On March 29, 1974, the first in an extensive collection of terra-cotta warriors was discovered in Xian, China. Local farmers came across pieces of a clay figure, and these shards led to the discovery of an ancient tomb, vast in its size and number of artifacts. The tomb was ordered to be built by Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. The portion containing his remains are still unexcavated.
In the part of the tomb that has been excavated, thousands of sculptures of horses and warriors in full armor stand in battle formation. The warriors are life-size, with most about two-meters (six-feet) tall. The sculptures weigh up to 272 kilograms (600 pounds) each. Each warrior has unique characteristics—facial features, hairstyle, clothing, and pose.
In recent years, museums outside China have hosted exhibitions featuring a small number of the terra-cotta warriors. The warriors in Xian remain in their original positions facing east, the direction from which the emperor’s enemies had come.