After a brief but refreshing night’s sleep, we boarded our bus and headed outside the city towards the fields of one of the most famous farmers in Chinese history. Today we would be visiting the world famous Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an. Enjoy!
Originally posted 29/06/14 on TravelPod.
Accidentally discovered by a farmer digging a well in 1970s, the Terra Cotta warriors of Xi’an are an archaeological marvel. The UNESCO world site is home to more than (at last count) 80,000 terra cotta warriors. Each one is made from the terra cotta clay dirt in the area that was molded and then baked. We were fortunate enough to visit the reproduction factory prior to our visit where they showed us the entire process. I noticed that every person working on the reproductions were older gentlemen – skilled craftsmen whose years of experience guided their hands to bring the warriors out of the clay.
Once we left the reproduction factory (albeit with a few souvenirs) we headed over to the national historic site where the original warriors were located. The pavilion is divided into 3 “pits”. The first, which was also the most impressive, housed over 10,000 warriors. I was a bit taken aback by both the sheer number and good quality of the warrior statues. You could easily make out the four main characters: the General, the Officer, the Infantryman, and the Archer. The fifth, the Emperor, has yet to be found, although locals believe that the soldiers are there to protect the actual remains of Emperor Guangxi, who is buried in the area. The hangar-style building also housed current dig sites and the original well where the farmer of Chinese legend originally discovered the first warrior.
One interesting side note: the farmer who discovered the warriors has had the opportunity to meet former U.S. Presidents and other heads of state. Unfortunately, he was also forced to surrender the land to the Chinese government without compensation. Luckily, he was given a job at the museum which now resides where his home once stood.
The other two “pits” were much smaller in size. One contained a couple of examples of the horse & chariot statues that are located in the collection. The other housed a dig section currently in progress. It was a big dig site with canopy-covered areas – not much to see.
Along with the Great Wall of China, the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an are easily the biggest highlights of my trip to China. As a History major, it was a treat to see such antiquated relics that are hundreds or thousands of years old up close in person, and not just in a textbook or online.
Headed back home the day after tomorrow. What an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Definitely need to come back one day…