Terracotta Toys

If there is one thing Xi’An (西安) is synonymous with, it would have to be the terracotta warriors! Qin emperor (秦始皇) during 246 BC -221 BC, was the first emperor to have united all 6 separate countries at the time, to become the single ‘China’ is today. Thus, he gets the title of ‘始皇帝’ (First Emperor of China). So fearsome and might of his armies, he dominated all six countries in under 10 years, which is an amazing feat by any measure. The ‘grandness’ of his efforts warranted a ‘grand’ mausoleum, which started construction when he ascended throne at the age of 13. Mind you, no one gets paid building his mausoleum back in those days. They were all prisoners and laborers (something like 720,000 of them), who were all slaughtered and buried when the site was completed. The mausoleum easily covers an area of over 2.1 million square meters (size of a city), which is even larger than the site covered by the Great Pyramid of Egypt!


Whatever is known of the Emperor Qin’s life and mausoleum came mostly from historical records. Interestingly, these records did not include terracotta warriors, which was discovered accidentally, while some farmer was digging a pit 1.5km east of the mausoleum site (see map above). 3 pits were discovered, and that was pretty much all we got to see. These terracotta warriors were built to allow Emperor Qin to have the same dominance during his after-life. Only when you see it in person, that you realise just how big and ridiculous number of them there are:


For something just over 2000 years old, it was found mostly broken like this:


What we see of them today, are mostly repaired over an extensive period of time:


Unfortunately, this is about as close as we can get to the warriors, without ever getting to touch them:


I was lucky enough to get to see the farmer who found the warriors in 1974, who was present to sign personal autographs. He seems to be available a LOT (apparently most visitors coming here get to see him). Either he’s getting paid a LOT of money, or he really have nothing else better to do!


Unfortunately, we don’t get to take one of those warriors home, not even the likes of Bill Clinton who requested one when he visited China a few years ago. There’s plenty of replicas though, and I thought this particular one was clever:


It’s a terracotta warrior with a little TV, advertising the electronics store. Now that’s clever! Not sure if it was effective advertising, because I didn’t even bother to enter the store. Plenty of photos taken with the terracotta warriors though! Smile

Unfortunately, with China’s increasing measure to protect cultural and heritage sites, we really only get to see a VERY small part of the overall mausoleum. The actual grave has never been dug, and it doesn’t look like the government will allow this for quite some time. Surprises are still being found, and god knows what else some random farmers will discover over the next few years!

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