Terracotta Warriors

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Keith
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Terracotta Warriors

Postby Keith » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:37 am

Those of us that played Emperor Rise of the Middle Kingdom will remember that we had to build the Terracotta army.

I learned some facts about the actual Terracotta Warriors that I find interesting.

There are 8,000 terracotta warrior sculptures buried in three pits near the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor.

Each soldier is unique and not just a copy of the next one.

The only standardized parts are the head, hands, ears and legs. The face was sculpted separately and affixed to the head at a later time.

Each sculpture is seven feet tall and weighs roughly 650 lbs.

There are units of cavalry, infantry and crossbow men represented.

The tomb itself was started around 221 b.c.e.

The bodies of the figures are made of coils of clay and hollow on the inside. Coiled layers of clay formed the basic shape of the upper body that was then carved and sculpted on the outside.

Parts were dried for several weeks and then fired separately in pieces. A full statue would collapse from it's own weight if they had constructed the entire thing first and then fired the clay.

The ideal temperature for making the statues is 20C. It is likely that nearby caves were used to make the statues due to their even tempuratures summer and winter.

A special sticky red clay is used as the raw material.

There were 87 master craftsmen names enscribed on the 8000 statues. It is assumed that each master had 10 apprentices working under him. Each "team" could turn out one terracotta warrior per month making a total of 12 per year. It would have taken 8 years to make all the warriors.

Each statue was given a coat of precious lacquer over the finished painted warrior. Lacquer trees are related to Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac. Touching the lacquer tree sap or breathing the fumes causes great discomfort. Chinese workers were exposed to it every day for 8 years.

A lacquer tree can only be harvested when it is at least 6 years old. Only 10 grams of sap can be taken or the tree will die. 10 grams is enough to fill one egg cup.

It is estimated that it took 25 lacquer trees to coat one Terracotta Warrior and 200,000 trees to do all 8,000 warriors.

When the warriors were uncovered they began to dry out after being buried in the damp ground. The lacquer began to flake off in minutes taking the paint beneath it with it.

A museum in Germany has two copies of warriors on display painted as they would have been when they were first made.

Image


Image


The color referred to as "Chinese Purple" was used on the warriors and was developed by the early Chinese. It has some startling unique properties.

While testing flakes of the "Chinese Purple" at the worlds strongest magnet in Florida, they discovered that inside the magnet the molecules of the "Chinese Purple" became a single magnetic wave a unique state in the world of quantum physics. By super cooling the flakes even further while in the magnet the magnetic wave lost it's third dimension separating in to individual two dimensional planes. This state can lead to more efficient super conductors, lower electric bills, more efficient magnetic trains, and faster computers.

Azeem
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Postby Azeem » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:51 pm

Interesting. I wasn't aware that they were originally painted with multiple colors.

Keith
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Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 4:00 pm
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Postby Keith » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:34 pm

People are so used to seeing the statues the way they are now they are startled to see them painted and ask if the statues in Germany are true representations of the originals.

The researchers there say that they studied all the fragments of color they could find still in existence and say that their two statue copies are accurate and appropriately painted.


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