page contents

Birth of The Terracotta Warriors – China can be amazing.

Recently this year, my brother went to China for a short trip and I couldn’t help but ask: “CHINA??? Why China?” and he said, “Why not?”

Hmm. I don’t know how many of you would respond in the same way, but I guess somehow everywhere in the world seems more interesting than Asia. Or maybe it’s just me. Personally, I don’t really have a very good impression of China. I think it is boring. Not that I’ve been there before but yea Lol. Anyway, I managed to find something interesting about China! The Terracotta Warriors.

(My brother told me about them before and Prof. Bennett mentioned it too, they made it sound interesting so I had to check it out for myself. It’s pretty cool, trust me.)

Remember Qin Shi Huang? The First Emperor of the Qin dynasty? The one that took over the Chinese EMPIRE at the AGE OF 13? And looks like…

NAH I’M KIDDING! Actually he looks like this.

Profile of Emperor Qin

During his rule, Qin expanded his territory by conquering neighboring states and absorbing them into his empire. Like every other war, the destruction of homes and the death of thousands or hundreds of thousands of soldiers were inevitable. However that wasn’t it.

He was a cautious emperor who felt threatened by EVERY. LITTLE. THING. He feared people would plot against him and have him overthrown. So he thought to himself, why not just kill them and silence all the haters? And he did just that. He killed anyone who opposed or disagreed with him. Exactly how all the Chinese Emperor Dramas are scripted btw. Like all of em.

According to Szczepanski, Confucianism (popular at that time) was also considered a threat to his authority so he “had approximately 460 scholars buried alive for daring to disagree with him, and 700 more stoned to death. From then on, the only approved school of thought was legalism: follow the emperor's laws, or face the consequences.”

Obey me or die.

Obsession over immortality and the afterlife

Probably because of all the bad deeds that he had done, he grew to become extremely fearful of death and the afterlife. He ordered court doctors and alchemists to find him an elixir of life and for anyone to let him know of any anti-aging secrets. I don’t know who in the right mind suggested mercury but someone definitely did and Qin Shi Wang was downing those mercury pills till it eventually placed him on his death bed at 39.


People probably got the idea from the saying “you are what you eat” and therefore turned to pure metals like mercury since metals are strong? And they wanted to be so strong that they become immortal? hmm I don't know.

The Terracotta Warriors

Just in case the immortality (mercury) pills didn’t work, Qin had a backup plan. He got a labor force of approximately 700,000 people to create a mausoleum complex in Xi'an that was a copy of his kingdom, even complete with a ceiling that mimicked the night sky.

To accompany him in the afterlife, he had an army of Terracotta Warriors built. There are at least 8,000 LIFE-SIZE clay soldiers buried together with him, probably to protect and defend him even in the afterlife.

Honestly, I didn’t think they were really LIFE-SIZED because some of the pictures I came across initially made them look like tiny figurines! Or maybe it’s just me again -.- haha.

But that’s how unrealistic it is but then again, it’s not! Just imagine how much space they occupy! Oh, it is said that Qin’s largely unexcavated tomb is… about 57 square km 

which is approximately... 7983 SOCCER FIELDS. Yes i calculated it lol.

Let’s… all take a moment to take it all in.

Each soldier is utterly unique and even positioned according to rank!

Every single one of them has distinct facial expressions, features, hairstyles and clothing. Can you believe it?! The amount of details and effort being put into it is just ridiculous. Some of these warriors were fully armed, complete with terracotta horses, real chariots, swords, spears and cross-bows that were all capable of spilling blood.

Were they replicas of real people??

Because they are all so unique, it made me wonder if they were modeled after people who once walked the face of ancient China. In Komlos’s paper he wrote, “The physical stature of the Chinese population implied by the terra-cotta figures is certainly within the plausible range, even if one were to subtract 1-2 cm as an allowance for the head-dress and cap of the terra-cotta figures” which led him to believe that the warriors were modeled after real people.

Another recent study done by a team of archaeologists from University College London (UCL) found similar results and “have produced 3D computer models of the statues, focusing on their ears, which they say are unique like fingerprints”. Working with a sample of 30 terracotta warriors, it was found that the statistical variation resembled that of a real Chinese population at that time which reemphasized the point that the warriors were based on real people and not just made out of a fix set of molds. And they are looking forward to studying a larger sample size.

Now, let me tell you MY version of the story.

Qin got a bunch of artists to build the warriors based on some of his soldiers. Maybe those he valued greatly? Or those that were highly capable? BUT, they were also too smart and too hard to control, possibly a threat that would have him overthrown. So what does he do? He executes them.

Maybe, just maybe… The act of execution showed that he had more power and authority over them. Therefore in the afterlife, he will have better control over them and they will serve him well. In other words, they were human sacrifices for his afterlife. JUST CAUSE HE COULD.

But those are just my thoughts.


It is not true that Asian countries are any less interesting as compared to other more popular countries that are often portrayed to be more glamorous and ‘happening’. That’s what I use to think. Countries like China can be pretty amazing too! You just got to find your point of interest. Maybe just like me, you've found out something interesting about China too? I certainly hope so! :) Next time, try looking at other cultures or even your own culture in a different light, be open and you’d be surprise how that experience might change for you.