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The Terracotta Warriors is one of the most famous sights in China, and in the whole World. These life-size statues were built almost 2,200 years ago, around 206 BC. They were meant to be buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, to protect his spirit and peace in the afterlife. Once they were discovered in 1974, by a local farmer who was digging the ground for a well, they were quickly pronounced as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
The statues were found not far from the emperor’s Qin tomb. Instead of moving them – three large museum buildings were built around the three main pits where they were buried.
Most statues were broken into several pieces, and most of them were vandalized, and had their weapons stolen by local people hundreds of years ago.
The first of these three museum-pits was opened to public in 1979. It’s been said that there are around 8,000 statues, though more than half of them are still buried in the ground. The first, and the largest museum contains around 6,000 statues, though only about 2,000 of them are on display.
One of the most fascinating facts about the warriors was that none of them had the same… face. They were all completely unique, and even more so – they had different ranks. Some belonged to infantry, some were generals and officers, some were simple soldiers; there are also archers and even emperors. All of these ranks can be quickly identified by the different hairstyles that each had.
In addition, though they were made from terra-cotta (hence the name), the soldiers were originally painted in different colors, so they could appear even more “human-like”. Each also had a weapon made of bronze, holding in his hands, though most we’re stolen during several raids, as mentioned above. Some of the remaining weapons are displayed in the second pit and in the Shaanxi History Museum.
The original color was preserved when the soldiers were underground, but it quickly disappeared once they were brought to light. It is also interesting to note that the clay that was used to build them was extracted from the nearby mountains.
In additions to figures – there were also horses and chariots, but unfortunately most chariots have decayed.
As can be seen here – most warriors were broken and are in dire need of repair:
Lastly, the actual tomb of the emperor Qin has not been excavated yet and is located inside a small hill not far from the museum (there is a free shuttle that can take you there). It’s been determined that there is a very large amount of mercury, which is dangerous and poisonous, and it’s one of the reasons (among several others) why the site remains untouched.
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