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Once Were Warriors

17 December 2006
 

Yin chariots moving in the dead world

Pit 2 contains fourteen hundred elite troops of life scale, including cavalrymen, infantry, horses and ninety wooden chariots.

Yin soldiers guarding the dead emperor

Six thousand yin soldiers stand in formation in Pit 1, guarding the city of the dead.

About thirty years ago, with the help of the farmers in the outskirts of China’s ancient capital city Xi’an, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the last century was made. A hidden palace had been located and some of the terra-cotta foot soldiers, cavalrymen, infantry stationed in three underground wooden vaults were unearthed. For more than two thousand years this yin army faithfully guarded the city of the dead that includes a palace, an armoury, an imperial park, two layers of city walls and a drainage system.

More than twenty years later, in 1998, another major archaeological breakthrough occurred around the hidden palace. In a huge pit between the inner and outer retaining walls, about a thousand stone helmets, armours, horse reins, bronze weapons were unearthed. The structures in the pit are made of timber and earth, and at each of the four corners there is a 14 metre long ramped. Evidently the site was served as the military supply depot.

It is believed that the workmen made the terra-cotta soldiers according to the real people who once were warriors of the First Emperor, and that the overall arrangement was carefully fashioned to resemble the formation of the real battle array. As the depot is situated closely behind the troops, it is a clear sign that the Qin’s army already used field depot to support their military forces on the move.

But what make this latest discovery most remarkable are those white stone fragments scattering on the ground, which now have been confirmed as the broken pieces of the soldiers’ helmets. Previously it was believed that helmets did not appear in Chinese army until the Han Dynasty.

Since then another seven years past and time entered September 2006. On a Saturday afternoon, a third discovery was made. This time the fellas who first spotted something unusual are not farmers digging for water, nor are archaeologists digging for articles, but the security guards patrolling the Pit No. 1.

At 2 pm, September 16, without warning a previously unknown terra-cotta yin soldier manifested into life and took the position in the pit by storm.

The yang guards on the ground were shocked. Clearly didn’t want anything to upset the yin-yang balance in the exhibition hall, they also jumped into the pit pursuiting that alien presence. Two minutes later, the freshly strengthened yin formation was broken up and the Emperor’s new warrior was dismissed from the rank.

It turned out that this extra foot soldier was not made of terra-cotta to start with, then he did not belong to the yin world, and finally, he was not even a Chinese.

German warrior: Hi guys, I come to boost your presence.
Chinese warrior: Give the password first, mate!

Discharged from the First Emperor’s army
下岗了, 郁闷!

A terra-cotta fan, this German acting art student studying at a Huangzhou college had plotted the act for quite some time. He took the trouble to survey the site, craft the armour and paint his face before jumping into the pit.

秦俑:一个外国人,不远万里来到中国,参加伟大的保卫秦陵战争,这是什么精神?这是国际主义的精神。

德俑:不要客气。秦陵是一统中华的镇国之宝。中国内战分裂,世界也不安宁,所以嘛,我这不仅仅是为了中国,更是为了德国、地球乃至太阳系。

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