PacSci Perspectives


Who Are The Terracotta Warriors?

by | Feb 7, 2017

On April 8, 2017, Pacific Science Center welcomes a selection of the Terracotta Army to Seattle. But who were the Terracotta Warriors? Many know they were Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army for the afterlife, buried in Xi’an China in the third century BCE. The Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor exhibit, however, will feature a number of the 7,000 sculptures, and focus on the stories of several individual warriors—and their historical significance as a whole.

According to many visitors, the Terracotta Warriors in their home UNESCO World Heritage Site are something to behold. Not one of them is the same. Each statue is a different soldier, with unique facial features and expressions. Many even vary by height. The warriors were crafted by at least 87 different workers, some of whom signed the statues that they worked on. It makes a viewer wonder—who were these warriors? What was each statue based on? The answer is complex.

The Terracotta Warriors are separated by rank in four “pits,” like an army at that time would be. Many of the sculptures hold genuine, functional weapons, including over 35,000 real arrowheads, axes, spears and more. The warriors’ ranks, weapons and clothing indicate how an actual Chinese army at the time may have operated; the expansive tomb gives historians and archeologists indicates how powerful the Chinese military was. The huge number of statues, weapons and the size of the mausoleum itself also indicates a sophisticated manufacturing system—requiring the work of a huge number of workers, much like the pyramids of Egypt.

The Warriors are the ultimate army for the Empower Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. A powerful ruler thought he needed the best army to protect him. This exhibit will celebrate the warriors’ themselves. They are individuals, and pieces of the exhibit will celebrate them. Patrons will have the opportunity to explore the story of each warrior individually.