China's First Emperor Has Desire to Be Immortal

Cranes Believed to Bring Long Life

The cranes rest on cloud-like bronze boards in proportion to their sizes, coming from ancient tales about fairies. Among them are two red-crowned cranes flying to heaven by means of magic cloud, betraying the emperor's aspiration for immortality, said Liu Zhancheng, an expert from the Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi'an, City, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The delicate cranes are believed to be traditional auspicious birds, bringing longevity to the senile, and gifts bearing crane designs are still popular among senior Chinese.

Qinshihuang Desperate For Longevity

Records depicted Qinshihuang, the first emperor who unified China in 221 B.C., was desperate in searching elixir of life, and even sent Taoists overseas for it. He died of illness at 49 in 210B.C., four years before his dynasty's collapse.

When Qinshihuang was still alive, he began to build his mausoleum with some terracotta warrior pits. The Qinshihuang Mausoleum is located 30 km east to Xi'an, at the foot of Lishan hills. Qinshihuang's body is still buried there.

Bronze Animal Sculptures Reveals Philosophy and Cosmology

This is the first time that China has yielded unattached bronze animal sculptures, which can reveal philosophy and cosmology of Qin Dynasty, said Du Naisong, a famous bronze expert from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

It helps the study of the bronze culture of 5,000 years, Du said, since animal figures, never found in single sculptures, usually served as decorations to bronze vessels.

All the cranes are just in the size of living ones. One 1.02-meter long red-crowned crane looks backwards with its neck straightened up, the other bent its head drinking or searching food, and the rest cranes posed differently, said Duan Qingbo, leader of the archeology team in Qin Emperor's Mausoleum.

Discovery of the 180th Pit Helps Archeologists Research More

In July 2000 some peasants excavated a pottery warrior when digging and thus discovered the 180th pit, with a detected area of 925 square meters, and only 2 percent now has been explored with the rest believed to contain more relics.

It's the most distant pit ever found by now from Qinshihuang's Mausoleum, about 3 km from the center, said Duan, it might be a pond for rare birds, for there is detected marks of flowing water.

Duan said, 30 years of study is just a beginning in deciphering the complicated culture expressed by Qin Mausoleum. The most mysterious part, the underground palace, is still beyond any scientist's knowledge, he added.

(People's Daily December 4, 2001)

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Accompanying Burial Pit of Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Discovered


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