From beijing we flew to Xian, a very ancient city and home of the Terra Cotta Army. There are several terra cotta armies, but this one is the most famous. There are three pits filled with terra cotta figures, life size and probably molded from actual soldiers in the army that protected the Emperor Quin Shi Huang in 246 BC. The Emperor thought that these soldiers would insure his survival as Emperor in the after life. They stood in rows just as they would have had they been defending the Emperor. Pit number one contained the infantry and the largest number of soldiers. Each figure held a bronze weapon and for this reason the pit was vandalized and burned shortly after the Emperor’s death for the weapons it contained. Pit number two contained chariots, horses, and soldiers and was probably the “light cavalry”. Pit number three contained officers and ceremonial objects and was probably ceremonial only. It had not been vandalized but earthquakes over the centuries have caved in the walls. All the terra cotta figures have been broken but they have been restored and placed back where they were found. Restoration is continuing. The Emperor’s tomb lies nearby and has not been excavated possibly because it may be surrounded by a river of mercury.

At Xian we were treated to a Dumpling dinner that is primarily for celebrations. We also visited a Mosque and a collection of drums. There are two towers, in one bells signal the rising sun and in the other drums signal the setting sun.

Celia Bell 2012