Although the Terracota army of Emperor Qin is the main attraction in Xian, there is another lesser known subterranean army that is just as, if not more impressive!
The underground army of Han Emperor Jing Di Liu Qi and Empress Wang Zhi at Yangling is six times larger, numbering around 40,000 individual figures and is supposed to have taken 28 years to construct!
Interred with the king in 141 BC around his Burial Mound, also still untouched – this is a swank museum built right over the 10 excavated pits (of the 81 in total!!)
The floor of the museum is clear glass and beneath your feet, half embedded in the trenches, lie these miniature, doll like figures of soldiers and animals! There are also stairs to a lower level for close up views.
These figures are one third the size of the Qin warriors and unlike them once had colorful silk attire and movable wooden limbs that have long since disintegrated!
Also unlike the Qin warriors the absence of jostling hordes of tourists makes for a more intimate viewing.
With its softly lit trenches, the limbless naked figures and their gentle smiling faces and the reverent hush that pervades the space, this special museum seems a fitting tribute to a benevolent emperor who ushered in peace and revived cultural freedom after the repressive regime of Qin!
Located just 40 km from the centre of town, towards the airport, Han Yangling Museum is well worth a stop on the way to or return from Xian! I would call it a “must do” on anyone’s Xian itinerary
Until next time…happy travels, no matter where life takes you!