Why do all the Terracotta Warriors have single eyelids?

The Terracotta Warriors were made based on the appearance of real people, different in clothes, hairstyle, face shape, facial expression and even moustache. However, many observant visitors are surprised to find that all the Terracotta Warriors have single eyelids with no exception, which is contradictory to what we see in the real world. Why? Below are three guesses to explain this strange phenomenon.

Guess 1. Modelled on Pure Han Chinese with Single Eyelids

Considering that the Terracotta Army shares big face, flat nose and single eyelids was built over 2,200 years ago based on the Han Chinese of that time, some scholars hold that these warriors’ were how the pure Han Chinese looked like at that time. The double eye lids feature of today’s Han Chinese was inherited from other ethnic groups as time passed by.

Ever since Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), Han Chinese had been blending with multiple ethnic groups, thus pure Han Chinese facial characteristics became less and less prominent. Especially during Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), the nomadic ethnic groups in the north intruded the territory of Han Chinese and they blended with each other. Meanwhile, some Han Chinese sought shelters in the south and blended with the ethnic groups there. Such a sweeping blending made Han’s bloodline not pure any more. No wonder the murals and sculptures in Tang Dynasty (618-907) sometimes portrayed the figures with protruding nose and double eyelids.

Guess 2. The Painted Double Eyelids Oxidized and Fell Off

People in favor of this explanation believe that Terracotta Warriors had both single and double eyelids as people have today. But their double eyelids were painted on with mineral pigments just as their clothes. But being buried for more than 2,200 years underground, and greatly damaged by fire, collapse, flood and other harmful substances in the soil, the colors painted on the surface of the terracotta warriors had mostly peeled off when they were dug out. Even if the colors were attached well, once the terracotta warriors were unearthed, the colors were quickly oxidized by air and then fell off in several minutes. So did the paintings around double eyelids. That’s why all the Terracotta Warriors eventually feature with same single eyelids.


Guess 3. Craftsmen were too Lazy to Make Double Eyelids

The last explanation can be somewhat unreasonable. Some people doubt that the craftsmen were so lazy that they didn’t want to spend time in making double eyelids. However, once visiting the lifelike Terracotta Warriors, those people will be impressed by the incredible craftsmanship. Because all the warriors are different with each other, with different face shapes, hairstyles and expressions, etc. It doesn’t make sense for craftsmen to give up such an easy step as double eyelids. Moreover, at that time, every finished figure would be strictly examined and those who made mistakes would be punished. Thus, it was impossible for the craftsmen to slack.
Regretfully, none of the above guesses has been proved true yet. Hope that one day we can find some historical records telling why all the Terracotta Warriors have single eyelids.

 Further Reading:
 Secret Revealed from the Ears of Terracotta Warriors
Moustache of Terracotta Warriors
 Hairstyle and Headgear of Terracotta Warriors
- Last updated on Aug. 01, 2022 -
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