Sunday, 16 February 2014

Terracotta Army

Although I have received some of 2014's Year of the Horse stamps unfortunately none of them are from China so I'm going with  horses appearing on Chinese stamps instead.  Here is a souvenir sheet of one of  China's terracotta warriors leading his horse.
It is from a booklet issued in 1983 called "Terracotta Figures from Qin Shi Huang's Tomb" and this photograph of the tomb is its cover (which actually folds in half). Discovered by accident as some farmers dug for a well in 1974 it is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.  Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of all China who ascended the throne aged 13 in about 246BC. He then ordered the construction of his mausoleum which would take 38 years to complete.

Here are the stamps inside the booklet:
The figures are all life size, averaging 5'6"-6'4" (1.73-1.96 m), with the various uniforms and ranks of the army but there are also officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.  Originally they would have been brightly painted with many colours but the oxidisation as they were uncovered means that we see them now drab. This deleterious process is the reason why the Emperors Mausoleum has not been excavated.  The groups that have been uncovered so far are referred to as Pit 1 (excavated in 1974) and Pits 2 and 3 (excavated in 1976)
It was assumed that there were generic groups but recent research on the terracotta figures ears has discovered they are each unique people.  Our ears are as individual as fingerprints, no two are the same, which is what the archaeologists found in the figures. There are over 8000 soldiers, horses and weapons and the research and restoration is an ongoing process.  Some of the most stunning restored representations are those of full sized chariots and horses.  One hundred names of the artisans that made the figures have been found.
Here is the frontispiece of the booklet and a picture of the Emperor himself.  He envisioned the terracotta army protecting and keeping him company in his afterlife.  An interesting fact is they all face east.  The direction is thought to be because that would face his potential foes with the land of a unified China behind them.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps Lunar New Year theme of - China 

8 comments:

Hawwa said...

Wow, this set is quite impressive!

I posted stamps from China, but also from Canada. I'd like to see the horses you have received!

viridian said...

What an impressive army! One wonders what else is buried here. thank you for participating!

agi said...

wow what a set, my eyes almost fell out xD such a unique place, and stamps worthy of it

Heleen said...

So interesting, this terracotta army. And nice to see horses on these, too, so in a way it also is linked to this New Year's sign!

♥ Willa ♥ said...

I like the first one,it is so nieat!!

Willa @ Postage Journal: My Sunday Stamp

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

These are really stunning!

Bob Scotney said...

I've always wanted to see the Terracotta Army, I'll have to make do with these fine stamps.

Bob Scotney said...

I've always wanted to see the Terracotta Army, I'll have to make do with these fine stamps.