Ch.%205%20A%20Magic%20Army%20for%20the%20Emperor-1

Ch.%205%20A%20Magic%20Army%20for%20the%20Emperor-1 - A...

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Unformatted text preview: A Magic Army for the Emperor f the many sensational archaeological excavations Opposite: _ made since the founding of the People‘s Republic of Fig.3.! _TheMagatArmy,221*2105.c._P|tno.I. Ch' . 1949 th t s t‘ 1 fall as the dis Museum oftheTerra—cotta Armyforthe FrrstAugust ina 1n ’ 6 mos sen a tuna 0 W ' Emperorof Qin, Lintong County, Shaanxi Province ry of the terra—cotta army near the tomb of China's First Emperor. The l eupon calling himself Qin Shihuangdi, the First August Emperor of Qin. Fr'g. 3-2 Columns 01‘ infantry soldiers at pattern of empire he established had for more than two millennia into resent century, and the name of his aisty, Qin, is said to have given its e to China. _ In March 1974-, subterranean pits aining the emperor‘s terra-cotta army .6 discovered in Lintong County, Province, some thirty—five kilo— . east of Xi‘an, the provincial capi~ The excavated figures have been d and now stand in situ in their _ battle formation (Figs. 3.1, 3.2). 38 ce the site opened to the pub— ctober 1, 1979, a never~ending isitors have made their way me two million arrive every Whom about 17 percent are for— accommodate this traffic an flal airport was built, opening axing come to light again, the fig. 3.3 Armored infantry soldier. Terra-cotter, H. 190 cm Hg. 3.4 Charioteer. Terra—cone, H. 190 cm terra—cotta army has played a part in changing the economic fabric of Shaanxi Province. Millions of visitors have also seen selected terra-cotta figures in exhi- bitions outside China. In 1976 two warriors and one horse were shown in Japan. For an exhibition originating in New York in 1980, eight figures came to the West for the first time.1 Since then terra—cotta figures have traveled to one foreign country or another almost every year. The most extraordinary fact about this archaeological find is a quite simple one: buried were not a few, or even a few dozen, lifelike soldiers but several thousand. About two thousand figures have been unearthed so far, and it is estimated that there are more than seven thousand altogether. The figures are not only lifelike but life-size, of various types, including armored and unarmored infantryrnen, standing and kneeling archers, cavaln rymen with horses, charioteers, petty officers, and commanders Armored in— fantrymen appear most often. Each held a Spear or halberd in his right hand, and some possibly held a sword in their left hands (Fig. 3.3). The charioteers wear caps that indicate their rank as officers and extend both arms forward to grasp the reins (Fig. 3.4). The standing archers, with turned bodies, are dressed in simple and light uniforms that allowed for speed and maneuver— ability (Fig. 3.5). The kneeling archers wear waist-length suits of scaled armor that simulates leather; their arms are flexed for cradling the crossbow (Fig. 3.6). All details of the clothing, the armor, and the faces are modeled with great care, down to the stippled tread of the sole of the archer‘s sandal.2 The lifelike quality of these warriors must have been even more strik- ing when they were still painted with their original colors, which indicated precisely the different parts bf their dress. When these figures are unearthed, their colors are still visible. Upon excavation, however, most of the pigment adheres to the surrounding earth and not to the figures. Moreover, once ex— posed to air, the lacquer in which the pigments are embedded tends to crum- ble rapidly, reducing the colors to powder, Only traces last thereafter. Only recently has a method been found to stabilize the polychrome coating.3 Be- cause the problems of conservation remain unsolved, excavation work now proceeds at a slow pace. The following discussion of this army, which the emperor commis— sioned for his tomb, will consider three questions: What was done? Why was it done? And how was it done? What Was Done? The Necropolfs The Grand Historian Sima Qian (born 14-5 BC.) gives a detailed account of the tomb in his Records ofthe Historian (Shiji), which he completed in 91 B.C.‘* Work began as soon as the future emperor ascended the throne as king of Qin in 247 B.C., when he was thirteen years old. It is believed that the king, as was customary, put his chancellor in charge of designing the royal tomb and supervising construction. This was Lu Buwei (died 235 B.C.), who had been a trusted adviser to the king‘s father. _ In 237 B.C., La Buwei fell from grace, and Li Si (ca. 280—208 no), one of the ablest men of his time, followed as chancellor. He was instrumental in implementing the unification of the empire and in forging its administrative structures. He is personally credited with creating the stately, tectonic Small Seal Script for the imperial steles that were set up to glorify the emperor’s unification of the realm. As mentioned in chapter 1, these steles set a prece— dent for