Xian’s Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army or the “Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses”, is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art, buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and the purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife, and to make sure that he had people to rule over.
The Construction of the Army
According to historian Sima Qian (145–90 BC), work on this mausoleum began in 246 BC soon after Emperor Qin ascended the throne (then aged 13), and the full construction later involved 700,000 workers. The terracotta army figures were manufactured in workshops by government laborers and by local craftsmen, and the material used to make the terracotta warriors originated on Mount Li. The head, arms, legs and bodies were created separately and then assembled. Studies show that eight face moulds were most likely used, and then clay was added to provide individual facial features.
Weapons such as swords, spears, battle-axe, scimitars, shields, crossbows and arrowheads were found at the pits of the terracotta warriors. Some of these weapons such as the swords are still very sharp and found to be coated with chromium oxide. This layer of chromium oxide is 10–15 micrometre thick and has kept the swords rust-free and in pristine condition after 2,000 years.Chromium only came to the attention of westerners in the 18th century.