Friday, May 29, 2009

The Warriors

I think I have discovered why I have been putting off writing about travelling to Xi'an and seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors. The enormity of the visit. The sheer volume of photos to wade through, things to remember, sights was all overwhelming. So I am just going to put up photos--descriptions just will never do it justice, so I will just say a thing or two about some of them...

To start you off with a little information...( click here if you want some more information on the warriors)

In 1974, three local peasants were digging a well. Up came a terra cotta head. The rest is history. It's amazing the armies hadn't been found before- there was even a large grave dug in the 1400's (I think) that missed hitting one of the soldiers by mere meters.

So far, only a few thousand of the estimated 6000 warriors have been excavated. They are highly colored, but the paint is light sensitive, and fades within days. The excavation has been slowed in an attempt to discover how to preserve the coloring.

Yes, each warrior is unique. No two, to date, are alike. They have differences, not only facially, but also according to their rank and duties- foot soldiers, archers, charioteers, cavalry, commanders.....

There are three pits. The first, the original site, is covered in a huge glass building. The second is the command center, housing many generals. The building is very dark and deep. The third site is a mix of both soldiers and commanders- and mostly unexcavated. It, too, is covered and mostly dark in an effort to preserve what is unearthed. There is also a museum showing various non-terracotta artifacts.

Enough- I could go on and on explaining. Our tour guide in Xi'an, Angela, was quite knowledgeable and very enthusiastic. I've forgotten much of what she told us, but bought a book- and one of the farmers who was digging the well was in the bookshop that day and signed it!!!

The first site of the giant pit

Here is where the farmers were digging in 1974

The original entrance used around 250 BC to place the warriors

They are in trenches with earth between. Originally, timbers were placed between the earth "walls" and a ceiling was constructed.

Our wonderful guide, Angela

a still buried warrior

a pile of unexcavated warriors

it goes on, and on, and on...

Still not touched after 25 years.

These warriors were broken and meticulously repaired

Proof I was there!

Did I mention the cherry trees were blooming?

Inside Pit 2- notice how much darker it is. Pit 3 is similar

a charioteer originally held a terra cotta horse by reins

These charioteers were in wooden chariots (now decayed) driving teams of four horses

Pit 3 plan. The chariots and horses are in whte, archers red, commanders in blue and foot soldiers in beige.

More yet to be excavated. Note the timbers and roof still remain intact.

Pit 3- notice the tomb built up over the pit? Had the body been buried, the warriors would have been discovered.

Excavation in progress

Archer on display

Not his hair topknotted toward the left. This allowed for his bow to be drawn without snagging his hair in real also in terra cotta.

I love the way his left arm rests on his lifelike--and remnants of red coloring on his armor- in real life this would have been leather holding together pieces of slate.

Look at the braids on his head-such detail

A general

A photo showing a just-excavated warrior with coloring intact. They were very brilliantly painted in yellows, blues, greens and reds.

Next- the bronze weapons and spirit chariots recently unearthed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009