Saturday, August 25, 2012
The Sacrifice of a Life
In ancient China, when an emperor died, his surviving concubines and wives who hadn't born him children would be buried alive with him. When the great emperor Chin Hsi Huang was the tender age of about 13, his future burial arrangements were begun. It was decided that a large army would be buried with him, to help protect and help him in the afterlife. Here is the story the way I imagine it happened.
Zhang Bo Ai placed his carving tool on the table and wiped the sweat from his brow. As the court artisan, he had been informed about the future burial arrangements for the emperor. His stomach turned at the thought of the thousands of soldiers who would meet their death when they were buried alive with the emperor. He knew the views of the court; that such a burial would help the emperor in the spirit world, and that such a death would be considered honorable. But he still couldn't bring himself to accept the deaths of so many innocent young men. It was then that he formulated his plan.
Using clay and carving tools, Zhang Bo Ai began the first of many non-living soldiers made from clay. This pursuit would be a lifetime of work. It would involve calling in the living soldiers, one at a time, to have them sit for him while he sculpted their likeness. It was only this attention to detail that met with the approval of the emperor Chin Hsi Huang, himself. It was a life time of service that Zhang was willing to give, to save a whole generation of soldiers.
In reality, we do not know the names of the court artisans. I gave him the name Bo ai, which in Chinese means charity. Because it was this love of his fellowman that surely drove the court artisan in his work. If you visit the burial site, and look at the terra cotta soldiers, you will see that no two look alike. They truly were fashioned after living beings. Those living beings were allowed to continue living, while their emperor went to his death alone; with thousdands of clay soldiers to accompany him. I do not know the real story of how the soldiers were made, but I like to think that my version really happened. The artisans who worked on the terra cotta soldiers sacrificed their careers for this cause, and in the process saved many lives.
(Note, this is not my picture. I will try to get some uploaded soon.)