The Terracotta Warriors: The Start of Fengshui

Who knew that broken bits and pieces of clay-made men could take your breath away because of its grandeur and beauty? It was as if the sight of the warriors took us back five thousand years to when its creator, the tyrant ordered the sacrifice of thousands of men for peace in his own afterlife. Qin Shi Huang, the ruthless emperor credited for consolidating China and the building of the Great Wall, feared that his enemies would attack him in the afterlife so he ordered an entire army to be built and buried with him so that they may defend him in the afterlife. The minute carvings of these warriors held us in awe as we wondered how many people died in the name of senseless paranoia. Before us was selfishness, power, and human folly that laid out the construction of a great civilization.

Walking around the pits, I thought about the readings of burial rituals. In 《中国大历史》or “The History of China,” historian Lv Si Mian traces the Han ethnic group back to the Kun Lun area, citing evidence in the ancient ritual text, “The Rites of Zhou.” This book records that the Han ethnic group worships their Terra Cotta Warriors and the Fengshui of Burial Rituals

Who knew that broken bits and pieces of clay-made men could take your breath away because of its grandeur and beauty? It was as if the sight of the warriors took us back five thousand years to when its creator, the tyrant ordered the sacrifice of thousands of men for peace in his own afterlife. Qin Shi Huang, the ruthless emperor credited for consolidating China and the building of the Great Wall, feared that his enemies would attack him in the afterlife so he ordered an entire army to be built and buried with him so that they may defend him in the afterlife. The minute carvings of these warriors held us in awe as we wondered how many people died in the name of senseless paranoia. Before us was selfishness, power, and human folly that laid out the construction of a great civilization.
Walking around the pits, I thought about the readings of burial rituals. In 《中国大历史》or “The History of China,” historian Lv Si Mian traces the Han ethnic group back to the Kun Lun area, citing evidence in the ancient ritual text, “The Rites of Zhou.” This book records that the Han ethnic group worships their ancestors in the Kun Lun area where the river flows deeply, the earth of jade yellow and mountains grand and luxrious. Present-day historians can pinpoint the origin of an entire civilization based on the recording of burial. Thus, Lv’s conclusion implies that the recognition of formal burial rituals by our ancestors marks the beginning of a civilization.
Burial rituals have another layer of importance which lies in the origins of fengshui, arguably one of the most important practices in present-day China. Many scholars believe that fengshui began with ancestor worship. Due to the veneration of the spirits of ancestors and the belief that ancestors in the afterlife will protect their descendants in the human world, Chinese people wanted to find the best spot to bury and further honor their ancestors. Furthermore, the spirits of their ancestors also lie in the tablets placed in homes and temples that are frequently visited. Therefore, it was imperative that fengshui was also applied to the home and temples that were built throughout history. When civilization began with burial spots, it developed further into homes and great architecture with the principles of fengshui heavily applied to its construction. The Terra Cotta Warriors may be the first construction that signifies this phenomenon.

 

 

Works Cited:

Minneapolis Institute of Arts. http://artsmia.org/terracotta-warriors/

 

“On the Origin of Fengshui and the History of Its Literature.”

吕思勉,《中2012_TerracottaWarriors_195国大历史》。李清华,北京嘉业印刷厂。2001年 2月 第一版。

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