Terracotta Warriors and Horses

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Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Terracotta Warriors restored and in their original locations in XianAccording to our Xian guide, Ying, the Terracotta Warriors were dug up by accident by farmers in the 1970s. They were shocked by their discovery. Not because of the archaeological implications of the finding but because they didn’t know what to make of it. Chinese culture is full of myth and superstitions and the farmers had found head, arms, legs etc of all different kinds. They really didn’t know what to make of them.

The warriors in seems were part of the first Emperor Qin’s burial plans. According the Ying he started in his early 20s – Chinese people plan early for their deaths which they see as just part of a journey. There have been more than 8000 figures found over an extremely large area but they are all part of the same tomb.

We took Ying’s advice and paid an extra 25 Yuan to take an electric car from the entrance to the main excavation pits. It is just a 1 minute drive but a 15 min walk and in the hot weather this looked like a good bargain even though there was almost a 10 minute queue for the car.

We visited three main pits which were intended to demonstrate different aspects of the warriors construction and internment.

In the first pit the excavation was most advanced. Hundreds of warriors had been uncovered, reconstructed and returned to their original positions. As a result this pit showed ranks upon ranks of warriors, mainly all facing the same was as if lining up for battle. The warriors were all hand made and therefore have unique faces (albeit many are very similar). The pit also shows warriors in various states of reconstruction which demonstrates the huge task facing the archaeologists here. Of the thousands of Terracotta Warriors uncovered, only one has so far been found completely intact making this project probably the largest jigsaw in the world!

The second pit has a different layout of warriors. Instead of the ranks of soldiers, these warriors appear to be standing guarding the pit, facing different directions. They were found with what were apparently ceremonial weapons leading experts to conclude that these are probably an honour guard.

The head of a terracotta warriorAround this second pit are also pictures of warriors who have been freshly dug up. The warriors we saw in the pits are all the same colour, a typical terracotta colour. However when created and buried the warriors were painted with bright armour and realistic face colours. The pictures on the wall show these amazing colours which unfortunately, while surviving thousands of years underground, fade quickly once uncovered.

The third pit is in an earlier state of excavation which means you can also see how the terracotta warriors were buried. Dug deep into ground, the warriors were covered by rafters to protect them and the covered with earth. In this pit you can still see the impression of the rafters over areas that have not yet been excavated. This put also includes the single archer warrior who was found intact.

We also visited the museum on the site which shows the history of the archaeology and displays the bronze chariot statues that were also found.

Flat noodles being prepared. If you look carefully you can see the noodle flying off!Lunch at the restaurant within the Terracotta Warriors complex was also excellent. It was a combination of set menu meals as well as a buffet. The highlight was two types of noodle that were cooked fresh in the restaurant.

Hand pulled noodles where the chef rolls the noodle dough and stretches it time after time and the boils it quickly and serves it in soup.

The other kind are flat noodles where the dough is sliced quickly straight into the boiling water and then served in a bowl with a beef sauce.

We spent a couple of hours at the complex and finally walked back through the myriad of stalls selling all manner of souvenirs and many more restaurants and cafes.