WE’VE COME TO XI’AN TO SEE THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS AND END UP BRINGING THEM HOME WITH US:
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an are one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century and although Xi’an has many other worthy attractions, these unique treasures are the main reason for visitors coming to this city.
The Making of Terracotta Warriors
Our program in Xian is jam-packed with activities but before going to the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, we make a morning stop at the Xi’an Art Ceramics & Lacquer Company. Here we have a quick tour of the factory to get a quick insight into the process for making terracotta warriors, which is interesting, but the real reason I suspect for stopping here is to lure us into doing some shopping.
Buying Terracotta Warriors
After the factory tour we find ourselves in a huge shop floor where terracotta warriors of various ranks and in different sizes are on display. It’s been estimated that the Terracotta Army consists of more than 8,000 soldiers of various military roles and each warrior has a unique face. It’s interesting trying to make out the differences in their facial expressions and the uniforms worn.
There are gift sets of two or three warriors in presentation boxes and these are not too expensive. And while most in our group are looking at the little souvenirs to take home, at the other end of the hall Tony has his eyes set on the bigger things.
A salesman, no taller than the medium-sized warrior, helpfully provides Tony with all the measurements of the different warriors. It’s at this stage that I realize that Tony’s not thinking of miniature warriors in presentation boxes, but the larger ones. I remind him that we certainly will not be able to fit the larger than life warriors in our apartment and so we compromise on the medium-sized ones.
Terracotta Warriors to Protect in the Afterlife
China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang had the army of warriors made to protect him in the afterlife, but for most of us these days we buy these terracotta warriors to decorate our homes or gardens so we have to find warriors whose faces we like and enjoy looking at.
The boss of the shop notices some keen interest on our part and comes over to be involved. It’s just as well as he’s the guy who can give the final okay on prices and we negotiate with him a price for the Emperor and Kneeling Archer that we like.
Once the deal is done, our helpful salesman measures up our warriors so that we know what we will be getting in a couple of months’ time.
I’m glad to say that our warriors arrived safely and within the two-month time frame indicated by the shop. They were so well sealed in foam and Tony had fun removing all the foam and packaging. The warriors are very heavy as well and we needed help from a neighbour to lift the Emperor onto his pedestal.
Tips for Buying Terracotta Warriors
If you intend buying the larger terracotta warriors which require shipping to your home, be aware that the shop will quote you a CIF price – that is the cost of the goods, insurance and freight to your destination port. What’s not included are the cost of port charges at destination, customs clearance, fumigation (if required) and import duty, if any. These costs are payable by you separately to the clearing agent in your home country. You should get a rough idea of what this cost will be from a local freight forwarding company so as not to be surprised.
I mention this because I read a Tripadvisor review where the individual who bought goods from this shop warned people not to buy from them as there were “hidden charges” that he was not aware of. Unfortunately, it’s probably the case of him not understanding what the term CIF means.