Terracotta is a type of ceramic pottery. It’s used to make many flower pots. Terracotta is also often used for pipes, bricks, and sculptures.
Terracotta pottery is made by baking terracotta clay. In fact, the word “terracotta” comes from the Italian words for “baked earth.” That makes sense, right? You may also hear “terracotta“ used to describe color. The terracotta color is a natural brown-orange.
Terracotta clay is easy to sculpt into all sorts of shapes. Once shaped, it’s heated to 1,000-2,000° F to harden. Then, a simple coat of glaze can make terracotta watertight.
Terracotta has been around for a long time. In fact, it was the only clay product used until around the 14th century. Archeologists have found terracotta sculptures that are 5,000 years old!
Perhaps one of the most spectacular terracotta creations ever is the Terracotta Army. This huge group of terracotta sculptures represents the armies of Qin Shi Huang. He was the first Emperor of China. The sculptures were found in 1974 by Chinese farmers as they dug a well.
The army includes over 8,000 soldiers. There are also 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses. It was found buried in three large pits. The army was buried with the emperor around 210 BCE. He believed his Terracotta Army would protect him in the afterlife. The emperor also believed it would be a group of people he could continue to rule over.
It took skilled artists many years to make the Terracotta Army. Many parts of the sculptures were mass-produced in workshops. However, each piece was finished with detailed facial features and bright paint. The life-sized soldiers of the Terracotta Army vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle. They each also have weapons according to rank.
What would you do with a lump of terracotta clay? Would you build a soldier to join the Terracotta Army? Or perhaps a new flower pot? There’s no project too big or small for terracotta!