Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Great China Adventure: Terracotta Warriors

Okay, so I'm pretty sure by now they've unearthed another thousand of Emperor Qin's army of terracotta warriors, but life has been super busy lately. However, seeing the remake of The Karate Kid, a classic from my childhood, had me reminiscing about my fabulous trip to China, and I realized I still had not posted about one of my very favorite, and most anticipated parts of the trip.

Located just outside the city of Xi'an in China's Shaanix province, The Terracotta Army is simply one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

Without further ado, the Terracotta Warriors:

This pit, Pit #1, is the largest of several that have been unearthed. So far, over 2000 warriors have been excavated, but there is an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 still buried in the enormous tomb of Emperor Qin. His actual burial place is over a mile away from where the Terracotta Army, which was built to guard him in the afterlife, was found.

My aunt and I took several trick camera shots with the warriors. I call this one "Good Little Soldier Boy." Brings back memories of junior high 4-H. I'm pretty sure someone would be shot on the spot if they tried to climb into the pit and touch the soldiers.

According to our tour guide, we were extremely lucky to visit the tomb on a day when the excavators were working. The tour guide had been to the site well over a hundred times, and this was his first time seeing the archeologists in action. The black you see is the ash from when the tomb was raided and burned several thousand years ago.

Several of the more complete statues are displayed in glass cases that allow visitors to really see the meticulousness that went into carving them. The detailing of these warriors is absolutely fascinating. Even more fascinating is that no two warriors are alike; every single one has different facial features.

The Kneeling Warrior is one of the most famous of the terracotta warriors. This particular warrior was well preserved and is one of the few that still has some of the color. Take a look at his armor; you'll see the traces of red. Before visiting the tomb, I had no idea the warriors were so elaborately painted.

You can see the detail of the warriors here. Check out the treads on the sole of the warrior's sandal. It's amazing to think of how long this took, especially when you think of the limited tools at the peoples' disposal at this time. It's estimated that around 700,000 people worked to build the tomb, and many were killed to protect the privacy of the emperor once it was done. Did I mention this emperor wasn't the nicest dude on the planet?

Something that isn't talked about much are the Bronze Charioteers. Several of these chariots were discovered in the caves as well. Again, the detailing was simply breathtaking.

Here's a close up of the charioteer. Unlike the life-sized terracotta warriors, the chariots are much smaller in size.

The highlight of my day was meeting and getting a picture with the farmer who discovered the pit in 1974 when drilling a well in search of water. He isn't always at the pit, so again, we were extremely lucky. Not only did I get a picture, but he also autographed the book I bought on the Terracotta Warriors.

When I decided to visit China, there were two things on my "must see" list: The Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. Neither of these disappointed. I still get goosebumps just thinking about the time I spent here.

I eventually want to post about visiting China's Cave People, which was also in Xi'an, and at least one post of the city that I refer to as "New York on Steroids": Shanghai.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Ten things to do while waiting for your next book contract

I'm over at Novel Spaces again with a very tongue-and-cheek post about Ten Things to do While Waiting for Your Next Book Contract. I realize that one of them should be "update your personal blog more often."

I know, I know, if my blog were my child Social Services would be knocking at my door, but the neglect won't continue for long. I promise to carve out more time. In the meantime, do drop by at Novel Space ever so often or follow me on Twitter if you're really up for some inane babble (warning, it reaches a new level there).