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Production process of Qin Terracotta Army

The figurines were produced roughly through the following process:
The first step was to make clay roughcasts, which were then covered with a layer of fine mud on which facial expressions and other details were carved. When the rough-casts became dry and hardened, they were baked in a kiln. The last step was to paint the baked figurines. When unearthed, many figurines were broken and virtually all were discolored as a result of exposure to moisture over the past two millennia.
Thousands of weapons have been unearthed from the pits, mostly of bronze and tin. They appear brand new, without rust. Tests show that the weapon pieces are covered with a layer of chrome salt oxide substance. Modern chrome electroplating technology was patented in Germany and the United States in 1937 and 1950, respectively. There are no historical records about how the Qin artisans mastered the technology.
The terracotta army is only the tip of the iceberg. Archaeologists say that the mausoleum is so vast that it may take 200 more years to get to know it thoroughly.
In 1987, the Mausoleum was listed as a site of World's Cultural Heritage.


Polychrome Terracotta
Warriors PicturesExperts have confirmed that the material used to mould the terracotta warriors and horses is a "yellow earth" sourced from around the mausoleum. The yellow earth is easy to obtain, and is proved to be an appropriate material due to its adhesive quality and plasticity. The earth underwent screening and grinding to remove impurities and to ensure it was fine and pure. Moreover, a certain amount of white grit which contained quartz sand, mica and feldspar was added. Adding grit to the earth strengthened its mechanical properties which allowed the large terracotta warriors and horses to be easily shaped.

 Figure Creation
Experts have reconstructed the techniques for making the warriors by repeatedly observing, comparing and researching the figures during their sorting out and preparatory work.
The Making of Terracotta Warrior's Head: the shaping of the head is generally acknowledged to be the most difficult, and the procedure was very complicated. First, artisans molded an inner core roughly in head shape, and then applied several layers of mud to get different facial shapes. Finally by kneading, carving, scraping and pasting, artisans successively drew eyebrows, eyes, noses, mouths, ears, hair buns and hat decorations for the heads of terracotta warriors. They drew each figure with a distinctive face, and experts have confirmed that these facial features were reproductions of individual Qin warriors.

Foot of Clay FigureThe Making of Terracotta Warrior's Body: Artisans used mud to make a rough cast which was molded from bottom to top in sections. First they made the foot plate which was molded in a square pattern; the feet were the next and above which were connected the two legs and short pants. In order to represent muscles and bones to make the legs more lifelike, artisans would do some detailed repair. The way to make short pants was to carve a circle with a cord pattern above which were pasted prefabricated pieces of mud to mould as pant leg. Next was the hollow torso. It was made by winding strips of clay upwards. In order to make the clay strips tight and strong, artisans would put sackcloth inside as underlay and this was pounded from outside until they got a satisfactory shape and size. After the torso had been dried in the shade, artisans attached the hollow arms. The straight arm was built by adopting the clay-strip forming technique. Divided by the elbow, the bent arm was made in separate pieces and then glued together. The warrior's hand was inserted and pasted onto the arm.

The figures of the terracotta warriors and horses were fired in kilns. In order to be well ventilated, the Qin artisans left holes in the figures in appropriate position. For example, in the terracotta horse's belly, there were two holes through which flames could evenly enter the horse's body cavity. During the firing, artisans paid special attention to the degree of heating which was maintained around 1,000 C (1,830 F). Moreover, experts did many experiments and found that the figures were put head over heels during firing. This was because the upper part of the figure was heavier than the lower part. It was comparatively more stable to put the figures upside down, which shows that Chinese workers had mastered the centre-of-gravity rule as early as two thousand years ago.

During the excavation and repair work on the terracotta warrior figures, experts discovered many names carved or printed on the bodies of these figures. So far 87 different names have been recognized. They were found hidden in such places as the hips or under the arms of the terracotta warrior statues. Further research has shown that these 87 people were the master craftsmen, and that these craftsmen had assistants of their own. All in all, it is estimated that about a thousand people participated in the making of the terracotta warriors.

