Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Xi’an and its Terracotta Wonder (Archive)

terracotta @xi'an 

3 October 2010. Xi’an.

The day we arrived in Xi’an, we made arrangements with the hotel for our visit to the Terracotta Army. The hotel gladly arranged for a cab to bring us to this Xi’an wonder and straight to the airport in time for our flight to Guangzhou. We were instructed to be ready at 6 o’clock in the morning to avoid the traffic that was to be expected on a national holiday. So it was around that time when we left the hotel for Lintong District where this attraction was located.

I was amazed by the thousands of life-sized warriors, none of which looked like the other. The trick to truly appreciate the Terracotta Army is to view the 3rd pit first, and the 1st pit last. There are three pits discovered separately, according to the marker. Pit 3 was discovered in June 1976, located north of Pit 1at the western end. It is 25 meters to the south of Pit 1and 120 meters to the east of Pit 2. It is of U-shape about 250 square meters, measuring 28.8 meters long from east to west, 24.57 meters wide from north to south and 5.2 – 5.4 meters deep. Investigation shows that Pit 3 was destroyed seriously in history. Only 68 pottery figures, one chariot and 34 bronze weapons were unearthed from this pit. Pit 3 is now known as the command center of Pit 1 and Pit 2.

pit 3

Located 20 meters to the north of Pit 1 at the eastern end, Pit 2 is in L shape. This pit was discovered in April 1976, covering an area of 6,000 square meters. It measures 124 meters long from east to west, 98 meters wide from north to south, and 5 meters deep. Different from Pit 1, Pit 2 consists of mixed military forces in four arrays: archers, war chariots, cavalrymen, and infantrymen. The four arrays seemed to exist independently, but could be assembled immediately to constitute a complete battle formation during the war times. This reflects the unique strategy of Qin military affairs. The excavation work of Pit 2 is still continuing. At present, a large area of the remnants of the roof beams and small part of the pottery warriors and horses are being exhibited in the pit. It is a rare chance for visitors to enjoy the archaeological digging at the site.

pit 2

kneeling archer @ pit 2



The Kneeling Archer: It is one kind of the armored infantryman. It was unearthed from the center of the archer formation, which is located northeast of Pit 2. The pose of both hands evidences that this figure held one crossbow originally. Altogether, 160 kneeling archers were found in Pit 2.



middle-ranking office @ pit 2


Middle-ranking Officer: He wears double-layered flat hat and square-toed shoes. A robe under the armor extends below the knees. The armors for the middle-ranking officers have two styles: one is with chest armor only and another is with both chest and back armor.




high-ranking officer @ pit 2


High-ranking Officer: This is one of the seven “generals” found in the terra-cotta pits. The height, clothing, and headgear of this officer all indicate his high rank. He wears double-layered robes under a colorful fish-scaled armor, and a high headgear tied with ribbons under the chin. His shoes are with square opening and upward-bending tips. There are eight knots made of ribbons to decorate the armor, three knots on the front plate, three on the back, and one knot each on the shoulder.


cavalryman with his saddled war-horse @ pit 2


Cavalryman with his saddled war-horse: 116 similar cavalrymen with their horses were found in Pit 2. Horses were strictly selected from HeQu and well trained. The horse is shown with a saddle decorated with girth and crupper, but with no stirrup. The figure wears a knee-length robe, an armored vest and tight-fitting trousers. Beneath the belted waist the robe appears full with pleats and folds. The small tight hat is fastened under the chin. He holds the rein in one hand and crossbow in the other.


standing archer @ pit 2


Standing Archer: It is one kind of the infantrymen dressed in an unarmored battle robe. It was unearthed from the exterior of the archer formation in Pit 2. The pose of both hands shows that his figure is ready to shoot. Altogether, 172 standing archers were found in this pit.




Pit 1 was discovered in March 1974 by local farmers while drilling a well. Then archaeologists began explorations and excavations. On October 1st, Emperor Qin’s Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum was opened to the public. Pit 1, the largest pit, is a subterranean earth-and-wood structure. It measures 25 meters long from east to west, 62 meters wide from north to south. It’s assumed that more than 6,000 pottery warriors and horses will be unearthed from this pit. All the statues are big in life-size and exquisitely made, representing high technology in Chinese sculptural history. They are reputed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The excavation of the terra-cotta warriors and horses provides extremely valuable data for the research of Chinese ancient politics, military affairs, science, and arts.

pit 1

pit 2

We didn’t linger because we had a plane to catch. So after a few munches, we were supposed to head for the airport but the cab driver insisted we visit another tomb site, the Han Yan Ling Tomb since it was on our way to the airport. We gave in, after an assurance that we wouldn’t be late for our flight.