Xi’an Field Study
Term-Paper

Odil Gafarov

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Yenching Scholar 2017 cohort

Yenching Academy of Peking
University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terracotta
Army and its impact on
Historical Heritage preservation policy of China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beijing,
People’s Republic of China, 2017

 

 

Introduction

Xi’an city

 

Historians
say that the World History is history of wars. Probably those historians were
Europeans, because such statement can be true regarding European history, but
definitely not about history of China. The history of “Middle Kingdom” is so
specific and unique that it’s impossible to find something similar to it in any
part of the world. It’ll true if we say that Chinese history is one of most
controversial in history of human-being. However, the main aim of this paper is
not to cover the whole history of China, but to observe the particular part –
one of the brands of modern China – Terracotta army, which is situated in the
point, from which started the history of China – ancient and beautiful Xi’an
city.

Being the
capital city of China for thousand years, ancient city of Chang’an (modern
Xi’an) was starting base for Great Silk Road, a city where east faced west,
where Chinese civilization crossed with many cultures and mentalities.

City has
huge and long history. As cultural and political center it became in the 11th
century BC when Zhou dynasty took the power. After long period of “Warring
states”, Xi’an was proclaimed as capital of united China with the first emperor
Qin Shi Huang. Starting from this point city began to take a shape of strong
fort with big walls and main center for trade. Later, during Han dynasty
several city palaces were constructed, which still give gorgeousness to Xi’an.
City walls began to be built in 194 BC. During several years they rose up to
huge defense construction with total length of 25 km. during Sui dynasty many
famous buildings were founded, for example Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Small
Wild Goose Pagoda. Ancient Chang’an stopped to be a capital in X century when
Tang dynasty decided to shift capital to another city. During Ming dynasty new
city walls were constructed, which remained until present time.

The main
feature of Xi’an was that from city started caravans of merchant to east –
trade roads, later in 19th century was called as Great Silk Road. It was the
home for thousands of merchants from different parts of the globe for that
time. It’s worth to mention the Sogdian merchants, from Sogdiana (ancient
Central Asian state, current Uzbekistan), who had huge diaspora in Xi’an and
led trade between China and the countries in the west to them (Persia,
Byzantine Empire, Europe).

Xi’an was
home to Nestorian Christians for long period. Forest of stone steles has many
artifacts kept from that period. Xi’an is home for huge Muslim community with
several mosques in the city.      

But the
main sightseeing of this great city is Terracotta army museum, which is not
only heritage of Chinese history, but main part of world history as well.

Modern
Xi’an is one of best examples of Chinese economic growth. City has developed
urban transportation system, many factories and modern facilities, high level
of living standards. It is definitely ancient and modern city at the same time.
On the example of Xi’an we can observe how Chinese government tries to shape
national brand of country – modern and developed China with very huge
historical heritage, modernity and historical monuments are side by side. Xi’an
is the place where Chinese government invites highly ranked political
delegations. Many of them, such as former president of US Bill Clinton with his
wife visited it. Such policy increases not only number of tourists to Xi’an,
but also popularity of country in international stage.      

 

Funeral complex, Pits ?1, 2, 3

 

Ancient
Chinese, as other nations for that time, created an interesting and distinctive
culture, both material and spiritual. They believed that life is the creation
of a supernatural power, which forces everything in the world to constantly
change as a result of the collision of two opposing cosmic forces – Light and
Darkness. In this ancient (2 thousand years BC) period, the Chinese, as well as
other nations, were characterized by the cult of nature: they worshiped the
spirits of mountains, land, rivers, the sun, the moon, rain, wind, etc. People
prayed to the spirits, sacrificed, approached with requests for a good harvest.
The cult of ancestors was very strong. It was based on the idea that the
person’s soul after death continues to live, and moreover, it can interfere in
the affairs of the living. Chinese people believed that the soul of the
deceased retains all previous habits, thus a deceased people were buried with
their weapons, or even sometimes with their servants and wives.

Being one
of the golden heritages of Chinese history, the collection of 8000 terracotta
soldiers and horse sculptures (well known as “Terracotta Army”) can be
considered as one of the bright monuments of human greatness and cruelty. It’s
a complex of buildings and construction sites which consists of Qin Shi Huang’s
mausoleum and several pits nearby. Complex was form of funerary tradition which
was buried with first emperor Qin Shi Huang in order to protect him in other
life.

The funeral
complex began to be built in advance as early as 246 BC1,
the construction continued for 36 years until the very death of the emperor. It
did not stop even after his death in 210 BC. Only the fall of the dynasty in
206 BC interrupted the construction of a carefully thought-out funeral complex,
which consists of a “mausoleum” and the “tomb” of the emperor.

One of the
first historians described the construction process of the tomb was Sima Qian,
who mentioned it in his famous work “Shiji”.2
According to him, to the construction works were involved about 700 thousand
people from different parts of Qin Empire. Several “secondary” burials were
found around the burial of the emperor. Some rooms included skeletons of horses
and the remains of people, most likely, belonged to representatives of the
imperial dynasty.

