Thursday, April 22, 2010

Xian Journal Day 6 Terracotta Army Part 2 of 2

Good morning Thursday! We are escaping to China today as we continue on Day 6 of our trip to see the Terracotta Army, see all previous posts here.

The bus dropped us off at a quiet corner of the parking lot, we noted its location for the ride back. On the way to the entrance, a couple of panhandlers asked for money, we shook our heads and kept walking. Fellow travellers advised others to give no money as many more would follow. Our ticket cost 90 RMB each ($13 Canadian), this is the highest entrance fee out of all the tourist venues we visited.

A friend who was originally from Xian said the government had made great construction efforts to enhance the area. Pictured below is Pit number 1, the biggest of 3 pits where they housed the Terracotta Army. The ladies on the left were 2 of several tour guides for hire. Many local and foreign tourists came by the bus loads, the guides were hired soon after.
The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers who were digging a well. The army was built to help Emperor Qin Shi Huang rule his empire in the after life.

I first heard of the army in the mid 1980's, China had loaned Singapore a few replicas. My dad took me to see the soldiers and a horse carriage, we were 2 of many who lined up for almost 2 hours for a short 10 minute stay before we were ushered away. The tiny exhibit I remembered more than 30 years ago was of no comparison to the actual site I visited. Rows and rows of statues, we were glad we had set aside the whole day for this venue.
There were numerous visitors at the front of the pit, we had to wait for our turn to take pictures. Some folks refused to step aside, others pushed around so some pictures were blurred. We exercised some patience and persistence, finally we got our chance.

A closer shot of the warriors, their right hands wrapped around invisible spears. The original weapons were stolen by robbers shortly after the army was created.
We then noticed there was less people on the sides, so we moved away from the crowd. Pit number 1 was the most crowded of the 3 pits. The Terracotta Army was also the busiest site we visited in China. From this angle, I could feel the attentiveness of the troops.
The zoom lens we had purchased just one month before our trip came into good use. I spent over an hour walking up and down the aisles capturing close-ups of the men and horses. The animals looked strong and healthy, the warriors well-trained and ready to fight.
The different head gear identified the soldier's rank.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang specified each figure was to be made different, from what I could see this is true. Some troopers had their hair in braids, I noticed each one was unique. Even how the collars draped around the necks were distinct, no two of their armors were alike, it was as if they were custom made for each man.
A final close-up, the detail on the hair was very impressive, a fine display of great craftsmanship. When the army was unearthed, the figures were brightly colored, which soon faded. I could still see a hint of yellow on the collar of the second figure.
At the rear of the pit, various baskets were used to sort out the shards from the buried finds. In the background several horses with no tails stood amongst incomplete soldiers, all waited for the day they would be whole once again. Too bad we were there on a Sunday, it would be nice to see how the work was done.
Nearby more unfinished soldiers, some cracks were filled in.
The digging continued at all the pits, the workers unearthed countless pieces of pottery, hours of restorative work to follow.
The blue pillows helped to cushion the workers' knees. It has been thirty-three years after the first discovery of the Terracotta Army, looks like there will be many more years until the task is complete.
At Pit number 2, a cavalry man held the reins of his war horse behind glass. This was very similar to the replica I saw in Singapore. I never thought I would one day stand next to this historical figure and spend an entire day exploring his fellow warriors. Visiting Xian just to see the Terracotta Army would be worthwhile, but there is more in store as we shall see next week!


  1. Amazing pictures! Must have been great to be there.

  2. Fascinating, what an experience to actually be on site. Thank you for sharing these most excellent photos.

  3. Looks amazing, you have captured some great details Novi. I can see it would be easy to spend an hour taking in the scale and variations of this site. Thank you for sharing your images.