Tuesday Travel: Richmond Terra Cotta Warriors

The Mister and I did a quick road trip to Richmond, VA to check out the terracotta warriors exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It was the day after Thanksgiving so there was traffic trekking up and down I-95 which probably contributed to the longer than usual travel time.


For those who enjoy history this was a fascinating collection of artifacts. The terracotta army was created by the 1st Emperor of China, Ying Zheng as part of his burial plot. More than 8,000 life-size soldiers composed of clay, along with their horses and chariots accompanied the Emperor into the afterlife. Lest we forget that this was an army, they were found in battle formation & equipped with weapons.

The Emperor created not only this extraordinary feat of life size soldiers, he created the national currency as well as a common written language. This was the real life version of Settlers of Catan.

One of the fascinating things that I learned was that originally the warriors were painted. The uniformity of the warriors made it difficult for me to view them so colorfully. If you make it to Richmond, the exhibit runs until March 11th with tickets costing $20 for adults to view this collection. Otherwise, admission to the museum to see the permanent collections is free.

terracotta army

terracotta chariot
This replica represented the emperor’s royal convoy.

terracotta chariot horse

vmfa vessels
Starting from the top left corner: a 7th century BC bell that produces different tones depending where the bell is struck; the right top corner is a flask with serpent designs from the 3rd century; the bottom left corner is a ritual bronze bowl from the 3rd century BC to offer food and grain to ancestors and the bottom right corner is a wine vessel used during rituals from 273 BC.

5 phases

armored infantryman
Armored infantryman were the best represented and he had a crossbow as a weapon. He would have stood behind the unarmored infantry and chariots.
armored charioteer
This charioteer commanded troops & calvary groups. His outstretched arms would have held the reins attached to the deposed wooden chariot.
kneeling archer
The kneeling archer is the most animated of all of the poses.
standing archer
Standing archer

horse soldier

Yes, I took a close up shot of the horse’s tail. Look at the detail!
stable attendant
Stable attendant. It was found inside a small coffin next to the skeletal remains of a horse. It was buried to take care of the horse in the afterlife.
limestone plates
Made of hand cut limestone tiles & connected with copper wire, this armor weighs nearly 40 pounds and took an estimated 300+ hours to assemble.

It was spectacular to see such craftsmanship that has been so well preserved and to think that these items were created when there was no modern equipment – true artisans!

If you make it out there, let me know what you think!


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