Terracotta Army – Emperor Qin

The famous Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin

The most memorable part of our trip through China was a visit to view  the famous Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin in  Xian. This was next on our small group tour  itinerary.

Emperor Qin rising through the mist as you approach the on site Museum of  Army of Terracotta soldiers

Statue of Emperor Qin rising through the mist as you approach the on site Museum of the amazing Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin

It was a nice sunny day, but still cold when we arrived at the outskirts of the site. We disembarked from our coach and climbed aboard an open sided vehicle which took us to the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses. China’s terracotta army contained in the biggest on site Museum in China.  There is a huge statue of Emperor Qin as you approach the complex. The complex is enormous and impresses with its construction and design layout.

Multiple-Exhibition building at the on site Museum of  the army of terracotta soldiers

The Multiple-Exhibition building at the on site Museum housing the Terracotta Army

The first stop the Circle Vision Hall located near the information center. The Circle Vision Hall provides a 20 minute film on the story of Emperor Qin and the terracotta army of 2,200 years ago.  The Circle Vision Hall is an exciting visual experience in itself, and a very interesting and fascinating film to watch.

PIT 1: The Terracotta Army on display

Pit 1 – a huge arch-domed structure, at the center of the museum. Pit 1 seems  an innocuous name for such an amazing archaeological discovery and exhibition.

Pit 1. An amazing sight row up row of terracotta soldiers

Pit 1. An amazing sight row up row of the Terracotta Army

This was the moment – when we stepped up to the safety railing at the top of Pit 1. I was speechless. Such an awesome sight! An amazing Terracotta Army of soldiers lined up row upon row, each with different features and hairstyle, wonderful workmanship and detail. Then the horses, beautiful round-bodied horses. It is truly amazing that a scheme of this magnitude could come to fruition, and even more amazing, that so much of the Terracotta Army is here for us to view today.

 Army of Terra cotta Soldiers Side view of Pit 1

Terracotta Army Side view of Pit 1

Discovery of the amazing  terracotta army

The terracotta army discovered in March 1974. Two local farmers were drilling a water well when they came across large broken pottery pieces and reported their findings to the local authorities. This discovery took place 1.5 km east of the Mausoleum of  Emperor Qin. It was the beginning of the most amazing archaeology discovery and excavation program of this century, and has been on-going since then.

Site of well where local farmers were digging when they encountered pottery fragments

Site of well where local farmers were digging when they encountered pottery fragments of the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin

To date the terracotta army numbers 7,000 warriors unearthed in Pit 1. They all seem to be infantry men. It is believed that the real soldiers may have served as models for the terracotta army, as no two soldiers are alike. They all appear to have individualized facial features.

High Ranking Officer Terracotta Army Emperor Qin

High Ranking Officer Terracotta Army Emperor Qin

The soldiers of the Terracotta Army are life-size. They vary in height, uniform and hairstyle according to rank. The high-ranking officers are taller in height as opposed to the soldiers and cavalrymen.  Meticulous attention has been given to detail on items such as belt hooks, shoe ties and costumes.  Originally most of the soldiers of the terracotta army carried combat weapons such as spears, swords, bows and arrows. Many of these combat weapons  made from wood, unfortunately the wood  disintegrated over time.

 Construction of the pits for the terracotta army of Emperor Qin

Remaining on the walls of the clay pits which divide each row of terracotta soldiers, are heavily indented ridges from  large timber bearingsplaced for the roof structure. The roof, then built up with fiber matting, earth fill and tilled earth to ground level.

 Distinct marks of the timber bearings remain on the earth rammed partition walls

Distinct marks of the timber bearings remain on the earth rammed partition walls

Earth rammed partition walls constructed between each corridor of terracotta soldiers. Each corridor paved with bricks where the soldiers of the terracotta army are standing.  Some pits are still being worked in, and many have broken clay body pieces of soldiers and horses still to be restored.

The three main pits unearthed so far are five to seven meters beneath the present ground level.  The three pits all constructed in a similar way and  cover an area of 22,000 square meters.

Side view across Pit 1 of Qin's army of terra cotta soldiers.

Arched dome of Pit 1 and walkway around pit. Side view across Pit  of  the Terracotta Army.

A railed walkway surrounds the entire pit, so you can see what is happening all over this huge area. At the far end of Pit No. 1 is an area where they are assembling more soldiers and horses of the terracotta army.  When completed each piece is placed back into the pit where it was originally found.

Fragments of terra cotta soldiers being painstakingly re-assembled bit by bit.

Fragments of  soldiers of the Terracotta Army being painstakingly restored bit by bit.

However, having said that, there has been thousands and thousands of hours  spent by workmen re-assembling  clay pieces of soldiers and their horses since the discovery, to provide this wonderful  display of the Terracotta Army. At least this army of workmen won’t have to be entombed alive when their work is finished, a fate decreed by Emperor Qin for the craftsmen who originally created this magnificent terracotta army during his reign. At that time, of course, this was  to ensure the secrecy of the site of Emperor Qin’s mausoleum.


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Comments

  1. Enjoyed your post on the terracotta warriors. I hope to see them for myself one day. Loved it!Thanks

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