The Underground Army Of Han Yangling

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.

Han Yangling Museum, Xian
Close up of soldiers missing their wooden limbs.

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!

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Hi, I'm Madhu. Wanderer. Travel blogger. Story teller. Bitten late and hard by the travel bug, I am on a mission to make up for lost time.

66 thoughts on “The Underground Army Of Han Yangling

    1. Thank you so much! They were rather hard to photograph through the glass with my basic camera. Should be a breeze with your skills 🙂

    1. 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!!

      1. 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!

  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

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