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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society Traditions

Chinese Terracotta Army

Warriors of the Terracotta Army present an invaluable artistic reference for those interested in culture of Ancient China. By examining the armors and clothing of these soldiers it is possible to trace influences from different regions of China.

Terracotta Army was created during the reign of the First Emperor of China Quin Shi Huang. Despite of being a controversial person he is regarded as an important historical figure because he unified the warring states of China into one mighty country. He also helped to establish Legalism - a form of pragmatic political philosophy that supports the supreme rule of law and jurisprudence.

The official historian of the Han dynasty, Sima Qian, even though he wasn't a contemporary of the Emperor, has left a detailed record that describes the construction of the First Emperor's mausoleum. Building works began in 246 BCE (36 years before Emperor's death) and allegedly involved 700,000 craftsmen and workers. Sima Qian wrote about buildings and wonderful objects that formed the mausoleum but he did not mention the Terracotta Army with a single word. Either he was prohibited to do so or the construction of the life-size clay figures was kept secret even from people close to the Emperor and the historian did not know of their existence.

More than 8,000 terracotta soldiers remained under earth for 2200 years guarding the peace of the First Emperor. It was in 1974 when local peasants uncovered the first clay figures and turned Xian into a major archaeological site. In fact, the work of uncovering, identifying and analyzing the amazing warriors is still going on.

Since the middle of the 80-ies when terracotta warriors gained popularity in the Western world, many exhibitions and museums have been established. One of the first exhibitions in Europe dedicated to the Chinese Terracotta Army was 1987 exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London. In 2002 a permanent Terracotta Warriors Museum was established in Dorchester, United Kingdom. In 2008 British Museum added to the popularity of the amazing clay soldiers by hosting "The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army" exhibition. For the seasons of 2008/2009 a similar exhibition is travelling USA. At last the world can appreciate the wonder of Terracotta Army.

However, the ancient soldiers are not just a source of entertainment. The importance of Terracotta heritage is now recognized both in Western world and in China. If you ask anyone, Chinese people are very proud of their magnificent past - that is why it was decided to display three terracotta warrior statues and a terracotta horse statue in the spotlight of a special exhibition held at the Capital Museum in Beijing, China not far from the Olympic Stadium to celebrate the Olympic Games of 2008.

Author is a keen traveler and appreciates the cultural diversity of the world. For more facts and information on how to obtain your own Terracotta souvenirs please visit the page
about Chinese Terracotta Army.

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