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During the reign of Chinese dynasties, the ancient Chinese believed that when a person dies, he or she entered into the after life. Death was comprehended as a prolongation of life, and an emperor's mausoleum was his after-life palace, mirroring his regal life on earth. All of the daily comforts of their past life such as servants, attendants, objects, pets, wives, guardians, concubines, food and drink were to be provided for them in the after life. This was accomplished by burying all of these things with the deceased when they died. As an ancient Chinese philosopher said, "Treat death as life." It was not uncommon to kill people in order to be buried with their master, but as dynasties evolved clay replicas replaced the real thing.
Bronze Chimera Tombs of the ancient emperors and other nobles were often very elaborate. Around the 4th century BCE, the Chinese began to build large mounds over the tombs, erecting small temples next to the mounds so family members could leave offerings to their ancestors. The temples were also used for rituals to honor the deceased family member, who was believed to have influence over the fortunes and well-being of the living. The path leading to these tombs were called "spirit paths", and these paths were guarded by carved figures of soldiers, animals, or imaginary creatures called chimeras. Chimeras were one of the most common tomb guards and came in pairs facing each other on opposite ends of the spirit path.

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Soldiers of the Imperial bodyguard There were many rulers and nobles who were honored with a tomb built in their name; however, there are only a handful of extraordinary tombs that are visited today by millions of visitors each year. These particular tombs stand out for many reasons: some are vastly large, and others are filled with exceptional tomb goods. Of the most recently excavated tombs, the Qin Shihuangdi tomb, the Han tombs and the Quanling tomb from the Tang dynasty are the most notable.
Horse and Chariot In March of 1974, near the city of Xi'an, farmers were digging a water well and came across a fragment of a warrior figure. After further investigation by archeologists, the warrior figure was found to be part of the terracotta army of Qin Shihuangdi, who ruled the Qin dynasty from 246 BCE to 210 BCE. At the time of Qin's death, human sacrifice was less common. Rather than ordering his entire army to death, he was buried with an astonishing 6,000 symbolic life-sized terracotta soldiers, horses, and chariots assembled to protect him in the next world.

Kneeling Warrior from Tomb of Emperor Shihuangdi The emperor's terracotta army was found in three underground wooden vaults. The first vault contained chariots and the 6,000 soldiers. Vault 2 contained 1,400 figures of cavalrymen, infantry, horses, and 90 wooden chariots. The third vault contained 70 various additional figures. During the Qin dynasty rivals from the upcoming Han dynasty looted the three vaults and vandalized many of the figures. Today, archeologists continue to excavate the site, and have built a museum over the tomb itself.

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Ceramic Watch Dog In an age of conspicuous consumption, the Han dynasty tombs became grounds of status symbols and visible expressions of virtue and wealth. Unlike the first emperor, Qin, the figurines from this dynasty came in miniature proportions. The joint tomb of the emperor Jingdi and his wife empress Wang displayed 24 vaults filled with over 40,000 clay soldier figurines; each one-third life size, withJade Horse movable arms, and fully clothed. In addition to the soldiers there were clay figurines of animals, agricultural machinery, carts, tools, weights, and measures. Han tomb materials were not only terracotta, but also bronze, iron, and wood.


Jade Shroud sewn with gold wire, and set of plugsCorpses, such as that of emperor Liu Sheng and his wife the princess Dou Wan, have been found in spectacular jade suits made of thousands of small plaques sewn together with gold thread. The Chinese believed that jade would protect the corpses from decay; it was a symbol of life and vitality. Liu Sheng's tomb in Mancheng, Hebei was built like an actual house with horses, stables, windows, storerooms with cookbooks and even a bathroom! Most of the 2,800 goods found in this tomb are unique and include the jade suits and other jade products, the famous Changxin Palace lantern and a gold-inlaid furnace.
-visit english.sohu.com to see a photo of the Changxin lantern.

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Musicians on Horseback Tombs found in the town of Mawangdi, Changsha and Hebei contain well-crafted silks. The mummified bodies, such as Lady Dai, were wrapped in 20 garments, bound with silk ribbons and covered in silk banners Funerary Horsedepicting her journey to the land of them immortals. The tombs also included many bronzes of the Ferghana horses - prizes for their long legs, which slowly replaced the short-legged horses during the Han dynasty.
Unlike tombs from other dynasties, Han tombs were made mainly of bricks and stone, and placed deep into the earth for a greater preservation. The attention to preservation allowed archeologists to find a number of Han tombs intact.
Galloping Horse To date, more than 40 Han mausoleums have been excavated.

-visit www.npm.gov.tw (National Palace Museum in Taiwan) for additional pictures
of these tomb goods.

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Camel and Driver The Quanling tomb of the Tang Dynasty was a joint tomb of emperor Tang Gaozong and empress Wu Zetain - the only empress in Chinese history. Quanling is a town about 80 miles west of Xi'an. The tomb was a rectangular layout of the city of Chang'an, with four gates on each side. The tomb's circumference is 40 kilometers and hosts 17 satellite tombs of princes, kings, and high ministers, such as the tomb of Crown Prince Zhuanghuai, the tomb of Crown Yide and the tomb of Princess Yongtai.
Guardian of Tomb of Liu Tingxund There are hills upon hills of animals and human statues leading the way to these tombs. Among the amazing tomb goods are two winged horses, two vermilion (ostrich-like) birds, the Tablet of Seven Elements (sun, moon, metal, wood, water, earth and fire), and 61 stone king figures from foreign countries who attended Tang Gaozong's funeral - all original to this dynasty.
Guardian King
Other tomb goods included tri-color glazed pottery figures, poetry, porcelain ware, murals, and relics. A variety of materials were used to make these artifacts, among them bronze, gold, wood, jade, copper, iron, and a variety of earthly materials.
Horse and Foreign Groom Chalice with Arabesque Design Cups with Three-Color Glaze Sahari Bronze Vase Standing Male Tomb figures in Brown Glaze Standing Male Tomb Tigures in Brown Glaze Tomb Figureines of Covil Officials with Three-Color Glaze

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