Thursday, September 4, 2008

Qin Shi Huang

The monarch known now as Qin Shi Huang , personal name Yíng Zhèng, was king of the Chinese from 247 BCE to 221 BCE , and then the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BCE to 210 BCE, ruling under the name the First Emperor . As the ruler of the Great Qin, he was known for the introduction of and also for unifying China.

Qin Shi Huang remains a controversial figure in Chinese history. Having unified China, he and his chief adviser Li Si passed a series of major reforms aimed at cementing unification, and they undertook some gigantic projects, most notably the precursor version of the current Great Wall of China, a city-sized guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army, and a massive national road system, at the expense of numerous human lives. To ensure stability, he outlawed Confucianism and buried many of its scholars alive, banning and burning all books other than those officially decreed.

Despite the tyranny of his autocratic rule, Qin Shi Huang is still regarded by many today as a pivotal figure in Chinese history whose unification of China has endured for more than two millennia.

Naming conventions

Qin Shi Huang was in the Kingdom of Zhao, therefore he received the last name Zhao, which is a branch of "Ying". He was born in the Chinese month ''zhēng'' , the first month of the year in the Chinese calendar then in use, like January is now, and so he received the given name Zheng , both characters being used interchangeably in ancient China. In Chinese antiquity, people joined family names and given names together as is customary for all Chinese names today. Therefore, it is anachronistic to refer to Qin Shi Huang as "Zhao Zheng", "Ying Zheng" and "Yang Zhao".

The given name was never used except by close relatives; it is incorrect to call Qin Shi Huang "Prince Zheng", or alternatively by the common dynastic term "King Zheng of Qin". As a king, he was referred to as "King of Qin" only. Had he received a posthumous name after his death like his father, he would have been known by historians as "King NN. of Qin".

After conquering the last independent Chinese state in 221 BCE, Qin Shi Huang was the king of a state of Qin ruling over the whole of China, an unprecedented accomplishment. Wishing to show that he was no longer a simple king like the kings of old during the Warring States Period, he created a new title, ''huangdi'' , combining the word ''huang'' from the legendary Three ''Huang'' who ruled at the dawn of Chinese history, and the word ''di'' from the legendary Five ''Di'' who ruled immediately after the Three ''Huang''. These Three ''Huang'' and Five ''Di'' were considered perfect rulers, of immense power and very long lives. The word ''huang'' also meant "big", "great". The word ''di'' also referred to the Supreme God in Heaven, creator of the world. Thus, by joining these two words for the first time, Qin Shi Huang created a title on a par with his feat of uniting the seemingly endless Chinese realm, in fact uniting the world. Ancient Chinese, like ancient Romans, believed their empire encompassed the whole world, a concept referred to as all under heaven.

This word ''huangdi'' is rendered in English as "emperor", a word which also has a long history dating back to , and which English-speakers commonly deem to be superior to the word "king". Qin Shi Huang adopted the name First Emperor . He abolished posthumous names, by which former kings were known after their death, judging them inappropriate and contrary to filial piety, and decided that future generations would refer to him as the First Emperor . His successor would be referred to as the Second Emperor , the successor of his successor as the Third Emperor , and so on, for ten thousand generations, as the Imperial house was supposed to rule China for that long.

Qin Shi Huang had now become the First Emperor of the State of Qin. The official name of the newly united China was still "State of Qin", as Qin had absorbed all the other states. The contemporaries called the emperor "First Emperor", dropping the phrase "of the State of Qin", which was obvious without saying. However, soon after the emperor's death, his regime collapsed, and China was beset by a civil war. Eventually, in 202 BCE the Han Dynasty managed to reunify the whole of China, which now became officially known as the ''State of Han'' , or Empire of Han. Qin Shi Huang could no longer be called "First Emperor", as this would imply that he was the "First Emperor of the Empire of Han". The custom thus arose of preceding his name with Qin , which no longer referred to the State of Qin, but to the Qin Dynasty, a dynasty replaced by the Han Dynasty. The word ''huangdi'' in his name was also shortened to ''huang'', so that he became known as Qin Shi Huang. It seems likely that ''huangdi'' was shortened to obtain a three-character name, because it is rare for Chinese people to have a name composed of four or more characters.