Where were these artisans from? The Qin Government recruited countless skilled artisans from all parts of the country. They not only came from Shaanxi, where the warriors were discovered, but also from today's Henan, Hubei, Shandong and Shanxi Provinces. Some artisans worked for the central government, but others were ordinary people. If you look carefully, you will see that the figures created by the artisans from the central government look dignified and majestic. On the other hand, the figures carved by the folk artisans look lively and fresh, which is greatly related to their life experience and living environment. Also, the technical skill level is reflected in the appearance of the warrior figures. Generally speaking, the artistic skill of the artisans from the central government is higher than that of the folk ones.

These skilled craftsmen, as well as the soldiers, fulfilled the Emperor Qin Shihuang's dream of ruling in the after-world.  Bamboo slips unearthed in the pit recorded some of their letters home and from these we can catch a glimpse of their daily life. One soldier (or maybe an artisan) wrote, "Mother, if the cloth is too expensive at home, please send me some money, and I can buy some cloth here and sew padded jackets myself." An artisan wrote, "I have to work carefully every day, if I paint the weapons incorrectly, my officer will punish me very severely." From those words, we can see that these common people lived a stressful and hard life when they worked for the emperor.

However, even though the technical skills of all the artisans were excellent, and their contribution to the Qin Empire was incalculable, their fate was sealed. After the death of the Emperor Qin Shihuang, Hu Hai, the second emperor of Qin Dynasty, ordered to bury them alive in the tomb passages so that the secret of the mausoleum would not be revealed. The poor artisans became the victims of the death of Emperor Qin Shihuang and guarded the entrance to his tomb for over two-thousand years.

Qin Officer's Dressing
In the Qin Dynasty, the dressings can be the basis of their office class. The terracotta general wears a dual long jacket, a dark purple crest hat, a long pant, a thigh protector, a pair of boots with square opening tipping and uniform head, and covered with a colorful armor. They looks full of energy and strength, we can fell they are grand and awe-inspiring.

Qin Soldier's Dressing
Compared with the officer’s dressing, the soldier’s dressing have big modification. The heavy infantries of the Qin terracotta warriors have three kinds of dressing. The first kind includes a long jacket, a pair of shorts, and a pair of shallow shoes, and combed a tight roll of hair at the right side of the head, assembled with leggings and has armor on the back. The second kind is similar to the first one except the soldiers have a red handkerchief on the head. The last one kind of their dressing is similar with the second one, but they have a small change, instead of wearing handkerchiefs, the soldiers belong to this group combs flat bobs on the back of the heads.

The cavalries wear Hu dress ("Hu" refers to the northern minorities living in the northwestern part of ancient China, unlike the loose clothes wore by the people living in the central China, Hu dress is tight which is easy for horse racing and archery), waist-length armors and round small hats. With the bow and arrow in their one hand, the reins in the other hand, the drivers of the chariots dress in two ways. Some wear long jackets, armors, long hats, shallow shoes and armed with leggings. To protect the body of the soldiers, the other kind of dressing provides strict protection to the body which is reflected in the square plates protecting the neck, and via the hand guards, the plates cover will cover the two arms to protect.

Terracotta Warriors Finding the Terra Cotta Warriors
warriors Cotta Pot No. 1.   Production process of Qin Terracotta Army
Third Excavation of Pit 1  Lifelike Terra Cotta Figures
Terracotta Army Pit No.2   Military Formation of Terra Cotta Army
Terra Cotta Pit No. 3  Exquisite Weapons of Terracotta Army
Bronze Chariots  Terra-cotta warriors show their true colors.
terracotta warriors Accessory Pits The Colorful Uniform of Qin Terracotta Figures
  Stone Helmet and Armor near Emperor Qin mausoleum The Statue of Kneeling Archer
 Stories of Terracotta Warriors  Qin Shi Huang Tomb

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