the xi’an art ceramics & lacquer company

Sunday, April 19:  This morning I’ve arranged to go on a tour to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, as well as a couple of other sites. Our guide is a young Chinese woman with the English name of Chelsea.  As I generally dislike large group tours, I’m pleased that this group consists of only five of us:  Dahlia and Mayan, a mother and daughter from Israel; Andrew, a British guy; and Mari, a Finnish lady who is living and working in Beihai. Our day starts as a rainy one, but we hop in a van and drive quite a distance outside of Xi’an.  By the time we arrive at the Xi’an Art Ceramics & Lacquer Company, it’s stopped raining.   We get to pose for pictures with our heads poking out of the terra-cotta warrior armor. 🙂

Me as Warrior

Me as Warrior

It turns out this is a state-run factory that’s been in operation since 1958. It reproduces terra-cotta warriors in sizes ranging from 4 inches to life-size, as well as a variety of ceramic figures, lacquered furniture, paper-cuts and silk hand-tied rugs.  We are greeted by some of the life-size warriors.

terra cotta warriors

terra-cotta warriors

One of the workers concentrates on carving details into the clay figures.

A woman carves terra cotta warriors

A woman carves terra-cotta warriors

We find a group of headless warriors waiting to be brought to life.

headless warriors

headless warriors

Some of the warriors are kneeling.  What’s interesting about these is that they are painted in colors resembling the original warriors. Later, when we go to see the actual Terra Cotta Warriors, we’ll find that their colors are no longer evident due to the passage of time and the exposure of the warriors to the atmosphere.

kneeling colorful warriors

kneeling colorful warriors

Our guide takes us outside to show us the kiln where the terra-cotta and other ceramic figures are fired.

the kiln

the kiln

The factory has all kinds of ceramic figures in addition to the warriors, including elegant Chinese ladies.

women figures

women figures

This woman is making some strange dragon/fish-like creature.

painting ceramics

painting ceramics

paint pots

paint pots

ceramic dragon

ceramic dragon

These large ceramic horses seem very vocal.  I’ve always loved horses so am tempted to take one home. 🙂

ceramic horses

ceramic horses

I do consider buying one of these cool creatures, but I resist the urge.  At least I have the picture!

little critters

little critters

I also like the Chinese lady figurines.

pretty painted ladies

pretty painted ladies

Of course, the terra-cotta warriors are the stars.  It’s too bad the real warriors no longer have their coloring.  I bet those would be even more amazing to see than they already are.

terra cotta warriors in the colors they might have been originally

terra-cotta warriors in the colors they might have been originally

life-size warriors

life-size warriors

I don’t buy anything, but Andrew buys some warrior figures for his children and Mari buys a picture and a couple of other gifts.  The two Israeli women are a little irritated because they made it clear to the hotel staff who arranged the tour that they didn’t want to stop at any souvenir shops, and yet here we are, right off the bat.  I don’t like stopping at these kinds of places either, but they always seem to come as part of a tour. Onward to see the Terra Cotta Warriors!

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Categories: Asia, China, Shaanxi, Xi'an, Xi'an Art Ceramics & Lacquer Factory | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “the xi’an art ceramics & lacquer company

  1. oh i love this post! i’d like to be next for that great photo op… wanna be a warrior, in fact i just told some brave women who are facing the ocean’s wrath that they’re warriors!

    i love the factory too, and i wish i could be there to watch/learn/ask if i could dabble with the different steps from a til finished..

    thanks for this! z

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    • I imagine you would love this workshop, Lisa, being the artist that you are! You are a warrior on your own; you don’t even need the warrior costume!!

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  2. I loved the horses, too! I would have bought one of the tiny ones! I love visiting pottery and porcelain factories no matter where they are. It is fascinating to see how things are made!

    Your little “dragoon” looked more like a Lhasa Apso dog though, with fancy styling!

    Israeli tourists are not good travelers in my experience, always complaining about something and generally quite arrogant about it. No one likes to feel “manipulated” into buying things but this factory was a bit different because of what you were going to see, so Of COURSE you would wind up in some sort of shop or factory to see how the warriors are made, that is part of any bus tour that stops anywhere you are able to manufacture a reproduction of some kind as a souvenir.

    People like that make me mad, but not as mad as the rotten British tourists in Tibet who paid the locals for photos with chocolate bars, as if they could buy food with that. Posing for tourists was their livelihood and being paid with candy is not acceptable under any circumstances – I asked them if that was how they got paid, but they ignored me, I was so angry. They were so ignorant about it I went insane, and gave the man who was posing for photos with his traditional costume and family and horse an extra ten dollars.

    This also happened in Oman with a camel safari. The British cheapskates would not pay the Omani camel owner a single baisa over what they paid for the ticket, despite him giving us an extra HOUR out in Wahiba Sands to watch the sun go down. I gave him a huge extra tip on top of the one I already gave him I was so embarrassed. Why are people so cheap and so nasty? And get this, these people were incredibly wealthy with horse farms, etc.

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    • Thanks for identifying that creature as a Lhasa Apso dog, Mona Lisa. I would have never been able to figure out what that was!

      As for the Israeli tourists and the factory tour, I really liked them quite a lot and I understood where they were coming from as they had specified before the tour that they didn’t want any factory stops. They were on a very short time limit in Xi’an and wanted to spend their time seeing the things that were important to them. I could understand that perfectly.

      As for the people who charge money to have their photos taken, I find it annoyingly touristy and I so often refrain from taking pictures in those cases because they’re not authentic. I guess different people feel differently about that, and I for one often refuse to pay someone for a picture, but then I usually don’t take the picture either. It’s all very complex for sure. As for the camel safari guy, he should have asked for a price that was fair to compensate him for his time and not depended on the generosity of tourists. Traveling is not cheap and if you tip and pay every single person who does anything for you, you can’t afford to go far!

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  3. You as a warrior is great! I love the vocal horses – you can just imagine what they are saying. 🙂

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  4. I loathe the souvenir stops on tours too, but in this instance I imagine it would be fascinating to see the production of these terracotta soldiers. And I may have been tempted to buy that colourful dragon/dog.

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    • I was tempted to buy a lot of things, Jude, but I don’t know why I didn’t. Indecision, I guess. It was interesting to see some of the production of the soldiers. 🙂

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  5. Fascinating post, Cathy. I think I might have had to buy a couple of those souveniers. You look really cute as a warrior. 🙂 xx

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  6. The worse souvenir shop I’ve been taken to was a place where pewter items were made, about as interesting as watching grass grow!
    I can’t wait to see your warrior post, in fact I’ve checked ahead to see if you’d done it yet 🙂

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    • Haha, Gilly. I’d love to go somewhere where something is as “interesting as watching grass grow!” I’ve done the Warrior post by now, but I think you already commented on it by now! 🙂

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  7. Tourist tat on a very grand scale, Cathy 🙂 I’ve got my toast now and some healthy melon to munch afterwards. Loved your smiling face behind the warrior!

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    • Thanks, Jo. It’s best I hide my chubby self behind the warrior. I was glad he was there to hide behind. 🙂

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      • Hi Cathy! 🙂 I owe you a visit (what’s new? 🙂 ) Just starting to draft up my walk. Were you home this weekend? It’s way too early here for cocktail hour 🙂

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      • Not much new here now, Jo. Just counting down the days: 24 as of today. I can’t do a cocktail hour tonight as I’m too exhausted. Hopefully I can get to it tomorrow. We have a three day weekend for Dragon Boat Festival, but I’m not venturing much out of my house because it’s way too hot and humid. 🙂 Enjoy your Monday walk! 🙂

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