Monday, March 31, 2014

Michelle Obama Visits Terracotta Army

Michelle Obama and her daughters visited the Terracotta Army last week near the ancient Chinese city of Xi'an. The 8,000 life-size terracotta soldiers guard Emperor Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum, which in its entirety, is the size of a small city.

Emperor Qin ruled a unified China as its first emperor from 221-207 B.C. Qin unified the provinces under one centralized government, opened up the gateway for advancements in politics, economy, culture, and metallurgy, and created a system of canals and roads. He also ordered the earliest version of China's Great Wall to be built along the country's northern border.

Although China remained stable under his rule, a person cannot initiate the building of a 20 square mile mausoleum for himself without having a few screws loose. His modesty was obviously tossed aside. Qin had been known to order the executions not only of scholars whose ideas he opposed, but also laborers and artisans who worked on his mausoleum in order to preserve the secrecy of the tomb's location and the treasures interred within.

Qin's mausoleum is said to have taken three decades for the 700,000 workers to complete its construction. This largest mausoleum in the world contains 8,000 life-size terracotta soldiers, numerous horses and chariots, a pyramid mound marking the emperor's tomb, the remains of a palace, offices, store houses, stables, and 40,000 excellently preserved bronze weapons including battle axes, crossbows, arrowheads, and spears.

Image source: Wikipedia


The terracotta army is believed to have "protected" Qin in the afterlife. Each soldier stands 6' to 6'5" tall and each have distinctive facial features. The soldiers were made using molds but features were added with clay one-by-one after assembly.

Even 40 years after the mausoleum's discovery by farmers digging a well, less than one percent of Qin's tomb has been excavated. Debate continues over whether to excavate the tomb at all. Fears of damaging the corpse and the artifacts within the tomb are a concern, as well as potential safety hazards involved with excavation. An ancient account of the mausoleum said mercury had been inlaid in the floors to simulate rivers running through the tomb. Mercury levels continue to come back highly positive.

Michelle and the kiddos went on a five hour sight-seeing "good-will" tour to different sites in China and lemme tell you, Sasha was "not impressed" (according to the NY Post). I hated everything when I was a kid too up until I was...I still hate everything.

Image source: Malaysia Chronicle

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