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Museum of Qin Shihuang's Terra-cottaWarriors and Horses

In March, 1974, the villagers from Xiyang Village of Yanzhai Township in Lintong District accidentally discovered many broken pottery figures while sinking a well 1.5 kilo-metres away east of Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum. After archaeological excava- tion and textual research, it was found that this was'an oblong pit in which were buried terra-cotta warriors and horses from the Qin Dynasty. In 1976, after drilling, another two pits were discovered respectively 20 metres and 25 metres north of the former one. They were numbered Pit 1, 2 and 3 respectively in order of discovery, with a total area of 22,780 square metres.

This new discovery stirred up a sensation across the whole world. In order to protect properly those rare but valuable historical relics, in 1975, the State Council gave permission that a museum covering an area of 16,300 square metres be constructed on the site of Pit No. 1. The museum was officially open to the public on Oc- tober 1--National Day, 1979. The exhibition hall of Pit No. 3 was open to the public on September 27, 1989. The exhibition hall of Pit No. 2 was also open to the public in October, 1994. The mu- seum and the mausoleum are listed as one of the ten historical places in China and they are also placed by the UNESCO among the world's cultural legacies.

Pit No. 1 is in an oblong shape, 230 metres long from east to west, 62 metres wide from north to south and 5 metres deep, cov ering an area of 14,260 square metres. It is an earth-and-wood structure in the shape of a tunnel. There are five sloping entrances on the eastern and western sides of the pit respectively. Down inside the tunnel, there are ten earth-rammed partition walls, across which huge and strong rafters were placed, then covered with mats and fine soil and filling earth. The floors are paved with bricks. The terra-cotta warriors and horses in Pit No. 1 are arrayed in a practical battle formation. In the long corridor to the east end of the pit stand facing east three rows of terra-cotta warriors in battle tu- nics and puttees, 70 in each, totalling 210 altogether. Armed with bows and arrows, they constitute the vanguard. There is one row of warriors in the south, north and west of the corridor respective- ly, facing outward. They are probably the flanks and the rear guard. Holding crossbows and arrows and other long-distance shooting weapons, they took up the job of defending the whole bat- tle formation. The ten rammed partition walls divided Pit No. 1 into eleven latitudinal passage ways where stand facing east 38 columns of warriors with horse-drawn chariots in the centre. The warriors, armour-clad, holding long-shaft weapons are probably the main body of the formation and represent the principal force. There are altogether 27 trial trenches. According to the density of the forma- tion in each trial, it is assumed that more than 6,000 clay warriors and horses could be unearthed from Pit No. 1, most of which are in- fantrymen.

Pit No. 2 is located 20 metres to the north of the eastern end of Pit No. 1. The Pit is L--shaped and consists of four different mixed military forces in four arrays. It is estimated that there were over 1, 000 pieces of pottery figures, 500 horse-drawn chariots and saddled horses. The pit is measured 6,000 square metres. The first array, i.e. the eastern protruding part of the pit, is compo~d of 334 archers. To the south of the pit is the second array, including the first through the eighth passage ways, it is composed of 64 chari- ots,each of which carries three warriors. The third array, i.e. the middle of the pit, including the ninth through the eleventh passage ways is composed of 19 chariots and 100 infantrymen. The fourth array to the north of the pit, including the l2th through the 14th passage ways is composed of six chariots, 124 saddled horses and cavalrymen. The four arrays are closely connected to constitute a complete battle formation and can be divided up to act independent- ly, capable of attacking and defending and of self-protection and quick response. Three of the four arrays in Pit No. 2 have chariots and warriors. The chariots took up most of battle formation. This proves that chariots and warriors were the princip~ll fighting forces in the Qin Dynasty. The wooden chariots have become decayed with age, but the tongues and wheels left clear traces in the clay. The bronze parts of the chariots remained intact.

Pit No. 3 is located 25 metres to the north of Pit No. i and to the west of Pit No. 2. The plane of the pit is of concave shape to- talling about 520 square metres. Out of the pit were unearthed one chariot, four terra-cotta horses and 68 clay armoured warriors. To its east, there is a sloping entrance, 11.2 metres long, 3. 7 metres wide, opposite which is a chariot and horse house. On both sides of the house, there is a winging room, in which were unearthed 64 pottery figurines. The arrangement of the pottery figurines is quite different from that in Pits No. 1 and No. 2 in which the warriors are placed in battle formation. But those in Pit No. 3 are arrayed oppo- site to each other along the walls, in two rows. Even the weapons held by the warriors in Pit No. 3 are different from those in Pits No. 1 and No. 2. The latter were armed with long-range across bows and arrows and short weapons such as spears, barbed spears, swords and axes. In Pit No. 3 were only discovered one kind of weapon called "shu", which had no blades and are believed to be used by the guards of honour. Unearthed also in this pit were a re- maining deer-horn and animal bones. This is probably the place where sacrificial offerings and war prayers were practiced. Judging by the layout of Pit No. 3, it is most likely the headquarters direct- ing the mighty underground army.

