The Army of
October 12, 2006
I had several friends that I was emailing with that asked me what I was up to in the next couple days. I told them I was “going to see the
Terracotta Warriors.” Only one friend knew what I was talking about. The rest had no idea. I actually envy those friends as they would
have had no expectations upon going out to see this site.
I tried my best to lose all expectations of the Terracotta Warriors before coming out to Xi’an. There was really no gray area when it came
to people’s opinions of this site – they either were thoroughly impressed or they were thoroughly disappointed. Now it was just a matter of
finding out which camp I was going to fall into…
The last thing I wanted to do was follow around a person holding a flag so I never even gave a thought to going on a tour of this site. I took
a couple of public buses (which could not have been easier) and got there in about 80 minutes time from the point that I left my hotel. Not
bad…especially since this route was a fraction of the cost.
When I arrived, I would find out that there are several buildings. Three of the five buildings were dedicated to the findings of the
terracotta kind. They are known as ‘pits’. Work here is not even close to done. For example, Pit 1 has uncovered 2000 warriors. This, out
of an approximate 6000 that exist there. Restoration efforts are being done continuously as tourists come and go. Most of these warriors
are in pieces and these restorers are to put them back together. To watch them would make it look as if they were putting a three-
dimensional puzzle together. What a challenge. But what an even better end result!
Pit 1 was definitely the most impressive of the three pits. The only problem I was having was that my imagination led me to believe that
these would be underground (which would have had a more ‘archaeological’ feel to it). Instead, I felt like I was in an expo or convention
center. The building was shaped like a hangar with light coming through the glass ceiling. I did get over this quickly. It was just my first
A friend of mine did me a huge favor when she told me to go there keeping in mind that these soldiers were created to resemble the
Emperor’s actual soldiers – each one having a different face and facial expression. Some articles will say they were modeled after the
warriors; others say the artists modeled them after themselves.
This brings me to something I was thinking about when I was there. I was eavesdropping on many ‘information ramblings’ that tour
guides were giving their clients. I mean how much of this stuff is really for real? I thought back to when I used to play the game
‘Telephone’ in elementary school. People would start with one sentence and by the time it was whispered to the tenth person the sentence
was something entirely different. Call me a cynic…but am I to believe that over-two-thousand year old information is really credible? Is it
really possible that they know what the Emperor was thinking when he ingested some medicine? I doubt it. But you have to give them
credit for their story-telling abilities. I can see how tourists could eat up every word of it.
The one thing that is a fact is that these soldiers were not even discovered until as recently as 1974. That, to me, is truly incredible. They
were only found because a couple of farmers were digging to build a well. One of the farmers actually spends much of his time signing
books at the souvenir shop out there (for the San Franciscans - it’s kind of like the former Alcatraz prisoner who signs his books at
Alcatraz). It is hard to believe that something so old (about 2,200 years) was just found 32 years ago. Who know what else even lies
I could go on and on about how their clothing represents different ranks, the positioning of their bodies represents different things they
were engaging in (for example, getting ready to shoot an arrow) or how their faces were originally painted once they life-size statues came
out of the kiln…but I am going to refrain. The history lesson can be found on the internet; I’m just here to give my account of it with a few
facts thrown in.
In the end, I would say anybody coming to China should come and see these so that they can form their own opinion…
The Terracotta Warriors.
I'm kind of scared of him.
This warrior has yet to be saved