Posted by: travelrat | September 4, 2014

The Terra Cotta Army

Terra Cotta Warrior 1_copy

Xi’an: 10th May 2014.


In 1974, a group of farmers near the city of Xi’an set out to dig a well. But, instead of water, they came face to face with a model soldier. Not a miniature soldier, but a life-sized effigy, in terra cotta


When archaeologists investigated the site, they were astonished at what they discovered.


There was much more than the few figures that the farmers found. Here was rank upon rank of model soldiers, each one different. There were archers, cavalrymen, charioteers and foot-soldiers. Most of them held real weapons; some of these still exist, but many of these have either decayed over time, or been looted in the past.


These models date back to about 220 BC, and are believed to have been placed there to guard the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang in the after-life, in a similar way to the ushbati figurines of ancient Egypt.


Most of the soldiers are still in their original positions, ranged in their files in the three pits which have been excavated so far. Some, though, have toured the world, visiting such places as London, Toronto, San Francisco and Sydney’


Terra Cotta Warriors 2_copyThe public aren’t allowed into the pits themselves. That’s a privilege normally reserved only for trained archaeologists and visiting Heads of State. There’s a balcony around each pit, though, from which they can be viewed. But, if you want some close-up images, there’s a gallery within the museum in which some selected figures are displayed in glass cases … most spectacular of which is the bronze chariot, provided to convey the Emperor in the afterlife.


Better still, there are more examples in the Shaanxi Museum, in Xi’an. We took many shots here, for we had heard that photography was forbidden around the pits themselves. We subsequently found that was wrong, although use of flash is not allowed. But, people appeared not to be taking a great deal of notice of that!

Terra Cotta Warriors 3_copy



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