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Terracotta Warriors 秦俑

Terracotta Warriors

King Zhuangxiang became King of Qin in 250 BC and died in 247 BC when Ying Zheng was 13 years-old. King Zhuangxiang died young, at the age of 35. What was it like for the young Ying Zheng to be brought from obscurity as a captive in the State of Zhao to live as the son of the new king in this State of Qin? Lü Buwei, that long-term planner, must have filled a young child with ambitions for the future. It is said that even as a young child, Ying Zheng began to plan his mausoleum.

The terracotta warriors are believed to be part of that plan. The Emperor believed that he was emperor of both heaven and earth. The army was intended to accompany him into the afterlife. Elaborate engineering was necessary to create an installation that would last for eternity. Underground tombs were often built like this and covered with a mound of earth. Other designs resembled caves of pounded earth hollowed out of the loess clay. This installation was beyond the usual scope of the tomb and was not intended to be covered by a mound. It is believed that the warriors and horses are only one part of a larger installation and that further segments will be found.

Notice the indentation in the wide bulwarks in the above image. Logs were placed over each section of soldiers and horses. The logs were then covered with a wooden roof and covered with pounded dirt. The installation was thus protected from the elements and for thousands of years from memory. Scientific analysis (Qing Wang, et al, 2009) has shown that the wood used was harvested locally and was primarily made up of gymnosperms, a type of pine tree. This type of analysis gives an idea of the size and scope of the project. Had the lumber been brought from a distance, the estimates of the amount of time and labor needed to complete the pits would have had to take that into account.

Wang, Qing; Zhang, Zhong-Li; Ding, Hui; Shao, Wen-Bin; Li, Cheng-Sen; Wang, Yu-Fei; Yang, Jian. "The wood in the pits of terracotta figures and its architectural application." Journal of Archaeological Science. Feb 2009, Vol. 36 Issue 2, pp. 555-561.

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Last update: March 2010
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