Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Terra-Cotta Army


Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world the Terra-Cotta Army, dating back to 210 BC was built to help the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang rule in the afterlife.


It is estimated that more then 700,000 laborers and craftsmen manufactured the estimated 9,000 soldiers, chariots and horses.

So far 3 main pits have been discovered; Pit 1 and the largest, the top 2 images above, contains the main army; Pit 2 the next largest and the image above contained specialized troops such as archers.

Pit 3 , the smallest of the three was the troop command center.


The army was discovered by some local farmers digging for water back in 1974 when they came across some pottery pieces, the rest is history. For a donation you can get a founding farmer to, (get it, founding farmer, just made that up right now), sign your Terra-Cotta Army book and then they will allow you to take their picture as well, one of the farmers is signing my book in the image above, very cool.

Before the Terra-Cotta Army there was a small village and Pomegranate growing fields. The villagers have all been relocated and a small tourist town now occupies the land.

The museum is just outside of Xi'an (pronounced she anne) China and receives 2 million tourists and visitors annually, the Queen Of England, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and me to name a few.


Our tour guide told us a couple interesting tidbits of info, a local person dressed up like a warrior and hid down amongst the figures, he managed to pull it off for quite awhile until someone saw him move and he was arrested, also apparently they had put a halt to the excavating because the warriors after being restored were losing their color, they have now figured out how to prevent that from happening and had just started to excavate a month before I arrived.


Besides soldiers, chariots and horses a large assortment of real armor, weapons, rare animal and bird figures and various types of pottery have been uncovered, as well as mass burial graves.


To keep the tomb a secret hundreds of officials and craftsmen involved in it's construction were buried alive with the dead Emperor. Just to the southwest of the mausoleum 42 mass graves have been uncovered, a lot of good the burying alive thing did, just 5 years after the Emperor's death General Xiang and his army looted and burned the Emperor's tomb destroying the Terra-Cotta Army.


The figures were created using molds and local clay heated to between 950 and 1050 degrees Celsius. The heads were made with 2 piece molds with the eyes, ears, mouth and hair added after to give each warrior their own individual look, actually there are some experts that say that real soldiers were used as models. I was so fascinated with that idea that I took a bunch of images using my telephoto lens, and they are all different, at least the images I collected, just think, when you are looking at the images below you could be looking into the face of someone that was an actual warrior back in the day!














I'll leave you with a video I took of the unforgettable event, notice at the beginning of the video I was told no pictures, still you can see the farmer signing some books before I turned off the camera, once inside the pits I was allowed to image again, but boy was it packed, had to push and shove my way into the front area, you can see where I almost lost my footing on a slope, all the area I could find to take pictures at the time, was also very hot, reached 40 c that day and wasn't much cooler in the building, very humid, you could smell the clay, added to the whole adventure.

Also look to the North East after darkness falls tonight , just under the W of Cassiopeia for the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower, could see as high as 40 meteors an hour, I'll be out trying to image them, should be a fairly good show.



78 comments:

Stephanie B said...

Way cool, Bob.

betchai said...

wow, i enjoyed all the information here and your pictures are wonderful. thanks a lot for always for sharing what you learned with us.

Moonshadow said...

Fascinating! It just boggles the mind who this was accomplished so very long ago. They have been made immortal in terra cotta, the soldiers.

Terracotta Warriors said...

Nice pics and post. In China one must visit eighth wonder of the world, the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. Xianyang village is digging well and suddenly came across wrecked ceramic figures. After detailed excavation was initially uncovered an oblong shaped pit area full with buried terra cotta warriors and horses that belonged to the Qin Dynasty. A row of outside facing warriors carrying crossbows, arrows and several far-distance firing weaponry located in the south, north and west of the passage. The third pit located north to the first pit and west of the second pit has a concave plane with pottery models. Tourists are banned from visiting the pits or touching the clay warriors.

FishHawk said...

With me being an absolute history nut, I find that site absolutely fascinating. I hope they get it completely excavated in our lifetime.

Tina said...

wow this is amazing. i love stuff like this. Truly fascinating. thanks for sharing your pics and video

globalwarming said...

:stars:nice post and very good a review,thanks for sharing!!!

Buggys said...

I was not even aware of this prior to reading your post. Fascinating! Great post, thanks for sharing.

