Friday, August 30, 2013

Being a Tourist Part VI: Terracotta Army

What? We have a blog? Sorry it's been a while and we're behind...we left everyone hanging in Xi'An...

The terracotta warriors were discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers digging a well. The warriors, chariots and horses were buried with the Qin emperor around 210BC and are meant to protect the emperor in the afterlife. The Qin dynasty is said to be the first time all the warring states were united as a single "China," and this is the tomb of the man who did it.

Scale model showing the potential for a huge army

It is estimated that in the three "pits" there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. Most of the artifacts have yet to be uncovered; the government has halted all new excavation until discovering a way to preserve the bright colors, which were painted on the warriors but disappears quickly after being unearthed now.

Pit One

In this pit the warriors have all been uncovered and many reassembled, it was the first pit discovered and contains around 6000 warriors. Originally, the warriors were painted with vibrant colors and held weapons. There were also wooden chariots behind many of the horses, but of course the wood did not survive. As you can imagine most everything was in pieces when it was unearthed. All of the pieces go to the "warrior hospital" as our guide called it to be pieced and glued back together. Then they were reset in the current formation.

A sign marking the location of the well, where pottery fragments were found in 1974

Each statue is life-sized and no one is like any other
An open pit that has not had the contents extracted and rebuilt

A mock-up of the "hospital." Our guide told us all of the actually assembling takes place somewhere else.

This is one of the few still showing original color: red at the knee area.

Nearly ready to be released
Much of pit two has been uncovered, but not rebuilt like in pit one. Part of this pit also has the rements of the wooden ceiling that was covered with reeds and buried deep under ground. Underneath these roofs is where they would expect to find more warriors. Here there is evidence of fire that took place in the tomb during the peasant uprising that began the Han dynasty.

Pit two

You can see the wood ceiling has sagged but not collapsed.

On to pit three...Here there are nowhere near the number of warriors, but this was thought to be the command post with walls, corridors and offices. The warriors were arranged not in a defensive posture, rather they were lined up as if watching a procession.

There was only one warrior that has been uncovered totally intact.
His kneeling position gave an advantage when the wood ceiling collapsed.

A high ranking officer

This trip was definitely one of the highlights of our time here in China. If you come to China is it a must see!

1 comment:

  1. Life sized?!?! At first glance I thought "what exquisite figurines," but when I read life sized...

    Thanks for this very cool snapshot of what must be a fascinating culture.