Terracotta Army in Xi'an

Written by Sally Guo Updated Mar. 27, 2023

The Terracotta Army (officially named Emperor Qin's Mausoleum Site Museum) is a large collection of statues of warriors and horses located in Lintong District, 40 km northeast of Xi’an. There are more than 8,000 terracotta warriors, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

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Most Important Terracotta Army Facts

15 Interesting Facts About the Terracotta Army You Didn't Know

Why and When Was the Terracotta Army Built

The terracotta army was built to protect Emperor Qin Shihuang in his afterlife. The tomb started to build when Qin Shihuang ascended the throne when he was 13 in 247 BC.

The construction of the Emperor Qin Shihuang Tomb lasted 39 years and was completed in 208 BC.

Complete guide of Terracotta Army - Why and When it was Built.

What to See - Exhibit Vaults Inside the Terracotta Army Museum

There are four highlights in the museum, including three pits and the Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall. All are about 1.5 km east of the tomb of Emperor Qin. Pit 1 is the biggest and most crowded. Warriors and horses were designed and stationed as if to safeguard the tomb, facing east toward enemies.

The military organization is in accordance with ancient tactics. Every warrior differs in facial expression, clothing, hairstyle, and gestures. The position in which they are standing shows rank and level.

Vault 1 – More than 2,000 Warriors

As the largest and most impressive vault, vault 1 covers an area of 14,260 square meters, 230 meters long from east to west, 62 meters wide from north to south, and 5 meters deep. It’s assumed that vault 1 contains more than 8,000 terracotta warriors and horses, of which only 2,000 have been unearthed.

Vault 2 - The Greatest Variety of Warriors

Covering an area of about 6,000 square meters, warriors in pit 2 are in complex combat formations, consisting of cavalrymen, archers, chariots, horses, infantry, general warriors, standing archers, and kneeling archers. There are over 1,300 terracotta warriors and horses, about 80 chariots, and thousands of bronze weapons. It can be divided into the following four sections.

Vault 3 – A Command Center and the Best-preserved

Vault 3, the smallest, covers only 50 square meters. It’s a command center, consisting of high-ranking officers and a war chariot.

There is one chariot, along with 4 horses and 68 warriors. The battle formation here is different from in the other two pits, with 68 warriors lining the corridor.

Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall

There are two large-scale bronze chariots and horses here, discovered in 1980. They were encased in large wooden coffins for over two thousand years, without any corrosion. In October 1983, the exhibition hall was opened for visitors. The Bronze Chariots and Horses are the biggest ancient items of bronze-ware ever found in the world.

Bronze Chariots and Horses
Bronze Chariots and Horses

What Is the Story Behind the Terracotta Warriors?

There are some popular stories in ancient China about building the grand underground Terracotta Amy for Emperor Qin Shihuang. It is said that he is the first emperor to substitute actual human sacrifices with pottery figures in feudal society, he ordered his subordinates to build a large-scale mausoleum to perfect his afterlife.

The son of Emperor Qin - Qin Ershi was afraid that the artisans would reveal the secrets of the tomb, the workers were buried alive and become funerary objects.

Here are Stories About the First Emperor of China.

Excavated Underground Terracotta Army
Excavated Pit 1 Underground Terracotta Army

How to Make the Terracotta Warriors

The production of terracotta warriors and horses is basically divided into 6 steps. Pottery figurines are made of molds. After the clay sculpture is completed and dry in the shape, carved in detail with ears, mustaches, hair, clothes, and weapons, then fired in a kiln, Glazing, and colored with different pigments.

During the excavation of the Terracotta Warrior figures, archaeologists found there were many names carved on the bodies of pottery figures. Until now, there 85 names have been discovered and recognized. We can distinguish them as Gong Bing, Gong Jiang, etc.

This great discovery proved that the terracotta warriors were made by craftsmen with certain skills, recruited from all over the country. They engraved their names on their works for evaluating the quantity and quality.

Learn 6 Steps to Make Terracotta Army

Popular Terracotta Army Trips

Want to get to know the history of China? Go to Xi'an. Want to get to know about Xi'an? Not miss Terracotta Army! Please see our more popular trips to explore this ancient wonder:

We have developed some special activities in Xi'an, including discovering a mysterious place to have a close experience with a Terracotta Warrior. Contact us if you want to add these activities to your itinerary.

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for any inquiry

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How to Get to Terracotta Army and Travel Tips

1. Transportations:
A. Take direct Bus No. 306 from Xi’an Railway Station (no English-speaking steward on the bus) and get off at the Terracotta Warriors (Bing Ma Yong) stop. The bus runs from 07:00 to 19:00 and it takes about an hour to get to the destination.
B. Take Bus No. 307 at the South Gate of the Tang Paradise, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, or Banpo stop and get off at the Terracotta Warriors stop.
C. Book Private Xian to Terracotta Warriors Transfers.

2. Suggested visiting time: 2-4 hours

3. To avoid the crowds, you are advised to begin your trip at 08:30. It’s highly recommended not to visit in July or August, for that is summer vacation and the site will be crowded with students on holiday.

4. You are highly recommended to rent an audio guide if you visit Terracotta Army Museum by yourself, which can help you understand the history. (Rent: CNY 40 per person; deposit: CNY 100)

Terracotta Army Tour with Beijing and Shanghai

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