Student Blog: The China Ten - Business Study Tour of China
Day 2 in Xian: The Terra-Cotta Experience
by Brad Ross '09
The China Ten woke fairly early to get a good start on a landmark day in our tour of China, visiting the terra-cotta warriors. But before we could see the emperor's clay army, Lucy [group's tour guide] had a factory tour lined up with the Kami Corporation.
The main product line of Kami consists of environment-friendly detergents and soaps used for common household activities. Although the company is not at an international level, Kami markets and ships its products across the entire country of China. Their main selling point is their determination to offer a product that is only made of natural, eco-friendly materials but still performs up to par with leading chemical-based brands. Kami has recently instituted its “double green strategy” which combines the EPE (Environment Protection Emblem) product certification and the Environmental Management system certification process. With the requirements of these certifications being abided by, the company has attracted national attention for their efforts and has passed the ISO14001. We were given the chance to sample many of Kami's fine products at the end of the tour. Angelica Frescia [a member of Catawba's China Ten] was very impressed by Kami's product line, especially their fruit and veggie cleanser due to her vegetarian beliefs.
Once we left Kami Corp., we began the long bus ride out to Emperor Qin's tomb where his terra-cotta army still resides. On the way, Lucy provided us with some useful information about the clay soldiers. Emperor Qin believed that if he was buried with his terra-cotta fighting force, that they would come to life and fight for him in the afterlife. Today, there are three sections, known as “pits,” that have been discovered to hold the warriors. Each terra-cotta soldier that resides in these pits portrays its own unique characteristics ranging from armor style to facial features. Emperor Qin also deemed it necessary to organize his army in traditional battle formation. For example, the general order of the warriors begins with the pike-bearing foot soldiers, followed by chariot men, followed by archers, and lastly, the commanding officers. Originally when created, the terra-cotta warriors were brightly painted and were given weapons according to their battlefield responsibility. But after Emperor Qin died and was buried, famine struck the land causing local farmers to rebel against authority. Desperate for weaponry, the rioting farmers broke into the terra-cotta pits, stealing almost every piece of armament they could find. The pits were then resealed and forgotten until 1974 when a group of local Chinese farmers stumbled upon the ancient army. The discovery marked the beginning of the world's greatest archeological dig.
On site at the terra-cotta exhibit was an unforgettable experience. Each of the three pits was enclosed inside its own temperature-controlled building which helps preserve the valuable artifacts. Upon entering pit one, I was awestruck by the sheer size of the building. The tourist walkways I traveled on ran the whole perimeter of the pit, allowing viewers to see every angle of the army. Unlike pits two and three, the majority of the terra-cotta warriors were in tact and in stellar condition. Seeing the thousands upon thousands of these clay soldiers organized in neat columns was enough to take my breath away. At another wing of the pit, archeologists were busy piecing together broken Terra-Cotta soldiers in order to eventually replace them back into the exhibit.
No trip to such a breathtaking destination would be complete without purchasing a keepsake at the local gift shop. With its own standalone building, the gift shop was almost as popular as seeing the warriors themselves. The big sellers among tourists were the handmade miniature terra-cotta soldiers available in every shape and size. These remakes were constructed using the same clay that the original warriors were formed from. Even though many of my fellow travelers decided to jump on the opportunity to own a mini warrior, I was reserving myself for a better memento. On the other side of the gift shop, they had a long counter lined with the official terra-cotta army history books. Rumor had it that every so often, one of the remaining farmers who rediscovered the clay army would sit in at the gift shop to autograph the books; fortunately enough for me, today one of those farmers was present at the counter! So with little hesitation, I paid the $12 USD for the book and had him autograph my copy. Sadly, the other two farmers who accompanied him during the discovery had passed away, so he was all that remained of the three. Lucy, impressed with my purchase, told me that we were very fortunate to catch him at the store that day because he too was getting old and making fewer appearances. So upon leaving the terra-cotta exhibit, I felt that I came away with not only a great experience that I would remember for a lifetime, but I was able to purchase the perfect keepsake.
With not much daylight left in our second day in Xian, we headed back to the hotel to repack and prepare for the flight to our final destination in China, Beijing. Though Xian was a very interesting city with a lot of history, I was ready to come full circle with my trip and end it with the climbing of The Great Wall in Beijing!
PHOTOS: The China Ten: Business Study Tour of China