The Terra Cotta Warriors

Xi'an Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
The grounds at the site are very nice.

I wasn't originally planning to go to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. These are life size figures that were buried with Emperor Qin (cheen) during 209 BCE. The fascinating thing about them is that there are about 7,000 of them buried there, and each one is unique. The theory is that the Emperor had them created during his lifetime to protect him in the next world after death. They were discovered in 1976 by some farmers who were digging a well. The majority of them are still underground and it is still a working excavation site.

I wasn't planning to go because you can't really get close to any of the statues. You can only walk around the edge of the huge pit and see them from a far distance. But I ended up having a free day on my last day in Xi'an, so I decided to head up there.

They were impressive, but once you've stared at them for about 15 minutes, that's about all there is to it. They are too far away to see the individual details of each. Some of the visitors had hired English speaking guides to lead them through the site. I eavesdropped on a few of them, and the visit would probably have been much more interesting if I had hired one of them.

There is a museum on the site that is interesting. It explains how the statues were found and how they were recovered. It also has a collection of porcelain pots on display. And there was also a somewhat random exhibit of Buddhist paintings that had absolutely no connection with the warriors. But they were really fascinating. They were several hundred years old, but the colors were still vibrant.

And the pictures were not the kinds of images that are generally associated with Buddhism, at least in the west. There were demons and devils and holy men involved in various activities. Some of the subjects had body parts in the wrong place. Unfortunately I didn't think photos were allowed, so I didn't get any.

Apart from the pits and the museum, the scenery in the area is really nice. The Warriors are located about an hour away from Xi'an and are within site of the LiShan mountains. (I believe that means black horse mountains.) Also, the compound that houses the Warriors is very picturesque in some spots. I have included photos.

Inevitably, just beyond the exit of the site a whole tourist-related village has been built. It is actually pretty unbelievable. There are several strip malls all filled with little shops selling things like miniature warriors, fake jade bracelets, hats, and every other kind of tourist trinket you can imagine. There are also restaurants, which are ridiculously expensive because they have a captive audience. I found a little sidewalk stand that had noodles and dumplings and I bought some of those. They were way too expensive compared to what you would pay elsewhere, but still far cheaper than any restaurant.

That was my last day in Xi'an. At 9:00 that night I set off for Beijing in an overnight train, which I will write about next.

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The grounds at the site are very n…
The grounds at the site are very …
The parts that you can view are hu…
The parts that you can view are h…
photo by: Deats