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  The Terra-Cotta Warriors Museum-Pit 3


        After ten months of exaction and restoration, Pit 3 was formally open to visitors from home and abroad on September 27, 1989. The construction of the exhibition hall in the shape of a reversed Chinese bushel was started on May 31, 1987 and completed in December 1988. The exhibition hall covers an area of 1,1714 square meters. The layout of its interior keeps the original appearance of Pit 3. Around the four walls outside the hall are laid with natural granite in white color with sesame-like dots. Coupled with the beautiful modern architecture, the historical and cultural site of 2000 years ago appears even more spectacular and attractive.

         Pit 1 was discovered in June 1976 during an exploration by drilling. It is located to the northwest of the Pit 1, facing Pit 2 in the east. Covering a building area of over 300 square meters, pit 3 is 25 meters south of Pit 1 and 120 meters east of Pit 2. Trial excavations were made in March 1977. Immediately after the exhibition hall was built, an overall excavation of the pit was carried out in December 19, 1988, and by September 9, 1989, the southern section of the pit, the corridors and chariot-and-horse chamber had been completely clear up and unearthed terra-cotta warriors and horses had been restored. Before September 20, all the restored warriors and horses were put back to their original places. Thus Pit 3 recovered its original features as a command post.

        The clay figures of Pit 3 are not well-preserved as those in Pit 1. Pit 1 also shows signs of man-made damage, for example, some pottery figures were purposely broken, and some pottery pieces were removed from their original places and some weapons stolen, but the heads of the pottery figures were still inside the pit. When restored, few of them were without heads. However, most of the pottery figures in pit 3 are headless; the heads of the pottery horses are also incomplete, and even some broken pottery pieces are missing. In view of this, it is not difficult to draw the conclusion that pit 3 suffered from serious man-made destruction. Since the architecture of the pit was not burned but collapsed as result of the decay of the wooden structure the reason of its damage remains a mystery.

        The missing of the heads will naturally affect the appreciative value of the pottery figures, but it hardly influences the academic value of Pit 3. As complete and concrete material data of ancient military headquarters, Pit 3 is only one of its kinds found so far in the history of both Chinese and world archaeology. Its architectural layout, chariots-and-horse features, pottery figures arrangement and weaponry equipment provide us with rare and precious materials for studying ancient military headquarters and ceremonies of lunching a war.

        Pit 3 is also important for the study of ancient military history. Before the spring and autumn and warring states periods, the generals would often charge at the head of the soldiers in a battle. In spring and autumn periods, along with the expansion of the scale of war and the changes in the mode of operations, the position of the commanders began to move to the middle of the army. By the Qin dynasty, the military headquarters were moved out of the middle army and became totally independent, which was a great step forward in military tactics. The independent headquarters were placed to the northwest of the battle formation, keeping a certain distance from the latter. This was advantageous for the generals to make detailed plans, and what is even more important is that the personal security of the generals was further ensured. It was an important mark symbolizing the maturity of the development of ancient military tactics.

        Covering an area of less than 400 square meters, Pit 3 is the smallest among the three terra-cotta army pits. It is the smallest among the three terra-cotta army pits. It is less than 1/20 of pit1, but its architectural structure is special and complicated. Pit 1 is rectangular in shape and Pit 2 looks like a letter L. Only Pit 3 is in the irregular shape of the Chinese character 凹 (ao). In the east of the pit, there is a sloping entrance, 11.2 meters long and 3.7 meters wide. Opposite the entrance is a chariots and horse chamber with a wing-room running east-west on each side of it. the north wing-room and south wing-room.

        Differences in shape reflect the difference in the function of the three pits. Pit 1 and Pit 2 were constructed according to real battle formation while Pit 3 was structure on the basis of ancient military headquarters. Its architectural features demonstrate the basic characteristics of ancient “command tents”.

        The chariots and horses chamber is a rectangular running east and west. It faces the entrance to the east and is connected with the north wing room and south ring room. Inside the chamber is a painted wooded war chariots, which is different from those chariots discovered in pit 1. Bright and colorful patterns are painted on the body of the chariots and a painted canopy with a diameter of 42 centimeters has been found on the left side of the chariots. Neither weapons nor commanding apparatus like bells and drums have been discovered in the chariot. The number of pottery figures in the chariots is different from that of Pit1. On the war chariots the number of pottery figures in the chariot is different from that Pit 1. On the war chariots unearthed from the Pit 1, there are usually three pottery figures, followed by some foot soldiers varying in number. But the number of the figures in the chariot of the Pit 3 is four- a chariot and an officer in the middle, flanked by two chariot guards. The clay officer is clad in a short garment made of coarse cloth, covered by chest amour with painted lace, and wears a single-tailed headgear. With his right arm slightly raised, the officer seems to be holding a sword. Judging from his headgear, amour and posture, we may conclude that he is higher in rank the chariots but lower the general unearthed behind the chariots of Pit 1. The other two figures seem to be the left and the right chariot guards. Why was this chariot manned with four figures? We know that it is undoubtedly a four- horse chariot, but it seems to be different from the four-horse commanding chariots used in the Spring and Autumn period as record in The Zuo Commentary. What is the function of this four-horse chariot after all? According to the textual research made by Mr.Yuan “the chariots in Pit 3 is probably an advance chariot because it is put ahead of all the rows and army. In marching, it acts as guide and, before a battle is launched, it challenges the enemy and expresses the army’s determination to fight.