This name Qin Shi Huang is the name that appears in the Records of the Grand Historian written by Sima Qian, and is the name most favored today inside China when referring to the First Emperor. Westerners sometimes write "Qin Shi Huangdi", which is improper given Chinese naming conventions; it is more conventional to write "Qin Shi Huang" or "First Emperor of Qin".

Youth and King of Qin: the conqueror

At the time of the young Zheng's birth, China was divided into antagonistic feudal states, so this era of Chinese history is referred to as the Warring States Period. The competition was extremely fierce and by 260 BCE there were only a handful of states left , including Zheng's state, , which was the most powerful. It was governed by a government and focused earnestly on military matters. Legalism taught that laws were obeyed out of fear, not respect.

Zheng was born in Handan, the capital of the enemy , so he had the name Zhao Zheng. He was the son of Zichu , a prince of the royal house of Qin who served as a hostage in the State of Zhao under an agreement between the states of Qin and Zhao. Zichu later returned to Qin after many adventures and with the help of a rich merchant called Lü Buwei, and he managed to ascend the throne of Qin, Lü Buwei becoming chancellor of Qin. Zichu is known posthumously as King Zhuangxiang of Qin. According to a widespread story, Zheng was not the actual son of Zichu, but the son of the powerful chancellor Lü Buwei. This tale arose because Zheng's mother had originally been a concubine of Lü Buwei before he gave her to his good friend Zichu shortly before Zheng's birth. However, the story is dubious since the would have found it much easier to denounce a ruler whose birth was illegitimate.

Zheng ascended the throne in 245 BCE at the age of 13, and was king under a regent until 238 BCE when, at the age of 21 and a half, he staged a palace and assumed full power. Contrary to the accepted rules of war of the time, he ordered the execution of prisoners of war. He continued the tradition of tenaciously attacking and defeating the feudal states and finally took control of the whole of China in 221 BCE by defeating the last independent Chinese state, the .

Then in that same year, at the age of 38, the king of Qin proclaimed himself First Emperor of the unified states of China, making him the most powerful man in China .

First Emperor: the unifier

In an attempt to avoid a recurrence of the political chaos of the Warring States Period, Qin Shi Huang and his prime minister Li Si completely abolished feudalism. They instead divided the empire into thirty-six . Power in the commanderies was in the hands of governors dismissed at will by the central government. Civilian and military powers were also separated to avoid too much power falling in the hands of a single civil servant. Thus, each commandery was run by a civilian governor assisted by a military governor . The civilian governor was superior to the military governor, a constant in Chinese history. The civilian governor was also reassigned to a different commandery every few years to prevent him from building up a base of power. An inspector was also in post in each commandery, in charge of informing the central government about the local implementation of central policies, reporting on the governors' exercise of power, and possibly resolving conflicts between the two governors.

This administrative system was only an extension to the whole empire of the system already in place in the State of Qin before the Chinese unification. In the State of Qin, feudalism had been abolished in the 4th century BCE, and the realm had been divided into commanderies, with centrally appointed governors.

Qin Shi Huang commanded all the members of the former royal houses of the conquered states to move to Xianyang, the capital of Qin, in modern day Shaanxi province, so they could be kept under tight surveillance for rebellious activities. Qin Shi Huang also ordered most previously existing , excepting some medical and agricultural texts held in the palace archives.

Qin Shi Huang and Li Si unified China economically by standardizing the Chinese units of measurements such as weights and , the currency, the length of the axles of carts , the legal system, and so on. The emperor also developed an extensive network of roads and canals connecting the provinces to improve trade between them and to accelerate military marches to revolting provinces.

