Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Terra-cotta Army

This is a quote from Wikipedia that gives a brief synopsis of this amazing UNESCO world heritage site and archeological wonderland:

"The Terracotta Army or the "Terracotta Warriors and Horses" is a collection of terra cotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.  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 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. Current (2007) estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits nearby the mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians."

It is estimated that it took about 720,000 workers 38 years to complete the terra cotta warrior army for the tomb.  Upon completion the workers were buried alive at the site so that they couldn't share the secret location with anyone and risk an enemy ruining everything here.  A mere 4 years later, all of the artifacts were destroyed by his arch enemy. The state it is seen in today is after careful reconstruction and rearrangement of the army.  You can see how the army lay in ruins when it was originally excavated in some pits (see picture below).

The different hairstyles represented different ranks in the army...

Horses leading the chaatiots...

A photo showing the original pink hue of the terra-cotta.

The kneeling warrior is one of the most well preserved pieces where paint and details still remain in some areas.

Look at the detailed texture on the soles of the shoe!

There is no more excavating of the site going on anymore, even though there is an entire pit unearthed. Instead they are focusing their efforts on trying to figure out a way to preserve the fragile paint that oxidizes immediately after excavation. In the picture above there is plastic wrapped around to protect the areas where some paint still remains.  The Chinese people are saving the rest of the burried army for future generations of archaeologists in hopes that there will be new advancements in preservation and restoration technology.

We visited a place close by that tries to recreate the same process in a variety of sizes of warrior statues.  We felt the smooth clay.

An artisan adds fine details to a small warrior with a metal clay tool.

No comments:

Post a Comment