The terra-cotta warriors of Xi'an were ordered by the Qin (Chin) emperor after whom the united China was named. Rank upon rank of cavalry, infantry and chariots were created to guard the emperor's privilege and power in the afterlife. It is estimated that it took 720,000 artisans forty years to create the terracotta men, weapons, chariots and Mongolian horses. Behind the haunting beauty of this art lies a story of profound violence. The Qin emperor was so cruel that he the killed the creators when their painstaking works were complete.
After his death, a general who had served him took revenge on the former boss who had put his father and son to death. The general first had his army take the real bronze weapons from the warriors. When they then attacked the tomb, figures were broken and the pit filled with ashes.
The first part of the tomb was discovered in 1974 by a farmer drilling for water, and the remainder came to light in 1976. The site was opened to visitors in 1979. Today, archaeologists from seven nations work as teams in a few pits. It can take three archaeologists nearly a year to reconstitute a single statue and set it back in its original place. The relatively small number of figures in the photo have taken forty years to restore. Vast numbers of others remain untouched below ground.