the millions of stone steles that followed in succeeding centuries (see Fig. 1.16). It seems that Li Si also took extraordinary measures to pre- pare a worthy tomb for his ruler. it was probably he who, in 231 B.c., turned the area around the tomb into a government district with its own administra— tive center, named Liyi (District of Li) after the nearby Mount L1. The people in this district were responsible for the construction and later for the mainte- nance of the imperial necropolis.j After the king became emperor in 221 B.C., the design for his tomb seems to have been expanded to a much larger scale. As the series of military campaigns had come to an end, large numbers of conscripts became avail~ able, and more than seven hundred thousand men from all parts of the realm were recruited to build the emperor’s palace-and his tomb. Most of them were forced laborers, slaves, and prisoners, “men punished by castration or sentenced to penal servitude,” in the words of the Grand Historian.6 Work on the terra-cotta army probably started at this time.7 In 212 B.C., Li Si had thirty thousand families resettled to the district,8 but when the emperor died two years later construction stopped at once, even though his tomb compound was not yet finished. The laborers at the palace also ceased work to join the men at the tomb. All seven hundred thousand of them heaped earth on it during the following year.9 Today a large tumulus still occupies the center of the compound.10 This artificial hill has the shape of a truncated pyramid, with a base of ap~ proximately 350 meters. The original height is said to have been about 115 meters. Erosion has taken its toll and reduced the tumulus to its present height of 76 meters, or less. The exact location of the emperor’s tomb was thus known throughout history. even after the walls and halls above ground had decayed, since nobody could overlook the tumulus. Figure 3.7 is a pho- tograph made by the early French explorer Victor Segalen in 1914, in which the stepped profile of the tumulus is still clearly visible.” Bushes and trees planted since adorn and protect the hill because Chi— nese archaeologists have decided not to excavate the tomb in our time. Knowing what wonders wait for them once they open the ground, they also know that they would be unable to preserve properly what they might find. in a famous passage, Sima Qian tells us of the tombs content: As soon as the First Emperor became King of Qin, excavations and building had been started at Mount Lt, while after he won the empire more. than seven hundred thousand conscripts from all parts of the country worhed there. They dug through three subterranean streams and poured molten copperfor the outer coffin, and the fig. 3.5 fig. 3.6 A Magic Army forthe Emperor 53 Standing archer. Terra-torts, H. I78 cm Kneeling archer. Terra-cotter, H, 122 cm 54 Ten Thousand Things Fig. 3.7 Tumulus in the metropolis ofthe First Emperor (photograph made in 1914 by Victor Segalen) tomb was filled with models of palaces, pavilions and offices, as well as fine vessels, precious stones and rarities. Artisans were ordered to fix up crossbows so that any thief breaking in would be shot. All the country’s streams, the Yellow River and the Yangzi were reproduced in quicksilver and by some mechanical means made to flow into a miniature ocean. The heavenly constellations were shown above and the regions of-the earth below, The candles were made of whale oil to ensure their burning for the longest possible time. The Second Emperor decreed, “It is not right to send away those of my father’s ladies who had no sons.” Accordingly all these were ordered to follow the First Emperor to the grave. After the interment someone pointed out that the artisans who had made the mechanical contrivances might disclose all the treasure that was in the tomb; therefore after the burial and sealing up of the treasures, the middle gate was shut and the outer gate closed to imprison all the artisans and laborers, so that not one came out. Trees and grass were planted over the mausoleum to make it seem like a hill.12 The tomb thus contains a microcosm, an ideal model of the realm over which the emperor had ruled and intended to continue to rule after his death. Doubtless it will be difficult for any future excavator to preserve quicksilver streams and heavenly constellations. Indeed, the tomb may have been looted long ago. The Grand Historian talks about the destruction wrought upon the Qin empire and its capital Xianyang, in 206 BC. by Gen- eral Xiang Yu: “Xiang Yu led his troops west, massacred the citizens of Xian- yang, killed Ziying, the last king of Qin, who had surrendered, and set fire to the Qin palaces. The conflagration raged for three whole months. Having looted the city and seized the women there, he started east.” 13 General Xiang Yu is also said to have dug up the emperor’s tomb.” At the same time he may have destroyed the underground pits housing the terracotta army. Excavations have revealed that they have been burned. Above ground the rectangular layout of the imperial tomb resembled that of a palace with an outer and an inner wall (Fig. 3.8). Except in a very --"1-"wr:e:- . that; WEW{"':__ ..