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Photographer's Note

Chinese Warriors

The discovery of the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi in March of 1974 by a group of farmers in Xi'an, China, is considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.

The 7,500 life-size clay soldiers were buried 22 centuries ago in battle formation with real chariots and weapons of wood and bronze. A rebellious real-life army toppled the clay soldiers after the emperor’s death. Today, one by one and often piece by piece, more than 1,000 of the imperial guards have been restored and returned to their posts in the largest of three burial pits where charioteers, horses, archers, spearmen, and officers stand in dusty sunlight. Both a museum and a working archaeological dig, the three acre site is part of the tomb complex. Now under a protective roof, the emperor’s troops fill 11 corridors of the main burial pit, with robed bowman followed by four-horse chariots and ranks of armored infantry.

Each head is individually molded—perhaps to represent the various people Qui Shi Huangdi molded into one nation. The clay soldiers are detailed down to the last rivet of the archer’s armor. Some show the remains of painted uniforms. Sometimes it can take two months to restore a single figure. Gluing the parts together may take only four to five days, but sorting out and matching fragments may take weeks. One statue was in 200 pieces.

My visit to China was planned for 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square protests, and had to be postponed until the summer of 1990. This picture is another of my scanned slides.

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Additional Photos by Betty Jones (BWJ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 473 W: 0 N: 919] (3094)
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