Art and architecture are significant elements for any nation because of at least two reasons. On the one hand, they make it possible for people to meet their aesthetic needs, which is essential for individuals. On the other hand, the two phenomena represent all beliefs and customs that are essential for people who make them. Thus, numerous pieces of art and architectural creations are useful for descendants because these material objects demonstrate peculiarities of a particular civilization or historical stage. For example, Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army is a valuable source of information about Chinese culture during the reign of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang. The given complex depicts both the philosophy of that time and the level of economic and industrial development of the Chinese civilization.
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The Terracotta Army Explained
The piece of art under consideration stands for the collection of terracotta figures that were found in a tomb of Qin Shihuang. According to estimates, the mausoleum includes more than 7,000 warriors, generals, and horses that surround the body of the Emperor.1 It is not a surprise that the given Army covers a vast territory and includes many details. Consequently, it is impossible to imagine that a single artist created this complex. Emperor Qin had developed the idea, but approximately 700,000 craftsmen and laborers were involved in the building process.2 Thus, I have chosen this Chinese discovery for the given analysis because such a massive structure should have sufficient elements that will present essential peculiarities of the Chinese civilization.
It is interesting to determine why the Terracotta Army was created. In Ancient China, people believed that there was life after death. That is why the First Emperor started building his own tomb immediately after he ascended to the throne. He equipped his underground palace with the warriors and numerous riches. It was done so because Qin was sure that he would be able to both control the army and possess the material objects after the death. Thus, one can say that the belief in immortality was the principal reason that resulted in the creation of the Terracotta Army.
Another significant issue refers to the way of how the figures were made. Various scientists have conducted investigations to determine where the Chinese craftsmen get material for the statues. Numerous results prove that raw materials, including clay and sand, came from a single place.3 In addition to that, it was found that clay did not lose its crystalline structure, which is possible when it is not subject “to a sustained temperature above 850°C.”4
This information denotes that the statues were dried in specific structures where the craftsmen could control a temperature. The information above makes it possible to suggest that the raw materials were delivered to the mausoleum or close to it where the laborers created the figures and dried them properly. Approximately, it took 40 years for the Terracotta Army to be made.5 Thus, it is not a surprise that the given massive complex can present useful information on Chinese civilization.
Features of Civilization
There is no doubt that the Terracotta Army tells much information about Chinese culture. The most significant feature refers to the fact that it shows the role of supernatural ideas in that society. One can state that the mausoleum and its figures were created because of Emperor Qin’s belief that he would be immortal. As a result, he equipped his tomb in such a way to have everything that could be necessary for a ruler, including money and warriors.
In addition to that, the presence of this massive piece of art emphasizes decent development levels of the Chinese economy and industry. On the one hand, the First Emperor should have spent much money to create the mausoleum. It means that the Chinese civilization of that time was relatively wealthy. On the other hand, the explanation above of how the statues were created proves that Chinese artisans were familiar with essential industrial achievements. This idea is supported by the fact that an effective supply chain system was used to make the Terracotta Army and that it was “subject to careful quality and quantity control.”6
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Furthermore, the given piece of art demonstrates a clear socio-political organization of that time because the figures reflect the evident distinction between ordinary warriors and generals.7 Thus, the Terracotta Army is a useful source for people to identify various peculiarities of Chinese civilization under the First Emperor’s reign.
Qin Shihuang was an Emperor who managed to create many benefits for his nation, and the Terracotta Army proves this thought is. Even though Qin created this piece of art to satisfy his own needs, the statues help modern people understand the peculiarities of Chinese culture. Firstly, it was a culture that drew specific attention to supernatural beliefs. Secondly, the civilization was economically and industrially developed because it took significant efforts and much time to create the Army. Finally, the Chinese culture of that time implied some peculiarities concerning its socio-political structure, and the Terracotta Army also reflects it.
Bevan, Andrew, Xiuzhen Li, Zhen Zhao, Jianhua Huang, Stuart Laidlaw, Na Xi, Yin Xia, Shengtao Ma, and Marcos Martinon-Torres. “Ink Marks, Bronze Crossbows, and Their Implications for the Qin Terracotta Army.” Heritage Science 6, no. 75 (2018): 1–10.
Carmichael, Stephen W. “Why the Terracotta Army Foretold the Rise of the Chinese Empires.” Microscopy Today 26, no. 1 (2018): 8–11.
Li, Xiuzhen, Andrew Bevan, Marcos Martinon-Torres, Yin Xia, and Kun Zhao. “Marking Practices and the Making of the Qin Terracotta Army.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 42 (2016): 169–183.
Quinn, Patrick S., Shangxin Zhang, Yin Xia, and Xiuzhen Li. “Building the Terracotta Army: Ceramic Craft Technology and Organization of Production at Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Complex.” Antiquity 91, no. 358 (2017): 966–979.
- Patrick S. Quinn et al., “Building the Terracotta Army: Ceramic Craft Technology and Organization of Production at Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Complex,” Antiquity 91, no. 358 (2017): 967.
- Quinn et al., “Building the Terracotta Army,” 966.
- Stephen W. Carmichael, “Why the Terracotta Army Foretold the Rise of the Chinese Empires,” Microscopy Today 26, no. 1 (2018): 10.
- Carmichael, “Why the Terracotta Army,” 8.
- Carmichael, “Why the Terracotta Army,” 10.
- Xiuzhen Li et al., “Marking Practices and the Making of the Qin Terracotta Army,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 42 (2016): 169.
- Andrew Bevan et al., “Ink Marks, Bronze Crossbows, and Their Implications for the Qin Terracotta Army,” Heritage Science 6, no. 75 (2018): 1.