Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Capturing Terracotta Warriors With A Smartphone

The Terracotta Warriors, a collection of life-sized clay soldiers created over 2,000 years ago to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor, became a global sensation when they were unveiled. In recent years, the warriors have traveled to museums around the world, including a stop in Wellington, New Zealand.

Visitors to the exhibit were able to marvel at the intricate details of the warriors and learn about their historical significance. I was also able to capture some stunning photos on my iPhone to show you how amazing they are and the quality of a basic iPhone for indoor photography.

I was lucky to be gifted a DSLR camera but the fun I have with my iPhone 6s and older compact camera proves that a good smartphone or compact camera will take a picture that gets your message across.

Photographing the Warriors

The fabulous hoard of Terracotta Warriors was first unearthed in 1974 by farmers and the excavation work on the massive site is still ongoing. It had been underground and untouched for almost 2,000 years.

Terracotta Warriors Smartphone image

The Qin dynasty was the first dynasty of Imperial China, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for its heartland in Qin state, the dynasty was founded by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin.


The display case with the Warriors inside was far inside the exhibition and I got to Te Papa early to make sure I got a good view before the crowds arrived. This provided an opportunity to take a good selection of pictures with no moving people in the background.

Terracotta Warriors Smartphone image

How are the Terracotta Warriors made?

The figures are all made from slabs of clay and each one is unique. Individual artists created them, because there are different marks on the figures, almost like signatures. The figures would be dried out in the sun befor being fired to become pottery figures.

The figure was originally painted with flesh tones for the face and hands, and vivid colours like red (Cinnabar), green (Malacite) and blue (Azurite). The sight of a whole army of the figures must have been quite a sight.

Terracotta Warriors Smartphone image
Armoured Crossbow Solider

This kneeling figure is armoured with dozens of plates and would have been in the front ranks of the army, holding a crossbow. These are the Emperor’s first line of defence against those who would attack him in the afterlife, as they would have been in a real battle.

Terracotta Warriors Smartphone image
Officer’s Elaborate Cap

No two figures are alike and the headdresses are an indicator of status. The more elaborate curled caps are often generals or senior officers. The head above is a general and you can see detail of the scarf around his neck.

Armour closeup Terracotta Warrior Smartphone image
Armour closeup Terracotta Warrior Smartphone image

I believe I managed to capture some of the amazing detail of the I am thankful to have been able to see a selection of the famous Terracotta Warriors in Wellington with my iPhone. My DSLR is a great tool but often my iPhone can be whipped out and a picture taken when a sophisticated camera might be too cumbersome or obtrusive for the museum.

Have you been pleased your ‘phone worked out for an event or show? Let me know.

7 thoughts on “Capturing Terracotta Warriors With A Smartphone”

  1. Great pictures, Marjorie, and such wonderful craftsmanship is well worth the sharing—thank you.

  2. WOW! Those warriors are so cool! I like that each one is unique – and not even made by the same people. I’d love to learn the history!

  3. I’ve always wanted to see those, they’re amazing! They have smaller replicas in Houston – haven’t made it to see those either. Wonderful photos as always.

  4. WOW, those are absolutely amazing and you really are lucky to see them!!! Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!


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