Archaeological excavations show that Pits No. 1 and No. 2 were destroyed after a fire. When was it burnt down and who did it was not recorded in history. There are various opinions about its de- struction in the academic world. The floors of both Pits No. 1 and No. 2 were covered with a layer of silt, 15 to 20 centimetres thick. The remains of crossbeams and logs burnt to ashes can be clearly seen and most of the relics remain fragmented. This illustrates that the pits were destroyed soon after they were completed. According to historical records, four years later after Emperor Qin Shihuang's death, Xiang Yu came, "burnt the palaces and dug up the graves". Archaeological discoveries also proved that there are many broken bricks and tiles piled up inside the ruins of the mausoleum struc- tures, with burnt clay,coal and ash traces. The pits are only 1.5 ki- lo-metres away from the mausoleum, so it was perhaps destroyed together with other structures within the tomb area by Xiang Yu.

The earliest appearance of pottery figurines in China happened in the Warring States Periods, but they were small in size and made roughly with low temperature. The Qin terra--cotta warriors and horses were not only big in size, but made exquisitely with high technology and vivid images.

The height of the terra-cotta warriors varies from 1.78 metres being the shortest to 1.97 metres being the tallest. Their weights are also different. The lightest being 110 kiloTgrams and the heaviest 300 kilo-grams. In order to keep the balance of the terra-cotta war- riors, the workmen in the Qin Dynasty added a pedal to each war- rior under his feet, so that the warriors would stand more firmly. The foot pedals were made in moms. The feet, shoes, legs and ar- mours of the warriors were made by hand. Some legs are hollow, some are solid. The solid ones are made separately, but the hollow ones are made through a method called "coiled rope of clay". The bodies of the warriors are all hollow, made with the previously-- mentioned method. Some are made separately and join the models together to complete the work. Arms also have two kinds, hollow and solid forms. The hollow arms are made separately.

The making of hands has two ways: molding and hand-mak- ing. The most sophisticated technique of processing is heads. Two molds are used to make faces and most parts of heads first of all, then join the two parts together. Ears and noses which are made in- dependently are added later on. The roughly made models are carved exquistely in detail according to their personal strata and characters. Finally moustache and hair in various styles are made. After careful and detailed engraving by the Qin workmen, the ter- ra-cotta warriors look vivid, different in appearance and expres- sions. It is presumed that these warriors were made according to the real valiant Qin army soldiers by the Qin workmen.

After the terra-cotta warriors were made ready, they were to put into the kilns to be fired. In order to prevent the warriors from deforming or exploding, there are one, two or three small holes in the body o{ the warriors and horses when they were being made. After the horses were fired, the small holes on the body were cov- ered with pottery cakes of the same size. Most of the pottery heads were welded with thebody after being fired, so the necks of the pottery warriors were ventilation holes. Thus, the air stream pro- duced in the firing process of the pottery warriors and horses could escape from these ventilation holes, and would not explode due to the expansion of hot air stream. The clay models were carefully colour-painted after they were baked. As the terra-cotta figures have been burnt and gone through a natural process of decay, we can't see their original gorgeous colours. However, most of the fig- ures bear the traces of the original colours, and a few of them are still as bright as new. They are found to be painted with mineral dye stuffs of red, green, blue, yellow, purple, brown, white, black, pink, vermilion, etc. This demonstrates that the Chinese working people produced on a massive scale and used these dye stuffs exten- sively over 2000 years ago. It is of great significance not only in the history of colour-painting art, but also in the history of world sci- ence and technology.

The pits are located to the east of Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum, symbolizing the main defending force that guarded the capital, Xi- anyang. All the pottery figures in the pits held practical weapons, facing east. This shows that Emperor Qin Shihuang would never forget his great ambition to comquer the six states and to unify the whole nation. Thousands of real weapons were unearthed from the pits, including broad knives, swords, spears, dagger~axes, hal- berds, cross-bows, arrows, and arrow heads. The weapons can be classified into four categories: long-shafted weapons, short weapons, long-range weapons and weapons for guards of honour. They were exquisitely made and enjoyed a high level of casting tech- nology.

