Terracotta Warriors in Xian
If you visit China there is just so much to see - and at Xi'an there is somethings that should not be missed.
As the Lonely Planet guide says "even though Xi'an's glory days ended in the early 10th century, many elements of ancient Chang an, the former Xi'an, are still present.".
The most famous of these is the Terra Cotta Warriors, and the tomb of Emporer Jingdi. I'm not going to write much of the history of this amazing place here - as there is much on the internet to read and study - in fact you need a good thick book to try and understand the whole story.
Maybe it is enough to say that it is at this place that the Silk Road "began and ended", and that at this place is the home of the most extra ordinary archaeological site in China, which was only discovered in recent times, by farmers drilling for water I believe. There is so much history in the area, but the Warriors are clearly one of the major draw cards.
The Emporer wanted to remain alive for ever and at the tender age of 13 years, started to create the terra cotta army that would remain hidden from the world under soil for several thousand years.
The fact that he wanted to remain alive, but was prepared to have those people who were helping him live his dream and prepare for his afterlife killed, so that his secret will remain, is a heavy cloud over the whole story.
In any case it was all build several thousand years ago and remained a secret, until 1974 when farmers drilling for a water well, happened on this amazing discovery.
There is so much to learn of the history of this place, and in an extra ordinary way, it is now open to the public to go and visit this place of great craftsmanship. the huge numbers of clay (terra cotta) warriors that were made. There are thousands already excavated and there cold be many thousands still to be discovered.
There are three pits housed in a modern aeorplane-hangar type building with plenty of room for visitors to walk around and look in awe at the scene before them.
The warriors were made from the clay from the nearby mountain, but each face was worked on by hand so that all have different facial characteristics, just as if it was a real army. The heads were done last - and actually sit into the hole at the neck. In any case this hole was necessary for successful firing in the kilns.
There different kinds of soldiers, from generals, to ordinary soldiers, to archers (they are the ones on one knee), and there are horses and chariots, weapons, and much more. All in preparation for a mythical afterlife.
The scale of this project is enormous and to think it was all created over two houand years ago is extra ordinary, to say the least.
The complex itself is remarkable. the landscape, the different buildings to house the pits, and the fact that archeologists continue their work. The grounds are spectacular, and there's plenty of space to walk around and marvel at what you have seen, or are about to see.
(I might add that the toilet facilities are some of the best in China - quite amazing facilities to cater for Asian as well as European visitors. Clean and amazing!)
Some of the clay figures are damaged, and you can see the repairs on some. There is so much to see, so many photos to take, so many things to buy. Of course there is the expected retail outlet where you can buy all sorts of tings to remind you of this amazing experience.
You can also purchase a book (they have them in different languages) and get one of the farmers who made this discovery to sign it.
I had long wanted to see this place, and I am thrilled that I have been to see it - though I suggest that one really needs to go more than once, or spend more time that a tour will give.