China: The Terracotta Warriors
The statues from about 200 B.C. in Xi’an, China, may be the most amazing sight and site I have ever seen.
I have had the opportunity to visit Luxor, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal, the Dome of the Rock, the Hermitage, Petra and many other brilliant examples of the human experience.
Still, the Terracotta Warriors took my breath away! I had seen a small sample of the warriors in London a few years ago and thought that exhibit was wonderful.
More than 1,000 soldiers, horses and chariots have been put on display in Xi’an, which is about 700 miles southwest of Beijing. More than 5,000 remain buried until a solution for the effect oxygen has on the paint used on the statues can be found.
The clay army was created during the reign Qin Shi Huang, the founder of China’s Qin Dynasty (221–207 B.C.). The so-called “first emperor” unified China, began construction of the Great Wall and prepared for his death by building a 20-square-mile funerary compound for the soldiers and himself.
Nevertheless, the emperor was truly an evil man who killed those who failed to create the statues to his satisfaction. After his death, the local farmers set his palace on fire and scavenged the nearby area for weapons. Fortunately, the farmers apparently weren’t concerned about the figures, although the site was looted of weapons.
The chamber containing the Terra Cotta Army was discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers attempting to dig a well near the ancient capital city of Chang’an in what is today the Shaanxi Province, near the modern city of Xi’an.
The soldiers were found arranged in military formation in large pits with earth walls dividing the rows. Four pits have been excavated: three with figures in them and one empty, suggesting that the full tomb army was not completed before the emperor’s death.
The emperor wanted his soldiers to be able to find their bodies after their return from the afterlife so he could reign anew.