Monday, May 20, 2013

First of all: The terracotta army

Photo by Frank Kehren, used under Creative Commons License

Presented to the Club by Ronald Trabulsi on Monday Evening, May 13, 2013

My topic tonight is one on which I’m certainly not an expert. In fact, some of you may know a good deal to add, so I’m looking forward to our discussion after my talk. But I have been fascinated for several years by the life-size terra cotta warriors that have been unearthed in the last quarter century in China and by the man who ordered them built.

These are four miniatures of them produced by the National Geographical Society that my wife gave me for my last birthday.

Their story and that of the Emperor who ordered their creation – so he could take his army with him for protection after he died – because he clearly believed you could take it with you is one of history’s remarkable tales.

The future First Emperor of China was born in 259 B.C. He was the eldest son and heir of the King of “Chin,” spelled QIN or sometimes Q’in. His mother was a concubine and he was given the name of Zheng which means upright or correct.

His father’s domain was along one of the great rivers in western China, the Wa, spelled Wei, which flows to the east into the Yellow River, which then flows farther east to the Yellow Sea. The kingdom was about 500 miles southwest of today’s Beijing.