Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China, died in 210 b.c. He was buried near the modern city of Xi'an. Near his grave, in underground chambers, were thousands of terra-cotta statues of soldiers, approximately life size.
These are chambers that have not been opened. The soil has been dug away down to the ceilings of the chambers--the sagging ceilings are what you see in the photo--but the ceilings themselves have not yet been removed to expose the statues within.
When a chamber is opened, the statues are for the most part found badly broken. Most of the damage is believed to have been caused by earthquakes.
The pieces are removed and reassembled. Here, five horses and a man.
Once the statues have been reassembled, or mostly reassembled, they are placed back in the chambers from which they came.
Same chamber, closer view.
A different chamber, with horses as well as men.
The bodies were mass produced, but the heads, made separately, appear to be portraits of individuals.
Just this one section (there are several) has row after row of chambers.
The statues were on square bases for stability.
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Copyright © 2002, Edwin E. Moïse. Revised September 18, 2002.