Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chuck Visits the Terra Cotta Warriors

This photo captures the immensity of Pit 1, the first of four pits that encompass the Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit.

           Sometimes the only way I can get Chuck to do something is to trick him by making it seem as if it were his idea.  
When we flew into Xian, the home of the Terra Cotta Warriors, I had a plan.
I knew that the Chuckster would have little appreciation for an exhibit filled with clay figures if we dragged him to it, but if we made it seem as if it were his idea . . . 
So first I had to do my research and then try to lure him with the facts.
This is what I discovered about the Terra Cotta Warriors:
The terra cotta figures were buried in 210 BC by the first Emperor of China because he believed he needed protection after he died.  He also wanted someone to rule over in the next life.  The historians say the Emperor began this project when he was thirteen years old.  
That’s pretty cool, right?
So, imagine, these figures were buried underneath the ground until . . . a group of farmers were digging a well in 1974 and discovered them.  How many? 
All in all, once the archaeologists and scientists were alerted to the find, they found 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, 130 cavalry horses and other non-military figures of musicians, acrobats, etc.  The figures were built to be life-size and were brightly painted.  Experts believe that the figures were put together in a kind of assembly line production, long before we used that method of production in the western world. 

Although the figures were made in a kind of assembly line production style, their faces were each styled to be unique.
They also discovered weapons that would have been used by the soldiers, including swords that even after 2,000 years were rust free because of the way they were constructed.  
The most amazing statistic of all is that history documents that the Emperor used 700,000 workers to complete this mausoleum, which also included a miniature version of his palace.  
I wasn’t sure how much of this story Chuckie would appreciate, but I underestimated the kid.  He was enthralled.  And it seems that he’s not alone.  There are several historic collections that can draw a big crowd these days.  Wikipedia reports that the Tutankhamun exhibit in 1972 and the RMS Titanic exhibit, along with the Terra Cotta Warriors, are the three most popular exhibits and draw record crowds wherever they go.  
The Terra Cotta Warrior Exhibit, as it is called, grew up around where it was discovered, where the Emperor decided to place his mausoleum, in the countryside outside of Xian.  It’s still in the process of being excavated and is comprised of four separate pit areas filled with terra cotta figures. 
When we arrived and entered the first pit, the crush of people straining to see the figures was intense.  But then as we walked around the pit, the crowds thinned out, and we were able to see the figures up close and in more detail.  

This figure was taken out of the pit and encased behind plastic so that you could see him up close and personal.

Not that close, of course.  You can’t actually touch them.  In fact, only high dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth are actually allowed inside the pit to see them up really close. 

You can see the workers in blue busily assembling the Terra Cotta Warriors in the pit as the "tourists" observe from above.

That’s what Chuckie wanted to do--sniff around inside the pit.  But cat behavior like that was completely out of the question. 
Nevertheless, Chuck had two favorites.  He liked the horses.  Toward the back of the pit, out of eyeshot of most visitors and guards, Chuck was able to really see one horse exhibit in particular.  Craning his face out of my smart bag, he could see the intricate markings on the skin of the horses, designed to make them appear real.

Chuckie just loved the horses.

He also liked looking down into the pit and seeing the broken fragments that hadn’t yet been unearthed and put together yet.  Some of what you could see was a bit eerie.  Heads sticking up out of the ground, as if the soldiers had been buried in the ground, alive, their bodies hidden in the dirt.  But, no, you are only seeing a fragment lying there in the pit that will eventually be reassembled with other fragments to make a whole soldier. 

A good shot to illustrate the broken pieces that are unearthed by the archaeologists.

This figure looked as if he'd been buried alive.

  As we traipsed around the pit, Chinese archaeologists in blue outfits were busy working below us.  
After we had circled around the first pit, there were three other pits to see.  This mausoleum was immense. 
During the entire time, I continued to harbor this strange feeling that Chuck was itching to get out and run down there in the pit and sniff around a bit, but I held onto him.
         Sometimes he has the craziest ideas.  

To read more about Chuck, the rascal cat, log onto www.katelutter.com.

My paranormal romance, Wild Point Island, is now available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.  I promise you a fun read. Click here to read the reader reviews.  Average: 4 1/2 stars.

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