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Soldats d'argile et compréhension
Le texte qui suit est une synthèse personnelle d'informations recueillies lors de deux voyages personnels au site de Terracotta Army et de la relecture du livre en français présenté par l'équipe archéologique et le musée chinois : Guerriers et chevaux du tombeau de l'empereur Shihuangdi.
In 1974 several peasants digging a well in Xiyang village located in Lishan district and Shaanxi province, discovered a gallery full of alluvium (a kind of glue which contained enzymes that prevented from corrosion) and above all, the amazing archaeological discovery renowned in the world: The Terracotta Army.
They informed the Chinese authorities and Chinese archaeologists. They established immediately a link to Shi Huangdi's tomb, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty.
In 246 BC, at the age of 13, Ying Zheng ascended the throne (monter sur le trône) of the Qin state. He waged war and defeated the last five independent states.
He annexed them to his kingdom in 221 BC and became emperor of the united Qin Dynasty. During his reign, he kept on building the construction of his mausoleum.
He died in 210 BC.
His son was overthrown by the revolt which established the Han Dynasty. According to Sima Quian a famous historian of first century BC, this tomb covered a 76-metre huge mound of earth, contained gems and treasures. It is said that it may be protected with crossbows (arbalètes) which may shoot looters (pilleurs).
At the same period the emperor began the construction of the Terracotta Army. It was created to accompany and guard the emperor into the eternity but it is said that Shi Huangdi wanted to keep the same military power in the after life. For this main reason, he replicated a large part of his own army.
The terracotta army complex took 700,000 workers, hundreds of thousands of artisans, craftsmen and labourers and lasted for about forty years to be built. The warriors were buried in four huge pits (fosses) divided into trenches. The complex covered 6000 squares metres. Archaeologists estimated the four pits may contain about 8,000 figures.
The first pit
Nowadays, the first and largest pit protected by a roof is a huge exhibition hall. It measures 210 metres east to west, 60 metres north to south and about 5 metres below ground level. On the first three rows about 210 foot-soldiers: crossbows and longbows (arcs) bearers (ceux qui portent) were in battle formation.The second pit
Excavated (faire des fouilles) in 1976, it is divided in eight rows of armoured soldiers holding spears (lances), daggers and 64 war-chariots positioned, according to the art of war.The third pit
Made up of 68 foot-soldiers and a war-chariot, was also a command post for the soldiers.The fourth was empty
If you pay attention to each warrior, every figure differed in facial expressions and hairstyles: a few warriors were wearing their hair in different sorts of coils (chignons) and sophisticated braids (nattes). (Voir les photos et explications).
Top knot (chignon) coil (chignon porté sur le haut de la tête) flat-braid (natte plate).
A cavalryman wore a cap (coiffe) made from leather.
A general wore an elaborate headdress in the form of a double-tailed (ailé) bird.
You must notice the different positions: The warriors were standing or kneeling according to their military function and their rank. At last, if you watch closely, in foremost position (position très à l'avant) you can see warriors who were wearing spears (spearheads) who didn't wear armours but only clothes.
They were said: the braves who didn't fear death.
You can also notice that all the terracotta warriors were life style, about two-metre tall, in concordance with their rank, the tallest being the generals. Those generals hold real sword made of bronze, which had stood to the test of time, after being buried more than 2000 years. It is also obvious that the statues were painted in the past. Nowadays there remains traces of paint.
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