The Terracotta Army consists of over 7000 soldiers, 600 horses, and 100 chariots made of clay in natural size.
These warriors and horses were made to protect Emperor Shi Huangdi, the founder of the Qin dynasty, in the afterlife.
The figures are placed around his mausoleum in Shaanxi Province in central China.
Discovered in 1974, this fantastic army helps us learn a lot about ancient Chinese culture and history.
- We can see that the Chinese believed in an afterlife and that at least one of their rulers did his best to be immortal.
- The figures show us how ancient armor, weapons, chariots looked like. The army includes warriors of different ranks, and we can also learn about command structures in ancient Chinese imperial army.
The site is protected as a part of UNESCO World Heritage, and its inner chambers, including the emperor’s tomb, has not have been excavated to date.
Emperor Shi Huangdi
- Shi Huangdi was the king of Wei. In 221 CE, he unified China and became its first emperor and the founder of the Qin state.
- During the eleven years of his rule, Shi Huangdi earned a reputation of a totalitarian megalomaniac. He ordered the building of the Great Wall of China, burned thousands of books (the Burning of Books), and built a lavish royal palace. His tomb was the largest and most sumptuous in the whole history of China.
- This emperor was particularly interested in becoming immortal. In life, he survived three assassination attempts, demanded from scientists to develop life-prolonging elixirs, and sent representatives to find the legendary land of immortals, called Penglai. In death, he had the terracotta army to protect him.
The Terracotta Army Facts
- It took 700,000 convict laborers three years to build the mausoleum and the army.
- In addition to the terracotta soldiers, the mausoleum includes deadly traps, such as crossbows triggered by a mechanism, to keep the emperor’s tomb intact.
- Huangdi did not invent terracotta soldiers – previous rulers had them too. The difference is that they had two or three soldiers at the entrance of their tombs, and Shi Huangdi had a whole army.
- Archeologists have only explored about one quarter of the site – there could be four times more soldiers on the remaining three sides of the tomb.
- The terracotta figures are even larger than the actual soldiers would be – infantrymen are about 1.8-1.9 meters tall. Officers are even taller, and the general is the tallest.
- There are nearly 100 chariots with 600 horses. Each chariot carries riders and officers.
- The warriors were set in rows and had different postures – they are either standing or crouching.
- Their arrangement gives the impression of a whole battlefield army ready for action.
- Each figure was rendered unique, especially their faces and hair. Colors were used too. Also, most of them had some sort of weapon. Probably all of them had weapons and armor, but those were stolen in antiquity. The remaining weapon is impressive – and the edges of swords are still sharp.
When was the terracotta army made?
It was made after 221 CE, during the Qin period.
What is the name of the emperor whose tomb this army protected?
Emperor Shi Huangdi
How many soldiers have been discovered so far?
Around 7000 soldiers
What else was included, besides soldiers?
There are horses, chariots, weapons, and some trap mechanisms.