Terracotta Warriors & Ancient Beauty @ Xi’an : Travel Ideas

Life-like clay warriors of the terracotta kind

Xian has been the capital city of many of the ancient Chinese dynasties throughout the historical timeline, notably in Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty, Sui Dynasty & Tang Dynasty. It is no wonder that the city is filled with a treasure trove of antiques. And of course, tonnes of interesting stories.  

Every great city has the great warrior, accompanied by the beauty too. Not to be outdone, Xian obviously has both

  • the most famous warriors of all – the Terracotta Warriors, set up as a after-life for Emperor Qin Shi Huang, accompanied by
  • Concubine Yang – the slightly rounded concubine with body odour issue, nevertheless the emperor’s favourite

Terracotta Warriors Mausoleum & Museum

The terracotta warriors were found by accident during an exploration to develop the area in the 1970s. Subsequently, further studies are completed to excavate, preserve & research these tall clay-like warriors guarding over the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

The Excavated Pit
Tourist route…

Many myths surrounded the death of Emperor Qin, who was obsessed with immortality as he got in with age. Sages were said to introduce mercurial dosage in their elixir for Emperor Qin, ultimately leading to his earlier death. His tomb is also rumoured to be surrounded by a sea of mercury of which these terracotta warriors are to stand guard against.

As close as you can get to the terracotta

The features of the terracotta warriors are unique in each individual clay, standing tall at more than 7 feet. Even the chariots with the horses are made to be so life-like. In Agent C’s imagination, it is as if these are real people cursed into rocks or clays at their peak.  I was not sure whether the remaining treasures inside the pits are replicas or the real thing, but it sure looks impressive & grand to me.

Horses built for the terracotta army
One of the chariots excavated

The mausoleum itself is quite impressive, sitting on a large-scale land, with further research on-going around the area. There are pits opened for tourists (at least 3, I think), of which the main ones are covered to protect the treasures inside. We went for the biggest pit, whereby we access the entrance which directly led to the excavated area with the life-like warriors facing us. Taking a stroll and going along the rectangular pathway to admire the grandeur of the ancient kingdom, all the while listening to the audio guide giving more stories.

Looking as if an army is preparing for war!

The main excavated sites are located inside the mausoleum, which is a little over 40 km from city centre of Xi’an. Even more than a decade ago, we took the public bus transportation as we wanted to experience the journey along the way. It is pretty easy as there are tourist bus lines going direct to the attraction.

There are many movies & series that link the terracotta warriors, including The Myths. Link to the theme song below:


Huaqing Pool

On the way back, we dropped off not too far away from the Mausoleum from the tourist bus lines to visit the Huaqing Pool. The Huaqing Pool is famous during the Tang Dynasty, being a favourite of Concubine Yang Huan – one of the 4 ancient Chinese beauties. The “palace” used to be filled with water from the hotspring, whereby baths & rest-houses were built around them. Subsequently, the gardens & pavilions were added in to beautify the palace.

Beautified Huaqing Pool
Tang Dynasty olden days spring bath. Looks too small to me!

There are many stories about Concubine Yang, many about her peculiarities and many indications of the pure luxurious life led by the emperor and his harem. Concubine Yang was originally married off to the Emperor’s son Li Mao at 14. As the emperor had his roving eyes on the pretty maiden, he eventually arranged for her to be a nun for a period of time before bestowing her as a concubine. She is estimated to be ~ 60 kg and probably curvaceous with a specific body odour.


Outdoor stage to entertain the royalty

There was also the story of how Concubine Yang’s favourite fruit lychee was delivered fresh from the south, at the expense of the horse’s lives which were made to continuously travel the long distances without any break.

Comparing the lives of a beauty and the warrior, the warrior obviously had it worse – what with guarding a autocratic Emperor Qin at the mausoleum with a river of mercury surrounding them (and no beauty inside the mausoleum!).

The ancient city of Xi’an has many interesting attractions to offer. Visit the old lanes during market time filled with aromatic barbequed meat as snacks. Meet the Huis at the mosque with unique chinese-looking architecture. Drop by the a courtyard to take a sip at the old quarters at city centre. Take a bicycle at sunset along the (very wide) wall surrounding Xi’an. Catch a glimpse of Xi’an’s bell tower right in the middle of the road. Looking forward to visiting Xi’an again!

Friday prayers for the Huis
An old courtyard in the old quarter of Xi’an
Cycling on top of the Walled of Xi’an

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