Monday, June 8, 2009

Marching Soldiers

Day 454
After breakfast I made a phone call. I had finally found a place with Skype and was able to chat with my parents. This was the first time in 3 weeks and it was wonderful to hear their voices. When we hung up I got a bus to the train station and then another bus to the Terracotta Warriors.

In 1974 a group of peasants were digging a well when they found an underground vault that eventually yeilded thousands of terracotta soldiers and horses in battle formation. You can meet one of the guys that is still alive and buy a book from him and take his picture, all for a price of course. Several years ago one of my friends was here and saw the man pick his nose. I didn't want to bother with him so I didn't even go in the building.

After getting my ticket and an audio guide I headed to the movie. Qin Shi Huang lived over 2 millenniums ago. He was the first person to unify China, ruling for 36 years. QSH created a centralized government, standardized measurements, currency and writing and well as building over 6400 km of roads and he conquered six major kingdoms. QSH did this all before turning 40. Despite these achievements he was a control freak who enslaved hundreds, ordered older written text burned and once buried 460 scholars alive. The Chinese remembered him mostly for the bad stuff prior to his tomb being discovered. Archeologists don't know if he was trying to protect his spirit from those that he had killed or if he was trying to take it all with him.

Also, all of the soldiers and horses were found broken and have been pieced back together. They are also still excavating the area and haven't yet gotten to QSH's tomb. Lastly every single warrior is unique from the others.

Pit 1 is the largest with 6000 warriors and horses. My ailing camera seemed to sense that it should be on its best behavior today. Most of the shots I got were ok. You can't get very close, but that's alright with me. I walked around the pit slowly taking photos from every angle. Some of the warriors had not been restored, it was really quite remarkable.

Pit 2 seems like its a large area but holds only 1300 warriors. There are 5 here that can be viewed up close. The detail is stunning. Pit 3 is the smallest with only 72 warriors and horses. Most of these are high ranking officials so it is thought that this is the command center. There was also a place where you could superimpose your head onto a warriors body. Creepy.

The last bit was a museum that started with massive puppets of a warrior hold a modern day girls hand. most of the museum was on the building of the warriors and excavation. There were a few pieces that had been found in the area on display as well. Perhaps the most disappointing bit was the end. The shops took up more space than the warriors!

After an hour ride back to Xi'an I walked back to my hostel. On the way I got a much needed haircut. It cost about $2.25 and the guy cutting my hair had one of his coworkers take pictures of the whole ordeal. When I got back ot the hostel I hung out a bit before grabbing my things and heading to the train station. I was really tired and looking forward to a good nights sleep.

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