PJ said...

the presentation you have put together here is outstanding! i find it all very fascinating. the faces of the soldiers do look real and individual. awesome bob, thank you!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Stephanie!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks betchai, enjoy doing this.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Cool isn't it Moonshadow, was a highlight of the trip for me to see this in person.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for dropping by Terracotta Warriors, it was amazing to be there, everyone should if possible see this is person, will always remember my visit.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks FishHawk, me too, they have a long way to go but at least they are back at it again.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey no problem Tina, was lots of fun doing the post, really enjoyed the visit and would do it again.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks globalwarming and thanks for dropping by.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Cool Buggys, I know a lot of people I have talked to since I got back weren't aware either, but after hearing they commented on how remarkable the whole thing is.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks PJ, great you liked the presentation, so much more I wanted to say but tried to keep it to the point and short, so much to see and do there, was very excited to actually be there in person.\m/\m/

Texas Travelers said...

I enjoyed this post a lot.
Great photos.

Thanks for the visit
Troy

kml said...

Wow - I never knew about that. It must take up a huge amount of space. It truly is a wonder!

We are setting the alarm to get up to watch the meteor showers tonight. Can't wait!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Troy, and thanks for dropping by.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, they do take up a lot of space, and good luck with the shower, I was rained out last night and looks like I will be again tonight, only shower I'll be seeing is rain :(

Shinade aka Jackie said...

If I had to choose one single place that I could go see this would definitely be up in the top 3 choices!!

Wow Bob what a trip!! That's all anyone can really say is..Wow and Awesome...you are leaving us speechless!!
Jackie:-)

Will said...

Amazing. I had never heard of this. Probably fortunate that it was found only recently in history. It seems like 9,000 laborers would have made 700,000 soldiers, not the other way around, but I guess labor was *cheap* back then...or free. :-(

Lynne said...

What an amazing discovery! I've always wanted to go see this, the history is incredible and it's hard to imagine the work that went into creating all those soldiers.

The Accessory Lady said...

This is incredible! Wonderful post and photos.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Jackie thanks a lot, I intend on going back some day, it had that effect on me.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Will, mostly free labor I'm thinking, then you get to be buried alive.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Lynne, It was an amazing discovery and to think it was just relatively recent on top of that.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Accessory Lady

kRiZ cPEc said...

they're impressive, aren't they?

Anne Vis said...

Great article, Bob! Beautiful shots! For some reason the video would not download, will try again later ...

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

OUTSTANDING Bob!!! I have always been fascinated by China's Terra-Cotta Army and you have written an AMAZING post. The photos ROCK!!!!


WOOT!!!

Have a super day. I am going to Twitter this post. :D

Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

They are and thanks for dropping by kRiZ.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anne, too bad about the video, if you haven't already you may want to try Firefox browser, it seems to work better then IE.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, and thanks for the twitter, I really have to look into twitter, seems everybody is using it.\m/\m/

Lynda Lehmann said...

bob, this is just fascinating! great fodder for a sci fi story, i think i'll start one tonight.

what is the actual name of this place? did i miss it?

i love your photos and the details of your account.

btw, i forgot to wish you a happy birthday last week!

wish i had my bobascope and deck ready to take in the meteor shower... :(

A Lil Enchanted said...

Hi Bob... I'm really enjoying your adventures in China... I'm so glad you got to take the trip. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I left you some love over on my blog :)

A Lil Enchanted,
~LaShan~

AngelBaby said...

Wow, This is something I have always wanted to see. Thank you for taking video and pictures of this it is so cool. Was it as exciting as you thought it would be to see this?

Have a wonderful day!

Love and Blessings,
AngelBaby

Swubird said...

Bob:

The most interesting piece of ancient art I have ever seen,and a great write up on your part. In fact, you could write a small book on the subject.

I have always found those statues very interesting. I truly think they should be added to the wonders of the world.

Happy trails.

zizzybob said...

Thanks so much for the tour. This army has always fascinated me.

Cashmere said...

Thanks for sharing! Reminds me of the latest Mummy movie.. ;P

Btw, I heard there was a meteor shower earlier.. Did u catch it?

Erik said...

Bob,
that's so cool. thanks for sharing.

Priyank said...

Awesome Bob! Can't imagine that many little warriors! The design is pretty intricate and they seem to have some sort of facial expression too.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lynda, now you got me excited about your story, knowing what you are capable of and all.