Complex was
discovered in 1974 in Lintong District.3
Around the mausoleum was a rampart, which apparently surrounded the tombs.
Currently, only the mausoleum has been excavated, but the tomb is still buried.
The first warrior was found in the mausoleum by peasants who, digging a well
came upon the head of the first terracotta warrior. The mausoleum was not very
deep, for example, pit number 3 was at a depth of just over 5 meters, while the
distance from the floor to the roof of the funerary structure was 3.2 meters.4
The floor was paved with brick, which was preserved well enough. The bearing
structures of walls and roofs were made of wood. To prevent water from entering
the interior, the walls and ceiling were additionally covered with a layer of
clay.5

Warriors
are depicted in full height, in military garb, with hair and individual
features, so lively and diverse that scientists see in them portraits. The
soldiers are lined up in combat order and ready for battle. The growth of
soldiers varies from 175 to 186 cm, which is higher than average height of
Chinese people for that time. Probably, according to Professor Jin Kai,
warriors were built with such height “in order to scary their enemies.”6

Pit number
1 is a rectangular room that stretches for 62 meters from north to south and
230 meters from west to east. During the excavations of the eastern part of the
cell, archaeologists discovered 1087 terracotta soldiers, 32 horses and
fragments of eight chariots.7 The basis of the military structure is the infantry
and the driver. The eastern flank consists of three rows of archers of the
Imperial Guard. They are all facing east. The northern and southern flanks are
guarded by soldiers whose faces are facing north and south respectively. Some
of them are dressed in military dresses, some also have armor, and in their
hands – weapons. The warriors on the western flank of the formation form the
rear.

Pit number
2 has a shape of Latin letter “L” and located 20 meters from Pit number 1. In
contrast to Pit 1 with mostly infantry troops, Pit 2 has large number of
archers, chariots and cavalrymen leading their horses. It’s worth to note that
there are some evidences that locals knew about terracotta warriors before the
official announcement of the discovery. Such conclusions are made basing on the
fact that scientists found a well dug up to 100 meters.8

Despite the
fact that Pit number 3 is the smallest, however, it had very strategic
importance, because includes the entire command staff of the terracotta army.
During the excavations, the remains of the chariot, 4 horses and 68 soldiers
were found. The horses, harnessed to the chariot, and the four warriors
following it, survived quite well. The rest of the figures were found either
decapitated or completely destroyed. Also, scientists discovered a large number
of bronze weapons, fragments of deer antlers and animal bones. This finding
suggests that, most likely, the sacrifice and prayer in the name of victory
before the battle were part of the function of the command staff of the ancient
Chinese army.9According to Prof. Jin Kai,
found generals weren’t the supreme commanders – probably, it was function of
Emperor himself.

 

Terracotta warriors

 

Warriors
were made of burnt clay, made in parts (head, torso, hands, hands, feet, feet,
ears and other parts of the body were created separately), which indicates the
mass production and, possibly, the existence of workshops that worked on a
scale. Headgear, hair, clothes and weapons were made separately and attached to
ready-made figures. The figures were given individual features; this is
indicated by wrinkles on the foreheads of generals and smiles on the faces of
young soldiers.

The
finished image was first dried and then placed in a furnace heated to high
temperature. Initially, the soldiers were painted with colors. Archaeologists
have found traces of several types of paint on the statues. The statues of the
soldiers have different age, rank and attire. The scientists couldn’t find
single pair of figures with the same faces, since the real soldiers of the Qin
army were the prototypes of real troops of the emperor. This prototype army
included generals and officers, infantrymen and cavalrymen standing next to the
horses, chariots driving the chariot and archers squatting down.

 

       

        

      

 

The statues
of the generals and members of the command staff are the highest and have the
strongest physique. In addition, generals can easily be distinguished from
other warriors for a number of characteristics. Firstly, they have a special
headdress with two “tails”, secondly, their clothes were longer and descended
below the knees. Officers have more simple headgear. Armor most often covers
their shoulders, but never breast. Figures of archers look like so real that
they are ready at any moment to rush into the attack. Ancient masters managed
to capture on their faces an expression of tension and concentration.

Despite
terracotta soldiers a great number of weapons were buried in complex. An
interesting fact, mentioned by our guide, was that all of these weapons fully
corresponded to real weapons used in battles in the Qin era.

 

                                               

 

During the
drilling to the west of the burial place of the terracotta army, archeologists
found two chariots, each of which had two wheels with spokes and was harnessed
by four horses. However, unlike the horses and drivers, found in the pits, these
chariots were completely broken. It took long time for specialists to recover
them to their previous appearance. An interesting fact was that they weren’t
made in full size, but represented half-reduced copies of the chariots used by
the emperor during trips around the country.10 Both chariots prove high development of metal
processing skills of ancient Chinese.

Terracotta
army complex is one of the famous necropolises all around the world. But many
parts of it, especially tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is still not opened, so
the most precious artifacts are still buried in earth. It has many reasons, but
main is that, despite all sophisticated hi-tech gadgets, we still don’t have
enough developed technologies to prevent and preserve ancient objects buried
thousands years ago. One impressive fact is that when statues of soldiers were
excavated, they had colorful paint, which they lost during 15 minutes staying
in fresh air. The paint kept during thousand years under earth, couldn’t resist
the light of sun and temperature of air. Thus, main preciouses of Qin Shi Huang
complex are still under earth waiting their fatal time.

