Step back over two millennia in time with a visit to Xian’s Terracotta Army. The majesty of these Qin Dynasty relics, faithful guardians of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s spirit for over 2,200 years, is unforgettable, like an incredible slice of ancient history unveiled before your eyes.
In Xian, veils of time are parted
Chinese Tang dynasty poet, Wang Wei, once wrote, “Empty hills, no man in sight – Just echoes of the voice of men.” Time-swept emptiness, as vast as English poet, Shelley’s description of desolation in “Ozymandias,” was all men saw until 1974. At that time near the close of the 20th century, peasant farmers, drilling a well in Xian in central China, stumbled upon a discovery that some now declare is the Eighth Wonder of the World.
A vast , ancient army is discovered
The site’s discovery revealed the life-sized tomb guards and army of Qin Shiguang, the emperor responsible for unifying China more than 2,000 years ago. The vast archaeological unearthing of Emperor Qin’s magnificent collection of hand-made soldiers is one of the greatest cultural heritage finds in the world.
China’s Terracotta Army is magnificent. Life-size soldiers stand as if ready for Emperor Qin’s personal inspection in the spirit world. In the three pits of the vast, mausoleum discovery, there are over 7,000 pottery soldiers, more than 100 chariots, and more than 4,000 pottery horses. Over 100,000 weapons including bronze swords, spears, halberds, and rocked blades were buried with the army. The scale of the funerary project is incredible, what is revealed already is massive, and the main tomb has still to be excavated.
Individual reflections from over two millennia
Amazingly, the faces of the solders are individual, believed to be modeled after Emperor Qin’s real army. The soldiers vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle, reflecting their ranks and roles. The exquisite pottery warriors have subtle differences in expression. The expert craftsmanship is detailed in differences as small as the buttons of the battle robes and edges of armor.
It is a breathtaking experience to see the vast terracotta army, so human and silent, marked with individuality and seemingly frozen in time for two millennia. The find stands in juxtaposition to the philosophical questions: “How long can one man’s lifetime last? What about humanity can bear the tests of time?”
An ancient city within an ancient, magnificent land
The central China region that holds the Terracotta Warriors is steeped in archeological history and ancient relics. Xian is the ancient capital of 13 dynasties and home to thousands of historical sites, including the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient City Wall of the Ming Dynasty, the Bell Tower, and Shaanxi Provincial Museum. Visitors to Xian have the opportunity to view ancient history at a profound scale and depth, intense and instructive.
A cultural treasure
Even in ancient Xian, the magnitude of Emperor Qin’s terracotta army is extraordinary. The site now is a UNESCO-designated, world cultural heritage and one of China’s most famous attractions. It stands as a symbol of ancient China and an invaluable reflection of history.
Travel to Xian
Exceptional Xian and the ancient artistry and significance of China’s Terracotta Army should not be missed. Information on travel to Xian can be obtained from China’s National Tourist Office. Trips to Xian also are available through the Xian Tourism Office. Tour Beijing.com can arrange English speaking guides and handle private and group tours in Beijing and to other sites in China, including Xian. Travelogues, including a specific travelogue of Xian, are available on their website.
A special tip
A useful tip is to request an early morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors site. Its popularity can create a press from visiting crowds during the busiest part of the day. Go early, so you have quiet moments to allow the resonance of the unforgettable experience of Emperor Qin’s terracotta army to fill your memories with their ancient grandeur.
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