Friday Five: Terracotta Warriors

There’s a fascinating exhibit in town showcasing the Terracotta Warriors. I think this exhibit is traveling the country so if it comes near you, make a point to go. You won’t be disappointed. Here’s a taste.

1. The Napoleon of his day. The Terracotta Warriors were the brainchild of The First Emperor.  He came to power in 246 BC as king of the Qin kingdom.  Before long he had conquered the 7 independent states to create a unified China.  Then as dictators are wont to do, he put the kabbosh on possible insurgencies by enforced labor, huge tax burdens and burning books. How would he continue to enforce all of these rules after his death? That’s easy: The First Emperor was planning to live forever.

image via Wikipedia

2. Plan B. As a back-up plan (in case the living forever didn’t work out), The First Emperor decided to have an enormous tomb built, bigger than the great pyramids in Egypt, to provide him with everything he would need in the next life. It took 70,000 workers to to create a sort of afterlife city filled with fine furniture, silk robes and bronze chariots. Then there was the little issue of grave robbers. Protecting one’s things from the other side is rather difficult, unless of course you have an army.

3. Building an army. Near the tomb, workers were charged with making an army of clay soldiers to protect The First Emperor and his stuff in the afterlife. The craftsmen created a full regiment from archers to high-ranking officers to chariot drivers. The figures are all life size – some even a little bigger. The officer below is close to 8-feet tall.  It took more than 10 years to complete the army because there are more than 8,000 soldiers and horses.

This represents an officer from his dress and the way his hair is styled.

4. One of a kind. The warriors were not made in The First Emperor’s image. No two soldiers are alike. Each has a unique face. I wonder if the sculptors used real-life models to make the casts or if they were from the sculptors’ imaginations. I couldn’t find any information about that. Does anyone know?

Although their faces are different, the uniforms are exact replicas of what real soldiers wore. The soldiers’ uniforms and even the horses vestments were painted in bright colors, but now only small traces of paint are left.

This would have been a foot soldier.

This soldier’s arms are positioned to hold reins.

5. Hidden army. When the work was finished, the soldiers were placed in pits and covered with about 15 feet of dirt. The First Emperor never meant for anyone to find his army. Once the tomb was closed, no mortal eyes were supposed to see it again. For more than 2,000 years they remained hidden, until one day in 1974, farmers were digging for a well and unearthed a clay head. Archaeologists have pieced together less than 25% of the soldiers they believe are buried here.

image via Wikipedia

Every emperor needs his best friend when he heads off into the afterlife. Don’t these clay dogs (modeled on dogs 2,000 years ago) look more wolf-like than their modern counterparts?

Bonus 6. Speaking of dogs…Last Friday I mentioned that Lenore was hosting a contest for dog photos. She received 26 entries! It was difficult to narrow it down to just five, but narrow it down she did and I’m happy to report that Reggie’s photo made the cut. (Reggie expected nothing less, but I was surprised.) Now the vote! Reggie’s photo has some stiff competition, so please head over to Lenore’s site and vote for Reggie. If his photo wins, he’ll get a donation to his favorite charity. The deadline is tomorrow, so go vote!

Have you seen the Terracotta Warriors in China? Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. Sounds like a fascinating exhibit. The dogs, to me, look more like pigs. Maybe it’s the curled tail. At any rate, I tried to enter Lenore’s contest, but her blog said to email the entry photo, and I couldn’t find an address to send it to. When I visited it was only a few hours until the deadline, so I scrapped the idea. Maybe next time. Now at least I can vote for Reggie, since I don’t have to vote for my Lucy.
    Hope you have a great weekend, my friend!


  2. I would love to see that exhibit — I’ve always been fascinated by the terracota warriors! Maybe I can see it if it comes to Boston. And OF COURSE I voted for Reggie. He is the cutest! Tell him he can rest his chin on my knee any old time 🙂


    1. I knew very little about the terracotta warriors so I was just mesmerized. I hope you do get a chance to see them.
      Reggie thanks you for your vote! If you have treats in your pocket, he’d be happy to follow you anywhere.


  3. So cool! I think I remember seeing photos of this army (or parts of it) in one of my grandparents’ National Geographics when I was a kid. And my memory is BAD, so… you know… the coolness clearly made an impression (if I’m not just making the whole thing up)!


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