Terracotta army-symbolism or realistic depiction

Dec 2012
446
When the Terracotta army was discovered, there were quite a few other artifacts discovered along with the statues including many weapons made of bronze and armour made of stone.

File:Stone helmet and armor of the Terracotta Army.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

I have seen several people including this resource package from the british museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/Teachers_resource_pack_30_8a.pdf claiming that the bronze weapons were actual tools used for war and suggested it was a replication of an actual army would have been like in the time of Qin. But according to that logic wouldn't the armour made of literal stone also could have been used for war as well since they were also found at the tomb alongside the bronze weapons? Also a lot of the soldiers depicted within the army were not depicted with armour and I have seen several users on this site claim that ancient Chinese soldiers rarely had armour based on statue depiction.

So do you guys think that the Terracotta army was a stylized ideal of what an army is in the mind of the First Emperor or was it supposed to be a realistic replication of a functional army of Qin China?
 

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,569
Out of all the terracotta warriors excavated in Qin Shihuang's museum in Pit 1 (the main pit), about 80% have armor. It seems like a lot don't have armor because all the unarmored ones are at the front of the line, and many of the pictures tend to be taken facing the front of the line. Han terracotta soldiers of Liu Bang tend to have roughly 40% armor (and a lot of the armor provide little coverage), but later terracotta armies of the Han may be depicted with 100% armor (with coverage even greater than that of Qin Shihuang's terracotta soldier's armor).

Qin soldiers wore perishable armor, if they wore actual armor then probably only the lacquer coating may remain.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,368
Sydney
The consensus at this time is that it was a realistic symbolism of the Chin army
in older tombs real humans would be present as sacrifice
of course it's much easier to sacrifice concubines and musicians than Warriors
 
  • Like
Reactions: wigglywaffles
Dec 2012
446
though I have a feeling that they didn't wear stone armour though and I felt the guide from the British museum suggested that it was supposed to be a perfect depiction of the Qin army
 
Dec 2012
446
also I remember some one on this forum said that some of the swords found in the terracotta army had an excessive amount of tin in their bronze composure which made them too brittle to use,
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,017
Australia
No it isn't stylized. There are extant examples of the gear depicted on the TC warriors dating to the same period that are very similar. A tomb in Leigudun contained a dozen lacquered hide lamellar cuirasses that look virtually identical.

None of the bronze swords in the TCW tombs are too brittle to use.

The stone armour was specifically made for funerary use, it was never actually worn. It probably derived from the suits made from jade, which had connotations with immortality.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2012
446
Well you said yourself, the stone armour was for ceremonial purposes rather than actual usage which meant not everything apart of the army was functional use equipment. Also bronze does have spiritual significance in many ancient cultures as well
 
Last edited:

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,017
Australia
Just because one tomb contained ceremonial items, doesn't mean that they all had ceremonial items.
 
Dec 2012
446
is it also true whats said about bronze swords, that its harder the them into long swords than iron/steel? in Iron&Steel in ancient China its said that casting a long bronze sword was very difficult and it can break a lot more easier in battle