The emperor that planned his funeral 40 years in advance


It ain’t right. This guy was planning his death 40 years before he actually died? Also he was 13 (246 B.C.) when he ordered for his tomb to be constructed, which was when he ascended the throne. He wanted to secure same military might and power in his afterlife.There’s two ways you can look at this: either he was a very meticulous planner, or he was China’s first emo emperor.

There’s gotta be better things to do out there. Like literally everything else other than planning your own death ceremony. Besides, you’d want to leave that hassle to someone else.

But this emperor, Qin Shi Huang, was a bit different and maybe a bit special. He was the first to unify the warring states of China, standardized coin and measurements, and built the first portion of the Great Wall. However, he was also known as a tyrant so there’s that. You can only get so much good out of a person I guess.

His tomb is now what is known as the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, China, one of the greatest discoveries in the 20th century.

But why?

I’ve mentioned that Emperor Qin wanted guards and power in the afterlife, but he also wanted to preserve his triumphs and glory. After all, he did defeat all the other states of China. So the massive scale and the contents of the tomb show the grandeur of his power. Around 8,000 clay life sized figures surround the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. If you can’t picture that, it took 700,000 workers to complete the tomb in 40 years.

In ancient times, rulers used to bury people with them. Wives, attendants, servants, soldiers, etc. So you could say terracotta soldiers was a more humane way of bringing people into the afterlife with you. Yeah, but not really as the workers weren’t exactly paid. And there are some remains of workers buried at the tomb.

Bad and boujee
According to court historian Sima Qian, “The tomb was filled with models of palaces, pavilions and offices as well as fine vessels, precious stones and rarities”. The account also tells of rivers and streams made of mercury, mountains made of bronze, and pearls making up the stars.

Recent tests have shown unusually high levels of mercury in the soil of the tomb mound so some of this could be true. Imagine a 13 year old telling you he wants rivers of mercury or pearls to dot the ceiling of his tomb. How does he think of that? He most likely thought of it later on in his life, and I can imagine him telling his buddies, “man my tomb is going to decked out with so much cool stuff.”

The soldiers themselves were made without advanced tools by more than 700,000 workers. Parts were individually made and then assembled. Each soldier is unique, differing in facial features, expressions, hairstyle, clothing, and gesture.

What there is to see

There are three vaults and an exhibition that you can visit. What you can expect to see is rows and rows of the clay soldiers. around 2,000 are on display for you to see, right where they have been excavated. On top of that there are horses, chariots, archers, and weapons on display.

Unfortunately, the actual tomb of Qin Shi Huang has not been excavated yet as experts worry that opening the tomb may damage its contents. I’m sure it’s contents will be worth the wait, and hopefully it opens soon.

Useful Links

If you’re thinking about visiting the Terracotta Warriors, feel free to check out these links:


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