The most eye-catching among the weapons is a bronze sword, which still glitters in metallic lustre without being rusty, though buried underground for over 2,000 years. Being very sharp, the sword can cut through 20 pieces of paper put together. Technical examination reveals that the sword is composed of an alloy of copper and tin, and more than ten other rare metals. It is coated with a thin layer (10-- 15 micron) of oxidated chromium, which proves that the weapon was oxidated with chromate in the making. The technology of chromate coating was invented by a German in 1930's, but in China chromate-coating technique was employed in the making of weapons over 2,000 years ago. It is really a wonder and compels admiration.

In the pits of terra-cotta warriors and horses were also discov- ered hundreds of crossbow triggers whose bolts and suspending knives can be used interchangeably, with a tolerance errow of 1 mil- limetre. The arrow heads are divided into four kinds. The outline of the three sides of the arrow heads of the same kind has atoleranee error of 0. 15 millimetre. From this we can see that the weapon manufacture was already standardized just to meet the war needs. This also shows that the metallurgical technology and weapon mak- ing technique had reached a high standard in the Qin Dynasty.

In December 1980, two sets of large painted bronze chariots and horses were unearthed 20 metres west of the mount of Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum. They were listed as No. 1 and No. 2 respectively according to their discovery. They were then enclosed in a wooden coffin and buried in a pit seven metres deep. When ex- cavated, the chariots and horses were seriously damaged due to the decayed wooden coffin and the collapse of earthen layers. No. 2 bronze chariot and horses were found broken into 1,555 pieces when excavated. After two-and-half years of careful and painstak- ing restoration by archeaologists and other experts, they were for- maUy open to the public on October 1,1983. No. 1 bronze chariot and horses were also open to the public in 1988.

The bronze chariots drawn by four horses, with a single shaft, were placed one before the other vertically. The front chariot, i. e. No. 1 Chariot was named "High Chariot". The charioteers and passengers all stood in the chariot. The back chariot, i.e. No. 2 Chariot was named "Security Chariot", and also called "air-condi- tioned chariot". It has a front room and a back room, between which there is a partition. The front room is for the charioteer and rear one, for the master (emperor). In the rear compartment, there is a window on either side of the carriage as well as in the front with a door at the back. The windows and doors could close and open easily. The small holes on the windows were used for ven- tilation. On top of the chariot ,there was an elliptical umbrella--like canopy. The chariot was colour-painted against a white back- ground. No. g Chariot was fitted with more than 1,500 pieces of silver and gold and other ornaments, looking luxurious, splendid and graceful. Probably it was used for Emperor Qin Shihuang's soul to go out on inspection. No. 1 Chariot was equipped with crossbows, arrow heads, shields and the charioteer wore a hat, which shows that this chariot was employed to protect the No. 2 Chariot behind.

The chariots and horses are exact imitations of actual chariot, horse and driver in half life-size. The chariots and horses are com- posed of 3,400 bits. The bronze chariot is 3.17 metres long, 1.06 metres high. The bronze horse is 65--67 centimetres high, 1. 2 metres long. Their weights vary from 177 kilograms, the lightest, to 212.9 kilograms, the heaviest. The total weight of the chariot, thehorse and the driver reach to 1,243 kilograms. The main body is cast of bronze. There are altogether 1,720 pieces of gold and silver decoration on the chariots and horses, with a total weight of seven kilograms of silver and gold wares. One is compelled to appreciate the high technology, the real artistic modeling in great admiration. For instance, the umbrella-like canopy on the top is only four mil- limetre thick, the window one millimetre thick, with many ventila- tion holes. The horse tassels were made of bronze thread as thin as a hair, the diameter of which is only 0. 1 m. m.. The horse necklets were welded together with 42 nodes of gold and 42 nodes of silver. Archaeologists can see the welding joints only with the help of mag- nifiers. The horse halters, made of a gold tube and a silver tube, were joined with a form of snap fasteners. In the halters, there is a pin. When the pin was pulled out, the halters could be removed completely. According to primary research, it is found that the making of the bronze chariots and horses involved different tech- niques such as casting, welding, riveting, mounting, embedding and carving.

The bronze chariots and horses were the earliest and most exquisitely made bronze valuables. They enjoy the highest class and have the most complete harnessing wares. They are also the largest bronze ware discovered in the history of world archaeology. The ex- cavation of the bronze chariots and horses provides extremely valu- able material and data for the textual research of the metallurgical technique, the mechanism of chariots and technological modelling of the Qin Dynasty.

Transport : travel 5
Opening time : Daily 8:00-17.30
Admission : 90

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