Great emperors and rulers of the past influenced the social order of the modern life drastically. Jasaw Chan K’awiil I and Qin Shi Huang are the great historical personalities of two different civilizations. Chan K’awiil was the king of the Mayan Civilization while the latter was the first Emperor of China.
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The tombs of both leaders are masterpieces that exemplify the immortalization of their power as well as the belief that a new life begins in the other world. The Tomb of Emperor Qin and the Temple of the Great Jaguar represent unrelated ancient cultures that have a common purpose — to perpetuate the grandeur of their rulers and to ensure their blissful lives after death.
The detection of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army is one of the most prominent events in the archeology and history of the 20th century. Qin, also known as Shihuangdi, was the first ruler who managed to end the continuous conflicts between lords. Qin gathered the army, defeated all of them, and declared himself the Emperor of China in 221 BC. There is no exact answer concerning the primary reason for building the Terracotta Army.
It is significant to examine the epoch to find the motives of the Emperor. Qin began his reign with major reforms. He centralized the State and united the country. The Emperor adhered to the Legalist policy, improved the educational level of the population and promoted the trade.
At the same time, Qin Shihuangdi was a tyrannical and despotic leader. He had a lot of enemies and was afraid of death. Thus, the Emperor decided to achieve immortality by any possible means. His paranoia became an impulse for building the Terracotta Army (Wolff 11).
The excavation of the Temple of the Great Jaguar started in 1955. The reasons for building the Temple of the Great Jaguar were rather different. Jasaw Chan K’awiil I, known as Lord Sky God K, built the Temple I to glorify his success. He was the king of Tikal, the major center of the Maya Civilization. In 695 AD, Lord Sky God K defeated its opponent — Calakmul and made Tikal the prosperous and flourishing place (McKillop 62).
The Temple of the Great Jaguar served not only funeral but religious purposes as well. Maya believed in the existence of Xibalba — the mystical world where the gods lived, and in the two twins who outwitted the gods and opened the entrance to Xibalba. Maya shared the idea that one could depart to Xibalba through the mouth of mountains. The temples embodied those mountains.
Chinese people of that time believed that the soul divided into two constituents after death. The first part stayed with the body on Earth and the second moved to Heaven. The aim of the Qin Shihuangdi was to prepare himself for the eternal life. Thus, he wanted to reduplicate his residence. The Emperor wished all his warriors came with him, but instead of their extermination, he decided to make clay copies of them.
More than half a million workers built the subterranean microcosm of the city in the enormous mound with the height of 75 meters. The tomb comprises an immense number of pits with terracotta soldiers and horses. All figures are life-sized. There are also arms and chariots made of bronze (“Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor” par. 14).
The whole mausoleum is the architectural masterpiece. There were numerous pits and even the representation of the universe. Gems and pearls covered the ceiling to duplicate the sky. Different pits stand for various departments of the Qin’s army. Thus, the first pit is the largest and includes probably more than six thousand soldiers from the Right Army of the Emperor. The clay warriors from the Left Army comprised the second pit.
General Headquarters formed the third one. The craftsmen made all soldiers unique. All of them have individual facial expressions. Even more, they correspond to people from different ethnical groups. Initially, the workers painted every sculpture though the paint worn off in the course of time.
Besides, warriors possessed genuine weapons (Wolff 12). Archeologists have not excavated the tomb of the Qin itself due to the lack of necessary technologies. One more significant fact concerns the finding of the high level of mercury in the mound. Emperor Qin believed that breathing mercury would bring the immortality and ordered to supply his tomb with the substance.
The Temple of the Great Jaguar in Guatemala was a mortuary and sacred structure. Originally, there was only a tomb of Jasaw Chan K’awiil. Researchers argue whether K’awiil or his son planned and conducted the building of the pyramid. Average observers often confuse Temple I with Egyptian pyramids. However, the method of building this pyramid differed from that employed in Egypt. The Temple of the Great Jaguar comprises of smaller blocks.
The structure includes nine levels of blocks arranged in the form of steps, which have symbolic meaning. According to the Mayan religion, a king had to pass all these stages after death. The Temple I is almost fifty meters high. The summit of the pyramid is the sanctuary with carved lintels made of wood.
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On the top of the Temple I, there is the sculpture of Jasaw Chan K’awiil I sitting on the throne and a figure of the captured jaguar (Sharer and Traxler 393). However, it is challenging to see it now due to the destructions. There are also images that represent the power and grandeur of the leader. For instance, one can notice the pictures of people who are standing on human bones. Such images meant that the king was the influential and mighty person (McKillop 62).
The works of art under consideration epitomize two unique cultures and epochs. The building of the Tomb of Emperor Qin commenced much earlier. Qin Shihuangdi was the initiator of building. What concerns the Temple I, it is not known who made it. The constructions differ severely as well.
The principal aim of both structures was to prepare the best conditions for their rulers when they would depart to the other world. Nevertheless, the Temple I was a sacred religious place while the Tomb of Emperor Qin represented his paranoiac desire to achieve immortality and live in the same grandeur after death.
At first sight, both tombs look dissimilar. It seems there is no connection between Chinese and Mayan Civilizations. In my opinion, the core meaning of both artworks renders the wisdom of the humankind. People, who built these masterpieces, aspired to immortalize their leaders and prepare them for the eternal life.
These works exemplify the way nations behaved and thought in the ancient time. They open the pages of history that have been unknown before. I have chosen these works of art because they prove that the wisdom and faith have no limitations or borders. One can find them everywhere, regardless of the cultures and territories.
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. n.d.
McKillop, Heather. The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Print.
Sharer, Robert and Loa Traxler. The Ancient Maya, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006. Print.
Wolff, Jennifer. “Emperor Qin in the Afterlife.” 2007.