It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses.
Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum.
Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.