Monday, 4 August 2014

The Terracotta Warriors

Our guide explained to us that the Terracotta Warriors were approximately 2,250 years old.  The Chinese are prone to exaggerating numbers - the year is only 2014.

We knew this would be our last attractions in China, and it would be one of the oldest. The mighty terracotta armies of Shi Huangdi - the first emperor. We had seen these figures all around Xi'an, and we would finally see the real thing. Traveling by taxi to the excavation site, we bought our tickets from the booth. The lady asked if we were students - I technically was, as I was learning Chinese by home correspondence, so I was given a discount. Asking us if we wanted a guide, we accepted. She left the booth and became our guide. She helped us learn a lot about the history of the region, the emperor and the site. We also talked about the significance of jade, which was very apparent around Xi'an, and its New Zealand counterpart - Greenstone. In both cultures it is a symbol of nobility. It is elegant, without being too ornate. Its sophistication lies in its simplicity.

Experiencing the who site is a gruelling journey, especially during a busy day. Despite being in a very large hangar, we were drowning in sweat from the endless torrents of bustling people. The guide certainly made the experience more interesting - we at least had an idea of what we were looking at. At the gift shop was a farmer, signing books at a stand that claimed he was of the last surviving farmers who discovered the warriors. There are talks of fakes, pretending to be one of the originals, bearing 'no photography' signs above them, but this one let us take a photo (65), so I do not know if he is the real deal or not.