The Terracotta Army


The terracotta warriors they call them.

Yet peaceful and often smiling they stand with their topknots and shoes, and without swords.

A few rest on the ground, asleep.

What is our role in this play? To witness the greatness, the whims of an Emperor who never had any misgivings about destroying human life so that he may have a place in heaven and fight the armies of the beyond?

The beauty and calm of all the warriors – what are we to make of them? Should we make something of them?

The sheer size and details are astounding: the perfection of the eyes and the wrinkles on the foreheads of the generals, the slight bellies and pointed shoes of the mid-level officers, and the peaceful faces of the common soldiers standing erect.

They seem to be waiting as though to welcome rather than to fight. Maybe history is just a trick and what the Emperor wanted as threatening, comes to us as peaceful and silent.


Illustration: A photo I took at the Terracotta Army site built in 210-209 BCE, following the orders of Qin Shi Wang, First Emperor of China – Xi’an, China, June 2018.

7 thoughts on “The Terracotta Army”

  1. Who would not smile, immortal now and beside comrades?
    (We are all clay, for the most part unfired, liable to dissolution, unremembered.)
    In silent order, under cool earth, set to wait, bellies full, what could be better?
    Dreaming of heaven is, perhaps, as close as one can get, without a girl.
    The way of Tao is a mystery of dust and the sound of distant waters.
    The whispers of the tourists, the cicada click of camera shutters,
    The passage of sun and moon like the passing of emperors and empires.
    Not quite outside of time, we count our ranks like the monks, mantras.
    No need of other weapons: all die before us, our far off stares, our calm smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

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