It is just called the Terra-Cotta Museum it is in Lintong County, Shaanxi Province if that helps,lol.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, hope you caught a few meteors, I was able to, was a good night.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Wow,thanks LaShan, I will be over to take a look, glad you like the China documentary, I am having lots of fun with it.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks AngelBaby, it was better then I could have hoped for, unforgettable to say the least.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, I have basically written a book with the last few posts, lol, they should classify it as the eighth wonder, some would like to.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks zizzybob, love your name.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Cashmere, great comparison with the mummy movies, love them too. Yes I did catch the shower and got some images, which I will post on my upcoming post.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Eric, thanks and no prob.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Priyank, yes, that is the coolest thing, every face is different.\m/\m/

John Maslowski said...

Amazing photo's Bob. A wealth of information from your fabulous trip to China. What an experience it must have been. Truly enjoyed your stunning work.

Sadia Hussain said...

Wow Bob, the eclipse you went to view surely resulted in unfolding a lot of interesting and exciting scenes!!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts , very informative complemented with excellent images !
Take care.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks a lot John, was an awesome time and a great photo op.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Sadia, I had a great time, so glad you liked the write ups, enjoyed doing them.\m/\m/

alinka said...

Very cool..

Blog Queen said...

This is so awesome. It's amazing how many different cultures and histories we have on this planet. Shameful that we have an opportunity to see so few

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks a lot alinka.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

So true Blog Queen, you don't think much about it till you actually visit another culture and see what you're missing.\m/\m/

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for dropping by Hapi.\m/\m/

Anna said...

Hey Bob you are too funny lol :'...the Queen Of England, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and me to name a few..' - glad you made the team. Thanks for telling the story, this is amazing. I really enjoy reading it. You know this is very interesting about actual faces of the soldiers. This reminds me, there is this altar in Poland carved from wood in 14th century, and the artists apparently used actual faces of people from the street - this is better than a picture, lol, lasts almost forever. Bob again excellent post. Anna :)

Marvin the Martian said...

That is truly amazing.

Max Coutinho said...

Hey Bob :D!

Wow: these are some great photos!

But tell me: how did you feel to be in such a historic place and what was the energy of the surroundings?

"For a donation you can get a founding farmer to, (get it, founding farmer, just made that up right now)," - LOL LOL LOL this was a good one! Very creative, Lord of the Astrostuff LOL :D!

It is true that the warriors look different...do you think they really (really) used real soldiers and covered them with clay? Oh man...*imagining such a thing*
In those days going to the tomb with an Emperor or king was considered a great honour, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of these 9,000 soldiers would have volunteered to turn into "clay" *nodding*.
In Africa (and other cultures) they used to send two virgins with the king, along with his possessions - so that he'd be comfortable in the after life...

Aaah, this week I was able to watch and hear the video! It is an amazing & grand site indeed: they knew how to do stuff in the past, let me tell you! Hey, I saw a camera in one corridor (in one of the pits)...was it a camera?
You have a nice voice, Bob; a sympathetic one too.
Thanks for sharing this with us: I loved it :D!

Cheers

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, that is cool about the alter in Poland, it means so much more to think you are looking at a face of some real person that was alive back in the day.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Marvin.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Max, it was an awesome feeling being there and yes you could feel the energy, mostly from the people around you all in amazement, very exciting.

Lol, no I think the soldiers just sat or stood while someone created the face on the statue from their likeness, lol, very interesting about the 2 virgins, I wonder if they went to their grave, or should I say the King's grave willingly.

Cool you were able to watch the video this time, yes they had cameras just about in every place and everywhere we went in China, I guess they had had problems in the past with people sneaking into the pits to get a closer look, so they placed camera's down there. Thanks for dropping by Max and have a great week!\m/\m/

Max Coutinho said...

Thanks, Bob :D!

Drowsey Monkey said...

Oh Bob - I can't believe you got to see that! Way cool! I saw a documentary on this - and was fascinated. I'm really enjoying visiting China thru your posts.

Bob Johnson said...

Way cool for sure Drowsey, it was fascinating, glad you like my adventures.\m/\m/

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I bought these foot soldiers at Shanghai Airport on my recent trip to China because they looked interesting. But not until I saw your post did I realize the amount of history associated with it. Now I wouldnt mind putting together a terra-cotta army in my living room showcase.

Peter said...

Hi Bob! Thanks again for showing me something that I will never get to see first hand.

To take these glorious shots at your own peril just goes to show what a great bloke you are.

Take Care,
Peter

Genie said...

Love seeing China through your eyes!!!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol L.Venkata, I wish I would have bought more but my suitcase was way too full.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, no prob, really enjoyed doing it.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Genie, was a lot of fun.\m/\m/

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