Found in 1974 by chance, the Terracotta Army is really a huge collection of life-sized terracotta warrior figures buried close to the tomb of the Emperor Qin, first emperor unified of China. The site was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Cultural Heritage Site. About 8,000 distinctive figures of soldiers and horses have been found. The Terracotta Army is not just only an archaeological treasure, but an icon of China's past.
Who Built the Terracotta Army and Why?
The Terracotta Army was built by order of the Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor Qin, who ruled over the Chinese State of Qin from 247 B.C.E. to 221 B.C.E., and then as the first emperor of a unified China from 221 B.C.E. till his death in 210 B.C.E., ruling under the name First Emperor. He was buried inside a huge mausoleum alongside massive quantities of treasure and objects of craftsmanship. The necropolis complex was constructed as an imperial palace complete with offices and halls, and surrounded by a wall. Such a construction just like the Egyptian Pyramids at Giza built to residence the pharoahs and all that they would need to have while in the afterlife.
Emperor Qin apparently had quite grandiose thoughts about his time in the afterlife! The wonders inside his tomb were written about by a Chinese historian, Sima Qian who described palaces, scenic towers, officials, valuable utensils and "wonderful objects." He wrote of rare jewels, a scale replica of the universe complete with ceilings that mapped the heavens with stars and planets represented by pearls, and on the floor of the tomb a panorama map of China with flowing mercury representing the rivers and seas. Together with all those offices and rooms it appears like he was preparing quite a bureaucracy to help him rule the entire world!
Nonetheless, Sima Qian by no means talked about the Terracotta Army. We can easily picture even though that Terracotta Army was constructed not just to safeguard the Emperor's tomb in this world, but for being his warriors for the duration of his rule while in the afterlife. Appears like he expected pretty a lot of others to challenge his rule, considering that he equipped a huge number of warriors all armed to the teeth, both infantry and cavalry complete with horses.
Presumably Emperor Qin thought it better to create terracotta warriors, as opposed to killing his real army and having them buried around him, which is type of what the Egyptian pharoahs did with their servants. If Emperor Qin wanted his dynasty to continue on the earth he must have thought his son would need a real army to keep it. Hence, he ordered figures of his warriors created out of terracotta prepared to do battle in the afterlife. Definitely an incredible enterprise! If you are the first time to visit China, the Terracotta Army is definitely a destination what you should see in Xi'an.