As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the famous Terracotta Warriors Museum during the first day of his trip to China, everybody is talking about the Chinese museum complex that houses the 'Terracotta Army' or the 'Terracotta Warriors and Horses'.
Prime Minister Modi was mesmerised by the extraordinary care with which the museum, housing a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, has been preserved.
Here are a few things you should know about the form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC.
Sculptors depicting armies of Qin Shi Huang:
- The museum complex houses the 'Terracotta Army' or the 'Terracotta Warriors and Horses', a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin.
- The museum complex, a UN world heritage site, also houses Emperor Qin's mausoleum built around 221 BC (2000 years ago).
Local farmers discover site in 1974:
- It is located in Shaanxi province's Xi'an, an ancient city steeped in Chinese and Buddhist culture, and were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District.
- The mausoleum is associated with an event of universal significance, the first unification of the Chinese territory by a centralised state created by an absolute monarch in 221 BC.
- Qin was also the first in China to construct a mausoleum city, to build coffin chambers and subordinate palaces in the mausoleum.
- He was the first emperor to start the ritual of building chambers for those buried alive with the owner of the tomb on a large scale.
- The terracotta sculptures are a form of funerary art buried with the emperor, the purpose of which was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
Largest burial complex in the world:
- There are about 8,000 warriors in three different pits and many of those warriors remain buried underground, besides 130 chariots, 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
- The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals and also include warriors chariots and horses.
- Other terracotta non-military figures are also found in pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
- Scientists believe that it took about 700,000 workers to build this army.
Every single statue is a masterpiece in itself:
- Each soldier in the Terracotta Army has distinct facial features, revealing a high level of craftsmanship and artistry.
- Even 40 years after its discovery, less than 1 per cent of Emperor Qin's tomb has been excavated.
Extraordinarily well preserved weapons:
- Weapons such as swords, spears, battle-axes, scimitars, shields, crossbows, and arrowheads were found in the pits.
- The swords are sharp and rust-free even today due to a 10-15 micrometre layer of chromium dioxide coating over them.