Exquisite Weaponry of Terra Cotta Army

Qin bronze sword in terra cotta museum
Bronze Sword
The Terra Cotta Warriors Pits have unearthed large amounts of bronze weapons which include swords, spears, scimitars, billhooks, halberds, arrowheads and crossbows. Despite being buried for over two thousand years, these military weapons still glitter and their edges are as sharp as of old. This miracle reflects the high level of metallurgical technology of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC).

Experts have found many reasons to explain the Qin Army's formidable might, including strict military systems, a well-disciplined army and wise tactics in fighting. But one important factor that should not be ignored is their highly advanced military equipment including the following:



Jian in Chinese. The sword is the king of short weapons. In fighting, the sword is used to stab the enemy. The over 20 pieces of bronze swords unearthed in Pit 1 and Pit 2 are smooth and sharp in the color of yellow gray. The body parts were finely filed and polished, making the swords as bright as new. Comparatively, Qin swords were molded longer than the ones in other states. It is because the longer the sword is, the easier it is to stab the enemy.

But the bronze swords unearthed in the Qin terracotta warriors pit were not the best precious swords in the Qin Dynasty. The bronze sword hung on the officer warrior in the bronze chariot measures 60 cm, but if enlarged to the actual size, it measures as long as 120 cm, not to mention the length of the precious sword wore by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
Bronze Shield
Head of Bronze Halberd


Mao in Chinese. The bronze spears unearthed in the Terra Cotta Pits are sharp and exquisite. Unlike the bronze spears of the Wu and Yue States which have gorgeous decoration, Qin spears focus on actual combat performance, which reflect on the spears' simple and fluent lines, strong body, wide and flat shape as well as on its sharp blade.



Nu in Chinese. Compared to the bow, the crossbow takes more tension and has a long effective range. It was used to shoot at long-range targets. Qin Crossbows had a standard shape and structure. The bow back, bow belly, upper and lower bow-limb of different crossbows were created to the same standard. The Qin bronze mechanical devices on the bows were so standardized that even the small components were interchangeable.



Jiancu in Chinese. It is used with the crossbow. There were 40,000 arrowheads unearthed in the terra cotta pits, including two iron arrowheads. The bronze heads are prismatic and made up of head, shaft and vane.



Known as Ge in Chinese, the dagger-axe is a pointed weapon commonly used in combat during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. It has long styles and short styles which are divided by the length of the handle. There was only one dagger-axe unearthed in Pit 1, which means that the importance of Ge was not as significant during the Qin Dynasty as in the Shang and Zhou Dynasties.

Other weaponry discovered in the Terra Cotta Pits include Pi which look like short swords, and Shu which are cylindrically shaped and used only in ceremonies.
Bronze Hook
Bronze Hook
Bronze arrow-heads
Bronze Arrow-heads
Bronze Article
Bronze Spear (A Small Part)
Bronze Battleaxe
Bronze Battleaxe
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Next: Military Formation of Terra Cotta Army

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