The Wonder of the Xi’an Terra Cotta Soldiers

by Courtney Gould Miller
February 23, 2012

Xi’an Terra Cotta Soldiers

In the ’70s, a farmer in China’s Shaanxi province dug a well and instead of hitting water, struck clay. Thousands of clay warriors, in fact, encased in an underground metropolis serving as the burial grounds for the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇). Only a portion of the tomb is open – I’m not sure if it’s a myth, but I was told that sections where the emperor designed “rivers” of mercury to flow remain closed because excavators are unsure how to safely open them. But if I hadn’t told you parts were closed, you’d never feel you were missing out. It’s an unbelievable sight, with multiple caverns the size of airplane hangars filled with an army of men, horses and chariots. Truly something you have to see to believe.

If a trip to Xi’an isn’t in your near future, the soldiers might just be coming to you. The Bowers Museum in Orange County, CA is exhibiting Terra Cotta soldiers until March 4 – if you’re in Southern California, don’t miss this chance to see one of the great wonders of world history. (I’m going to try to go, and I’ve already seen them.) You won’t get the entire experience of seeing an army, but the soldiers individually are works of art. Each soldier has unique features, some crafted after their maker or perhaps the maker’s family members. It’s believed that those who constructed the soldiers and the tomb designed it as their legacy as they were buried alive with the emperor at his death. (That might be a myth, too – but you’ll have to check out the exhibit and find out for yourself!)


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