The statue of Kneeling Archer was made of terra-cotta. It was an imitation of the crossbow soldier belonged to the guardian army of Qin Shihuang(秦始皇), the first emperor of China.
This statue was excavated in 1994 from No.2 Pit, which, along with the other three pits that included the statues of the standing archers, infantry, cavalry, and chariot, constitutes the underground phalanxes that guarded the Qin Shihuang's tomb located in Lingtong, Shan'xi Province, China.
With crossbow in hand, kneeling archers were positioned at the center of the projecting sub-array of No.2 Pit. This sub-array was composed by standing archers and kneeling archers that total 332 pieces. The standing archers were arranged at the periphery of the sub-array and the kneeling archers were disposed inside them. The whole sub-array protrudes from the phalanx toward east. The rest parts of the phalanx are cavalry, chariot, and infantry arrays.(Wang, 1994, pp. 13-20)
All the kneeling archers are basically similar but with slight detail variations.
The archer rests on the right knee and his left knee raises. His right arm is held toward right thigh with open hand ready to hold the crossbow. The left arm put on the left knee and grasp another part of the crossbow.This posture is a "ready to lanuch" positon. Picture 15 depicts the status that the archer is launching the arrow.
The archer's head is held firm and his eyes look directly ahead, reflecting the impressions of concentration and discipline
. His hair is tied in a decorative plait and then coiled into a bun standing on the back of the head.
The archer wears plated armour on the upper half of the body together with shoulder pieces. The battle robe beneath with wrinkles and folds rests over the legs. One significant detail in the sculpture is the fine stitches in the sole of the shoes, demonstrating a strict mode of naturalism and presenting to viewers a strong sense of life.
The archer’s crossbow, which was primary made from wood, now has decayed during the underground era of 2000 years. A reconstruction of the crossbow has been made based on the bronze accessory remains and impression in the surrounding earth of the pit. The original crossbow is 71.6cm in length, with a groove at the front in which the arrow fixed and the bronze trigger at the rear. (Capon,1983,pp. 100-105)
The original artwork was painted with realistic colors, but the layers of color stuck to the earth that had covered them for thousands of years. However, in some cases even though some statues had preserved their colors, after the separation from the soil, the pigments started to fade and detach. Based on the literature search and tiny traces remain on the statue, an illustration of the artwork has been reconstructed, presenting the initial appearance of the artwork. The Chinese and German scientists have found the cause of the detachment, which involved the use of some kinds of organic pigments and the procedure of the lacquer preparation.(Capon,1983,pp. 100-105)
This life-like and life-sized terracotta statue of a kneeling archer was discovered in a burial pit outside Xi'an , Shaanxi province , China in 1974. The greatest achievement in the history of ancient Chinese sculpture and funerary art, it is now in the collection of the Museum of the Terracotta Army in Xi'an. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the tomb of the First Emperor of Qin was one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century. An army of more than 8000 soldiers and horses is still being excavated from the area surrounding the mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin (r. 221-210 BCE), the founder of the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE) and the creator of China's first unified empire. Intended to serve as his palace in the afterlife, the tomb complex was protected and surrounded by this terracotta army, which was arrayed in battle formation.
The position of this terracotta warrior's arms strongly suggests that this kneeling archer, wearing a waist-length suit of armor (with overlapping plates imitating leather or metal components), presumably held a bow. The artist paid great attention to the mercenary's fashionable chignon, making sure that his hairstyle distinguished him from his fellow soldiers. This Kneeling Archer with a Green Face (221-206 B.C.) was interred with Qin Shihuangdi (r. 221-210 B.C.), China's first emperor. A dozen or more of these statues from the ruler's famous retinue of warriors will be on view at The British Museum, along with terracotta bureaucrats, acrobats and musicians, lifelike bronze birds and other works. Sculptures such as this one were buried with the First Emperor of Qin to prepare him for the afterlife. He anticipated governing the world even in death.