Authorities raiding a tourist attraction comprised of a fake terracotta army (all images by Meili Lintong via Lintong council’s Weibo)

China’s Lintong District is famed for its thousands of terracotta soldiers, found buried in the mausoleum of the country’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Some trusting tourists, however, have been visiting fake sculptures instead of the authentic, 3rd century BCE ones. The sham warriors are preserved in a museum complex, each replicated and installed to form a scam attraction.

Authorities raiding a tourist attraction comprised of a fake terracotta army

Authorities raided the site, located in the same area as the genuine terracotta army museum, on Wednesday, as Xinhua reported. There, they destroyed the display, which featured more than 40 copies of the warriors standing in a 600-square-meter (~6,500-square-foot) area — an exhibition that was probably pretty disappointing for any visitor who’s seen pictures of the intimidating army of funerary sculptures. At that location, you’ll also find an impressive gathering of terracotta horses and chariots, all created to guard the emperor in his afterlife.

Lintong district officials had reportedly received an online complaint about the display, known as the “Suyuanqinhuangling resort.” The operation also involved unlicensed guides who gave visitors tours as well as illegal taxis that drove people to the attraction, which had been in operatin for an uncertain period of time. Authorities have since posted images of the smashed figures on Weibo to illustrate their crackdown on scams in the nation’s tourist industry. The reaction, though, highlights broader, pretty telling attitudes: counterfeiting in China can be a celebrated cultural practice, but really, you may only get away with it as long as you focus on ripping off Western works.

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...