Terracotta Army
Overview
 
The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

, the first Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

. It is a form of funerary art
Funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...

 buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 province, near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor .

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals.
Encyclopedia
The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

, the first Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

. It is a form of funerary art
Funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...

 buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 province, near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor .

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariot
Chariot (Ancient China)
The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot ...

s and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.

Background

was discovered in the spring of 1974 to the east of Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

 in Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 province by a group of farmers when they were digging a water well around 1 miles (1.6 km) east of the Qin emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li
Mount Li
Mount Li is a mountain located in the northwest of Xi'an in Shaanxi Province, China. The mountain is part of the Qinling mountain range and rises to a height of 1302 metres above sea level...

 (Lishan), a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses. For centuries, there had been occasional reports of pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis
Necropolis
A necropolis is a large cemetery or burial ground, usually including structural tombs. The word comes from the Greek νεκρόπολις - nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead"...

 — roofing tiles, bricks, and chunks of masonry — having been dug up in the area. This most recent discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, and they unearthed the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China.

In addition to the warriors, an entire man-made necropolis for the emperor has also been found around the first emperor's tomb mound. The tomb mound is located at the foot of Mount Li as an earthen pyramid
Chinese pyramids
Chinese pyramids are ancient mausoleums and burial mounds built to house the remains of several early emperors of China and their imperial relatives. About 38 of them are located around - north-west of Xi'an, on the Qin Chuan Plains in Shaanxi Province...

, and the Qin Shi Huangdi’s necropolis complex was constructed as a microcosm of his imperial palace or compound. It consists of several offices, halls, stables and other structures placed around the tomb mound which is surrounded by two solidly built rammed earth
Rammed earth
Rammed earth, also known as taipa , tapial , and pisé , is a technique for building walls using the raw materials of earth, chalk, lime and gravel. It is an ancient building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and natural building methods...

 walls with gateway entrances. Up to 5 meters (16 feet) of reddish, sandy soil had accumulated over the site in the two millennia following its construction, but archaeologists found evidence of earlier disturbances at the site. During the digs near the Mount Li burial mound, archaeologists found several graves dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where diggers had apparently struck terracotta fragments which were then discarded as worthless back into the back-filled soil.

According to historian Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

 (145-90 BC), work on this mausoleum began in 246 BC soon after Emperor Qin ascended the throne (then aged 13), and the full construction later involved 700,000 workers. Geographer Li Daoyuan
Li Daoyuan
Li Daoyuan was a Chinese geographer during thetimes of the Northern Wei Dynasty. He is known as the author ofthe Commentary to the River Classic ....

, six centuries after the death of the First Emperor, recorded in Shui Jing Zhu
Shui Jing Zhu
Shui Jing Zhu is a work on the ancient geography of China. It is an annotated and much expanded version of an older text, the Shui Jing , which has been lost.The annotated version was compiled by Li Daoyuan Shui Jing Zhu is a work on the ancient geography of China. It is an annotated and much...

that Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology: "... famed for its jade mines, its northen side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the First Emperor, envious of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there". Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

, in his most famous work, Shiji, completed a century after the mausoleum completion, wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, towers, officials, valuable artefacts and wonderful objects. According to this account, there were 100 rivers simulated with flowing mercury, and above them the ceiling was decorated with heavenly bodies below which were the features of the land. Some translations of this passage refer to "models" or "imitations," those words however weren't used in the original text with no mention of the terracotta army.
Recent scientific work at the site has found high levels of mercury in the soil of the tomb mound, giving some credence to Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

's account of the emperor's tomb. The tomb of Shi Huangdi appears to be a hermetically sealed space that is as big as a football pitch and located underneath the pyramidal tomb mound. The tomb remains unopened, one possible reason may be concerns about the preservation of valuable artifacts once the tomb is opened. For example, after their excavation, the painted surface present on some figures of the terracotta army began to flake and fade. Later historical accounts suggested that the tomb had been looted by Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

, a contender for the throne, and other people after the death of the emperor, however there are indications that the tomb may not have been plundered.

Only a portion of the site is presently excavated, and photos and video recordings are prohibited in some viewing areas. Only a few foreign dignitaries, such as Queen Elizabeth II, have been permitted to walk through the pits to observe the army at close quarters.

Construction of figures

The terracotta army figures were manufactured in workshops by government laborers and by local craftsmen, and the material used to make the terracotta warriors originated on Mount Li. The head, arms, legs and torsos were created separately and then assembled. Studies show that eight face moulds
Molding (process)
Molding or moulding is the process of manufacturing by shaping pliable raw material using a rigid frame or model called a pattern....

 were most likely used, and then clay was added to provide individual facial features. Once assembled, intricate features such as facial expressions were added. It is believed that their legs were made in much the same way that terracotta drainage pipes were manufactured at the time. This would make it an assembly line
Assembly line
An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which parts are added to a product in a sequential manner using optimally planned logistics to create a finished product much faster than with handcrafting-type methods...

 production, with specific parts manufactured and assembled after being fired, as opposed to crafting one solid piece and subsequently firing it. In those times of tight imperial control, each workshop was required to inscribe its name on items produced to ensure quality control. This has aided modern historians in verifying that workshops that once made tiles and other mundane items were commandeered to work on the terracotta army. Upon completion, the terracotta figures were placed in the pits in precise military formation according to rank and duty.

The terracotta figures are life-sized. They vary in height, uniform and hairstyle in accordance with rank. Most originally held real weapons such as spears, swords, or crossbows. The figures were also originally painted with bright pigments, variously coloured in pink, red, green, blue, black, brown, white and lilac. The coloured lacquer finish, individual facial features, and actual weapons used in producing these figures created a realistic appearance. Most of the original weapons were thought to have been looted shortly after the creation of the army, or have rotted away, and the colour coating has flaked off or greatly faded. However, their existence serves as a testament to the amount of labor and skill involved in their construction.

