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The Terra-cotta Figures Construction

In China the pottery figures could be dated back long time age. But the pottery figures before the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206 BC) were roughly made in small size and the temperature for baking in the kiln was low, too. TheQin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses were big in life-size and exquisitely made with high technology. The hardness at their bodies indicates that they might be fired at a temperature between 950 and 1,050 degree centigrade.

All of the soldiers and horses were made using local clay. The weight of the Terra-cotta Warriors varies from 110 kilos to 300 kilos. Their average height is 1.8 meters. How these large and heavy statues were made 2,200 years ago? Investigations into the same method were used throughout the entire production. In general the bodies, heads and arms of the human figures are hollow and legs solid. The legs of the horses are also solid pottery, and these support a hollow body and head. Clearly such large figures could not have been produced from a number of separately molded or modeled segments that were glued together firing.

The construction of the human figures required a number of steps. The clay was sifted and washed to ensure an even texture and color and combined with ground quartz. After reported kneading, the wet clay would achieve the right degree of firmness. The feet and the pedestal with the legs. The torso was either sculpted from strips of clay or cast prior to the attachment of the arms. All the joints would have been sealed and strengthened with clay coils. The final step was the creation of the head. The heads of the human figures were made in two-piece molds that were joined together later. Ears, noses, and hair were hand made independently and then added on. In order to create an individualized appearance for each of the figures, such facial features as the mouth, moustache and bread and hairstyles were sculpted by probably so far have the same features or expression. Some experts think that real soldiers served as modals when Terra-cotta Warriors were made. Besides different faces, features as the armor plates with fixings, belt hooks, shoes ties and costume details were precisely sculpted. After each statue was finished, the craftsmen were ordered to inscribe or print their names on the backs of robes, legs or armor. The names of over 80 craftsmen have been so far discovered. These seemed to be "2000-year-ago quality control".

The same principles of construction were employed in the making of the horses. The legs of the horses are all solid pottery to ensure that they would be strong. The head, body and tail were all molded or modeled separately and then fixed to the legs. The various details of the eyes, nostrils and mouth of the horses were sculpted same as the human figures. Both the chariots and cavalry horses have a square cut mane, a neatly manicured two-pronged forelock and alert ears. The cavalry horse has a long, plaited and pendant tail and the chariot horse a shorted tied tail so as to keep it free of the harness and chariot shaft. The most visible difference between the types is the molded detail of the saddle and girth on the cavalry horse.

After the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses were made, they were put into the kilns to be fire. The heads of the human figures were fired separately from the body, so the necks were left like holes. Both horse types have round holes in each side of the body, too. These holes could permit the gases and vapors that would have built up in the kiln to escape, prevent the figures from deforming or exploding.