Terracotta Warriors – Xian, China

20 Apr

Author: Steve

Here's a shot while we were on the wall after we finished our bike tour.

We arrived in Xian, China all set to see the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors but never expected to have such an incredible time in the city of Xian.  We only scheduled one night there.  Xian has a population of over 8 million people and their history dates back over 3,100 years.  Xian has one of the most intact and preserved city walls in China, constructed in the 14th century back in 194 BC during the early Ming Dynasty.  We walked to the wall from our hotel and noticed the place we wanted to enter was surrounded by at least 6 lanes of heavy traffic (very similar to the Arc de Triumph in Paris). So we figured, great we’ll just go underground to cross the street and come up in the middle.  Well we couldn’t find the underground entrance, so after 20 minutes of searching Amy spotted a police box and it said ‘bilingual’ speaking police.  I was very excited because I wanted to get to the center to start our bike tour before it got any later.  You see the wall is so complete that you can rent bikes and ride 15K around the entire upper perimeter of the wall and we just wanted to get our bikes before it got too late.  The police man was reading his paper when I walked up to his box, I asked him if he could tell us where the entrance to the tunnel is to get into the south entrance of the wall. He jumped out of his seat and out of his box (remember bilingual police) eager to help. He stared at me as I asked again how to get to the center on the other side of the huge roundabout with non-stop cars, buses and trucks. He gave me an inquisitive look but no answer. So I immediately went to charades and explained what we were trying to do. Ahh . . . he got it! So he took one hand and held it palm up and then with the other hand took his forefinger and middle finger and started walking them across his other hand, and pointed to the street.  Then I looked at him inquisitively and said, “So you want us to walk across that street?”.  He kept repeating in a grunting sound. “Uh, uh, uh”, and nodding his head up and down.  Pedestrians do not have the right of way in China so I was viewing this as one of those dangerous adventures. I told Amy to take Kendal and I would take Keegan (it’s typically safer to cross in a crowd but sometimes it’s easier to cross with 2 rather than with 4 for speed) and we would hopefully see each other on the other side. “Good luck”!

Four replica Terracotta Warriors on the wall

This was one of my "wow" moments during our year adventure; to be up on that wall (which wasn't crowded at all) and complete the perimeter while listening to traditional Chinese music echoing out through speakers was just incredible for me.

This is a shot from above; Amy spotted a cool bar while we were riding so we ended up having a drink after our bike ride

Chinese pomegranate farmers discovered the Terracotta Warriors in 1974. What’s amazing to me is if the farmers would have dug for their water-wells a couple of meters in the other direction they might never have found this incredible discovery.  The first Emperor, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, was I’m sure loved by most of his people but when you really look at what he did, he might be viewed by many as a great study on paranoid leaders. When he was 13 years old he ordered these warriors to be built and it took 36 years to complete.  He had 8,000 warriors, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses built out of clay (terracotta) and colored to protect him while he was dead in the after-world. This full construction took over 700,000 laborers.  These warriors were built in the 3rd century (209-210BC).  It is also believed that Emperor Qin ordered that the tomb workers and supervisors involved in its design be buried alive to protect its secrets. Each life-sized terracotta soldier is modeled on an actual person – they have distinct facial features and hairstyles. It takes at least 2 years to reconstruct a single warrior.

The turtle shell umbrella covers the carriage and symbolizes longevity

The incredible Terracotta Warriors lined up and ready to protect in Pit 1

Terracotta Warriors Pit 1

To see the pits first hand was unbelievable - they were all so much larger than I anticipated

This was a great education on not only Chinese history but archeology as well


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in China


2 responses to “Terracotta Warriors – Xian, China

  1. Jill

    April 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

    How amazing…I thought the mini display in Epcot was incredible, but to see the actual pieces dwarfs the reality of how massive and detailed it all is! Incredible!

  2. Carey

    April 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    SO jealous! Another replace I have always wanted to visit! Incredible history!


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