The Terracotta Army

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Tue 15 May 2018 21:37
The Terracotta Army Museum
There was a legend in the Chinese ancient capital of Xi’an that has lasted for thousands of years. That there was buried a Terracotta Army, named Terracotta Warriors, Terracotta Soldiers or The Underworld Army.....
As we drove along the main road from our digs in Xi’an we saw, to our left, an insignificant ‘hump’ in the distance. This hump holds the tomb of Emperor Qui Shi Huang (18th of February 259 BC to 10th of September 210 BC), he was the son of King Zhuang Xing of Qin and his Empress mother. Emperor Qui unified China and was the founder of the Qin Dynasty. He survived many battles but his bravery did not stop him dying of mercury poisoning, the very medication put together by his alchemists and prescribed by his court physicians to make him immortal. He died a two month overland journey from here but his people managed to suppress the news until they arrived for his burial - they were fearful of uprisings and there was skulduggery afoot as who would succeed him.
Evidence tells us that his tomb is intact but is rigged with crossbows should it be disturbed. Archaeologists also know that the immediate area and leading up to the tomb are a hundred rivers of mercury, said to represent the “Heavenly Beliefs”. Modern techniques have proven – from deep samples taken - that mercury levels are indeed a hundred times above any safe levels, so at present, best to leave well alone.
Emperor Qin (image seen in Pit 2) is the man responsible for the Terracotta Army and our reason to have come to Xi’an. In 215 BC the Emperor ordered his General, Meng Tian to set in motion his grand plan. He undertook gigantic projects in order to consolidate his power and country, like the building of the first version of the Great Wall.
The Terracotta Army was built at the centre of a complex designed to mirror the urban plan of Xianyang, the capital of the Qin Dynasty, he would lead this army to conquer the afterlife. We saw this artists impression of the whole area in Pit 2, the Emperor’s burial mound (the Terracotta Army is way off the image to the left).
The foundations took two years to complete, speculation says that 700,000 men worked on the project but as that number is bigger than any known city in the world at that time, very unlikely. Experts cannot agree but a believable number is around 20,000. Although there is written documentation at that time, anyone who worked on the project suffered death to preserve the secrets.
The Terracotta Army was found on the 29th of March 1974 when a team of locals began to dig a well. They found heads and bits and were frightened, but news quickly spread and the rest is history. The terracotta warriors were unearthed five metres beneath the surface and about one and a half kilometres east of his mausoleum. The whole necropolis measures some ninety-eight square kilometres. 
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Arriving at the Terracotta Army Museum was thrilling.
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We got tickets, the group leader in front of us was buying five hundred tickets.........clearly the wrong queue, but in no way a bother to our growing excitement. We went through security, found a buggy and nothing could wipe the smile off the birthday boy.
Map of the site.
The information board reads: The Museum of the Terracotta Army was opened to the public in 1979. It is the world-famous museum that is constructed on the site of its findings. The main exhibits of the Museum of the Terracotta Army are three exposed pits with clay warriors and horses, as well as the hall of the two bronze chariots and horses. Approximately 8,000 clay warriors and horses, more than 10,000 bronze weapons have been found in the pits. The museum is like a treasure house of Qin Dynasty’s military affairs, science and technology, art and culture. It has been listed as an UNESCO “World Heritage Site” (in 1987). Today the “Eighth Wonder of the World” has become a synonym for the well-known terracotta army.
Ready for Pit 1, we stood for a moment. I remember with great excitement when they were first discovered, I never thought for one minute that one day I would be standing here, on my birthday, all these years later (forty four to be exact). At that time what were the top three on your Bucket List. Oo, that’s a tough question. Come back to me on it. Some time later (which also gave me time to think about my own) Bear said Machu Picchu, The Great Wall of China and an island in the South Pacific. Did you ever think to tick off all three. No, not for a minute. So what were my top three as a youngster, probably driven, like so many others by Sir David Attenborough who took us all over the world in the BBC wildlife programs – The Galapagos, Africa (specifically to see meerkats and lions) and the condor of Peru. Did I ever think to tick them off, not when my childhood travel saw me go no further than Weston-Super-Mare...... to travel anywhere outside Europe was a dream.

Walking up the steps and waiting to get to the front of the viewing platform could not have prepared us for the sheer size of the building we were in and looking down on so many men and horses.





The army is the masterpieces of realism and comprises different branches of the armed force, chariots, horses as well as their weapons but most surprising is each of their faces. Every one is different, facial shape, _expression_, nose, cheeks, some have beards or moustaches, some look stern and others look as if they are smiling.




Every year, more than a million tourists from all over the world visit the Terracotta Museum. Our visit took in Pit 1 (our first wow) then Pit 3 (bimbled second and where we got to pose with some of the chaps).............







Pit 2 (we looked around third)..........





Outside Pit 2 Bear took rather a nice picture of me under my favourite tree, an acer.





and lastly the Hall of the Two Bronze Chariots and Horses. Unbelievable.


"Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends." Tristan Ludlow (Brad Pitt’s character) in the film Legends of the Fall so thrilled Emperor Qin had such a magnificent plan.