Top 10 Facts about the Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army is very mysterious and we have various questions about it: Why did Emperor Qin Shi Huang build such a large-scale tomb? Are these terracotta warriors all the same? Where is the Terracotta Army? Don't be puzzled, here are all the answers for you.

1. What Is the Terracotta Army?

Thousands of pottery warriors were buried underground for over 2,000 years. Were they just built to accompany and protect Emperor Qin Shi Huang? The answer is no. The ancient Chinese people believed there was an afterlife when people died. In order to keep the success, wealth, and enjoyable lifestyle for their next cycle, people stored their favorite belongings and precious treasures within their tombs as much as possible. The Terracotta Army is the most vivid example of the excessive attention given to the afterlife in ancient China.

xian The Terracotta Army

2. Why Not Bury Priceless Treasures Instead of Soldiers and Horses?

Different from other emperors, the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang was not only the ruler of the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC) but was also a great revolutionary and general who led his armies to unify China. Therefore, the most precious and proud milestone in his life was when he unified seven states and created a harmonious country. His army of warriors and horses were the best witnesses of his success so it seemed only natural that they should be the most suitable objects to accompany him upon his death.

3. Why Can't You Find Two Warriors That Are the Same?

Reputedly, when the farmer dug a well and first found a terracotta warrior it scared him because it was almost the same as a real person: it was the same size, had the same skin color, the same black hair, and a vivid expression. It was a terracotta warrior but, more importantly, it was also the guard of the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s soul. To give the terracotta warriors souls, their size, appearance, expressions, and poses were based on real people in the Qin Dynasty. If there was a form of population registration at that time, you would be able to find everyone's name on it.

xian One warrior in Terracotta Army

4. How Was the Terracotta Army Made?

To make every terracotta warrior different seems impossible. So how was it done in the Qin Dynasty? There were actually over 700,000 workers involved in this project, which included making molds for the legs, arms, and heads. In order to create the most vivid artworks, these artists lived with real armies for a long time. This was so that they could remember different soldiers’ looks and habits, and they could make numerous varying sculptures.

5. How Long Did It Take to Complete?

It took almost 40 years, from 246 to 206 BC, from the time Emperor Qin Shi Huang assumed the throne to 4 years after he had died. It was such a large-scale project that it still hadn't been completed before he died.

6. What Does the Terracotta Army Consist Of?

The scale of the number of sculptures in the Terracotta Army is astonishing — there are over 8,000 warriors. As well as thousands of soldiers, there are also sculptures of horses,  chariots, and over 40,000 weapons. All of them consist of details from many armies that were very powerful in ancient times.

xian The exhibition hall

7. They Were Colorful Before They Were Dug Up

Gray is not the authentic color of the Terracotta Army. In fact, they should be dressed in various clothes and painted in different colors according to their features and status. You can see that only a little color has been retained when you look at some of the sculptures and at photos. To display the most authentic version of the warriors, there is a model imitating what the real warriors would have looked like before they were excavated.

8. The Terracotta Army Is Only the Burial Pit for Emperor Qin Shi Huang

To our surprise, the Terracotta Army is only the burial pit and the real tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is still protected by the government. Because of the immaturity of technology, it's a pity that we can't have the opportunity to look at one of the most splendid and ancient royal tombs in China.

9. Why Was It Only Discovered by Accident?

When the Terracotta Army was discovered by local farmers, the worldwide archaeologists and history lovers were astonished. Why had such an important historic site only been discovered by accident? This is actually a misunderstanding. It's not because China's archaeologists didn't care about historic sites but because there were no records of them existing. Therefore, this finding was also a big surprise for Chinese historic researchers.

xian Sculptures of horses and chariots

10. Where Is the Terracotta Army?

It is located in Lintong District, Xi'an, about 1.5 kilometers east of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Xi'an is located in northwest China. From Beijing or Shanghai, it takes about 2 hours to get there by airplane and over 5 hours to take a high-speed train. Xi'an is not only home to the Terracotta Army but is the most ancient of the capitals of China. There, you can not only visit historic sites that date back thousands of years but you can also experience Chinese cultural and folk customs in various ways.

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