Terracotta Army Xian

Ancient History: Terracotta Army is a Must See Attraction in Xi’an

China is a very ancient civilization besides, Egypt, Babylon, and India. The most populated country today. China has a profound culture with 3600 years of written history. China holds a vast as well as varied landscape. Moreover, its unique and harmonious existence mesmerizes the entire world. The Terracotta Army was built in Xi’an. The capital of the Shaanxi province Xi’an is a place of great attraction for foreigners. Moreover, it is also known to be the birthplace of Chinese civilization. This ancient city Xi’an was the capital of thirteen imperial provinces at one time. The constructions left by the first king of this are restored to date. Lying in north-central China, overlooking the silk route, Xi’an has existed from ancient times as a great flourishing area of modern times. 

Terracotta Army Xian

Why Terracotta Army?

A must-see attraction existing in Xi’an is the Terracotta Army. It is a myth about the afterlife which existed in ancient times. Even after death, the first emperor had his tomb surrounded with thousands of terracotta life-like models, horses, and chariots. These detailed models were replicas of Qin ShiHuang’s soldiers. While buying the tomb of the first emperor the models of the army were buried too. About 720,000 workers were employed for the construction of these ancient relics in 246-206 BC.

Terraccotta Army Xian

Who Invented The Idea of the Terracotta Army?

The idea evolved from the wish of the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. His name was Qin Shi Huang. He reunited China after ten years of battle with warring states. Probably the name China emerged from his name. Moreover, his reign over the Qin dynasty ranged between 226 to 203 BC. He remained unpopular because of his triumphant nature. He killed millions of people and burnt valuable literature to emerge as the most efficient. During his reign, his court yielded more power and wealth.

After his death, he wanted his army to accompany him in the light of life after death. Unlike other dynasties he preferred false humans ie. known as Terracotta Army. Not only the army Qin Shi Huang completed building the Great Wall of China before death.

The cavalry figurines in Pit No. 2 of Terracotta Army

Brief Background of The First Emperor

Legalism was the political philosophy the residents of Qin believed in. That refers to centralized control of the Qin dynasty as well as strengthening public power. Huang was born in the Qin dynasty when plans were already in the pipeline for the conquest of the Warring States. Huang’s predecessors were already preparing themselves for war. They built a huge construction, and people’s persuasion to join the army was a part. Moreover, people started preparing advanced weapons which could be used.

Qin Shi Juang was born in the Qin community and soon adopted the political philosophy. He was the son of the reigning king of the Qin Kingdom. Soon ascended to power and prepared himself for retaliation.  

Terraccotta Army Xian

 Legacy of the First Emperor Founder of Terracotta Army

  • For over15 years the Qin’s jurisdiction existed. The Qin’s court was able to reinstate harmony among the people. They made great standardization 0f money, measurement. Currency etc. Moreover, they built a huge infrastructure. Regions prospered later based on the great construction projects implemented by the Qins.
  • Not everything was good. To build such a huge construction millions died. There was a population drop of 50 percent. A lot of ancient literature was destroyed. So were educated scholars who went against were killed.
The magnificent Pit No. 1 of Terracotta Army

Attractions Within the Terracotta Army and Horses Museum

Besides the Exhibition hall, there are three more vaults/pits to see. You get to see the bronze chariots at the exhibition hall which remains crowded with tourists. It was allowed for visitors’ entry in 1979. Moreover, you would be able to catch the best view of the vault/pit from the corners in front.

  • The first vault/pit is the most impressive and largest among all. Furthermore, it is as big as an airplane hanger. The statues of the soldiers totaling 6000 only less than 2000 are on display. The statues depict the economic, cultural, and military strengths of that time. Notably, all the soldiers are facing the eastern side as if the opponents are approaching from that end. Each of the army soldiers has weapons like spar and daggers. Riding a horse.

The soldiers are found to be forming a rectangular array with the vanguards forming the east most column. The soldiers were arranged around all sides of the tomb. All the soldiers have different expressions, so do their attire and hairstyle. It proves the parts were made elsewhere before placing them in situ. Behind them, the main armies on horse-driven chariots were found.

Dimensionally the vault/pit is 120X62 meters long. Further, the pits below ground vary 4.5 or 6.5 meters. Nine corridors made of earthen walls at a gap of 2.5 meters can be found.

  • In the second vault/pit, the mystery behind the array formation of the army gets uncovered. It is located 20 meters away from the first vault/pit. It has built up areas each 6000 sq meter and 5 meters, depth. Kneeling and standing archers can be seen in the first array. Chariots from the second array. The third is a mixed array. Chariots, infantry, and troopers are arranged in a rectangular fashion. The last row consists of the troopers standing with weapons in hand. It was founded in 1976.
  • The third vault/pit is the smallest. There are around 68 terracotta figures, many without heads but clearly define their figures. Some are without ahead. But their dressing represents they belong to the command post.
Terraccotta Army Xian

Description of the Bronze Chariots

There are two chariots on display in the exhibition hall. They were found in December 1980 just on the west side of Qin Shinuang’s tomb, just 20 meters away. Moreover, these chariots were properly restored before display. Four horses each were engaged to pull the chariot. Further, each chariot has 3400 parts, Dimensionally the second chariot is 1.06 meters high and 3.17meters in length.

The horses pulling the chariot are made of bronze. The weight of each of them is 1.234 kgs. However, though length remains fixed i.e 120cm, Besides, golden and silver ornaments adore the chariot. 1720 pieces of ornaments, weighing 7kgs can be found. Inland the chariots are well-reputed as the best-pressed bronze relic of all times. 

