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Visiting Xi'an and the Terracotta Army

Travels in China, part 8

By Armando F Sanchez
Published on LatinoLA: November 18, 2013


Visiting Xi'an and the Terracotta Army


We arrived in the evening and as we started heading to the city we immediately saw several tall smokestack all in a row. We could see them putting out heavy smoke. A few seconds later we saw many new large apartment complexes that were still empty. The proximity of the living complex to the stacks was far too close for comfort. It took another half hour to arrive to our hotel and rest.

The next day we were taken to the world famous Terracota Army Museum. I had seen many programs on it. The pictures I saw were interesting but I was still not sure what to expect.

The background story is that a Chinese emperor in 210 BC wanted an army to take with him in his afterlife so he ordered the creation of a clay ceramic (terra-cotta) army made for him. It consisted of 8,000 soldier figurines. It also included 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. Each figurine was life size and unique. Caves were dug underground to house all the statutes. Once the emperor died individuals angry at him went in to smash and break the statues. This emperor started a war in order to unified the country but made quite a few enemies along the way. All, except one, of the figure were broken and the wood beams holding up the underground caves were set on fire. The structure collapsed and was forgotten. In 1974, a local farmer was digging a well for water and found one of the heads.

In China no one can own the land or whatever is beneath it so he reported his find and received the equivalent of two dollars from the government for his discovery. Currently that same farmer now sits at the museum charging $20 dollars to autograph the book about the discovery. He had quite a bit of persons asking for his autograph thus he is now doing quite well financially.

We entered the first museum and we were immediately taken in by the beauty of all the exposed figurines. This main museum is one of three. This main structure is about two football fields in length and in width. Only about a third of the excavation area is exposed. A public walk way was built all around the excavation perimeter. Since each statue was smashed it takes a long time to put each one together. It's truly amazing the amount of detail from head to feet that was put into each one. This is a fabulous location for any archeologist that likes working with big puzzles. We took many photographs and video of this huge site but none of them will do justice to it. We eventually moved along to visit the two other museums on the grounds and all we kept saying to each other was "Wow!".

One item that was highlighted as unusual and on display was a crossbow that was dug up here. What made this specific weapon very special is that a section of the metal on it had been chromed. This is a very baffling item since electricity is required in order to chrome plate. Let me mention again that this site was built 2,223 years ago. The mystery of them having the ability to create electricity and understand the process of applying chromium remains open.

We were overwhelmed by all we experienced today and were quite tired by the time we returned to our hotel. Before arriving we were reminded that we had a few hours to relax before we went to a restaurant to eat and thereafter see a folklore theatrical show representing the Tang Dynasty. It was a wonderful show of light, costumes and music. They played on beautiful musical instruments of that era.

Before falling asleep that night I began to realized just how much information I had been exposed to in just a few days. I felt very blessed to be immersed in such a distinctive and unique culture and that I still had a great deal more to see and learn about. It's both exhilarating and tiring and we will go forth with a great sense of curiosity.

About Armando F Sanchez:
Armando F Sanchez is CEO of Armando F Sanchez Production. His organization broadcasts global new media programming.
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