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Military officer

The figure of officers is distinguished from the figures of warriors by the headgear they wear. Generally speaking, the figure wearing a long headgear with a single tail is an officer of a lower rank, the one wearing a long headgear with double tails is an officer a middle rank, and the one wearing a bird-shaped headgear is a high-ranking officer, the last type of figure is designated by the popular name terra-cotta general. Apart from the difference in headgear, these terra-cotta officers of various ranks are also distinguished by his uniform, personal adornment and the suit of amour. What is even more important is that the modeling style and the portrayal of the bearing and demeanor of the officers are completely different from those of the warriors.

First of all, the graceful bearing of the terra-cotta officers of various levels is painstakingly demonstrated through the difference in height between the low ranking officers and the soldiers. Some of the officers are 172 centimeters high with a chest measurement of 88 centimeters and an abdomen measurement of 105 centimeters. While some others are only 170 centimeters in height with a chest measurement of 82 centimeters and an abdomen measurement of 103 centimeters. Their statures are rather lanky. The figures of officers of middle ranks are much bigger and taller. Some are 178 centimeters high, with a chest measurement of 96 centimeters, much taller and stouter than the figures of low-ranking officers. However, the most stalwart figures are the terra-cotta generals. The statues are 190 centimeters tall, with a chest measurement of 120 centimeters and an abdomen measurement of 159 centimeters. Its abdomen measurement is almost 30 centimeters wider than its chest measurement. The fragment of the terra-cotta general is twice as thick as that of other terra-cotta officers.

The chest measurement of the terra-cotta general is 40 centimeters wider than that of other officers, and its abdomen measurement 50 centimeters wider. It looks exceptionally stalwart with the head raised, the chest thrown out and belly slightly protruded.

Secondly, in terms of the portrayal of the bearing, the spiritual temperament of the terra-cotta officers of different status and ranks is demonstrated through the diversity in poise and subtle distinction in facial expressions. For example, the poise and bearing of the terra-cotta charioteers are full of distinguishing features. An examination of the over ten terra-cotta charioteers discovered from the pits of the terra-cotta warriors and horses shows an overall similarity in their dressing and poise. Their arms all stretch out horizontally, their hands making a half against each other in gesture for holding the bride. With their eyes looking forward and their lips tightly closed, they appear rather attentive to their duty. They are an exceptionally successful representation in clay of the ancient charioteers who are introversive, cautious and clam. The portrayal of the demeanor and the inner world of their general are even more vivid. As a general plays an important role in ancient warfare, his experience, talent and temperament are incomparable with that of an ordinary officer. Some military works require a general to be not only “at once versed in polite letters and military arts” but also to “couple hardness with softness” (“On General”, Guan Zi). In other words, a general should possess both literary and martial qualities and, at the same time, he should be steadfast and gentle are inevitably different from those of ordinary officers. A close examination of the several terra-cotta general unearthed in the pits indicates that they all share a stalwart stature.

Some of them have a rectangular-shaped face, a pair of bright piercing eyes, regular features and a brushy moustache, looking solemn, mighty and composed. The wrinkles on the foreheads seem to indicate that they are experienced generals tempered by innumerable battles. Other terra-cotta generals have a narrow, a longish face, muscular cheeks, a curved moustache and long beard. What these features reproduce is dignified and resolute general who is resourceful and collected. The handling of different gestures of the terra-cotta generals also enhances the artistic effect. One general’s hands cross each other over the abdomen in a gesture of holding a sword. The arms of another general are hanging down with his left hand gently making a fist, while the thumb, index and middle figurers of his right hand holding together slightly withdrawn into the cuff, with only the  tips of the other two figures left outside. These features make the general look all the more sedate.

In a word, the handing of the stature, facial expression and gesture of the terra-cotta officers not only emphasizes their differences from ordinary soldiers,  but also stresses the diversified temperaments, graceful bearing and demeanor among the military officers of various ranks.



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