The Terracotta Army, a form of funerary art, is a collection of terracotta sculptures representing the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. This collection of artworks is also known as the ‘Terracotta Warriors and Horses’, and has occupied a very important place in Chinese culture for centuries.
The life-sized figures depict the army that had prevailed over the other armies of ancient China and helped form a united China under the rule of the great emperor almost 2,200 years ago. The models arranged in battle formation vary in height according to their ranks and posts – the tallest being the generals.
Besides military figures of soldiers, warriors, chariots and horses, the terracotta army also holds non-military figures of officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. It is estimated that there are three major pits containing the Terracotta Army, which hold more than 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 150 cavalry horses and 520 horses altogether.
An impressive collection of sculptures, the Terracotta Army is deemed as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century and has put Xian on the map as a must-visit destination. Undoubtedly, it is one of the greatest archaeological sites as well. In 1987, it had been listed by UNESCO as one of the world cultural heritages.
History tells us that Emperor Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of 13 in 246 BC. The site of the Terracotta Army used to be the ancient capital of the Emperor, and was discovered on 29 March 1974. It lies at Xian in Shaanxi province, about 1.6 kilometres east of Emperor Qin’s tomb.
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