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  The Terra-Cotta Warriors Museum-Pit 1


Battle arrays can simply be defined as fighting formations arranged under the guidance of certain tactical principles. Pit 1 is arranged like a real battle array. In the front are three rows, each comprising 68 people, and the 204 people altogether from the vanguard of the battle array. Behind these rows, there are 38 columns facing east, comprised more than 5,000 terra-cotta warriors and horse arranged alternately with forty chariots. This is the main body of the battle array. The chariots are arranged in perfect order. Forming rows from left to right and columns from front to back; these chariots are strictly arrayed according to real battle formations. On both sides of the column, there is a line of terra-cotta warriors facing south and north respectively. At the back the columns, there is one row which faces west and two rows facing east. The clay figures in the vanguard are almost entirely light archers clad in battle robes and carrying crossbows in their hands. The clay warriors in the main body are heavy infantrymen wearing amours and carrying long weapons. The entire battle formation is composed of a vanguard of three rows, a main body of 38 columns and three lines of security forces facing south, north and west respectively.

The types of battle arrays in China had reached as many as ten during the spring and autumn and the warring states periods. According to “ the ten battle arrays” in SunBin’s Art of war, they included “ the square battle formation, the round, the scattered, the dense, the tapered, the goose-flying, the hook, the confusing, the fire and the water battle formation”. Then which of these formations is pit 1 modeled on? One opinion holds that Pit 1 is regular battle array with chariots arranged alternately with infantrymen. Another one believed that “pit 1 can be regarded as a fish battle array. Still another opinion holds that “judging from the unfinished groups of sculptures, pit 1 sums up the main types of battle arrays since the spring and autumn and the Warring states Period.

We should first confirm that pit1 is one of the above-mentioned ten battle arrays. It would not be anything like a battle array if we regarded it as “an abstract and concentration of all the battle arrays in the late Warring states period because the arrangement of battle arrays in ancient China was restricted by various kinds of principles. In other words, the battle arrays were arranged in different ways strictly according to their respective principles. Anyone of them could only abide by one principle. It would have been impossible for it to follow several principles all at once. Otherwise, it would have been become an abstract and disorderly band.

The formation and connotation of Terra-cotta Army pit 1 seem to be the simulation of the square battle formation in ancient times. Some articles and books interpret the above principle as “strengthen the forces on the sides so that the center is relatively weaker”. This is apparently contradictory with the battle formation ideology that “the main force must be strong” and that “the battle force must be dense,” held in Sun Bin’s art of war. Therefore, the key to the understanding of square battle formation lies in correct interpretation of the principle “ Bo zhong hou fang”. Sun Bin’s remark refers to the formation and tactical features of square battle formation. In the past, square battle formations were the opposite of round battle formations. So it is certain that the square battle formation was not round in shape. Then does it mean that the formation was exactly a square? Not necessarily. The battle formations are not stiff and rigid formation as described by historians. They can be expanded into a rectangle, that is a formation ready to attack; or they may contract in order to break through the enemy’s battle formations. The square battle formation in ancient China should also have been rectangular in shape .The character Zhong refers to the front and fang the depth “ bo zhong houu fang” means that the front of the battle array should be shorter while the depth of it longer. The battle arrays organized in this way  turned out to be exactly a rectangle . Only a battle formation of such a grandeur is capable of embodying the tactical features of “cutting through the enemy’s arrays” possessed by square battle formations. Thus, “the battle array with a shorter front and a longer depth” is summary of the formations and tactical features of square battle arrays. Pit 1 proves to bee exactly rectangular battle formations. The width of the front is but 30 meters while the depth is 204 meters, almost seven times of its width, demonstrating the principle of “a shorter front and a longer depth”. It terms of tactics, Pit 1 has its vanguard, its main force with a depth of 204 meters and three rows of security forces facing south, west, and east respectively. A battle formation with such a scale and depth can be expected to break the solid battle arrays of the enemy in an attack and to be unmovable in defense.. Pit 1 is in correspondence with the principle of “a shorter front and a longer depth” in terms both the formation’s shape and its tactical features. It reproduces the tactical formation of the square battle arrays over two thousand years ago.

 
 
 

 

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