Perhaps most importantly, the was unified. Under Li Si, the seal script of the state of Qin, which had already evolved organically during the Eastern Zhou out of the Zhou dynasty script, was standardized through removal of variant forms within the Qin script itself. This newly standardized script was then made official throughout all the conquered regions, thus doing away with all the regional scripts and becoming the official script for all of China. Contrary to popular belief, Li Si did not invent the script, nor was it completely new at the time. Edicts written in the new script were carved on the walls of sacred mountains around China, such as the famous carved edicts of Mount Taishan, to let Heaven know of the unification of Earth under an emperor, and also to propagate the new script among people. However, the script was difficult to write, and an informal Qin script, variously termed vulgar or common writing, remained in use which was already evolving into an early form of clerical script.

Shi Huang made the color black the official court color. Among the five primary elements, the color for water is black. He often claimed that to Qin belongs the virtue of water. This might be due to his "taming of the Yellow River", a process of building numerous massive dams and tributaries to the Yellow River. Such an enormous undertaking certainly would not have been possible without a unified China.

Qin Shi Huang continued military expansion during his reign, annexing regions to the south and fighting nomadic tribes to the north and northwest. These tribes were subdued, but the campaign was essentially inconclusive, and to prevent the Xiongnu from encroaching on the northern frontier any longer, the emperor ordered the construction of an immense defensive wall, linking several walls already existing since the time of the .

This wall, for whose construction hundreds of thousands of men were mobilized, and an unknown number died, is a precursor of the current Great Wall of China. It was built much further north than the current Great Wall, which was built during the Ming Dynasty, when China had at least twice as many inhabitants as in the days of the First Emperor, and when more than a century was devoted to building the wall . Very little survives today of the great wall built by the First Emperor.

By his order, 12 Jin Ren, 12 bronze colossi were made from the collected weapons after his unification of China.

Death and aftermath

Later in his life, Qin Shi Huang feared death and desperately sought the fabled elixir of life, visiting Zhifu Island several times in order to achieve this end. He even sent a Zhifu islander Xu Fu with ships carrying hundreds of young men and women in search of Mount Penglai, where the Eight Immortals lived. These people never returned, because they knew that if they returned without the promised elixir, they would surely be executed. Legends claim that they settled down on one of the Japanese islands, a view that many Chinese and Japanese people are familiar with today.

The emperor often took tours of major cities in his empire to inspect the efficiency of the bureaucracy and to symbolize the presence of Qin's prestige. Nevertheless, these trips provided opportunities for assassins, the most famous of whom was Zhang Liang. After his assassination had been attempted too often for comfort, he grew paranoid of remaining in one place too long and would hire servants to bear him to different buildings in his palace complex to sleep in each night. He also hired several "doubles" to make it less clear which figure was the emperor.

The emperor died while on one of his tours of Eastern China, on September 10, 210 BCE at the palace in Shaqiu prefecture, about two months away by road from the capital Xianyang. Reportedly, he died of swallowing pills, made by his court scientists and doctors, which contained too much of the liquid metal. Ironically, these pills were meant to make Qin Shi Huang . The "theory," devised by alchemists, was that if mercury could even absorb gold, then if eaten, it would give that person its own powers, making him immortal. Mercury compounds were mixed with some food so as to make it edible.

Prime Minister Li Si, who accompanied him, was extremely worried that the news of his death could trigger a general uprising in the empire, given the brutal policies of the government, and the resentment of the population forced to work on Herculean projects such as the Great Wall in Northern China or the mausoleum of the emperor.

It would take two months for the government to reach the capital, and it would not be possible to stop the uprising. Li Si decided to hide the death of the emperor, and return to Xianyang.

Most of the imperial entourage accompanying the emperor was left uninformed of the emperor's death, and each day Li Si entered the wagon where the emperor was supposed to be traveling in, pretending to discuss affairs of state.

The secretive nature of the emperor while he was alive allowed this stratagem to work, and it did not raise doubts among his courtiers. Li Si also ordered that two carts containing fish be carried immediately before and after the wagon of the emperor. The idea behind this was to prevent people from noticing the foul smell emanating from the wagon of the emperor, where his body was starting to decompose severely.

Eventually, after about two months, Li Si and the imperial court were back in Xianyang, where the news of the death of the emperor was announced.

