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The Amazing History behind the TerraCotta Warriors

Xi'an Travel Blog

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Emperor Qin

History says that the first emperor of China, emperor Qin, was so obsessed with immortality that he searched for the ultimate drug to make him immortal. Mercury at that time was so rare that all his doctors thought this was the wonder drug they have all been seeking for. So slowly, Emperor Qin would place mercury at his tea every morning, eventually causing him his death. A few years before his death, he ordered that his entire army be immortalized in the form of the terracotta statues. This would ensure that he would still have his entire army with him in the after life. The terracotta warriors were discovered by 6 well diggers the 1970’s and are the most important burial pits of Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum.

The Archer

Mark and I set off to see the warriors in the morning. Upon arriving the railway station where we could take bus 306 to the warriors, we were informed by a few Chinese women that 306 no longer operates because of the current weather conditions but they have a special trip which would cost us 35Yuan. Hmm.. well it has been snowing in Xian in the past 3 months, and it was quite impossible than no one has ever been there. Another old Chinese man approached us, speaking in Chinese --- ‘mi bai ong. Of course we didn’t have a clue what he was saying not until he acted out, doing a soldier stance which we found amusing and started laughing. He was the bus driver of Bus 914, a regular public bus which goes to the warriors. The Terracotta warriors is the last bus stop, and for 7 yuan, 45km, and an hour later we arived at the snow covered grounds of the museum.

Yes, All 1500 of them immortalized here in Pit 2
The place must have looked lovely in summer, as the gardens span a good 200 metes or so in every direction i looked. This was now all covered in snow, 10 inches on the ground, and lacing the giant pine trees which tower over the museum buildings.   Entrance rates at winter are at 65Yuan,  (90 in summer) and that included all the entrances to the pits and the museum.  We entered the museum first and were greeted by several teracotta wariors encased in glass, mostly of the signature pieces that you would see being replicated -- the archer, the general, the standing warrior and the common unarmed warior in a fighting stance. Gold reigns, brass swords and antique pottery found during the excavation also filled the rest of the museum. Interestingly, when it openned in the 1980's, foreign countries such as Pakistan, USA, England etc., gifted commemorative plates which engraved their commitment in the preservation of the the  Terracotta warriors and all these were also displayed there.
Wariors still awaiting their 1st breath of the 21st century

Pit 2 contained the biggest number of warriors, 1500 in total. It was a huge covered hall and all the warriors stood there side by side as if getting ready for a parade. Each of the warriors had a different face, and they say non were ever alike. They too discovered later on, that names were engraved on name plates on their armours. Being on the pit  made me feel more amazed in China's history, I mean, being actually there to see lifesize copies and faces of real soldiers of China's first Emperor was just overwhelming. Being there felt like being locked in an era where my country has not even been discovered! And till now there are still areas in the pit that are stil being excavated, an endless excitement and history yetto be unfolded in the years to come.

Amazing!!

Pit 3 was in another building, a bit smaller and contained just several warriors with their horses and carriages. Pit 1 on the other hand was closed during the time for renovation.

Mark and I finished touring the place at around 2, and just as we left the museum grounds on the way to the bus station, we got swarmed by chinese vendors selling the terracotta replicas. I couldnt refuse buying 1 as he brought the price down to 15 yuan a box! (6, 6inch statues in it!)

Decided to take lunch at a nearby chinese resto in the railway stn wherebus 914's route ends as we were starved from walking the entire morning. We had to point at the food we wanted from different tables since the menu didnt have pictures and or English translations on them.

The restaurant door was wide open too, pointless if you wanted to get in to warm yourself. It was still snowing really hard outside and at -3C, we finished up our hot noodle soup in under 10 minutes. And oh, for the 2 noodles in bowls the size of a bassinette, and 2 cans of Coke? we only paid a total of 24Yuan.

 

After a quick rest at the hostel, we took off again to visit the Great Mosque situated at the Muslim District of the City. It looked as ancient as the city but something to it looked magical, more like the scene in the movie Kill Bill where Uma Thurman scraped off Lucy Liu’s scalp. Everything looked peaceful and serene as the untouched fallen snow lacing the mosque’s Chinese styled rooftops. A few Chinese Muslim men paraded the grounds waiting for the clock to strike 3 (or was it 4?), to start reciting their Koran credos.

Pit 2 Entrance
Having a Muslim mosque in the middle of the city is rare  in China, since majority of the Chinese are Buddhists, so we waited to witness the Muslims call to pray before moving on to see the Drum Tower. The drum tower was situated just walking distance from the mosque and the hostel, and for 40 yuan (already for both drum and bell tower entrances) you can climb the tower and get a good view of Xian's center.

We got back to the hostel at almost 6pm, and had a few beers with Nick, an Aussie guy who just arrived from Beijing, and a Belgian roommate. :)

 

mabby says:
Looking back, I think I enjoyed this city more than I did with the other 3 i visited.. :)
Posted on: Feb 05, 2008
reikunboy says:
I've always wanted to go here, even more than the Great Wall
Posted on: Feb 04, 2008
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Emperor Qin
Emperor Qin
The Archer
The Archer
Yes, All 1500 of them immortalized…
Yes, All 1500 of them immortalize…
Wariors still awaiting their 1st b…
Wariors still awaiting their 1st …
Amazing!!
Amazing!!
Pit 2 Entrance
Pit 2 Entrance
The General
The General
Winter wonderland
Winter wonderland
Pit 3 warriors
Pit 3 warriors
The Museum Entrance
The Museum Entrance
Xi'an
photo by: Deats