Welcome to baoku, the online learning library of the Confucius Institute at Mason. Baoku, in Chinese, means "treasure trove"—we hope that you find the site's useful information to be just that.

Traveling Trunk

Terra Cotta Warriors

In 1974, farmers digging a well uncovered much more than water. They discovered funerary art buried with Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, which consisted of life-sized sculptures of over 8,000 soldiers and 800 horses, chariots, and cavalry (52).

In 246 BC, when Qin Shi Huang was only 13 years old, he ordered the creation of his own mausoleum, including sculptures representing his vast army, and the excavation of the underground complex that would house them. He ordered that no two soldiers were to look alike. It is thought that 700,000 workers were involved in this process (52). The sculptures were made in shops outside of the complex and were carefully brought in. Facial expressions and other details were all handmade (53). The army was strategically placed in military formation. Real weapons were put in the hands of the warriors, but they were later stolen by thieves. These soldier’s uniforms, standing positions, and hair styles can easily distinguish different ranks.

The vast majority of the sculptures remain in the underground pits. Although the pits that contain the army have been excavated, Qin Shi Huang’s tomb has not been opened. His terracotta army remains to guard and serve him in the afterlife.