Friday, June 28, 2013

Terra Cotta Warriors

The picture that got us to Xi'an, China was of the terra cotta warriors. I find it fascinating that an area so large could be uncovered a mere 40 years ago. Marked as the most significant archaeological find of the 20th Century, the work to uncover the warriors and horses is still happening. In 246 B.C., the Emperor, then only thirteen years old, began work on his mausoleum. He wanted to be guarded in the afterlife and so he created clay figurines of warriors and horses for protection.

We had a chance to meet the man who discovered the underground area. He was digging for a well at the time and now leads a very comfortable life. He didn't speak any English, but through our translator we were able to speak to him. He was very proud of meeting President Clinton.

The warriors were set up in battle formations with officers in various areas. Each warrior has distinctive features. That's right, over 7,000 different faces. Each originally  held a spear or weapon that was removed by a later Emperor who wanted to make sure the army was weaponless.

Bits and pieces
One sad discovery was that the ink used to paint the magnificent clay warriors reacts with air so much of the coloring has been lost over the years. Archaeologists are trying to find a way to preserve the beautiful color while unearthing the figures.
Just a bit of red remaining...
For now the area is still a functioning dig site with a huge air hanger over it. To see the full-sized warriors and horses was amazing and knowing that this treasure was underground for over 2000 years just magnified it.

After our terra cotta warriors it was time to go back to the airport for our return flight to Beijing. We said goodbye to our wonderful guide and got on the fifth plane in five days.

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