Eighty-seven individual signatures have been identified on these magnificent creations. But although the artists were solicited specifically for this work from all parts of China, respect for their craftsmanship could not save them.
When Emporer Qin Shihuang died (at age 49, 50, or 51, depending on what you read), Hu Hai, the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty, ordered all the artists to be buried alive in the tomb passages so that the secret of the mausoleum would not be revealed.
Over 2,000 years later, here we come, en masse, from every country in the world, to see the fruits of these artisans’ labors, but how often do we pause to consider the individual lives that were forfeited for such great “art?” And what about their families, for goodness sake?
As when I stood atop the Great Wall, I was unbelievably awed. But I was also overcome by a sadness of mammoth proportions. What has “humanity” learned from the senseless act of killing to further a cause and/or preserve state secrets? Surely no country today would order, condone, or tolerate, such blatant disregard for life, right?
Let’s see… In the middle ages, Europe had the crusades… Hhhmmm… “God is on our side” is a horrible reason for going to war. Bad then, bad now. And in the 1940s, during WWII, museums, paintings, artwork, and books were recklessly destroyed by the Nazis. And when these terra cotta treasures were discovered in 1974, many of the artifacts were ruthlessly vandalized—broken almost beyond recognition.
Oh! And then there’s … No!… I cannot not allow my mind to go any further down this path. Let me just continue to believe that we are kinder, softer, gentler human beings than we were two millennium ago, kamikazes and suicide bombers notwithstanding.
As I stood looking down into the pits, I could almost hear the wailing.