Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Aloha to Xi'an - The Terra Cotta Warriors

Tourists flock to Xi'an for the Terra Cotta Warriors.  From Wikipedia (link), 

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

Qin Shi Huang is known for uniting China into one empire.  Thus, he spared no expense in creating full size figures armed for battle.

Upon his death, his son became the second emperor.   But his rule was weak and a revolt split the empire into 18 kingdoms.  Sadly, the rebellion came to Qin Shi Huang's tomb to destroy his Terra Cotta army to ensure the emperor would be defeated in the afterlife. 

Fast forward to 1974 when farmers dug for a well and found a terra cotta head.   The farmers, including Mr. Yang Zhifa, became ambassadors for archaeology.  For 300 renminbi (rmb), about $50, Yang took a picture with us; shook our hands, and autographed an guide book.  

The excavation area is open to view under large modern hangers covering three pits.   The archaeologists are painstakingly unearthing the pieces, fitting them back together like a puzzle, cleaning out the pits, and returning the statues in their original location.   We started in Pit Three as seen in the second and third pictures from the top.   We walked over to Pit 2 - bigger than a football field - where they continue to excavate, as seen directly above and below. 

The government recently opened a museum to house some of the treasures ... it offered respite from the heat.

The museum spotlights the ongoing archaeology efforts.   This board documents which countries have contributed.   Notice the top line for 1997, the Chinese symbols annotate "Beautiful Country" - the United States.   

Then we toured Pit 1.  Clearly, our guide saved the best for last.   Three times the size of a football field, it was simply awesome.

Notice the site of the well.

It was truly amazing to see archaeology in action.

Each Terra Cotta warrior has a unique face.

The process of tagging requires patience.

These warriors are waiting to return to their ranks.

Here's my favorite ...

... the chariot driver and his horses.   The Terra Cotta Warriors earned the title of the Eighth Wonder of the World.


Kim in Korea 


  1. Amazing. that is on my list to see!!

  2. Oh wow... what amazing history!

  3. Y'all sure have visited some wondrous sites.

  4. Outstanding! Thanks for the great pics.

  5. Can understand why they would be the 8th Wonder of the World. Just amazing - once again - Kim.

  6. What an impressive sight. My friend got me some souvenir terra cotta soldiers when she visited Xian.

  7. Wow, it is all incredible. Pit 1 is totally awesome. And I love how the faces are all different. What a fascinating area.

  8. OHMY Absolutely Stunning pieces of History....
    You Favorite is My Favorite Gosh the tails of the Horses Amazing....
    I so hope to one day see it in Person.

  9. That is so cool! It is amazing that something from that long ago is bing unearthed now.