Terra Cotta Warriors – Xian

Ecclesiastes 6:12 “For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?” (NIV)

Xian, China transitioned from small city to a metropolis beckoning tourists when the Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered in 1976. The farmer who found the first head and then the soldiers took the find to local officials. He received equivalent of $5 for the find, which was a small fortune. They now have 20,000 visitors per day from all over the world. The 2,200 year-old Tang dynasty had buried 6,000-life size, hand carved warriors to protect the Emperor in the afterlife. They had bronze and chrome coated weapons for each of the soldiers and were buried 2.5 meters deep covered with a roof and planted trees.   It will be another 50 years before they actually reach the Emperor’s tomb.

When they were discovered, the Chinese did not ask for help outside of China and archeologists left the warriors where they were exposed to the weather elements. Their colored armor faded. Viewing the damage, they built a monstrous structure over them. But the structure did not have the temperature and sun exposure controlled and more crumbling and disintegration occurred. All excavations are now in climate-controlled buildings, even as they actively find new soldiers. At one end of the largest building there is a terra cotta “hospital” where the pieces and parts of the soldiers are reassembled.

The soldiers were assembled facing out from all sides in long rows. The life size horses remained, but the wooden chariots had disintegrated. Each face was individually carved to look like a particular soldier. The hairstyles indicated their army rank and their uniforms and hand positions showed their positions. At the Xian Museum, there were other smaller one-foot high warriors that had been used to guard other Emperors into the afterlife, and they had brightly painted outfits.

You can visit a small factory of miniature and life size warriors being recreated and sold to the tourists. We bought a small one for a pastor, and someone in our group bought two large ones to be shipped to his home in North Carolina.


What is your protection in the after-life? What do you believe will happen to you when you die?

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