Located just west of Houston of IH-10 in the suburb of Katy,
Texas, is the Forbidden Gardens, a little bit of China in Houston.
It is open on Fri, Sat, & Sun only and a guided tour is included
with the admission. Tours start on the hour from 11-3 and the
museum is open from 10-5, but admissions close at 3:30. It's
privately funded, costing over $40 million to construct and
located on over 80 acres of land. It's a lovely place to spend
a day with good weather.
This lonely sentinel keeps watch on the outside of the moat
that surrounds the entrance. You walk over a bridge into the
ticket gate beyond which is a large plaza.
A lion and a foo dog keep watch over the sunny plaza. It
has a gift shop on one side, exhibits on the others as well
as gates. One gate goes out to the replica of Qin's tomb on
the side and the other to the pavilion housing the replica
of the Forbidden City.
At the very back of his troops sits the Emperor Qin. He
was the first to succeed in unifying China, in the 200 BCs.
He began the work on the Great Wall. To accompany him in his
tomb, he had his army replicated in terra cotta.
This terracotta army consisted of 8,099 life-sized figures,
each unique, presumably modeled after real soldiers and horses.
It was discovered in 1974 near Xian, and is designated as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Farmers building a well discovered the first shards of terra
cotta. Some of the complex is yet to be excavated, but what
we have today is truly amazing. Placed to help Qin rule in
the afterlife, the figures were constructed over a 38-year
period. Altogether, about 700,000 workers were believed to
have been involved in constructing the entire mausoleum complex.
The figures vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle according
to rank and were placed in pits in precise military formation
according to rank and duty. Originally, each had a colored
lacquer finish and real weapons and armor, although the weapons
were stolen and the color is now gone.
According to Chinese historians, about five years after
Qin's death, General Xiang Yu raided the tomb complex and set
fire to it. The blaze is reported to have lasted for three
months. Wooden support timbers collapsed, but much of the Terracotta
Army survived relatively intact. The reins, harnessing, and
wagon for these figures no longer exist.
The exhibit here has about 6,000 soldiers and most are scale
models. A few, like this archer are life-sized.
The life-sized statues seem so real, in part because of
the varying details fo their poses, attire, faces, and expressions.
Even the horses are different
Frozen in time, this cart driver was urging on his team