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, houses around 40,000 individual figures, and is supposed to have taken 28 years to construct!
The army was interred with the king in 141 BC around his burial mound that is still untouched. The swank museum sits 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 columns of miniature doll like figures of clay soldiers and animals!
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! Another distinct difference between the two sites is the the absence of jostling hordes of tourists that makes for a more intimate viewing.
With its softly lit trenches, the limbless naked figures with 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 center of town towards the airport, Han Yangling Museum, in my opinion, should be an unmissable part of any Xian itinerary.
Until next time…happy travels, no matter where life takes you!
66 thoughts on “The Underground Army Of Han Yangling”
beautiful photos and write up! It is tempting me go back to xian!
Thank you Mimo!
Wow! Great photos! I wish to photograph this place too. Someday. 🙂
Thank you so much! They were rather hard to photograph through the glass with my basic camera. Should be a breeze with your skills 🙂
Do you know the original purpose or intent of these “armies”? I don’t.
The ancient Chinese believed that their life after death would continue just as it did on earth so they made sure they had everything they needed to ensure the same comfort and status that they had enjoyed in real life! Including replicas of their palaces, armies, the entire landscape of the kingdom in the case of Qin!!
This makes perfect sense. Thank you.
You are welcome 🙂
It is funny to see how this idea is repeated in a lot of ancient cultures, or almost in all of them….
Wonderful and fascinant post!
This post is Brilliant 🙂
Appreciate your saying so Jake! Thank you!
Fascinating photos and historical account, thanks!
Glad you think so Marcia!
Amazing! I had no idea that this existed, but I now have it noted down for the future. Very well shown in your series of photos, too.
Thanks Andrew! Appreciate your dropping by to comment!
Oh, wow. Just amazing. How fascinating that these ancient people created such detailed and beautiful art sculptors. Just beautiful. thanks.
It is amazing! Thank you for your comments
Amazing pictures, Madhu! I have been reading about and wanting to see the terracota army ever since I saw it featured on a travel show on TLC. China is high on my list of places to visit. There are so many places I want to see, I don’t how or when, though. Your blog will keep me happy till then 🙂
Thanks Meenakshi! Delighted to have you follow my journeys 🙂
Beautiful pictures, Madhu! I hope to visit China too someday… 😉
Thanks Malou! Hope you do that soon 🙂
Wow Madhu, I never knew that this even existed! Strangely enough, it reminds me of something I’ve seen in contemporary Chinese art… I believe there’s an artist who uses some very similar figures. Great post, as always!
Many thanks James! Not very familiar with Chinese contemporary art except for a few paintings of hutongs we saw in Bejing. Would you have the name of the artist? Thanks again!
These are fantastic photos and on my to do list… Thanks for sharing them so beautifully. 😉
Thank you! Glad you liked them!
Wow, this was a great post documenting your exploration of the museum. Your blog is also very well put-together. Your photos are great and your post is very well-written. After reading your post, if I were to visit this part of China, I would definitely try to look up the Han Yangling Museum!
Really nice of you to say so! Thank you so much!
You’re welcome 🙂
Wow! Definitely something new i’ve learnt today! Didn’t know there’s is an even larger burial site than the Terracotta Army. Fantastic photos. Will comeback for more 🙂
Thank you Amer!
Thank you David! And welcome to my blog!
wow … how awesome is that? I’ve always wanted to go there. thanks for sharing these amazing pics!
Thank YOU for reading Stephen!
Excellently documented !
Thank you Ranadive!
I was in Xian during Feb 2012. I went to Han Yang Ling but my camera couldn’t take as fine a photo as yours did. This mausoleum is fairly new and few tourists make the effort to see it. I was in a tour of Chinese visitors. We had to squeeze in this place, Fa Men Si and Qian Ling all in one day. The impression of the Han era, a very domesticized and peaceful regime is vastly different from the monumental Qin terracotta warrior pits. I’ll go back again.
You should. This site in particular demands quiet contemplation. Such a pity that you were rushed around. That is the primary reason we eschew tour groups when we travel. Appreciate your stopping by to comment at length Lu Pei! Hope to see you around!
Thanks Madhu how fascinating!
We enjoyed these little warriors even more than the grander terracotta army! Thank you for checking it out.
During the era of Han dynasty, China had some contact with the Roman Empire.
Thank you for letting me know! And thanks also for the visit and comment! Hope to see you around 🙂
Wow this place just went on my ‘List of things to see’. Thanks for sharing.
It is an absolute ‘must do’ on any China trip in my opinion! Thanks for stopping by.
Absolutely! My pleasure 🙂
I had never heard of this place. I wish our guide had taken us there, as it looks so wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing, and great pics. 😉
You are most welcome AD. I had read up about this museum and requested to be taken there in advance. It really was a special place.
I went to Xian, but I wish I went to this place, too! The history is so interesting! Thanks for sharing!
I want to visit Xian one day. So rich in history.
You captured them beautifully in spite of having just a basic camera ,;). You have seen so many things, and I have wondered how many days a year you travel and if you do some sport to be in shape for all this sightseeing and touring :D. I worked as a tour guide for 5 summers when I was very young, and I remember how exhausting it can be… I am not saying that it is not compensated with all the amazing and exciting things you see on your trips, but still… makes me wonder 🙂
Beautifully written post!
You have such amazing journey’s.
Goodamn superb Blog.. Keep everything up
Wow. I spent a couple of months travelling China but it just shows you that this country has so much more to offer. Xian was one of my favourite places, can’t believe I missed this!
Wow, I would love to visit here. I love visiting places out of the “tourist” box.
enjoy reading your blog and so thought would pass some of that appreciation along by nominating you for the “sisterhood of the world bloggers award”.
if you are interested, more details here: http://merrytogoaround.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/
I’m glad you brought this impressive historical treasure into view through your blog, Madhu. I hear China is beautiful. I hope to visit someday. Keep up the good work!
We saw the Terra Cotta army in Xian, and knew nothing of this sight and museum. I’m sorry we missed it, and am glad for the photo essay. ~James
awesome photos..Wish to visit this place some day :)thanks for sharing !!!
Such an amazing museum,,,interesting…i would like to visit this place..its a once a life time opportunity.Thanks for sharing this.
We went to see the Terracotta Army when a part of it visited Toronto. The exhibition was fascinating and interesting (of course I am one of those people who read those little bits that are displayed in front of every item).
I’ve seen a video of that on the Discovery Channel. Amazing!