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Terracotta Warriors – Another World Wonder

A Chinese proverb says: If you want to know the history of the past century in China, you should go to Shanghai. But, if you want to know the country's history of the past 1,000 years, you should go to Xi'an, which was named "Chang'an" in ancient times.


This is a vivid description of China's history. As a world-famous ancient capital, Xi'an is a home to ground and underground cultural and historical relics.


One of the most famous was the site of the terracotta warriors at the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qinshihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).


The mausoleum, located in Lintong County, 35 kilometers east of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is regarded as "the eighth wonder of the world" and has been listed as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in December 1987. It draws millions of visitors from home and abroad every year.


This was believed the first imperial mausoleum in China. According to historical records, Qinshihuang mobilized 700,000 workers to build the mausoleum in 38 years.


In ancient China, climbing on top of the mausoleum is regarded as a kind of discourtesy because the ancestor was buried underground. Today, a platform has been built on the mausoleum to provide a place for visitors.


When a visitor stands on the roof of the 70-meter-high mausoleum and looks down on the panorama of the mausoleum which covers an area of 50 square kilometers, he may have a feeling of fear.


Nearly 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses along with tens of thousands of pieces of weaponry have been uncovered from three pits, where the terra-cotta warriors and horses have slept for almost 2,200 years.


The purpose of the warriors and horses, located less than a mile from the emperor's tomb, was to maintain and protect the spirit of Qin Shihuang, the first man to unite China, throughout eternity.


The mausoleum was accidentally discovered by a group of farmers in March 1974 when they were digging a well in the region. The Museum of Terrocotta Warriors at Qinshihuang Mausoleum has received 50 million Chinese and overseas visitors since the first three pits containing 8,000 terracotta warriors were opened to visitors in 1979.


The life-sized terracotta warriors that were buried along with Chinese emperor Qinshihuang nearly 2,000 years ago look like a revivatory corps that guard the emperor day and night.


Many terracotta warriors wore overcoats and armatures with each having a weapon in their hands. They also wore leather waistbands, a pair of square-rimmed shoes and leggings, a typical costume about 2,200 years ago.


The mausoleum was divided into two parts: the cemetery and the zone for tombs associated with Qin's grave. The tomb of Qinshihuang is located in the cemetery. The funerary zone, which surrounds the cemetery, covers more than 400 tombs bearing funerary objects, terracotta warriors and chariots.


More than 50,000 valuable funerary objects have been unearthed from the funerary zone in the past decades.


When Lee Kuan Yew, former Primer Minister of Singapore, visited the Mausoleum of Qinshihuang on May 14, 1976, he described the discovery of the mausoleum as a world wonder and national pride.


During a tour to the mausoleum, French President Jacques Chirac said there had been seven wonders in the world and that the discovery of the Qin Tombs can be regarded as the eighth wonder.


In his second tour to the mausoleum in 1991, Chirac said the terracotta warriors in Xi'an is a match for Athens and Rome.


(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2004)



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