Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

[Tidbits] Terracotta Jeweler


If one traces one’s ancestry one has to do it in a most careful and
meticulous way in order to avoid the pitfalls of mistaken identity. I
have undertaken such a task… the results amaze.

It is the year 210 BC. The First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi is buried at
Lintong, 22 miles west of Xi’an. A tomb has been built and is at the
ready to receive this most noble of men. It has taken 40 years to
complete with a force of 700,00 men. The emperor is to be protected
by an army of thousands of terracotta soldiers.

Twenty two centuries pass. The tomb has long disappeared under the
destructive overthrow of the Qin dynasty. It is now March, 1974.
Farmers… digging a well… uncover the head of a terracotta
warrior. Archaeologists rush to the site. Excitement abounds. The
ancient theory is confirmed. This is part of the legendary army that
defended the First Emperor who was buried in a huge mausoleum.

Pit number 1 was the one found by the farmers. Three more were found
later. A total of 8000 statues were buried. As of 1995 just over 1300
were recovered.

And hereby now hangs a strange tale. I saw these terracotta
soldiers… each with his own unique face. No two were alike. Who
were they modelled after? The hoi polloi of ancient China …an
ancient race almost as ancient as man himself. Were they once
doctors, and craftsmen, and farmer, and even perhaps jewelers? I
pondered the muses. 8000 in total. They had to come from every walk
of life. There even had to be a jeweler strewn amongst the bunch. The
mysteries of life are to complex for mere man to understand. Perhaps
one of the soldiers was related to myself. Was that possible?

I had taken pictures. I looked at them over and over. I viewed them
from a distance. I took out a magnifier and examined them all in
detail… each and every one. I looked for a gold button. A silver
medal. Something. Anything. I drew a blank.

I scanned the images into photoshop. I started over. I enlarged the
image to 200 percent… 300 percent. And then… all of a sudden… I
started looking at the head gear. They were not all the same. And
then I found it…a cleverly concealed symbol… a cap of sorts…
unique from the others… a jutting juxtaposition in differences. I
enlarged again… and again. I sharpened. I added contrast. I
splashed a little color onto the image… for easier viewing. And
then I saw it. Something that allowed me to surmize with moderate
certainty that this terracotta soldier was modelled after a common
man who might well once have been a jeweler before being conscripted
into the First Emperor’s services.

I will not tell you what the clue was. I will ask you to look for
yourselves. Tell me what you see. Can you spot that clay soldier who
might once have been a jeweler? Write to me. I am curious to know who
else spotted it.

As to the possiblity that he might well have been distantly related
to me… well… perhaps I’m being a tad optimistic. I would value
your opinion on this too.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Current Tidbits… and you will see represented on our pages an image
of a terracotta soldier who might easily once have been a jeweler.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark