When planning our trip to China, I knew that seeing the Terracotta Warriors would be a must, even though it takes a bit of work to get from Beijing to Xi’an. Also, when once in Xi’an, it’s still a 45 minute drive to get to the warrior’s site. So, it’s not easy. That being said, imagine my dismay when Eva woke up, the night before our warrior trip, throwing up! (Cleaning up puke in a hotel room, with no cleaners, in the middle of the night, is such a joy.) Then I laid awake imagining a “Wally World’ moment, making it all the way to Xi’an and missing the warriors! Luckily, Eva was fine in the morning and we were good to go. Whew!
The countryside was quite beautiful, and we enjoyed walking the grounds of the site.
The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors is just fascinating to me. This army was created in 250 BC (that’s OLD!!!), to protect Emperor QinShihuang in his afterlife. Fast forward to 1974, two farmers were digging a well in their field and kept hitting some terracotta fragments. They alerted the government, and excavation of the area began immediately and is still ongoing today. Three different pits were found containing an estimated 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and over 600 hundred horses!
We started the day in Pit Two, and it was the least excavated and still had many soldier fragments lying about.
It was fun to watch the archaeologists work. Such tedious work, but what an amazing project!
Originally, each pit was covered by a roof made of wood which was then draped with layers of fiber mats and filled with soil. The eventual collapse of the roof actually helped to preserve and conceal the warriors.
Every soldier was found in many pieces and each has to be carefully put together and restored. It can take months, to piece together one soldier!
The pieces are tagged and cataloged when found and, then returned to their original location when complete.
They had a few of the finished soldiers on display for a closer look. These are life size statues, and amazingly, all have different facial features, as well (confirmed to be modeled after the true Qin army). I can’t even comprehend this!
This was a general, he was larger in stature and had a special uniform.
They are just now uncovering the kneeling archers in Pit Two, the first to be found in a position other than standing.
Pit Three held most of the horses, and cavalrymen, and was said to be the “command center” of the army.
Pit One was the first pit discovered and by far the most impressive to see. Pit One is about the size of three football fields, and houses at least 6,000 soldiers!
There were just rows and rows of soldiers with different uniforms and weapons, each representing a different unit of the real army. There were even entertainers, acrobats and other non-military statues in the mix.
It was truly an awe-inspiring sight! Originally, each statue was even hand painted to be more life-like, but most of the paint has flaked off over the years.
Each soldier was made out of clay in sections (arms, legs, torso, head, etc.), next, each had personalization of face and uniform, then fired in a kiln, and finally, put together in assembly line fashion.
The Emperor was only 13 years old when construction began on this army, and it took only 11 years to complete. Amazing!
We really enjoyed seeing the soldier “hospital”. The horses had a brace underneath made specially for them to support their body weight.
A type of superglue is used on the soldiers to put them back together, then they are wrapped with plastic wrap or bands, to add support while different parts dry.
At the very front of Pit One, the red arrow signified the exact spot where the farmers were digging their well. Little did they know what sat beneath them (it is said that the farmers were very well compensated to vacate their land immediately).
I had always been so intrigued with the story of the Terracotta Warriors, and seeing them in person was a truly awe inspiring moment. Pictures don’t do it justice! And to think that they are over 2,000 years old is so incredible. I really wonder what else is still hidden in the ground, just waiting to be discovered.
Talk about an “exit through the gift shop,” this place was more like a half mile walk through many gift shops!
Back at the hotel, we took a short walk to a plaza area, near the old city wall.
I love it when a place looks exactly how you always thought it would look. Everything about this plaza said “You are in China”, to me.
We sat down for a break and tried an interesting cookie/biscuit.
It was very chewy, and dense texture. It wasn’t sweet, but I liked the flavor and the sprinkle of sesame seeds on top.
That evening while the girls swam at the hotel pool (always the most requested activity), I headed back to the Muslim Quarter by myself. I loved this area! (Read more about the area here. )
On my walk back, I ran right into some sort of military demonstration, complete with marching music being blasted on a speaker. I just love running across the unexpected!
Xi’an and the Terracotta Army was a wonderful stop on our China tour, and a big check mark for me. Now, on to our final city, Shanghai!
This looks SO amazing!!! I would love to see it. I didn't picture it to be covered. I thought it was still in the open. I can't imagine what it would be like to start a project like this! I'm also surprised it is so hard to get to… seems like it would be a major tourist destination.
Really cool! I'm not surprised it was commissioned by a 13 yr old. It's like life sized toy soldiers for him. What was the point? To scare the Mongols from a distance? Decor? What amazing treasures the Earth holds. I love exiting through a gift shop. I hope you took advantage .
I have to say that China was one of the most interesting trips we have taken. We loved Xi'an and the Terracotta Warriors too!
I'm so fascinated by this whole story!!! Just amazing!