Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 110: Xi’an’s Terracotta Army - Thurs 13 Jun, 2013

Day 110: Xi’an’s Terracotta Army - Thurs 13 Jun, 2013

Happy Birthday son Justin! Sorry, no internet, no best wishes, and Viber says "signal blocked" (what road is it that’s paved with good intentions??)
Sign to Terracotta "Worriers" (have to look out for their big frowns!) 

Hired English-speaking guide Mr Mountain for our tour - warriors and tomb found on plains in front of 25km long "black hearse" mountains, in 21 pits over 58ha/acres; only half excavated to date, rest will take 200 yrs. 


Only unearthed in 1974, the displays were overwhelming in scope, and the condition of statues amazing (esp given force 8 earthquake in region 500yrs ago). They begin to deteriorate immediately upon exhumation, and there is a painstaking restoration effort in place (putting “jigsaws” together). Estimates suggest there are 8000 terracotta warriors, 130 wooden chariots, 520 horses (plus 150 cavalry horses) and weapons, the majority of which remained buried in the pits near Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum.

Mr Mountain's niece works in restoration


We looked into three pits: #1 held main army foot soldiers, most facing east towards enemy, one flank each side and one turned to rear; #2 was command headquarters; #3 was the newest. The earth-rammed partition walls hold indentations from crossbeams forming the wooden roof.
Indentations on top of walls from crossbeams

Positioned to face enemy attack
History is grateful not all pits were as seriously damaged

 “…The terracotta army figures were manufactured in workshops by government laborers and local craftsmen using local materials. Heads, arms, legs, and torsos were created separately and then assembled. Eight face moulds were most likely used, with clay added after assembly to provide individual facial features. (This characteristic alone gives the site it's unique place in the world). It is believed that the warriors' legs were made in much the same way that terracotta drainage pipes were manufactured at the time. This would classify the process as assembly line production, with specific parts manufactured and assembled after being fired, as opposed to crafting one solid piece and subsequently firing it. In those times of tight imperial control, each workshop was required to inscribe its name on items produced to ensure quality control. This has aided modern historians in verifying which workshops were commandeered to make tiles and other mundane items for the terracotta army. Upon completion, the terracotta figures were placed in the pits in precise military formation according to rank and duty. The terracotta figures are life-sized. They vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle in accordance with rank. (GirlRob found it fascinating that generals are the tallest!!!)

...Most originally held real weapons such as spears, swords, or crossbows. Originally, the figures were also painted with bright pigments, variously coloured pink, red, green, blue, black, brown, white and lilac. The coloured lacquer finish, individual facial features, and weapons used in producing these figures increased the figures' realism. Most of the original weapons were looted shortly after the creation of the army, or have rotted away, while the colour coating flaked off or greatly faded…”


Rest of complex contained Museum (impressive bronze charioteers), archaeological displays, cinema, gift shops (antiques plus replicas).  

Wanderoos are legends in their own lifetimes....
BoyRob made an impressive Terracotta Warrior!

Tired but well satisfied with our experience, we drove 80km down road to highway rest stop for camp with beautiful view of Hua Shan mountain. We don’t realise how effective has been Australia's “quit smoking campaign” until you hit the stale smell of cigarette smoke in public places....

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