|A row of Terra Cotta Worriers|
Many millenniums ago, an emperor needed guides to move into the after life. This set into motion a mass sculpting project of 8000 clay soldiers, now called the Terra Cotta Worriors, each with a different role to accompany the emperor on his journey to another world. Upon his burial, the clay sculptures were laid around the emperor in a mass grave. Hundreds of years later in the 1970s a group of rural farmers discovered the statues, and quite a find it was.
Traveling to the site where the worriers stand in repetitive matrices is an adventure soaked with a mysterious history of the unification of China. This is the third in a series of articles that answers questions about the warriors from where they were found to why they were buried there in the first place.
Why did the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, had an army of workers sculpt and bury life-size replicas of a giant army around him instead of using real people? You'd think that the answer would be that it's inhumane for people to die just so that they accompany an emperor to the after life. That's true, but not the whole story.
Fact of the matter is a few hundred years earlier people sacrificed their own lives so they could be buried by the most respected person among them. Speculation is that these people poisoned themselves by sipping arsenic-laden wine so they could fall with the revered leader.
After a couple hundred years of war before a 13 year-old Qin came to power in China, many Chinese perished in the fierce fighting of the war years before, soliders and civilians of several of China's states that lie to the south of Qin's homeland. The citizen's desire to die on behalf of Qin had not changed. It's just that there weren't enough of them to do it after the savage war. This is when Qin decided to build the clay warriors to be with him under the ground after he died.
Traveling to Visit the Terra Cotta Warriors coming soon.
All About Xian, the Gateway to the Terra Cotta Warriors coming soon.
Read a Smithsonian article about the Terra Cotta Worriers
Watch a PBS video about the Terra Cotta Worriers