Similar to the famous terracotta warriors, the Jingdi Tomb holds the remains of Emperor Jingdi as well as a range of artefacts buried with him. However, the clay figures tend to be much smaller and portray scenes of common life in China – rather than the larger than life warriors buried with Qin ShiHuang. This reflects their very different legacies – Qin ShiHuang as the great conqueror who united China, and Jingdi who championed the rights of common people – although his reign was marred by rebellions and family conflicts.

Although it seems less grand and awe-inspiring than the terracotta warriors, I found the Jingdi Tomb much more fascinating. The miniature clay figures of common people going about activities such as faming gives an idea of what life was like in rural China at the time. Much value was put on livestock and food – evidenced by the many pig, oxen and horse statues buried with the emperor.

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The tomb itself has not been fully excavated, and in fact the museum (which contains windows into the excavated pits) is mostly underground – inside the huge burial mound itself. You can wander around the top of the mount and admire the gardens, views and court burial sites around the main tomb.

Being relatively unknown, we had the museum almost entirely to ourselves, without having to fight against crowds of tourists to take photos. The only negative I have is that the figurines are almost all behind glass screens and with very poor lighting, making it hard to see the details at times (although I guess these conditions are essential to help preserve the artefacts).

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I would really recommend combining your trip to the terracotta army with a detour via the Jingdi Tomb (both are relatively close, although you will need to take a taxi). Tourist bus #4 takes you from the centre of Xi’an to the Jingdi Tomb.

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