-'.'.a'- 'r' I ' .u‘rY-""' ._ "—4 .._ ..,..:. ....._. .w y»..- .,..__.: :mr‘w‘r' "was... f— . Foundation of Retiring Hall 2. Side halls 3. Foundation of provisions office 4. Bronze chariots 5. Burials of rare animals 6. Burials of300 horses 7'. Mass burials of forced laborers B Pits with the terra—cotta army \ A? oWudongcun o Yuchitun ——-—%Z Street to Lintong ”Ir/K 8 an? A archaeological finds O ‘ i h .. aobeihuctrn OS angiiaotun 0 modern villages :4 gates II II II on»..... ,-.m... a .. a. 7-“rivers .- associated tombs . horse burials u burials with clay grooms _o 500 D few places, these two walls made of pounded earth have completely van— ished. The walls measured 8 meters in width, and they are believed to have had an original height of 8 to 10 meters. The inner wall was 1,355 meters long and 580 meters broad. The outer wall was 2,165 meters long and 940 meters broad. Watchtowers guarded the four corners, and gates opened at the four sides. The compound contained buildings of many sorts, making it a necrop- olis, a city for the dead. Several foundations of mighty architectural structures have been located and excavated. About 53 meters north of the tumulus lay a large square hall, enclosed by a covered corridor 57 meters wide and 62 me- ters deep (no. i in Fig. 3.8). It was the retiring hall (qindian) and contained the emperor’s garments, headgear, armrests, and walking staffs. Once every month these relics were taken in a procession to an Ancestor Temple of the Absolute (jimiao). After having received due sacrifices and veneration, the emperor’s personal objects were carried back.15 The Ancestor Temple of the Absolute was dedicated to the First Emperor only It is believed that it was situated to the south of the necropolis and connected to it by a road.16 According to literary sources, in earlier times a retiring hall and a tem- ple hall (miao) belonged to an ancestor-temple compound in the capital, Where all the rulers of one lineage received sacrifices Transferring the retir— ing hall to the necrOpolis and making it the ceremonial center there was a means to augment the importance of the rulers posthumous presence. Hg. 3.8 A Magic Army for the Emperor 55 Plan of the necropolis ofthe First Emperor 56 I Ten Thousand Things North of the retiring hall, but stiil within the inner wall, foundations of more buildings have been identified (no. 2 in Fig. 3.8). These may have been side halls (biandian), where the visiting members of the imperial family put on mourning dress and prepared for making sacrifices.” Apart from these special occasions, routine sacrifices of food and drink were made three or four times a day. These and other activities were adminis— tered by an office organized like the imperial household agency at the capital. Cooks prepared the sacrificial food. At the west side of the necropolis, be- ' tween the inner and outer walls, the remains of three buildings have been located, and inscriptions on ce— ramic shards found there identify them as the provi— sions office (siguan; no. 3 in Fig. 3.8). Ceramic drainage channels, stone pillar bases, iron tools, and objects of daily use have been found here. ‘8 About 20 meters west of the tumulus and 7.8 meters below ground, two bronze chariots, each drawn by four bronze horses, have been unearthed (Fig. 3.9; no. 4 in Fig. 3.8). They had been waiting there for the Imperial Lord who, at some point in time, may have wanted to leave through the nearby gate and be driven around. Large quantities of hay Fig. 3.9 Bronze chariots in situ were deposited for the horses. Although the chariots were badly damaged by earth that had fallen into the pit, it has been possible to restore them to their original SplendOr. They are about half the size of real chariots. The exquisitely made models exemplify the techniques of chariot building and horse harness- ing in great detail. One of the chariots consists of 3,462 individual parts.19 Beyond and slightly to the south of the western gate of the inner wall, burials of thirty—one rare birds and animals in clay coffins lay in rows (no. 5 in Fig. 3.8). In addition to the skeletons, the coffins contained clay dishes for food and collars attached to the animals. Clay wardens guarded them.20 In life, the precious animals probably inhabited an imperial pleasure garden or the animal enclosures in the Supreme Forest (shanglin), the extravagant hunting park where the emperor kept rare specimens of flora and fauna from all over the world.21 An area about fifteen hundred meters long and fifty meters wide, to the east of the outer wall near the present village of Shangjiaocun, holds three hundred to four hundred pits, close to one hundred of which have been surveyed. Each pit either contains the skeleton of a horse or the life- size terra-cotta figure of a kneeling groom, or both (Fig. 