Art, Culture

Terracotta Warriors – Emperor Qin’s Army

What do people really come to Xi’an, China for?

The Terracotta Warriors of course! Before we came to China I always had an interest in this site, but to be honest, I didn’t have any real knowledge or rationale. Now I know.

The Terracotta Warriors are one of the most impressive creations I’ve come across and seeing them was a real treat to say the least.

So what is the site all about?

Emperor Qin, the first Emperor of China, had his entire army recreated to have them buried with him when he passed.  These men are known today as the Terra Cotta Warriors.   He had the army recreated in hopes that they would protect him in his afterlife. So, some 2,200 years ago every warrior was individually recreated from clay to depict the actual size, statute, apparel and ranking of the men. Today, there are over 6,000 warriors across 3 large pits. The story is they were built and arranged in the typical battle formation to represent the true nature of the army. At the time they also constructed pillars and a roof to house this amazing site. Unfortunately with time the structure eroded and the men were exposed to the elements.

Somewhere in the last 2,200 years the warriors went missing so to speak (no one was aware of their existence). In fact the ground that had amassed atop of the site was being used as a burial ground. The land (in between a mountain range) was also being used by local farmers for agricultural purposes. In 1974, the farmers were digging to put in a new well and they hit clay. Much to their surprise, the Terra Cotta Warriors had existed below their feet this whole time.

The specifics of the site continue…

The three pits were constructed completely underground. They are built out of earth and wood. Pit one has 11 corridors divided by 10 earth rammed partition walls, which are paved with pottery bricks on which the soldiers are placed.

The Army Array of Pit one is a battle formation of Charioteers and infantry men. At the eastern end of the pit there are 3 rows of vanguards. Around the outer edge there is one row of army men facing South, North and West to protect the army from all sides. The Figures vary in height according to their roles, the tallest figures being the generals.

Every single soldier is different, based on a replica of the real soldier. Pit one, the largest of the three pits, measures 230 meters long from East to West, and 60 meters wide from north to south. It takes up an area of 14,000 square meters. Only about 1/3 of the pit has been excavated to date.

Archeologists still work on the site today, and only a portion of the warriors and horses have been uncovered and/or repaired. This site is only partially excavated, and there is work being done in California to understand how chemically advanced the people were in those days. This site is a major Archaeological resource which helps understand how advanced science and pottery was 2200 years ago. They built a new roof and external structure to house the impressive pits, but when you visit you’ll see the pits are original for the most part.

Pay attention to both the size of the men and their facial features/structures – they are quite different than what exists in the region today. If you get close enough to examine details, you’ll also notice that there are different ranks of men, attire, stances and most importantly that what you are looking at was made by hand, one by one!

Of course we are sharing images here and a lot of the story, but I’ll be the first to admit these do not do the site justice.

Add it to the trusty bucket list and make it out to see them in person, if possible 🙂

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