of Emporer Qin Shi Huangdi

When Qin Shi Huangdi, first emporer of China, ordered his army of terra cotta soldiers 2,000 years ago, each was made unique and painted in beautiful colour. This was his guard of terracotta warriors, to protect him in the afterlife. The contruction of these ancient Chinese warriors employed 700,000 workers and the Emporer was only thirteen when the work began. It seems he had teenage tastes in colour, since the archers were originally painted with pink gambesons, blue pants, and green shin guards and laces.

Armour of the Terra Cotta Soldiers

Hand armour for charioteers.
Alt Text--Terra cotta soldiers hand armour
There is much to be learned about Qin Dynasty armour, from the terra cotta soldiers. The brigindine plates were shaped differently, depending on which part of the armour they were made for. Pieces were rectangular, square, trapezoid, fish scale shaped, or irregular. A stand alone set of armour was unearthed. The brigindine pieces were laced together with copper strips. Waist circumference was 127cm. That's about 4XL. I expect this was to accommodate the bulk of a thick gambeson worn underneath the plates.

Not all of the infantry men were armoured. There are very few helmets, although helmets were common in battle during the Qin era. Not all of the figures are soldiers. There were musicians and other entertainers, officials, utility workers such as stableboys, and plenty of animals. The logistics of moving a large army about is before our eyes as we examine the terracotta warriors. Think about this - food for thousands of men and all the horses. Soldiers probably carried several weapons - spear, sword and bow. There would need to be blacksmiths and sword smiths, armourers, cooks....

As far as I can see, there is an absence of maille. Brigindine is common, and possibly scale armour on the officials. There is also some plate. Boots were flat and made in several sewn together pieces. Socks seemed unknown, replaced by cloth strips wrapped from ankle to knee, under the trousers.

Generals were distinguished firstly by their extra height. Also by their pheasant tail caps, rank ribbons, and armour formed into a V shape at the front.

Since only a small part of these ancient Chinese terra cotta soldiers have been excavated, there is much information still to be gleaned in the future. Watch this space....

My Terra Cotta Soldiers Thoughts

Have you seen the terra cotta warriors, either in China or on exhibition? Did you meet the man posing as a statue? What are your thoughts on digging up the past, or on Chinese history? if you have anything related to these topics you would like to share, I'd love to hear it.

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Photos of the Terracotta Army  Not rated yet
These Terracotta Army photos are from my visit. The amazing thing is that they've only unearthed part of the army, and restored only a fraction of that....

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