Qin Shi Huang did not like to talk about death and he never really wrote a . After his death, Li Si and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao persuaded Huang's eighteenth son to forge the Emperor's will. Li Si was afraid that if Prince Fusu ascended the throne, it would endanger his position since Fusu was once exiled by the late emperor because of Li's thoughts.

They forced his first son Fusu to commit suicide which was actually very common because of this emperor's cruelty, stripped the command of troops from Meng Tian, a loyal supporter of Fusu, and killed his family. Huhai became the Second Emperor , known by historians as Qin Er Shi.

Qin Er Shi was not nearly as capable as his father. Revolts against him quickly erupted. His reign was a time of extreme civil unrest, and everything the First Emperor had worked for crumbled away, within a short period. The imperial palace and state archives were burned. This has been disastrous for later historians, because after the burning of the books by his father, almost the only written records left were those in the palace archives.

Within four years of Qin Shi Huang's death, his son was killed by Zhao Gao when the rebellious army approached the capital, and soon the Qin Dynasty crumbled due to civil strife. Zhao Gao then appointed Fusu's son, Ziying, to be the next emperor. Ziying tricked Zhao Gao by refusing to attend his coronation, then stabbed the eunuch to death. But Liu Bang's army had approached the capital, and Ziying was forced to take an immediate decision of abdication, in order to avoid being captured by another ruthless rebel general, Xiang Yu, who was notorious for his brutality. Liu Bang then founded the Han dynasty.

Han Dynasty, rejected and moderated the laws, but kept Qin Shi Huang's basic political and economic reforms intact. In this way his work was carried on through the centuries and became a lasting feature of Chinese society.

Mausoleum and Terracotta Army

;Terracota army

Qin Shi Huang was buried in his mausoleum, with the Terracotta Army, near modern day Xi'an . The Chinese historian Sima Qian, writing a century after the First Emperor's death, wrote that it took 700,000 men to construct it. The British historian John Man points out that this figure is larger than any city of the world at that time and calculates that the foundations could have been built by 16,000 men in two years. Sima Qian's description of the tomb includes replicas of palaces and scenic towers, 'rare utensils and wonderful objects', 100 rivers made with mercury, representations of 'the heavenly bodies', and crossbows rigged to shoot anyone who tried to break in. Sima Qian never mentioned the terracotta army - which was discovered by a team of well diggers. The soldiers were created with a series of mix-and-match clay molds and then further individualized by the artists' hand.

;Qin Shi Huang Tomb

The main tomb containing the emperor has yet to be opened and there is evidence suggesting that it remains relatively intact.

Historiography of Qin Shi Huang

In traditional Chinese historiography, the First Emperor of the Chinese unified states was almost always portrayed as a brutal tyrant, superstitious , and sometimes even as a mediocre ruler.

Ideological prejudices against the State of Qin were established as early as 266 BCE, when Confucian philosopher Xun Zi disparaged it. Later Confucian historians condemned the emperor who had burned the classics and buried Confucian scholars alive. They eventually compiled a list of the ''Ten Crimes of Qin'' to highlight his tyrannical actions.

The famous Han poet and statesman Jia Yi concluded his essay ''The Faults of Qin'' , with what was to become the standard Confucian judgment of the reasons for Qin's collapse. Jia Yi's essay, admired as a masterpiece of rhetoric and reasoning, was copied into two great Han histories and has had a far-reaching influence on Chinese political thought as a classic illustration of Confucian theory.

He explained that the ultimate weakness of Qin was a result of its ruler's ruthless pursuit of , harsh laws and unbearable burdens placed on the population in projects such as the Great Wall - the precise factor which had made it so powerful; for as Confucius had taught, the strength of a government ultimately is based on the support of the people and the virtuous conduct of the ruler.

Because of this systematic Confucian bias on the part of Han scholars, some of the stories recorded about Qin Shi Huang are doubtful and some may have been invented to emphasize his bad character. Some of the stories are plainly fictitious, designed to tarnish the First Emperor's image, e.g. the story of a stone fallen from the sky engraved with words denouncing the emperor and the collapse of his empire after his death.