The bronze chariots

History of Terracotta Army 

The construction of the terracotta army began in 246 BC. Moreover, the intention was to protect the first emperor’s tomb. The first emperor died in 210BC. Around 702,000 skilled workers completed the task and took forty years to complete. The Discovery of the Terracotta Army was made by a farmer in 1974. While excavation pit 1 was discovered. Further excavation is 1976, exposing Pits 2 and 3. A museum was built at the excavation site that was opened to the public in 1979. Additionally, the First Emperor’s Tomb as well as the terracotta army was declared a World’s heritage site in 1987. The auxiliary museums mushroomed after 2011.

Terraccotta Army Xian

Why the Terracotta Army

To safeguard the emperor in the afterlife the terracotta armies were built. During his lifetime whatever military power he had wished to continue the same after his death. He had a strong military power who helped him to unite China as well as warning the neighboring states from interfering. Even after death, he wanted the power to be with him. Earlier traditions involved human burial along with the emperor’s death, Especially the human sacrifice was common for Zhou and Shian races. Omitting the human sacrifice part, The Terracotta Army was buried to imitate the old culture.

An archeologist is restoring Terracotta Army

How the Terracotta Army got Built? 

From the headless figures, the body was found to be intact. After detailed research, the archaeologists identified how the life-like figures were made. All the body parts were made separately mostly using molds Then they got assembled in situ. Clay was applied at joints and left for artists for hairstyle and clothing. Further finishing the heat treatment was done to solidify more. Later on, they were brightly painted. However, the paints have faded with time. Almost after 2000 years of burial.

A statue with bright paint

Distinctive Features of Terracotta Army

According to the rank, the features of the figures changed. Besides, clothing, facial expression, and hairstyle also changed.

  • The Faces: There are eight types of face adopted rank-wise. Moreover, each style adopted was Chinese. Moreover, the shape of the Terracotta Army is narrow and elongated.
  • Hairstyle reflected a lot about social status and ranks in ancient times. The hairstyle of armies depends on ranking as well as service arms. Generally, two types can be seen. One with hairs tied in bun formation on the right side of the head. The other type is covering hair with a plat then using a cloth cap to cover up. For tying up the buns band. Pins or ribbons were used.
  • Dress: Dressing patterns shown in the figures are different. From the pattern of dressing, you can identify the military service he performs. For the General, beneath the armored robe, there were two layers of robes inside. To prevent chest, back, or shoulder injury the armed robe was worn. Their shoes had a squarish shape, light wet, and curved tip. Only one general could be traced from Pit 1 & 2. Similarly, the armored warriors wore armored robes covered with turtlenecks. Besides, to protect from head injuries, caps were designed which were heavily armored. 

The cavalrymen can be identified from the pillbox caps. They wear scarves around their neck. Moreover, they have light armors in front and back. Their shoes are especially soft, roundish at toes are roundish to avoid getting hurt while boarding. Further, the chariot drivers who regulate the horses needed special protection. Their extended arms and hands were at a greater risk of getting hurt. Additionally, they wore helmets to protect the backside of the neck

  • Weapons: The figures were mostly found equipped with real weapons. Dagger, swords, spears, etc. made out of bronze could be found. From the sharpness of weapons found today, it is evident that those were treated for anti-rust and longevity. Astonishingly the weapons survived 2000 years.
Terraccotta Army Xian

New Laws For Visitors to Terracotta Army Museum

It is to be noted that new rules have been imposed since 1st May 2019. To control the traffic the museum has introduced a real-name ticketing system. The tickets will be issued to 65000 tourists per day. Allows only one and a half hours. To confirm your visit and slot you are suggested to make an online prior booking.

Terracotta Army Visitors take photos in Pit No. 1

FAQs About Terracotta Army

Q1. Why has it been named Terracotta Army?

A 1. The reason it is named so is that the life-like figures are made from a special type of clay called Terracotta. Moreover, their orientation of figurines is as per their role and duty. 

Q2. Why was the Terracotta Army built?

A2. It was a show-off of the emperor’s status. These figurines were expected to serve him in his afterlife.

Q3. How many soldiers, horses, and chariots have been excavated to date/

A3. A lot more needs to be excavated. However presently 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses can be viewed.

Q4. How old is the Terracotta Army?

A4. These were made during Qin Shi Huang’s time (the first emperor) i.e. almost 2200 years back.

Senior military official of Terracotta Army

FAQs for Visitors to Museum     

Q1. How much time do you need to complete the visit?

A1. It is preferred 3 hrs but new regulations might allow you less

Q2. Expected visit without queue?

A2. On weekdays in the afternoon is the best time to avoid queues. Most of the people take a lunch break during this time.

Q3. Whether photography will be allowed within the museum?

A3. As long you don’t use your flash camera or tripods, you can take photos inside

Q4.Planning for a day trip to Terracotta Army viewing from Beijing or Shanghai, is it possible?

A4. Yes, it is possible to avail flights for early morning and depart by night flight. Alternatively, you can board night buses to Xi’an and from Xi’an. 

Terracotta Army Xian


Visiting China would remain incomplete if you don’t visit Xi’an. The latter is a place that houses numerous heritage sites. Moreover, the restoration process is appreciable. The visitors are about the glorious history of emperors in the olden days. The first emperor Qin Shihuang has built the Great Wall of China as well as the Terracotta Army which has fascinated visitors from previous times. Ancient historical sights like the Terracotta Army have come to know partially. With preceding, excavation people might encounter further surprises.

So fun to make your own terracotta Army

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