3.10). The grooms are of exquisite quality and resemble the figures of the army. The horses lie facing the center of the tomb. Most of them seem to have been buried alive. Some of the horses, however, have slashed limbs, indicating that they were first slaughtered before they were placed in wooden coffins. inscriptions on ceramic shards prove that the animals came from palace stables.22 Test excavations in the southwestern corner of the necropolis re- vealed an L—shaped pit, more than one hundred meters long and nine meters wide. Another some three hundred skeletons of horses were stacked in it Fig. 3.10 Horse groom. Terracotta, H, 68 cm and accompanied by terra—cotta grooms (no. 6 in Fig. 3.8). This pit must also represent one of the imperial stables. Human skeletons have also been found in the necropolis of the First Emperor. A few meters to the west of the pits with horses and clay grooms near Shangjiaocun, a row of seventeen pit tombs with ramps and wooden coffins has been located, each of which bears the remains of one person, ei~ ther male or female. Objects of gold, silver, jade, and lacquer and fragments of silk indicate their high social rank. It seems that they had all been put to death and their limbs severed.23 It is not clear yet whether these people asked to follow their lord to the grave, whether they were sacrificed in reli- gious rituals, or whether they were the victims of political intrigue. The Grand Historian tells us that the son of the First Emperor, after he usurped More than one hundred human skeletons lie in mass burials about 1.5 kilometers West of the tumulus near the village of Zhaobeihucun (Fig. 3.11; no. 7 in Fig. 38). Except for three women and two children, most of them were men aged between twenty and thirty. They were workers at the necrop- olis who may have been sentenced to death. At least twenty—six men were ac- companied by small individual clay tablets with a written record. Eight of them show stamped-seal impressions of the government office to which the dead workers had belonged. The other eighteen shards have short inscrip— 3.l2 identifies a man who came from a faraway village in present Shandong Province. It reads: “Forced laborer Sui, rank laugeng, from Dongjian Village, Dongwu City?” Bugeng was stage four in an ascending series of twenty ranks.” Hence laborer Sui was a petty officer, probably working off the re— demption ofa punishment. These are the earliest tomb inscriptions found in China so far and reflect the bureaucratic control over the workforce. The Army in Its Pits The most spectacular burial outside the tomb proper is, of course, the terra— cotta army (no. 8 in Fig. 3.8).27 The Grand Historian does not mention it, nor does any other historical source. Its discovery in 1974 came as a com- plete surprise. There is a cluster of four separate pits 1,225 meters east of the outer wall. Pit no. 1, which is 230 meters long and 62 meters wide, contains a War chariot drawn by four horses. Several of the figures lack heads, which are believed to have been stolen by grave robbers as early as the Qiri or the Han period.23 Pit r10. 4 did not contain any figures and was probably left A Magic Army for the Emperor 57 Hg. 3.” Mass graves Hg. 3.12 BLIn'ai inscription on day shard, ca. 19 X ca. 14 tm i i N H lg. 3J3 Plan of the four pits fig. 314 Ground plan (top) and cross section bottom} of pit no. i 7 ea sass seas : $3 800 Q . $$ 900$ . 5933 E96300 f 00 000.. . $59 6306) . o 0000 : 00 g h 0000 : 3% ' 88% . 0000 - $33 oooo 663633 : 93 0000 6983969 . am) 0000 0000 ' sea 000‘. $000 ; 00 oooo @$$$ . 00 000.. 0000 . mg 0099 $000 1 o 0000 6$$$ 00 $e$$ 0000 '- masss . g 0000 $339 3 0000 3 : 88 0000 gggg . 000$ . o sass . 00 0000 0 , OD $$$® o : $00 a 00 00 C O % 1 00 , 00 , 0 I 00 H, 'J] " I j 0 0000 0000 -, g 0000 ooeo 000 00000000 t'." unfinished by its builders. Together, the four pits seem to represent a com- plete garrison: pit no. 1, the right army; pit no. 2, the left army; pit no. 4-, the middle army; with the headquarters in pit. no. 3 (Fig. 3.13).” The pits’ architectural structures were devised for solidity and perina- nence (Fig. 3.14). The outer walls and the walls between the eleven parallel corridors in pit no. 1 consist of pounded earth. The earthen walls were orig- inally held in place by wooden frames that also supported the roof beams. 'Ihe hoof,nituro,carned alayerofreddifliinoruU‘and alayerofeardithree meters thick. The floor was also made of pounded earth as hard as cement, and ahogetber covered by sorne 256,000 tfles.ltlias been cahnakued that about 126,940 cubic meters of earth were moved to excavate the pits, and that 8000 cubic meters of timber were needet‘lfim 'lhesohd wooden c0nflrucdontnusthavelnen_hnmhed behuetbe i'igures were put into place; otherwise their installation would have been too dangerous. At the front side of the pit, ramps have been identified down '"”"‘""""'“'""_”“_ 'lEaesoo 0000 . a 2 gauge U horse 8$$$ ‘5 war chariot 33...
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