This makes it difficult to know the truth about other stories. For instance, the accusation that he had 460 scholars executed by having them buried with only their heads above ground and then decapitated seems unlikely to be completely true, but we have no way to know for certain.

Only in modern times were historians able to penetrate beyond the limitations of traditional Chinese historiography. The political rejection of the Confucian tradition as an impediment to China's entry into the modern world opened the way for changing perspectives to emerge.

In the three decades between the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the outbreak of the , with the deepening dissatisfaction with China's weakness and disunity, there emerged a new appreciation of the man who had unified China.

In the time when he was writing, when Chinese territory was encroached upon by foreign nations, leading Kuomintang historian Xiao Yishan emphasized the role of Qin Shi Huang in repulsing the northern barbarians, particularly in the construction of the Great Wall.

Another historian, Ma Feibai , published in 1941 a full-length biography of the First Emperor entitled ''Qin Shi Huangdi Zhuan'' , calling him "one of the great heroes of Chinese history".

Ma compared him with the contemporary leader Chiang Kai-shek and saw many parallels in the careers and policies of the two men, both of whom he admired. Chiang's of the late 1920s, which directly preceded the new Nationalist government at Nanjing was compared to the unification brought about by Qin Shi Huang.

With the coming of the in 1949, new interpretations again surfaced. The establishment of the new, revolutionary regime meant another re-evaluation of the First Emperor, this time following theory.

The new interpretation given of Qin Shi Huang was generally a combination of traditional and modern views, but essentially critical. This is exemplified in the ''Complete History of China'', which was compiled in September 1955 as an official survey of Chinese history.

The work described the First Emperor's major steps toward unification and standardisation as corresponding to the interests of the ruling group and the merchant , not the nation or the people, and the subsequent fall of his dynasty as a manifestation of the class struggle.

The perennial debate about the fall of the Qin Dynasty was also explained in Marxist terms, the peasant rebellions being a revolt against oppression — a revolt which undermined the dynasty, but which was bound to fail because of a compromise with "landlord class elements".

Since 1972, however, a radically different official view of Qin Shi Huang has been given prominence throughout China. The re-evaluation movement was launched by Hong Shidi's biography ''Qin Shi Huang''. The work was published by the state press as a mass popular history, and it sold 1.85 million copies within two years.

In the new era, Qin Shi Huang was seen as a farsighted ruler who destroyed the forces of division and established the first unified, centralized state in Chinese history by rejecting the past. Personal attributes, such as his quest for immortality, so emphasized in traditional historiography, were scarcely mentioned.

The new evaluations described how, in his time , he had no compunctions against using violent methods to crush , such as the "industrial and commercial slave owner" chancellor Lü Buwei. Unfortunately, he was not as thorough as he should have been and after his death, hidden subversives, under the leadership of the chief eunuch Zhao Gao, seized power and used it to restore the old feudal order.

To round out this re-evaluation, a new interpretation of the precipitous collapse of the Qin Dynasty was put forward in an article entitled "On the Class Struggle During the Period Between Qin and Han" by Luo Siding, in a 1974 issue of ''Red Flag'', to replace the old explanation. The new theory claimed that the cause of the fall of Qin lay in the lack of thoroughness of Qin Shi Huang's "dictatorship over the reactionaries, even to the extent of permitting them to worm their way into organs of political authority and usurp important posts."

Qin Shi Huang was ranked #17 in Michael H. Hart's .

Mao Zedong, chairman of the People's Republic of China, was reviled for his persecution of intellectuals. Being compared to the First Emperor, Mao responded: "He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive... You revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold."

Qin Shi Huang in fiction

*During the Korean War, the play ''Song of the Yi River'' was produced. The play was based on the attempted assassination of Qin Shi Huang by Jing Ke of Wei, at the request of the Prince of Yan, in 227 BCE. In the play Ying Zheng was portrayed as a cruel tyrant and an aggressor and invader of other states. Jing Ke, in contrast, was a warrior who said that "tens of thousands of injured people are all my comrades." A huge newspaper ad for this play proclaimed: "Invasion will definitely end in defeat; peace must be won at a price." The play portrayed an underdog fighting against a cruel, powerful foreign invader with help from a sympathetic foreign volunteer.

