On my most recent trip to see the Warriors, I was able to spend a lot more time just taking pictures. On my first visit the place was crowded and well, it was my first time so I spent more time listening to Lily my guide and less time trying to push my way up to the railing to get some photos. Besides, the magnitude of the place made it seem more appropriate to try to capture the grandeur instead of the individual details. This time with my kid alongside and Lily regaling her with the historical details I was free to enjoy the minutiae which produce the genuine magnificence of the Warriors.

Rumor has it that if you can find two identical Warriors, the government will give you the statue of your choice and given that there are more than 6000 of them on site it’s probably a safe bet. From the vantage point of the walkways that surround the pits it’s clear that few of them even look enough alike to be related. You can see the ethnicity of the men – south people vs. north people – as well as all the tiny features that made each one of them unique. The shape of their eyes, the way their hair was braided. Infantry can be told from officer by the shape of their hat. Facial hair, eyebrows, scars, all little things that bring out their individual humanity. Scanning the thousands of faces is incredibly poignant – these were soldiers who fought and died in the name of their emperor and his political aims. It’s not known whether each statue represents an actual fighter or whether the artists copied each other into the mix as well, perhaps to create even more diversity. It hardly matters, what you see are emotions and expressions passed down over these 2000 years knitting an unbroken chain between us and them. Because over the course of two millennia, very little has actually changed when it comes to living, fighting and dying. Today, they stand there facing east, the direction of the afterworld of the time. The rear guard faces back, protecting the soldiers ever advancing forward. You expect to hear the sound of boots on the ground and horses galloping past but all you get is silence.