Pits

There are four main pits associated with the terracotta army. These pits are located about 1.5 km east of the burial mound and are about 7 metres deep. The army is placed as if to protect the tomb from the east, where all the Qin Emperor's conquered states lay. Pit one, which is 230 metres long and 62 metres wide, contains the main army of more than 6,000 figures. Pit one has 11 corridors, most of which are over 3 metres wide, and paved with small bricks with a wooden ceiling supported by large beams and posts. This design was also used for the tombs of noblemen and would have resembled palace hallways. The wooden ceilings were covered with reed mats and layers of clay for waterproofing, and then mounded with more soil making them, when built, about 2 to 3 metres higher than ground level. Pit two has cavalry and infantry units as well as war chariots and is thought to represent a military guard. Pit three is the command post, with high ranking officers and a war chariot. Pit four is empty, seemingly left unfinished by its builders.

Some of the figures in pit one and two showed fire damage and remains of burnt ceiling rafters have also been found; these, together with the missing weapons, have been taken as evidence of the reported looting by Xiang Yu and its subsequent burning. The burning is thought to cause the collapse of the roof which crushed the army figures below, and the terracotta figures presently displayed have been reconstructed from fragments of the crushed figures.

A large number of other pits which formed the necropolis have also been excavated. These pits may lie within or outside the walls surrounding the tomb mound. These accessory pits variously contain bronze carriages, terracotta figures of entertainers such as acrobats and strongmen, officials, stone armour suits, burials sites of horses, rare animals, and labourers, as well as bronze cranes and ducks in an underground park.

Findings

Weapons such as swords, spears, battle-axe, scimitars, shields, crossbows and arrowheads were found at the pits of the terracotta warriors. Some of these weapons such as the swords are still very sharp and found to be coated with chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

 oxide. This layer of chromium oxide is 10-15 micrometre thick and has kept the swords rust-free and in pristine condition after 2,000 years. Chromium only came to the attention of westerners in the 18th century. Many swords contain an alloy of copper, tin and other elements including nickel, magnesium, and cobalt. A Qin crossbow arrow is estimated to have a range of 800 metres.

Exhibitions

A collection of 120 objects from the mausoleum and 20 terracotta warriors were displayed at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 in London as its special exhibition "The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army" from September 13, 2007 to April 2008. This Terracotta Army exhibition made 2008 the British Museum's most successful year ever, and made the British Museum the United Kingdom's top cultural attraction between 2007-08. The exhibition also brought in the most visitors to the British Museum since the King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

 exhibition in 1972. It was reported that the initial batch of pre-bookable tickets to the Terracotta Army exhibition sold out so fast that the museum extended the exhibition until midnight on Thursdays to Sundays. According to The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, many people had to be turned away from the exhibition, despite viewings until midnight. During the day of events to mark the Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

, the crush was so intense that the gates to the museum had to be shut. The Terracotta Army has been described as the only other set of historic artifacts (along with the remnants of ruins of the RMS Titanic) which can draw a crowd simply on the back of the name alone.

A number of terracotta warriors and other artifacts were exhibited to the public at the Forum de Barcelona in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 between May 9 and September 26, 2004, and it was their most successful exhibition ever. The same exhibition was then presented at the Fundación Canal de Isabel II in Madrid between October 2004 and January 2005 and it was also their most successful ever by number of visitors. In December 2009 - January 2010 the exhibition was shown in the Centro Cultural La Moneda in Santiago de Chile.

The exhibition has traveled to North America and visited museums such as the Bowers Museum
Bowers Museum
The Bowers Museum is located in Santa Ana, California, in Orange County. The museum offers exhibitions, lectures, art classes, travel programs, children’s art and music education programs, and other community events...

 in Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana is the county seat and second most populous city in Orange County, California, and with a population of 324,528 at the 2010 census, Santa Ana is the 57th-most populous city in the United States....

, Houston Museum of Natural Science
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a science museum located on the northern border of Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, USA. The museum was established in 1909 by the Houston Museum and Scientific Society, an organization whose goals were to provide a free institution for the people of Houston...

, High Museum of Art
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art , located in Atlanta, is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States and one of the most-visited art museums in the world. Located on Peachtree Street in Midtown, the city's arts district, the High is a division of the Woodruff Arts Center.-History:The Museum was...

 in Atlanta, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

 Museum in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and the Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. With its main entrance facing Bloor Street in Downtown Toronto, the museum is situated north of Queen's Park and east of Philosopher's Walk in the University of Toronto...

 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

. Subsequently the exhibition traveled to Sweden and was hosted in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities , Stockholm, Sweden. Is a public museum launched by Sweden's Parliament in 1926, with the Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson as founding director. The museum was originally based mainly on Andersson's groundbreaking discoveries in China, during the...

 between 28 August 2010 and 20 January 2011. An exhibition entitled 'The First Emperor - China's Entombed Warriors', presenting 120 artefacts from the First Emperor's burial site, was hosted at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales , located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, was established in 1897 and is the most important public gallery in Sydney and the fourth largest in Australia...

 (Sydney, Australia), between 2 December 2010 and 13 March 2011. An exhibition entitled "L'Empereur guerrier de Chine et son armée de terre cuite" ("The Warrior-Emperor of China and his terracotta army"), featuring artifacts including statues from the First Emperor's mausoleum, was hosted by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a major museum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1860, making it Canada's oldest art institution, it moved to its current location in 1912 thanks to a large donation from businessman James Ross....

from 11 February 2011 to 26 June 2011.

External links

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