Xian and the Terra-cotta Army

501 Xian

On March 29th 1974, local farmers from XiYang village in LingTong County were drilling a series of wells in search of water. They discovered some fragments of pottery and some ancient bronze weapons. The head of the village reported the news to the local government and this created lots of attention. An archaeological team from Shaanxi Province arrived on site on 17th July 1974 and began their excavations. The Terra-cotta Army had been discovered.

The three main pits contain over 8000 life size soldiers. Each one is unique with different facial characteristics. They also vary in height according to rank  with the tallest being the generals.

A rank of soldiers in Pit 1

The figures were manufactured in workshops by labourers and local craftsmen using local materials. The heads, arms and torsos were created separately and then assembled. Clay was then used to add individual features such as hairstyles.

The figures depict the army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.

He was born the son of King Zhuang Xiang, the King of Qin in 259BC. and named YingZheng. His father died in 247BC and at the age of 13 YingZheng became King of Qin. At the age of 22 he took over the reins of government and set out to conquer the other six states. At the age of 39 he achieved his final victory and proclaimed the Qin Empire and declared himself QinShiHuangDi, the first Emperor.

QinShiHuang was obsessed with the fear of death and had the terra-cotta army made and buried with him to protect him in the afterlife.

In addition to the three main pits, several smaller ones have been found containing bronze horses and chariots.



The restored No 1 chariot. The bronze chariot, horse and driver were modelled on the real chariot but are half life size.They are cast in perfect proportion and were highly painted.


It is a wonderful experience and “must see” sight on any visit to China.


About crosbyman66

My aim is to create a photo diary of my walks and my travels. I have two main hobbies, walking and photography and these complement each other. I am a senior citizen, what used to be called an old age pensioner, but I don't feel old. Since retirement I have had more time to pursue my hobbies and the opportunity to travel more. My philosophy now is - Do what you can, while you can. My other interests are fine wines and keeping fit. These may not complement each other but keep me happy.
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