Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Xian - Terra-Cotta Warriors

Xian was an ancient Chinese capital and the home of Qin Shi Huangdi, the emperor that unified China and began the Great Wall of China. The city peaked during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and as such you'll see many parks and statues based on the Tang Dynasty.

The city is most known for the Terra-Cotta Warriors (Bingmayong). The Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi started having his tomb built for him at age 13 (I think). Originally he wanted his real soldiers and horses buried with him for the afterlife. Of course the soldiers were appalled at this, but luckily the idea to make statues of each soldier was accepted by the emperor. Each soldier has a different face. It is said that they soldiers were life sized, but I doubt this. They are very tall, and while I was told that the soldiers were physically bigger than regular Chinese people of that time I'm still doubtful.

Many of the tombs have not been uncovered yet and this is deliberate. Besides being trapped we also do not have a means to keep the soldiers intact upon excavation. Originally all the terracotta warriors had color. Once exposed to oxygen the color all disappeared. The Chinese government has decided that to preserve their Chinese heritage the other tombs will not be excavated until 100 years into the future.

While there was some damage from the Szechuan (May 2008) earthquake in China, the majority of the warriors have remained intact. Many pictures depicted the warriors in pieces implying the earthquake had done the damage. This wasn't the case, the majority of the warriors were already in pieces. The ones on display have been painstakingly pieced back together. They all had weapons before too, but many of the weapons have been stolen.

Terra-Cotta Museum Hours: 8AM - 5PM
Get there: Bus: no. 306 (leaves from the front of the railway station, on the east side). Take the large A/C bus (¥5) rather than the minibuses that leave when full. Round-trip taxi from the city costs ¥200-¥300.

Tip: Get there as early as you can and go to Pit 1 to avoid the crowds. Well, to avoid them as much as you can, it's always crowded.

Terracotta Warriors Museum

Pit 1 - Infantry and Chariots

Pit 1

Pit 1 - broken warriors

close up of pit 1

Well where the Terra-Cotta Warriors were discovered

Autograph of the man that discovered the Terracotta Warriors. He was a poor farmer and originally illiterate. Bill Clinton asked for his autograph but he couldn't write! So he learned to write his own name. Do not take pictures of him, he blames tourist flashes from their camera for his declining eye sight.

Pit 3 - Command Pit

Terracotta Warriors originally had color. Exposure to Light and Air made the color disappear

Pit 3

Pit 3


Apparently the Chinese discovered how to make Chrome Plated Weapons in this time period

Chrome Plating Technology

Outside the Museum - lots of hawkers will ask you to buy things. You can get little replicas for as little as $1.

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