to believe. While you may have seen the travelling Terra Cotta Warrior exhibits, that does not prepare you for the site of rows after rows of statues. It was truly an amazing experience.
Each year, more and more is unearthed. They are moving cautiously. A lot of work is being done on methods to preserve the site as it is uncovered. Every year this site will get more and more fascinating. But there is so much to see already. When you visit Xian, don’t miss a chance to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors. It was one of the treats on our 4 week visit to China.
Did you see the Terra Cotta Warriors In Xian? Can you imagine how awesome this will be when all is uncovered?
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