         Turning left from the chariot-and-horse chamber, one would come to the south wing-room, which is composed of the front corridor, the hall, the front compartment and rear compartment. The front corridor and the chariot-and-horse chamber are connected, and the remains of a rotten wooden lintel 3.5 meters long were found in the place where the two rooms join each other. The lintel was treated with paint and was fitted with equidistant hoop-headed bronze nails, which must have been used to hang a curtain at the entrance of the south wing-room to separate it from the chariot-wood-horse chamber. The hall is to the west of the corridor. And further west is the front compartment with a larger area. Again, at the entrance to the rear compartment, the remains of a rotten wood lintel 1.5 meters in length were found. There are also equidistant hoop-headed bronze nails on the lintel, showing that a curtain had been here to separate the two compartments. Only 40 mailed warriors have been excavated from the south wing-room and they are arranged in the front corridor, the hall, the front compartment and the rear compartment. Some ornaments such as bed-curtain hooks were also discovered in the south wing-room. Judging by the unique architecture and special way in which the pottery figures are arranged, the south wing-room must have been the place where the general used to work and rest, with the front compartment as the conference room, in which the general discussed and drew up plans for the battle, and the rear compartment as their bedroom.

        Turning right front the chariot-and-horse chamber, one would come to the north wing-room which is not as complicated as the south wing-room in structure, consisting only of a corridor and a main hall. The remains of a rotten wooden lintel with a length of 5 meters were discovered and the lintel had been treated with paint. It indicates that a curtain used to be hung on the lintel to separate the main hall from the corridor. Inside the main hall, 22 warriors in amour are arranged, one facing the other. A broken deer horn and a pile of rotten animal skeletons have also been discovered here. How did the deer horn and animal skeleton find their way into the main hall? According to the original bulletin reporting the discovery of the pit, “the main hall seems to be the place where the army used to hold banquets, offer sacrifices and pray for the victory of the battle. It is thus clear that the north wing-room was used specifically for divination and prayer for the victory of the battle.

        Pit 3 is different from the Pit 1 and Pit 2 in both the arrangement of the pottery figures and the unearthed weapons. Its special features are in agreement with the nature of Pit 3 as the military headquarters.

        Altogether 62 pottery warriors have been excavated from the north and south wing-room of Pit 3, and the way in which the figures are arranged forms a striking contrast with that Pit 1 and Pit 2. The figures in Pit 1 and Pit 2 are arranged in rows and files as a real battle formation, whereas the terra-cotta warriors in the Pit 3 line the walls in pairs, one facing the other. For instance, among the 40 armored warriors unearthed from the south-wing room, 8 are arrayed in the front corridor, 6 in the hall, 22 in the front compartment and 4 in the rear compartment .The 18 clay warriors in the front corridor, the hall and the rear compartment are organized in pairs, one facing the other, and 6 of the 22 figures in the front compartment follow the same pattern of the alignment. The rest of the 16 figures in the front compartment are placed along the walls in symmetry. The rest of the 16 figures in the front compartment are in amour found in the north wing-room are organized in the same way.

        The clothing and modeling characteristics of the pottery figures in the Pit 3 also differ from those of the warriors in the Pit 1. In terms of the clothing, some warriors in pit 1 are clad in battle robes; others in amour. But all the clay warriors in Pit 3 wear suits of amour. In term of the hair styles, some warriors in Pit 1 have their hair done up in buns, others in plaits. But all the warriors in the pit 3 wear their hair in plaits. The modeling of the pottery figures in the pit 3, in particular, fully incarnates the personality of the guards in the Qin dynasty. They are generally tall and stalwart, and the facial expression of the several pottery heads found so far appears even more doughty and valiant than that of the figures in the other two pits. Both the shaping of the stature and the modeling of the facial expression subtly delineates the unique spirit of an ancient guard of honor.

           The unearthed weapons in the pit 3 also from a striking contrast with those Pit 1 and Pit 2.       In the Pit 1 and Pit 2 , there is not only a large number of the long weapon like spears, but also many long-range projectile weapon like crossbows and bows , as well as short weapon s such as swords and scimitars. But in Pit 3, only one kind of weapon has been found like Shu, a weapon without blades. The head of Shu is in shape of a circular cylinder with its tip in the shape of a multiangular cone, is attached to a wooden handle. Obviously, shu did not possess any functions in actual combat. They were weapons carried solely by a guard of honor. Among the 30 pieces of shu unearthed from Pit 3, a bunch of 20 were found near the wall of the norh wing-room, each with a wooden shaft of more than one meter long. Judging from the bunch of Shu unearthed and the gestures of the clay warriors, we may conclude that all the warriors were undoubtedly holding shu.

         In ancient times, the general played a very significant role in the army. Therefore, in battle, full-time guards were assigned to protect them. It is stipulated in the book of Shang Yang that 50 guards should be assigned to a captain who commands 500 soldiers and a colonel of 1,000 soldiers should have 100 guards to serve him. A general has 1,000 guards while a commander has 4,000 guards at his disposal. So, the general s in charge of the battle formations of Pit 1 and Pit 2 should also have a certain number of guards, The 62 shu carrying guard of honor, whose duty was to keep vigil. In the time of peace, these guards kept vigil for the headquarters, and in the time of war, they acted as a guard of honour for the general marching out to the battle.

 

 
 
 

 

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