Monday, May 15, 2017

Qin Dynasty Funerary Art - Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Qin Dynasty Funerary Art - Blogging Through the Alphabet on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Funerary Art sounds a little gloomy, doesn't it? It's pretty much what it sounds like it is - art related to a funeral. Monuments and art of all kinds used in decorating a tomb are considered funerary art. Many ancient cultures used funerary art, and it was usually connected to religious beliefs about the afterlife. One of the most interesting collections of funerary art is from the Qin Dynasty of China in the late third century BC. 

In 1974 an entire army of terracotta soldiers was discovered when farmers were digging a water well. Fragments of terracotta had been found over many years before that time, but the new discovery prompted archaeologists to investigate seriously. What they found was a the largest pottery figurine group ever discovered in China. The Terracotta Army is part of a larger 38 square mile necropolis constructed as a smaller version of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's imperial palace. The warriors are standing guard east of the emperor's tomb. There are cavalry and infantry units, with horses and chariots. Other terracotta figures of acrobats, officials, labourers, and rare animals have been found as well. 

The 6000 figures are life-sized, and vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle in accordance with rank. The figures seem quite individual, but scholars have identified ten basic face shapes. Originally the figures were painted in bright colored lacquer, which would have made them seem even more realistic.

Qin Dynasty Funerary Art - Blogging Through the Alphabet on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Qin Dynasty Funerary Art - Blogging Through the Alphabet on Homeschool Coffee Break @

So who was this emperor? Qin Shi Huang was the emperor that unified China with a centralized government in 221 BC. He is also remembered for beginning construction on the first parts of what would become the Great Wall. His dynasty lasted for only 15 years, but was famous (or perhaps infamous) for its absolute control. Anyone who disagreed with the emperor was severely punished, often by death. The name Qin is where the country's name, China, comes from.

And why did he have this vast army of pottery figures in his tomb? Well, we can't be too sure. Some have assumed it was a display of his power and warlike nature, and that he wanted to continue conquering new lands even in the afterlife. But it's hard to say why.

This Chinese Horse from the ArtAchieve lessons is inspired by a statue of a horse that is based on the terracotta horses in the Emperor's tomb. You can find out more about the art lesson and the Cross Curricular Connections at ArtAchieve, Level III
Chinese Horse on the Virtual Refrigerator art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @
Chinese Horse by KAT, April 2017

There's an Everyday Easels lesson plan inspired by the Terracotta Army at

Everyday Easels art lessons at

Find out more about the Terracotta Army at the Smithsonian Magazine website; or at Wikipedia.

This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet hosted by A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool. Join in to see what others are sharing related to this week's letter!

Hopkins Homeschool

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