*Jorge Luis Borges , the writer, wrote an acclaimed essay on Qin Shi Huang, 'The Wall and the Books' , included in the 1952 collection ''Other Inquisitions'' . It muses on the opposition between large-scale construction and destruction that defined his reign, in order to make a point about 'the aesthetic experience'.

*The book ''Lord of the East,'' published in 1956, is a historical romance about the favourite daughter of Qin Shihuang, who runs away with her lover. The story uses Qin Shihuang to create the barrier for the young couple.

*The 1984 book ''Bridge of Birds'' portrays the emperor as a power-hungry megalomaniac who achieved immortality by having his heart removed by an "Old Man of the mountain."

*''The Chinese Emperor'', by Jean Levi, appeared in 1984. This work of historical fiction moves from discussions of politics and law in the Qin state to fantasy, in which the First Emperor's were actually robots created to replace fallible humans.

*In the '''' book series, Qin Shi Huang is revealed to be an alien exile stranded on Earth during an interstellar civil war. The Great Wall is actually designed to display the symbol for 'help' in his language, and he orders it built in the hope that a passing spaceship would notice it and rescue him.

*In ''Hydra's Ring'', the 39th novel in the ''Outlanders'' series, Shi Huang Di is revealed to be still alive in the early 23rd century through extraterrestrial nano-technology that has bestowed a form of immortality.

*In the Magic Tree House book series, one book is titled "Day of the Dragon King." The Dragon King is Qin Shi Huangdi.

*"Emperor!: A Romance of Ancient China" by Lanny Fields centers around Qin Shi Huangdi and a former Roman soldier named Marcus Lucius Scipio, whom Qin Shi Huangdi befriends after Marcus Scipio saves his life on multiple occasions. This fictional account is told through the eyes of the historian Sima Qian, who writes about Marcus Scipio after he travels from Rome to China.

Films and television

*The 1963 Japanese movie ''Shin No Shikoutei'' portrays Qin Shihuang as a battle-hardened emperor with his roots in the military. Despite his rank, he is shown lounging around a campfire with common men. A female character, Lady Chu, serves as a foil who questions whether the emperor's cause is just. He converts her from an enemy to a loyal concubine.

* In the 1986 film ''Big Trouble in Little China'', the First Emperor is said to have been responsible for the sorcerer Lo Pan's curse.

*Hong Kong Asia Television Limited Channel made a TV drama called "The Rise of the Great Wall - Emperor Qin Shi Huang" during the 1980s. It was one of ATV's most expensive projects, with 63 episodes chronicling Qin Shi Huang's life from his birth to his death. The title song summed up most of the storyline: "The land shall be under my foot; nobody shall be equal to me."

*The 1996 movie ''The Emperor's Shadow'' uses legends about Qin Shi Huang to make a political statement on . The film focuses on his relationship with the rebellious musician Gao Jianli, known historically as a friend of the would-be assassin Jing Ke. Gao plays a song for the assassin before he sets out to kill the emperor.

*The 1999 movie ''The Emperor and the Assassin'' focuses on the identity of the emperor's father, his supposed heartless treatment of his officials, and a betrayal by his childhood lover, paving the way for Jing Ke's assassination attempt. The director of the film, Chen Kaige, sought to question whether the emperor's motives were meritorious. A major theme in this movie is the conflict between the Emperor’s dedication to his vows and to his lover, Lady Zhao.

*In the animated series ''Histeria'', Pepper Mills wanted Shi Huang Di's autograph, thinking he was Scooby Doo.

*The 2001 Hong Kong TVB serial drama ''A Step into the Past'', based on a book with the same title, stars Raymond Lam Fung as Zhao Pan, a man from the Kingdom of Zhao who takes over the identity of the emperor and rises to power. He is unwittingly helped by Hong Siu Lung, a time traveller from the 21st century.

*The 2002 Mainland China CCTV serial drama '''', stars Zhang Fengyi as Qin Shi Huang. It features the fictionalised story of the emperor, from his childhood to his death.

