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The Terracotta Army!!

Terrocotta warriors, Shaanxi Museum & Big Goose Pagoda fountain show!

As one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century we were all super excited about seeing the Terracotta Army. Dan and I had been to see the few that visited the British museum a few years before but to be in the actual place and to get a gauge of the sheer size and vastness of the site would put it in perspective.

The site that can be visited by tourists consists of 3 pits which have been excavated to reveal the warriors and then had impressive buildings built over the top to keep out the elements, so you would not expect what's inside. It is really touristy here with hoards of people, stalls and even a subway. It was quite a shock though when we saw what appeared to be cat skin scarfs on several of the stalls along with wolf skins which could also have been Alsatian!


The Terracotta Army was part of the tomb of the first Emperor Qin Shinhung. He believed they would protect him in the afterlife and it took 38 years for 720 people to build the army and the tomb. The tomb is located between a river which has gold and a mountain that had jade so it was selected as the perfect resting place for an Emperor. The tomb itself has been left unopened out of respect for the Emperor but also for safety as it is meant to have a mercury river inside and is also said to be booby trapped. All the workers who knew about the traps in the tomb were locked inside when it was closed so they died taking its secrets with them. They were not the only ones trapped inside as the 1000 wives of the Emperor and some sacred animals such as cranes and deer were also sent to join the Emperor in the afterlife. Quite impressive commitment but I have to say I don't think I'd follow Dan by being buried alive in a tomb with him but I'm not sure the Emperors wives had much choice!

The first pit we visited was the largest with 2000 warriors uncovered but an estimated 6000 are thought to be buried in pit 1 alone, along with horses and carriages too! It definitely surpassed expectations and even standing there it was still impossible to fathom the sheer numbers.


Majority of the warriors had been broken as the roof of the pit was built from wood and over time the roof decayed and collapsed and so it is quite a pain stacking task to piece them back together.


The detail on each warrior is incredible from the hair to the finger nails and each one has its own unique face.


A couple of terracotta warriors had been found several times in the past but no one realised their significance or the vast scale until the discovery made by a lucky farmer in 1974, with the largest pit being uncovered in 1976. When the warriors were discovered they were painted vibrant colours but over time the colour has faded and so now they are not uncovering more warriors to preserve them.


We looked around some of the stalls after lunch before heading to the Shaanxi museum. I ve become a bit obsessed by all the kites in China and which means "Lets go fly a kite" from Mary Poppins is constantly in my head, although it doesn't always stay there! I also love my Kung Fu Panda t shirt!

At the Shaanxi museum we learnt more about the different dynasties and how the Silk Road developed resulting in the sharing of cultures from east to west and vice versa. There was some really cool stuff in there including a small craving of a tiger which was split in half, the Emperor kept one half and his second in command had the other half. Commands could only be given to and accepted by the army when both halves had come together, to prove it was a decision from those in charge. I also liked this Gold Monster that represents an angel with longevity.


The final stop of the day was the Big Goose Pagoda. It got its name because a monk who went to India to get more texts of wisdom about Buddhism to bring back to China got lost in the desert on his way home. As it got to the point of despair a flock of migrating geese flew over head and lead him back safely. The Pagoda is famous for its fountain and light show which happens every evening, which we crammed in with the crowds to watch. It felt like Christmas with all the lights and music as we huddled together in the cold night air.


Tomorrow is Panda day!!!


Posted by doyledan 05:13 Archived in China

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