Xian: Terracotta Warriors

"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Ozymandis (Percy Bysshe Shelley)


The chief attraction in Xian is undoubtedly the Terracotta warriors. Around 200BC the Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified 7 warring states, thereby founding the Qin dynasty (Chin) from which the name China is derrived. Qin was a bit of a megalomaniac and comissioned the building of the army and an underground system, that would posthumously reflect the glory of his empire and achievements.

Qin Shi Huang is also responsible for constructing The Great Wall of China, to keep the barbarians from the North out.

The warriors were only discovered, by accident in 1974 and to date more than 7000 have been recovered. Some suggest however, that this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The main tomb of Qin Shihuang has never been excavated due to the high mercury content of the soil. As well as the different ranks and classes of soldier, there are also horses and war charriots. What I found particularly fascinating was the attention to detail, each soldier having different facial features. Around the museum itself were the usual throng of merchants persistantly hawking their wares.

The day after checking out the terracotta warriors we visited some of Xian's more local attractions. First we hit the Ming era Bell Tower, where we got a musical recital, the nearby Drum Tower (also Ming era), the South Gate, the Great Mosque, built in 742AD, and the Little Goose Pagoda. We rounded the day off by visiting the Shaanxi History Museum which was very interesting.

drum tower

The Drumtower, Xian

bell tower

The Belltower.

The next day we visited the Banpo Neolithic Village, an archeological site dating back some 6000 years. It was a bizarre place. The first exhibition hall we entered seemed to be a public health display aimed at young people, with fairly graphic photographs of genitalia in various stages of venerial disease. Up at the back of the museum was a reconstructed neolithic village with shades of the Flintstones. The dig site itself was interesting enough though. Following Banpo we visited The Palace of the Eight Immortals, a Daoist temple, before Rick and I went our seperate ways; he to Shaolin Temple and myself to Chengdu.