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The Terracotta warriors / The Terracotta army


For those who travel, having a chance to see the terracotta warriors is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The terracotta soldiers are one of the most popular tourist attractions in China. They are less than a mile to the east of the Tomb of Qin. With three sections that cover nearly six acres.

The Army of Terracotta Warriors has 9000 statues that occupy the massive mausoleum. Interestingly enough, the terracotta soldiers were discovered nearly 2,000 years after they had been created. It is estimated that it took 700,000 laborers almost 40 years to finish. The terra cotta army come equipped with weaponry and horses. This is a testament to the detail the laborers used when they were crafting these statues. It is said that nearly every soldier has different facial expressions.

terracotta army pit1 or vault1
Image by Victoria Reay
A panoramic view of the army.

the discovery of the terracotta army

The terracotta warriors were discovered in a marvelous way. Villagers in 1974 found broken pottery as they were drilling in Lintong County, located in Shaanxi. Because of its close proximity to the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, they brought it to archaeologists who discovered three massive pits with the terracotta warriors inside.

The Terracotta Warriors history

When where and how were they made.

The terracotta army wascreated in the year 210 BC. The warriors were created for China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and depicted his powerful army. They were buried with the emperor when he died and were rediscovered in 1974 by a group of Chinese farmers.

The terracotta warriors history dates back to Qin Shi Huang's rule, which began in 250 BC. During his rule, Qin Shi Huang created a powerful army that was immortalized in the terracotta sculptures. The sculptures were a type of funerary art, or art that is included as part of an individual's burial. Qin Shi Huang was buried in a massive mausoleum with almost 10,000 sculptures, including more than 8,000 soldiers and over 500 horses.

The warriors themselves were contained in four pits surrounding Qin Shi Huang's tomb in xian. Three pits contain the warriors in order of rank, but the fourth pit is seemingly empty. The tomb itself remains closed and intact, as archaeologists do not want to damage the sacred area. The terracotta warriors were meant to serve Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife, enabling him to rule after death.

How were they made

The terracotta amry was constructed by government enlisted laborers and by skilled craftsmen of the time. Evidence shows that they were manufactured in an assembly line manner, with body parts being made separately.

The warriors faces were constructed out of eight different facial molds, and clay features were added to give each warrior a unique appearance. The warriors were all equipped with actual weapons and armor, giving them a highly realistic appearance. Unfortunately, the terracotta warriors history included many robberies, and much of this weaponry is no longer intact.

The terracotta warriors remain one of the most significant archaeological findings in recent history. The warriors represent a significant historical and cultural manifestation, and embody a rich social history.

Terracotta warriors Location

The terracotta army is located in Lintong County, which happens to lay east Xi'an. Visitors of Xi'an and even Beijing will travel to this incredibly large mausoleum from ancient China. Nearly one mile to the east of the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang visitors will find three separate vaults of terracotta warriors. While the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is one third of a mile long, the actual area where the terra cotta soldiers occupy covers nearly 200,000 square feet.

The goundplan

terracotta warriors

The First Vault

The first pit is shaped like a rectangle, measuring 250 yards long, 70 yards across, and 6 yards deep. That makes for an area of nearly 4 acres. The western and eastern ends are characterized by having many ramps with beams covering each of the walls. As for the actual warriors, they are lined up like an actual army would have been lined up in ancient China. This formation contains 6,000 warriors and horses in its vault. Most are from the infantry armies, making it stunning to see these ancient statues because you feel like you're back in ancient China.

The Second Vault

The second pit is located yards north of the first vault. It covers an incredible array, nearly one and a half acres, and in it are four army divisions. In this vault there are nearly one thousand pieces of pottery and 500 infantry units and horses. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this vault is that each army, though different, actually works together. Their formation allows them to strike the enemy quickly but also be far enough apart so that they can defend themselves.

plan terra cotta warriors
Terracotta army ground plan

The Third Vault

This vault is located yards west of the second pit. It coves an area that is smaller than the other two vaults. There are only four horses, a car, and 70 or so pieces of pottery in this pit. Unlike the other vaults, these terra cotta warriors are not fighters. Instead, they were equipped with weapons made of copper but contained no blades. Animal residues were also found in this vault, making it seem as if fortunetellers who led pre-war ceremonies for prayer were supposed to be here.

Terra Cotta Army: Legacy

The legacy of the terracotta soldiers resonates through China. Thousands of people visit these vaults every year to pay homage to the incredible artistry that nearly 700,000 laborers employed when building these beautiful works of art. This mausoleum is a one of a kind piece of artwork that everyone should travel to and see.

Terracotta army facts

  • An estimated 8,000 terracotta soldiers are located in the pits. Most of them are still underground.
  • The statues, which even included entertainers, were created to serve Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.
  • Originally, peasants trying to dig out a well accidentally discovered the stone soldiers
  • Part of the reason for building the mausoleum was that the emperor was obsessed with death and immortality, according to reports.
  • While we now think of them being in earthen tones, the statues originally had more striking colors, some of which can still be seen.
  • The pits that house the statues are around seven meters deep.
  • From 2007-2008, a selection of the terracotta warriors were taken around the world for a variety of record-breaking exhibitions.
  • The ancient artists made each face and body in the army distinct, including different facial expressions, poses and even facial hair.
  • Almost no detail was overlooked. For example, even some of the sculpted shoes contain visible tread on the soles.
  • The emperor even had artists depict the landscape of his territory. They used mercury to fashion miniature rivers.
  • About 130 chariots accompany the soldiers, along with 530 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
  • It is rumored that the king wanted to keep the tomb a secret. In order to maintain the secrecy, he immediately had the builders killed, according to legend.
  • Sculptors crafted different parts of the bodies separately and then assembled them afterwards.
  • When they were created, many of the soldiers actually held real weapons. However, robbers made off with most of these pieces.
  • The statues differ in height as well, according to their position. The generals are the tallest.
  • Would-be tomb raiders had their work cut out for them as the emperor set up lethal traps to stop them in their tracks.