Where else but in China can you pay the guard two bucks and get to step into the exhibit and pose for a photo?
Discovered by accident by a well digger on a farm in the 1920′s, this archealogical find proved to be one of the most treasured in China. Built by the first emperor of China who was able to unify all of China’s resources after it was consolidated from several vassal states, Emperor Shihuangdi spared little expense in recreating his army to follow him into the afterlife.
Following the recommendation of my (western) tour book, I went through the exhibits backwards; the excavation pits are largest in order, 1, 2, & 3. Starting at the third pit lets you “lead up” to the larger exhibits. I am glad that I followed the recommendation as this third pit, while quite interesting might have been a let down after the second and third pits.
This pit was the operations headquarters for the army and likely contained the Generals and their staffs. Many of the warriors were damaged after collapses in the roof structure and some were in almost pristine condition.
Photographing the soldiers was not easy. The exhibits are very poorly lighted; I believe that this is done on purpose as the bright light fades the surface of the Terra Cotta Warriors. I did not have a tripod. But even if I did, it would have to be a full sized model as the guard rail was at least 4′ tall. I settled on opening my shutter for a long period of time. In these photos, I held the shutter for 6/10 of a second at f2.8
I was really surprised at how few Chinese were taking passable photos at the exhibits. They were all relying on their flash which only (slightly) illuminated the front warrior leave a dark and bleak photo in the back. A few watched with curiosity as I mounted my camera to the arm rail and captured some decent shots. But few of the Chinese followed my lead and seemed content with bad photos; they aren’t the Japanese, but I’m sure they’ll come along in a few decades…
No two warriors are alike, it is believed that they might have been modeled after the actual soldiers in the Emperor’s army.
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