*The 2002 movie '''', starring Jet Li, tells the story of assassination attempts on Qin Shi Huang by legendary warriors. It portrays him as a powerful ruler willing to take any steps to bring unification to his people.

* In 2006 The Discovery Channel ran a drama-documentary special on Qin Shi Huang called ''First Emperor: The Man Who Made China'', featuring James Pax as the emperor. It was shown on the UK Channel 4 in 2006.

* In '''' , Jackie Chan plays both a modern-day archaeologist and a general under Qin Shi Huang. Kim Hee-sun starred alongside Jackie Chan as a Korean Princess who was forced to marry Qin Shi Huang.

*Bob Bainborough portrayed Qin Shi Huang in an episode of ''History Bites''.

*In the animated Martin Mystery series, the hero finds that the Terracotta Army was actually created to keep the First Emperor inside his tomb and not to help him in the spiritual world.

*In ''My Date With A Vampire'' series 2, a flashback shows that Qin Shi Huang was the Emperor who was deceived into believing that the way to having Immortality was found, and was turned into a vampire.

*In the 2008 film ''The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor'', the titular Dragon Emperor , an obvious Qin Shi Huang pastiche, is the film's main antagonist.


*Emperor Qin is the protagonist in the opera ''The First Emperor'' by Tan Dun and has been sung by Plácido Domingo on its world premiere.

Video games

*The 1995 '''' depicts a fictional archaeological mission to explore the First Emperor's burial site. The emperor is featured in several voiceovers in Chinese.

*The video game ''Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb'' portrays Indiana Jones entering the tomb of Qin Shi Huang to recover "The Heart of the Dragon".

*In the 2002 computer game Prince Of Qin, the user plays Qin Shi Huang's first son Fu Su, who was forced to commit suicide. But in this game, Fu Su does not die, he will fight for his birth right to inherit the throne and seek the truth of Qin Shi Huang's death.

*In the 2005 computer game Civilization IV, Qin Shi Huang is one of the two playable leaders of China. The other is Mao Zedong.

*In the computer game '''', the Qin Dynasty campaign has the player as the head architect of Qin Shi Huang, in charge of overseeing the construction of the capitol, the great wall, as well as his tomb and the terracotta army, although the game takes liberties with the timeframes in which these events actually took place.

*The Playstation title Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix deals heavily with the myths of the emperor's tomb, and The Eight Immortals.

Further reading


Qin Er Shi

Qin Er Shi , literally ''Second Emperor of Qin Dynasty'', personal name Huhai, was of the Qin Dynasty in China from 210 BC until 207 BC.

Qin Er Shi was the son of Qin Shi Huang , but he was not the original crown prince. In 210 BC, he accompanied his father on a trip to Eastern China, during which trip his father died suddenly when they arrived at Shaqiu village. Under the advice of the chief eunuch Zhao Gao and prime minister Li Si, he forged a fake decree of his father, which ordered his brother, the heir Fusu, which by the time served general Meng Tian, to commit suicide and appointed himself to be the heir.

As emperor, he was not able to contend with nationwide rebels. He depended on Zhao Gao so much that he himself acted like a puppet emperor. In 207 BC, the Qin dynasty was on the brink of collapse and Zhao Gao was afraid that Qin Er Shi would ask him to take the blame. Therefore, Zhao Gao conspired with others to force the emperor to commit suicide.

A son of Fusu, Ziying, was made king of Qin by Zhao Gao. Ziying soon killed Zhao Gao and surrendered to Liu Bang one year later.

Popular Culture

The name of the emperor, Er Shi, is included in popular as "二世祖". The phrase is a negative term describing spoiled children raised by wealthy parents, growing up with little or no moral values, or any forms of necessary daily life skills.

King Zhaoxiang of Qin

King Zhaoxiang of Qin or King Zhao of Qin was the son of , little brother of . After the death of Wu in 306 BC, Zhao contended for the crown of Qin with his little brother. With the support of King Wuling of Zhao, Zhao finally ascended the throne. In 260 BC, King Zhao levied the vital Battle of Changping against the State of Zhao.