Saturday, July 6, 2013

Visiting the Terracotta Army

Another must see spot when you visit China has to be the amazing Terracotta Warriors. It's mind-boggling to imagine that a ruler would require 700,000 people to work for over 36 years to create an army of over 7,000 soldiers to protect his tomb. Even more mind-boggling is that no two warriors are the same. They may share a rank as can be identified by their clothing as well as how their hair is done but each one carries a different face.
This is the obligate picture that proves I was there. The Terracotta Army was found by farmers that were digging a well in 1974. The warriors had been buried for over 2,200 years. They were created to defend Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb. His actual tomb is believed to be a mile west of the pits and has not been excavated yet. He was considered a tyrant during his reign. It is believed that 48 concubines were buried alive with the emperor as well as any worker that knew the location or design of his  tomb.
There are 3 known pits. This pit is Pit 1 and contains over 6,000 warriors as well as a few horse and the remains of chariots. Each soldier when buried was painted in vivid colors but exposure to air causes an almost immediate fading and discoloration. The earth-walled corridors were once roofed with wooden rafters. After the emperor died this pit and the others was looted and set on fire. Of all the warriors only one remained undamaged. It is the kneeling archer. All the other warriors have required some kind of repair.
I think of these as the "warrior zombies". The friend that I traveled with thought it looked more like resurrection morning with the warriors lined up to be made "whole" again. Each warrior is unique and there is a continuing effort today to painstakingly reassemble them.
This is the "front row" of infantry men. The first line of defense for the emperor in the after-life.
 Each warrior probably represented a real soldier. In the Chinese army each rank wore their hair in only one way. Truly, talented artisans must have created these amazing statues. If you ever choose to visit the warriors, pack a snack and plan on staying all day. It's the least you can do when you visit a wonder of the world.

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