funerary practices of ancient china chinese bronze vessels and the terracotta warriors

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Funerary Practices of Ancient China

Funerary Practices of Ancient ChinaChinese Bronze Vessels And TheTerracotta WarriorsThe funerary practices of ancient China had similarities to those used by the ancient Egyptians.A primary difference continued to the the interpretations of the role of the emperor or pharaoh.Double bubble map with students.1After Life and BurialsElaborate funerary processesHonor the dead and make offerings.Buried with Tokens for the afterlife.Emperors were not gods.Pharaohs were GodsPreserve Spirit.Preserve Body and Spirit.EgyptiansAncient Chinese2Spirituality of JadeThe Jade Suit of Liu Sheng

Although their coffins had collapsed, Liu Sheng and Dou Wan were each found in a well-preserved jade suit. Liu Sheng's was made of 2498 pieces of jade, sewn together with two and a half pounds of gold wire. Each suit consists of 12 sections: face, head, front, and back parts of tunic, arms, gloves, leggings, and feet. It has been estimated that a suit such as Liu Sheng's would have taken ten years to fashion. Along with the jade suits, Liu Sheng and Dou Wan each had a gilt bronze headrest inlaid with jade and held jade crescents in their hands.Archaeologists had known of the existence of jade burial suits from texts, but the two suits found at Mancheng are the earliest and most complete examples ever discovered. During the Han, jade funerary suits were used exclusively for the highest ranking nobles and were sewn with gold, silver, or bronze wire according to rank.The practice was discontinued after the Han.Jade was such a rare and valuable stone to the Ancient Chinese that Alchemists were called upon to create a synthetic Jade. The religious value of Jade all but disappeared by the end of the Qin Dynasty.3Chinese Bronze VEssels

The spiritual practices of the Shang dynasty people arose from the belief that the spirits of ancestors in the supernatural world were forever in control of man's earthly well-being, and it was therefore necessary that offerings of prayer and food constantly be made to them. From the evidence of oracle bone inscriptions we know that not only did the people of the Shang dynasty offer sacrifices to a wide range of phenomena, but their ceremonies were varied and complex. The vessels used by the ruling house and nobility to offer food or wine in these sacrificial ceremonies were cast of bronze. Their types were extremely varied; many had their origin in everyday objects of pottery or wood.4

The function of the pieces were to provide offerings for the afterlife. Bronze vessels were used during the Shang and Zhou periods in ancestral rituals. Ancestors, it was believed, could intercede on behalf of the living, provided they were honored and respected. The bronze vessels were kept in ancestral halls and used during a variety of feasts and banquets. Most bronze vessels were used for food or to heat or cool a millet-based wine. Others served as water basins or jugs. Wine vessels dominated during the Shang, but ritual changes in the middle of the Western Zhou period resulted in a shift toward food vessels.These Shang and Zhou bronze vessels were the most highly esteemed objects of their time, usurping the position held by jade in the late Neolithic period. In addition to their functional and symbolic role in support of lineage rites, bronzes also exemplified the latest technical and artistic developments.Early bronze vessels, including the jue, gu, and ding (above), were based on Neolithic pottery prototypes. But as bronze technology improved, vessels took on shapes and decorative schemes that were unique to the medium.


The lost wax method was used by many different cultures, including as far back as the Sumerians.The process was late when arriving in China, but took on a very important role, in many cases replacing the importance of Jade.6Early burial practices of Emperors

Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties preceded the Qin Dynasty (when Qin Shihuangdi became the first emperor.During the Xia and Shang dynasties Emperors were buried in large underground tombs. The walls of these tombs were lined with wood and a primary burial location of the Emperor was placed.Within the tombs other artifacts were buried with the Emperor including human scarifies.Individuals who were important to the Emperor would be buried with him to join him and serve him in the afterlife, in some cases upwards of 200 people would die with the Emperor.Religious beliefs at the time held that life was a continuation of death.Some of those who were sacrificed would willingly take their own lives to continue their service, others were killed by poisoned wine laced with Arsenic.As the Seven main kingdoms began feuding during the Zhou Dynasty more and more people died during battle. The practice of killing someone after an Emperors death became less and less acceptable. In the place of people archeologists have found small statuettes of various individuals that would be buried around the Emperor.7What was happening in 221 BCEConstruction on Teotihuacan began, later to be one of the greatest example of a metropolis of the ancient world.In Alexandria, Egypt construction began on a 400ft tall Lighthouse, which would stand as the tallest structures of the time.Construction began on the Terracotta warriors.Qin Shihuangdi

Qin Shihuangdi named himself the First Emperor of China after unifying seven warring kingdoms.For roughly 250 years these seven kingdoms fought for land and power.The union created by this still stands today as the foundations of Modern China.Unified China under single leadership.He was a strong leader that was responsible for creating several monumental architectural structures; including the Great Wall and Monumental Burial Tomb, including the Terracotta Warriors.To Ensure his stability he burned all historical books and banned them. In addition he buried historians alive.9

Qin Shihuagdis Burial Temple and complexThe tomb creation was a enormous undertaking that was mean to honor the Emperor.The mausoleum was elaborately decorated with a miniature layout of his land and cities. Liquid Mercury represented the water including lake and oceans.The space dwarfs those created by the Egyptians.10

Terracotta Warriors

Xian, China, Constructed between 221 210 BCE1000 warriors have currently been unearthed, with an estimated 8000 still buried.The warriors stood guard to the burial temple of Qin Shihuangdi.The army consisted of infantry, cavelry, generals, archers, were all buried.Each soldier is over 6ft tall and weighs over 600lbs.12Terracotta Warriors

The terracotta warriors were used as a substitute for human sacrifice. The concept that Emperors needed to have other join them in the afterlife continued, but the means by which they did so changed. Qin was the first to request statues of these proportions and they were very difficult to construct.The duty began during his first year as Emperor and would continue until his death.Each warrior is distinct from the others, no two are identical, not only in the face but in their dress and shoes. Even their statue and figures changed.It is unclear if they represent real people.13

Each figure has a signature carved into it in some hidden spot. This was not for the purpose of receiving recognition for their work, artisans understood their art would be buried for an eternity.Signatures were the means by which quality control was done, if an artist didnt complete a piece to standards they could be punished and even killed.There were roughly 87 masters who worked on the sculptures and under them around 10 apprentices.This meant roughly 900 workers created these statues over 11 years, that would mean they would have to construct each in just one month. The clay came from the area surrounding the burial temple.The construction method used was coiling, a relatively knew technique and pieces were built in one large piece and fired in the same area as construction to avoid having pieces break.14

Before burial the figures were each brightly painted and covered with a layer of lacquer to seal them. Lacquer is a very difficult material to obtain and workers would spend a week or more collecting enough Lacquer from trees to finish one piece.Lacquer is also a very expensive material, and only an emperor could have afforded to paint 8000 warriors in lacquer.As the artifacts were excavated archeologist were able to see larger amounts of paint, but as the lacquer dried in the air it flacked off pulling the paint from the surface.As a result the figures have a gray/brown surface. Researchers are looking for new ways to preserve the coloring and lacquer easily.15

Chinese Purple Egyptian Blue The color purple on the figure was known as Chinese Purple.It is one of two man made color created during ancient times, the other was Egyptian Blue.These two materials are nearly identical with one exception, Egyptian Blue was made using calcium and Chinese Purple used Barium and Lead Oxide.Before this discovery was made many assumed that the Chinese and Egyptians were sharing technology sooner than had once been thought.