Terracotta Warriors Museum

This morning, we headed to the one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world the Xian Terracotta Warriors Museum. A local bus took us directly to the museum. I was quite excited as this has been one of the sights to see. We engaged a guide to get a better understanding. The are several pits, all under covers, to explore. As we entered Pit 1, the stage opened an amazing gallery of clay soldiers and horses, all line up in formation. It was quite spectacular. Imagine, over 2000 years old! Pictures are great but being here is simply spell-binding. The sight is just overwhelming, let alone looking at each individual piece. There are over 6000 pieces (only 2000 excavated). They are life-sized, and each individual had their own unique looks. The soldiers complete with body armor consisted of infantry, calvary, officers, archers and chariot warriors. All arranged in a battle formation. Emperor Qin Shi Huang (210209 BCE) ordered its construction, depicting his existing armies, to accompany him in the afterlife.

The size and the workmanship alone are enormous. To achieve this feat must have taken years (about 40 years) of dedication (perhaps forced labour) to complete. All were handmade, thus resulting in the uniqueness of each individual soldier. The body parts were made separately and assembled later. We know why, but how? – the skills of the artesian, the processes in making the terracotta structures, the pigments used that lasted the test of time, the management, perhaps ruthless, required to complete the project. All these questions can be contemplated while walking alongside these silent wonders. However, Qin Shi Huang died before its completion.

This site was accidentally discovered by a farmer in 1974. On discovery, some of the statues were colored. However, due to exposure, the colors had faded. Many statues are still buried to conserve the colors and hopefully displayed in its original glory (with future preserving technology). The other pits are smaller but contain similar artifacts. In places, broken pieces can be seen to give an idea the conditions there were in when found. It must be a giant jigsaw puzzle to put them all together.

At the back of the pit, many statues were painstakingly being labeled, reworked, cling-wrapped and restored to its original condition. The display of 2000 figurines is already huge. Just imagine if all 6000 were exposed!

In the nearby exhibition hall, we can get personal with the warriors. All encased in glass and brightly lit. The delicate details of the face and expression, the full regalia of the body armor and its dimensions. All the terracotta soldiers found had collapsed except one, the kneeling archer. The original pigment can be seen. Now, it is on display at this hall. Another highlight here is two beautifully crafted bronze chariots. There is a sense of achievement and contentment having seen one of the greatest archaeological find. A testament to mankind’s ingenuity, desire, determination and ambitions.

 

 

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