 

Impact of national heritage preservation policy to
Xi’an

 

  Chinese government policy regarding keeping
and preserving the national heritage of country deserves deep respect. During
last several decades government created well organized infrastructure for
maintaining ancient constructions, buildings, objects, both material and
nonmaterial. Policy on maintaining national museums also is worth to highlight.
Almost all of them are free, well organized; number of visitors is always high.

Economic
reforms in country in 80s also played huge role. It helped to attract outside
funds which became a key theme to urban planners toward the end of the 1980s.
There were pressures for compromise in established conservation policies to
accommodate new developments in both central and suburban areas. This began
with the increased demand for hotel developments. With more and more visitors
from abroad coming to Xi’an to see the Emperor’s Warriors, international
investors saw an opportunity to expand their businesses.11

Such policy
changed appearance of Xi’an. Due to archeological founding a small city became
one of the most important industrial and commercial centers in China. Big
demand for new facilities and industrial developments was reason of foundation
of High-Tech Zone in the southern suburbs of the city. Nowadays city developed
Xi’an Economic Technological and Development Zone (XETDZ) – assemble of modern
hi-tech companies specialized in forward technologies and startups. It brought
to Xi’an a great number of foreign direct investments, created new work places
for locals and raised living standards of city.

The Qin Shi
Huang Mausoleum has been listed a State Priority Protected Site and thus is
under the protection of the Chinese government. In 2009, the Museum of the
Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang was upgraded to the Qin Shi Huang
Mausoleum Museum by the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage, taking
charge of the overall planning, management, archaeological excavation,
scientific research and daily maintenance.12

After
official announcement of complex, Terracotta soldiers were presented in large
number of world famous museums of London, Paris, New York and in other
different parts of the globe. They made huge contribution in increasing
popularity of Chinese nation all over the world and became one of well-known
symbols of China.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Case of
Xi’an one more time reveals us how the historical monuments and complexes
managed by responsible government policy can change the image of the whole
country. Recovering of famous Terracotta army took decades of years and huge
affords, it gathered number of specialists from different spheres of life
starting with historians and ending with civil engineers and officials. Together
they could rebuild one of the brightest legacies of ancient China.

Terracotta
Army is not just assembling of statues and weapons. It is historical evidence
of human greatness, skillfulness, but at the same time, its cruelty, greed and
desire to remain a mark on history.  

To be
honest, this place was one of the reasons why I came to China. For many years I
saw terracotta army only in pictures of history books and movies. It seemed to
me, during these minutes, through me passed all 2,000 years of history. It
seemed that time didn’t go anywhere, that I was part of something big,
something I can’t even imagine, part of history and cosmos.

Such
gorgeous places make you think about something important, something much more
important than you, all of your problems and complaints. It makes feel the
greatness of time, infinity of space and nothingness of human life.

 Emperor Qin Shi Huang was great man and built
a tomb at the cost of 700,000 lives. He wanted to take all his wealth to the
afterlife and live like an emperor. But the whole army and all the jewels are
still here. No matter who you are, how rich, how poor, how powerful you are –
in the end, we all end up the same way; you cannot take anything to the grave.
It seems to me that this place reminds us one more time think about simple but
very important things, to take care of our parents and people we love, and to
do more good deeds.

 

 

 

References:

 

·        
An
Interpretative Guide to Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum and the Terra-Cotta
Army Museum. He Hong. Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing and Media Group, Shaanxi
people’s press

·        
The Early
Chinese Empires Qin And Han. Mark Edward Lewis. Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England 2007

·        
Planning
and conservation in historic Chinese cities. The case of Xi’an’. Ya Ping Wang.
Liverpool University Press, 2010

·        
UNESCO
official website, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/441

·        
Prof. Jin
Kai, lecture given on 12.11.2017, Xi’an, Ramada hotel

·        
All photos
are taken by my Xiaomi Redmi 4 Note.

 

 

1 An Interpretative Guide to Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s
Mausoleum and the Terra-Cotta Army Museum. He Hong. Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing
and Media Group, Shaanxi people’s press. P.2

2 The Early Chinese Empires
Qin And Han. Mark Edward Lewis. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Massachusetts London, England 2007, P.74

3 An Interpretative Guide to Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s
Mausoleum and the Terra-Cotta Army Museum. He Hong. Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing
and Media Group, Shaanxi people’s press. P.4

4 P.5

5 P.7

6
According to lecture, given by Prof. Jin Kai on 12.11.2017

7 An Interpretative Guide to Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s
Mausoleum and the Terra-Cotta Army Museum. He Hong. Shaanxi Xinhua Publishing
and Media Group, Shaanxi people’s press. P. 5

8
According to lecture, given by Prof. Jin Kai on 12.11.2017

9
Prof. Jin Kai

10
Prof. Jin Kai

11 Planning and conservation in historic Chinese cities.
The case of Xi’an’. Ya Ping Wang, p322

12 http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/441