Xi’an is the capital of the Shaanxi Province in central China. This large city has been the chosen capital of multiple Chinese dynasties. The real draw of the place, however, is its fascinating Terracotta Army or Bingmayong.


I visited Xi’an on a trip to China with my family and close family friends, in April 2019. We covered Beijing and Shanghai and spent a night in Xi’an. China is a cultural experience beyond anything you’ve imagined. It was like being transported to a different world. Though the entire trip was memorable, this visit really stood out.


The grimy streets and crowded by lanes of Xi’an were so unlike the orchestrated sparkle of Beijing and the slickness of Shanghai; that even our short visit seemed too much when we arrived.


There were rows upon rows of massive statues of men in full military dress holding weapons. Each statue was life-sized and completely life-like; with unique expressions, some angry, some serene, some sad. Each statue was dressed according to its military rank; and carried an assortment of weapons, no two soldiers with the exact same. The peripheries of the room housed other items that were found buried along with the army, as well as explanations of this wondrous exhibit in Chinese and English.


Having studied China’s ‘Middle Kingdom’ philosophy in my History Honours course, I was amazed to experience it in person. The philosophy describes China’s belief of being the centre of the world for centuries. This made them feel that they were superior to other countries, and also ensured that they remained self-sufficient, without resorting to trade of any kind. Further, its leaders imagined themselves to be divine, deserving of a royal coterie after their death.


The crowds and grime were a small price to pay, to witness a magnificent and unforgettable piece of history