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Home >> China Attractions >> Xian Attractions >> Terra-cotta warriors and horse museum

Terra-cotta warriors and horse museum

As one of ten tourist attractions in China, it is called "the eighth wonder of the world" and is listed as the Terra-cotta warriors and horse museumworld cultural heritage by UNESCO. In March, 1974, farmers from Xiyang VILLAGE, Yanzhai Township, Lintong County accidentally uncovered the potteries in the pits when they were digging wells 1.5km away from the Mausoleum of First Qin Emperor. The three pits with a total area of 22,780 square meters are tagged Pit1, Pit 2 and Pit 3 respectively in the order of their discoveries. The terra-cotta warriors and horses not only are tall in shape, but also were made precisely with accurate model and advanced techniques. Tens of thousands of unearthed real weapons which fall into complete categories are proved to be superb in technique.

The terracotta army was discovered by accident in 1974 at Xian, in China, when local farmers digging a well broke into a pit containing 6000 life-size terracotta figures. Excavation in 1976 revealed two further pits both filled with terracotta warriors. On the eastern side of the tomb a number of small pits have been found containing the bones of horses and smaller size terracotta figures of grooms. Since then discoveries have continued to be made at the site and to date the remains of nearly 8000 terracotta figures have been recovered.

There has been worldwide fascination in the discovery of the Terracotta Army and it is now regarded as the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World.

The terracotta army was guarding the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang di, who lived over 2200 years ago. He became famous for unifying the warring states into what is now China, and for becoming the country’s first emperor. He is remembered for instigating the building of the Great Wall of China, and the fanatical fear of death and an obsessive quest for the secret of immortality. This craze for life and the fear of death ultimately gave us the legacy of the terracotta warriors.

The terracotta warriors are unique. Not only are they life-size and individually modelled in clay, but the detail of the figures is astounding. Not only can we observe the construction of body armour of terracotta army, with even the heads of rivets standing out, but the soles of the shoes of the kneeling warriors are modeled with fine tread patterns. The hands and the heads of the terracotta warriors were made separately, and each head is reputed to be different and individual. Although all the warriors were in the pits they had been buried in, many of them were in pieces and have had to be restored. The museum technicians and craftsmen who undertook this difficult task often had to remodel parts to restore areas of the figures that were too badly damaged to be reconstructed.

About the Terracotta Warriors on display in the Terracotta Warriors Museum
Technicians and craftsmen have used the same techniques and skills to re-create the majority of the warriors for The Terracotta Warriors Museum, which form the highlight of the exhibition. The figures made in this way are in all respects identical to the originals having been made near the Emperor's tomb in the same clay and fired in the same way as the originals. The warriors stand up to 2 meters tall and weigh up to 300 kilograms.

The terracotta warriors featured on our display comprise of various types including crossbowmen, a charioteer, an officer and a general. The whole group of terracotta army is extremely impressive with audio programmes bring the discovery to life.

The Terracotta Warriors Museum in Dorchester, Dorset, is one of the only museums outside China exclusively dedicated to the amazing Terracotta Warriors. All the terracotta warriors displayed in the museum have been specially made for exhibition by the technicians of the Lintong Museum Cultural Relic Workshop, Xian, China, as well as workshops of the China National Arts & Crafts Corporation, Xian. Other terracotta warriors were specially created for the display in the museum workshops of World Heritage as were the costumed figures of the First Emperor and General Meng Tian together with the reconstructions of the armour, weapons and costumes.

The discovery of the terracotta warriors has gripped the imagination of people around the world. Those who have been fortunate to make the journey to the site at Xian in Shaanxi Province will never forget the experience. An experience which is now open to all who visit the museum.

Complementing the display of terracotta warriors is the imposing costumed figure Qin Shi Huang di - the first emperor of China with General Meng Tian. Both are in full costume and accompanied by other examples of recreated costume and armour representative of what would have been worn by the Royal Guard. In addition to this a reconstruction of part of an excavation scene shows a small section of one of the pits giving an idea how the figures were gradually unearthed from the soil. A journey through Chinese history illustrated with antiquities covering two millennia takes the visitor back to the time of Qin Shi Huang di. Multimedia and audio presentations inform and entertain. There is also an Advance Guard of half-size terracotta warriors representative of the many different types of the terracotta army.

The displays have been specially designed and created to tell the story of the terracotta warriors and their discovery, and to give a glimpse of the China of 2200 years ago. Some of the Warriors in the Museum have previously been displayed in major exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hampton Court and Jersey.

The Terracotta Warriors Museum displays are in 9 sections
1. Discovery
2. The Excavation - this display of a small section of figures in one of the pits gives some   idea how they were gradually unearthed from the soil.
3. A journey through Chinese history illustrated with antiquities covering two millennia.
4 & 5. General Meng Tian and Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China.
6. The Armoury - costumes & armour of the warriors.
7. Advance Guard - a group of half size terracotta warriors.
8. The life-size Terracotta Warriors, comprising Unarmoured Warrior and Crossbowman. Longbowman and Cavalryman. Three Crossbowmen and a Charioteer. Officer and General.
9. Stable boy excavated from a separate pit near the Emperor’s tomb at Mount Li.

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