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China's Terracotta Army: Exploring Artistic Practices

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Language Arts And English +6 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

In this activity, students will analyze figures from the Terracotta Army, made for China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE), in order to explore the artistic practices of a newly unified China during the Qin dynasty (221 – 206 BCE). Students will explore the elements of art and principles of design used in the terracotta warrior figures before designing their own papercraft terracotta warrior.

The Terracotta Army, a group of approximately 7,000 life-size terracotta warriors and horses, was created for Emperor Qin Shihuang to form a small part of his elaborate tomb complex. These figures are significant not only because of their artistic realism, detail, and diversity, but also because of their rarity – the majority of surviving objects from this time period have been found in Emperor Qin Shihuang's tomb complex.

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tags: archaeology; archaeologist; ancient history; artifact; afterlife; funerary practices; burial; death; spiritual beliefs; military; soldier; sculpture; chinese; world; asia; asian; xi'an; empire; see wonder connect; project zero; visible thinking routine; strategy; maker; art making; papercraft; terra cotta; shihuangdi; shi huangdi; shi huang di; earthenware; ceramics

#visiblethinking

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Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Pit No. 1

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Map of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Tomb Complex

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Clay Model of Terracotta Figure Creation Steps

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

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Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Armored infantryman (face detail)

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Armored middle-ranking officer (face detail)

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Terracotta Warriors Face Grid

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Terracotta Warriors, back detail

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Kneeling archer with green face

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Armored middle-ranking officer

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Map of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Tomb Complex

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access​

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