During my time in China, the exhibit that stood the most out to me was the Terracotta Warriors. First of all, it was so COOL! As embarassing as this may sound, I had never heard of the Terracotta Warriors before coming to China. I hope that doesn’t make me sound too ignorant. However, the more I heard about them, the more interested I became. Then I realized that there were actually Terracotta HORSES and I became sold on the whole idea. I love horses. I always have and, unless I end up getting kicked in the head, I always will. I think horses are a lot prettier than humans. Especially statues of horses. They always seem so mythical. Humans are completely un-mythical. And not always as charming, either.
When I first began to hear about the meaning behind the Terracotta warriors, I was tempted to inquire further. Okay, so I didn’t have to do that much inquiring since our lovely tour guide volunteered all of the information straightaway. I don’t recall ever having an attention span that lasted as long as it did the day we learned all of this information. I guess my attention span increases if I’m interested in the topic 🙂 Also, Facebook was blocked in China, resulting in me kept away from my major distraction tool.
But apparently, the emperor that ruled during this specific dynasty was a bad/good person. Mostly bad. During his reign, the emperor was able to unite the entire country of China, create a writing system for the people, create a uniform measurement and currency system as well as a legality, built many roads, and he also supervised the Great Wall construction. Whew. That’s quite the Chinese resume. I’m overwhelmed from just having two tests in the same week. I can’t imagine doing all of those “activities” in an entire lifetime. I could barely climb the Great Wall, much less plan how to build it. I learned during my time in China that although this emperor was a cruel man, he is also revered as a national hero. The emperor seemed to have adopted a sort of instruction paradigm since he was mostly concerned with TEACHING his people to respect and honor him, instead of being concerned with producing learning. At this time in China, it seemed as though rulers often operated under the notion of “My way is the right way” and they were not concerned with how they were impacting the people who were the “worshipers.”
With so many great accomplishments, how could this particular emperor be compared to pure evil? Well, the minor detail of him being the cause of the death of thousands of people while uniting the country does not give him a good score on his “emperor evaluation.” It seems as though the Chinese now are fully aware that although the emperor had his good qualities, there were definitely some bruises in this particular apple. Well unfortunately for him, the dominating belief in China is that Karma is very real once you die. If you screw up in your present life, you will pay for it in your afterlife. Being the paranoid sucker that he was, the emperor had clay warriors/horses constructed in order to protect his tomb from invaders. The warriors ended up being placed to the east of the emperor’s tomb since that was the direction he had invaded during his fight to unite the entire country.
As with every successful army, the emperor also had horses designed. Here’s the funny part: Every human warrior was completely different from others. So there were no two warriors that were the same. The horses, on the other hand, only had two varieties. Rude. Apparently, horses aren’t as unique as humans. I beg to differ.
But anyways, there were only chariot horses and chivalry horses. The major difference was the fact that cavalry horses had a long-plaited and pendant tail while the chariot horse had a shorter tied tail. So the only way you can tell the difference is by looking at the horse’s rear end. Again, rude. The other minor difference was the fact that calvary horses had an area for their saddle and girth (which is something that the chariot horses lacked). It’s fascinating to me that the sculptors didn’t put in a little more originality into the horses since the animal does represent power and wealth in China. You would think they would give the horses a little more dignity by making them look slightly different. But I’m a counseling student, not a sculptor. So I probably shouldn’t be judgmental.
Like I said previously, the horses were most definitely my favorite. I think the whole idea of the afterlife is amazing in itself so it was neat to see a physical resemblance of how important the afterlife is regarded in China. I can definitely see myself revisiting the warriors if I ever do make it back to China so that I can see the progress the archaeologists have made on the discovery. Plus, it’s so amazingly beautiful there 🙂
That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Photo Credit: Katharine Sperandio