I stood stunned by the sheer size of the army occupying my line of vision. I had never seen anything like it. To say that the floor shifted from beneath my feet would be an understatement. Fear gripped over me as the Terracotta Army glared back intensely. And although they are mere sculptures, the aura they possess is absolutely terrifying. Erected to protect China's first emperor, Ying Zheng, in his afterlife, the Terracotta Army in the Chinese city of Xi'an comprise of more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and over 500 horses.
The figures, dating back to the 3rd century BCE, are a sublime example of artistic brilliance. The sculptures vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle depending upon their role in the army with the tallest soldier being the general of this force. Zheng, who called himself Qin Shi Huang Di (First Qin Emperor), unified a host of warring kingdoms under his rule ushering a new era of prosperity into China with his development schemes. The elaborate mausoleum involved a mighty workforce of 700,000 labourers taking up to 40 years to complete.
The Terracotta Army museum, housing this extravagant army, is divided into four segments. The first segment is the largest and by far the most breathtaking. 6,000 men stand shoulder-to-shoulder with horses and the rest of the cavalry in support in this room. The vanguard followed by armoured soldiers accompanied by chariots makes this warring formation an impregnable one. If you look closely, each soldier has a different expression, facial feature, and gesture which detail the innumerable aspects of the Qin lifestyle from back in the day. Unfazed by death, the warriors of the Qin army valiantly sacrificed themselves in the name of the king. During his life, Qin Shi Huang Di brought the warring states together under one rule into what would be a glimpse of modern-day China. His major political and economic reforms aimed to establish equality in a society blessed with diverse practices.
The second and third segments consist of the more skilled warriors and higher-ranked officials. In the earlier, you can observe four different units of the Qin army. The precise archers are the first unit, followed by the chariots, while the third unit is a mix of the infantry, troopers, and chariots. The last unit consists of just troopers. The latter, on the other hand, holds the command post. High-ranking officials of the army took command from here with only 68 terracotta fighters occupying this space.
The necropolis is one of China's prominent highlights. Interestingly though, the Emperor's tomb remains undiscovered. There are theories floating around which suggest that his burial site could quite possibly be overflowing with unimaginable treasures. According to a Sima Qian, an early historian from the Han Dynasty, "The tomb was filled with models of palaces, pavilions and offices as well as fine vessels, precious stones and rarities".
To unravel the mysteries of the Terracotta Warriors, there are several tours you can join. The Two-Day Xi'an Panaromic Tour and Xi'an Ancient Relics Tour take you through the magical Chinese city of Xi'an while narrating its historical importance in the foundation of the Ancient Chinese kingdom.
Getting There: Though there aren't direct flights to Xi'an, once can get there through connecting flights from Beijing, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou. Cathay Pacific, Air China are some of the airlines that provde the service. The Terracotta Army Museum is about an hours drive from the Xi'an Airport.