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Funeral Vaults of Qin Shi Huang Di - Terracotta Figures
This is one of the greatest archeological finds in the world, and was discovered accidentally in 1974 when an unknown farmer was digging in the area. What he found was a life size head, made of clay, of an early warrior. Shortly afterwards, his discovery became known to the world and the first "digs" began.

What has been uncovered so far are over 6,000 life-size figures, lined-up, in battle order, rank by rank, along with horses and carts. The figures represent individuals of the Imperial Guard and each has a different expression and costume. No two are alike!

Originally, they were planned as part of the Emperor's Tomb and were housed in a wooden structure with a wooden roof. At some unknown time, the building caught fire, and the burning roof fell on the figures, burning them black in the process, as well as all the swords and chariots which were made of wood.

Before the fire, all the figures were painted in natural colors. Now they are black and/or reddish from being buried in the red clay soil. Shortly after serious excavation got underway, a structure was built over the area, and the world began to beat a path to Xi'an, to see these figures made of clay.

When you enter the courtyard, you'll be facing the curved structure over the "digs". To your left will be a special museum, which you'll probably see first. To your right will be another small museum which houses 9 of the original figures and 1 horse, along with photos of the early excavations. That museum on your left is a must. Housed here are two bronze pieces, which were discovered near the terra cotta figures. They are about 1/4 life size and represent 2 chariots, each pulled by 4 horses, and they are exquisite! The first chariot is driven by a "guardian" who clears the path for the second chariot, which contains the "soul" of the emperor. Both chariots are beautifully displayed in this new museum. Do notice the photographs on the wall, which show the process necessary to re-assemble these bronze treasures.

After this museum, if you can wait, I strongly recommend that you go to the museum on your right and see some of the original life-size figures up close. Study the details so you'll be better prepared when you encounter the vast army.

Now, go to the main building where the digging still continues. Upon entering this great hall, walk to the edge of the "balcony" and behold the Great Army of Terracotta Warriors. That first glance will leave you totally speechless. You will look down on the warriors, because they have been buried due to soil build-up and that earlier fire. Now you can walk all around the outer edges of the excavations... and across one section in the middle. Here, in the middle, you'll be able to see some figures and horses that are still partially buried... and where archeologists continue their work. One cannot comprehend the total scene. And, as if this weren't enough, archeologists have now discovered two more nearby areas where they expect to find as many, if not more, of the same type of soldiers.

And that unknown farmer who made this fantastic discovery? Under communism, everything belongs to the people. Therefore his name was "unimportant" and was never recorded. He received no individual reward, but the entire city of Xi'an was given the right to sell their products freely.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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