Terracotta Warriors & Horses of the Qin dynasty
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The world-famous Terracotta Warriors (Chinese: Bing Ma Yong) are located about 40 km to the east of Xi'an as a part of a large site in the district of Lintong. You can see them at the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses which together with Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Park constitute Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum. The two-part museum complex is connected by a shuttle bus. As one of the many historic sights in China that are listed on the UNESCO world heritage list, Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum is one of the most visited tourist sites in China that receives millions of visitors every year.
The entire complex occupies a large area near the pyramid-shaped tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who unified China for the first time under the banner of the Qin dynasty. His tomb is still unexcavated to this day. You will be able to tour the Mausoleum Site Park that surrounds the burial mound though. About 1.5 km away from the Mausoleum Site Park is the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses which is the main attraction of the site.
When visiting the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, you will see three pits and the Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall. All three pits where the figures of the terracotta warriors were buried are now covered from the elements by large hall structures. The 1st pit is the largest of the three and displays more than 6,000 terracotta warriors in battle formation. Each life-sized figure is unique and presumably modeled after the real soldiers that served in Emperor Qin Shi Huang's army. Soldiers from the infantry, cavalry and chariot division are represented among the figures that were originally covered in colorful paint (most of which has now peeled off).
Most spectacular in the second pit are the around 80 war chariots that were buried along with 1,300 terracotta warriors and horses and thousands of bronze weapons. In addition to soldier figures from the infantry, cavalry and chariot division, you will also find crossbow archers among the buried terracotta warriors in the 2nd pit.
The 3rd pit is believed to represent the command center for the soldiers that were found in pit 1 and 2. It is made up of a chariot and horse chamber (containing four horses and a distinctive chariot), northern wing room and southern wing room. Twenty-two terracotta figures were found in the northern wing room (dedicated to pray for victory) while the southern wing room (for collecting military tactics) contained 42 figures. Well-preserved decorations out of stone, bronze and gold as well as bronze weaponry were found in the 3rd pit as well.
The Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall contains two models of bronze chariots and horses. About half the size of real Qin dynasty war chariots, the two models were intended as vehicles for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang to inspect his army in the afterlife. Each of the two model chariots is pulled by a team of four horses that are steered by a coachman. Decorated with pieces of gold and silver and guarded by terracotta soldiers that are armed with swords, these two chariot models are regarded as the best-preserved bronze carriages in China.
After visiting the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, you can tour the Mausoleum Site Park with the same ticket. It surrounds the unexcavated burial mound that is in fact larger than Egypt's Great Pyramid. After 2,000 years of weather erosion, it has lost most of its original pyramid shape and height (original 100 meters now reduced to 47 meters) and now looks like a hill that is overgrown with vegetation. Several accessory pits have been found in the park area that surrounds the burial mound. While some of these pits are closed to the public at present, pit K0006 and pit K9901 are open for visitors. Twelve terracotta figures were found in pit K0006. Eight of them represent civil officials and the other four are figures of charioteers. Pit K9901 is also known as the Acrobatics Figures Pit. The half-naked bodies of the acrobat figures that were found there look distinctly different and even a bit comical in comparison to the stern and heavily armed terracotta army soldiers.
Visitors that still have some time and energy left after visiting both parts of Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum might consider visiting the Huaqing Hot Springs which are located along the way back to Xi'an.