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Terracotta Warriors & Horses
Terracotta Warriors & Horses

Terracotta Warriors & Horses
Terracotta Warriors & Horses

Terracotta Warriors & Horses
Terracotta Warriors & Horses

Terracotta Warriors & Horses
Terracotta Warriors & Horses

Terracotta Warriors & Horses
Terracotta Warriors & Horses
In 221 B.C., Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty established the first centralized feudal dynasty in China. (Centralization was particularly important in the Yellow and Yangtze regions because flooding periodically wiped out years of work and coordinated planning was required to build canals and avoid political as well as geographical fragmentation.) After his death, he was buried at the northern foot of Lishan Hill in the east of Lintong county. The tomb has been reduced to half its size after 2,000 years of water and soil erosion, but still impressive--76 meters high and a fundamental space of 120,000 square meters. One unusual detail about the construction of the tomb is that the emperor had the building begin shortly after becoming king of Qin at the age of 13. This action contradicted Confucian wisdom that a son should demonstrate respect for his father by building as impressive a memorial as possible and that a man should never plan his own funeral rites. Presumably, the king of Qin did not consider himself a mere man! In fact, he ordered the burning of books of history and philosophy as well as the death of 460 Confucian scholars who had had the temerity to continue teaching principles drawn from the past. The tomb took 39 years and 700,000 workers to reach completion. It had pearls embedded in the ceiling to represent the stars, and rivers and lakes were modeled with liquid mercury. The tomb itself has not been opened yet.

In 1974, when digging wells about a mile west of the mausoleum, some peasants made the sensational discovery of the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses; these figures were distributed over three large underground platforms and formed part of the emperor's burial objects. Likely numbering more than 7,000 warriors if the site were completely excavated, the figures are cultural assets of considerable quality. In order to avoid the risks of weather damage, a giant hall has been constructed over the first excavation site to provide protection. Although the faces of the individual warriors all have different expressions (lifelike and colorfully painted), it is known that some were mass produced in large workshops.

In 1978, a fourth pit was discovered; it is shaped as the Chinese character zhong (middle). In 1980, two bronze chariots with four horses were discovered.

There are four main categories of figures: chariot warriors, infantrymen, cavalrymen, and horses. There are generals, middle ranking officers, lower ranking officers, ordinary soldiers, and armored warriors. The latter can be further divided according to their headgear into warriors with a square scarf, a cylindrical bun, or a flat bun. There are kneeling warriors as well.

The entrance fee is exorbitantly high (for Chinese prices), but the visit is still worth the fee. It is possible to buy small replicas of the figures for a couple of yuan. (Remember to barter!)

Many hotels offer tours to the Terra-Cotta Warriors and other sights around Xian. However, prices differ considerably, as does quality. It is prudent to ask if the entrance tickets to the sights are included. Also, it is wise to be careful if the guide offers to buy tickets for you since some guides try to charge more than you would pay at the ticket booth. Of course, you may be lucky and the guide buying the tickets may save you some money!

For all its grandeur, the Battle Formation of the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses is acclaimed by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

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