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China Blog Meeting the Terra Cotta Army

Meeting the Terra Cotta Army

A visit to Xian’s extraordinary Terra Cotta Army

One of the main attractions of most first time visitors to China is the world famous Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses known to most as the Terra Cotta Army that is found in Xian.

I certainly was not quite prepared for the scale of what had been created for the burial of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, on my first China tour. Of course you see them on the T.V. or maybe even at an exhibition but that gives you no real feeling for the magnitude of what was undertaken over 2200 years ago in order to protect the First Qin Emperor on his journey to the afterlife.

Life Sized warriors with their own facial expressions

As you walk around these huge pits you realise that these “life sized figures” are in fact much bigger than that, presumably the Emperor was keen to have “larger than life” protection on his journey and his armies are all facing towards the lands he conquered when forming the modern State of China.

These are not just mass produced replicas of each other, each has it’s own expression and facial features. They are not all soldiers either, there are musicians, acrobats and government officials not to mention hundreds of horses as well. The Emperor had not only an army accompanying him but also a whole entourage keeping court. These soldiers came to the afterlife armed to the teeth!

As well as swords, you can find shields, axes and crossbows believed to be weapons that were created initially for real soldiers before being handed on to their Terra Cotta equivalents. The archers crossbows had highly sophisticated firing mechanisms and the swords were often coated in Chromium Oxide keeping them sharp and rust free to this day. This gives us an insight into just how technologically advanced the Chinese were in comparison to the West at that time with westerners not using the chromium technique until the 18th Century.

All in all the Warriors have so much to teach us about their time and you’d be well advised to visit them on any China tour taking in Xian. Just let them know first that you come in peace!

Article originally posted by Phil Stanley and Headseast: 30th July 2013

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