My Ancient Chinese Army…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian.ย 


Ancient-Wisdom-Wei-Dynasty-880x293The Wei Dynasty 386 โ€“ 535 A.D., was the longest-lived and most powerful of the northern Chinese dynasties. Although it promoted Buddhism, it was a time of great political unrest. Everybody always seemed to be fighting anyone at the same time they were fighting each other.

In 535 the empress murdered the emperor and established her son on the throne. They were unable to soothe the rabid social and cultural turbulence so the people threw both of them into the Yellow River, essentially ending the Wei Dynasty.


Hereโ€™s my little Wei army, it numbers ten soldiers in all. Some of them held weapons at one time. I used to have ten more but I traded them for a Kiowa dispatch bag and some other valuable considerations.


These 12-inch terracotta soldiers were excavated in 1909, I was told, and the mud that was on them when they came out of the ground is still present today. To remove it would require disappearing the chalk-like surface colors, mostly black, red and white. Each figure is unique, although it requires a magnifying eye up close to detect the subtle differences. I believe the heads were molded separately and then transformed with clay to present slightly amended facial features.

They are not dissimilar to the famous warriors at Xian who are 600 years older, and life size. They number more than 8,000 strong, and were made to protect the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in his afterlife. I wonder if my little army was buried with me they could act in congruency with my wishes for…aw, probably not.

53 thoughts on “My Ancient Chinese Army…

  1. Forrest, it’s amazing what your bottle cap collection led to!

    “Since the Wei was also heavily involved in funding the arts, many precious antiques and art works from the period have been preserved.” Wicki

  2. Again you amaze me with something you are the guardian of. Ever consider starting a online museum so people from the world could view your collection? I realize the the internet does not do the objects justice when viewed, however with your writing skills I believe you could provide a lot of people with interesting information in a way that only you could ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wonder what it is like to hold something so rich in history.
    I think I will pull out my coin collection just to hold a barber dime I found with my metal detector just to allow my mind to wander back to an age of architectural beauty high fashions.

    Thank you Forest

    • Chad, your coin collection remembrance jogged my memory as well. My grandfather had once taken the time to show me the beautiful wreath of flowers on the flip side of the original barber dime. Attention to beautiful details in coins, stamps, architecture sadly disappeared with the turn of the century and industrial revolution. Thanks for the memory of my grandpa:)

  3. Forrest,

    You’re a one man side show. You remind me of Bob Hope when he visited Da Nang with his Xmas show. Boy, he sure enjoyed entertaining the troops. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thank you Mr.Fenn for these small glimpses into your life and collection of ancient objects. It isn’t often that a man of your stature and grace is willing to allow us regular folk the opportunity to admire such treasures and to learn the history and circumstances surrounding their existence.

    I thoroughly enjoy your convoluted use of the English language to convey your message without adhering to structured language norms. Example:
    “To remove it would require disappearing the chalk-like surface colors, mostly black, red and white.” I can hear your smile at the end of this sentence.

    Thank you again, samsmith.

    • Not only is he full of stature and more graceful than a Bolshoi ballerina, I’ve heard rumors his moonwalk kicks Jacko’s butt!! (No disrespect to the late great MJ)

      Not finding a clue in this post- dang.

      Has anyone heard the whereabouts/ state of Gypsy?

        • No. And it really seems like there should be one- maybe traded the other 10? Not getting anything tho. The comic book post seemed to have a massive clue, but of course, the clue fit my location! Can any Dr. Evil fans “Throw me a fricking bone here.”

          Really all I get is Wheee- no help at all.

          Thanks and all!

  5. The Terracotta Army, I believe I had the pleasure of seeing them during my travels, and if buried with you, they would listen to your commands or Demands. LOL

  6. These figures are amazing! It would be very difficult not to pull them out and handle them periodically. The Museum of Natural History in Houston had an exhibit featuring the terracotta soldiers and I was fortunate enough to see some of those magnificent pieces. Thank you Forrest.

  7. What a wonderful collection you have! It is a pleasure to see your collection and read the stories about how you acquired the individual pieces.

  8. Wow, there great post in a day, you spoil us good sir.
    I was able to get lost and forget my day and dream peacefully, Ty sir.
    So many great moments in life that used to be….. I wonder which one you would go to be at if given the choice?

  9. I had no idea your collection was so diverse. I enjoy reading about each and every one of them. Forrest with out your realizing it, you have become a teacher just like your father. You impart wisdom to all your on-line students each and every time you post information about an artifact.

  10. Forrest,

    In time we collect things that have special meaning. Sometimes I can look at the things I treasure to take me back to a place rich in harmony with my heart. In recent months you have given us a world seen only through your eyes. Hidden in the words are solid forms of enjoyment for all to see. Perhaps, many questions will come to you, yet perhaps only one will connect with deep feelings in your heart.

    So now I must go but for how long? You have sent me on a final journey where you once stepped with glory of your own inspiration. Inspiration stands tall at the gates of everyone’s life. At this time, I want to thank everyone for sharing there journeys. Mr. Fenn, I will someday meet with you again and say what I need to say.

    Indian Scout and a Saint.

  11. What an interesting life you’ve had f. I’m jealous… I have a few figurines that were similar I thought, but I believe they are carved out of ivory. I have no clue as to their significance, maker or time period, but I like to look at them. And after reading this I went and had a look at them…(two in total) totally cool! Next to them in the cabinet was a scale model of the monument made by Korczack ZiolKowski, 1/1200. On it he wrote, Crazy Horse Black Hills S.D. Then signed it twice, once as the sculptor, and once for copyright. I have a magazine with an article that tells all about him and the sculpture… it’s one of my favorite pieces. Most of this stuff has little monetary value, but I cherish it! Thanks f!

  12. That last line, he says ‘buried’. ReCommence the ‘Treasure must be Buried or Not Buried ‘ debate ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Mapsmith, perhaps the treasure is merely well secreted and perhaps buried. I’m sure we – general public will never know those details given laws, complications about buried. Only the person to solve and find TC will know for sure, if they are truly wise they will go in silence and peace.

  13. “To remove it would requiredisappearing the chalk-like colors, mostly black, red, and white.” For some reason that line took me back to High School friday night football. Chalk on the field and school colors black, red, and white. Actually those are the school colors now, when I was in school they were just red and white. I played and marched in the band. Maybe it’s because we have a reunion coming up in a couple of weeks. Hopefully can make it. We are looking for a new place to live right now and may be moving:(

    • Homecoming- Hope you enjoy getting together with old friends at your HS reunion. Our colors were red and white too. Moving is never as much fun as seeing what everyone looks like after such a long time.

  14. The University of Fenn is open for enrollment, who’s in?

    No brick and mortar attendance required, only 1 book to buy and study abroad options available. Faculty will connect you with mentors.

    The only homework you have is to become a better person for having attended and participated.

    Please read and sign the Code of the West to apply.

    • Kachinas, I understand what you are saying and it is a nice thoughtโ€ฆ..But I find what you said to be a sad statement of our society.

      The very essence of the code of the west is that a mans word is his bond, the code of the west is an unwritten code of conduct, no signed contracts necessary.

      The values of integrity, respect for others, and self respect guided their decisions, actions and interactions with others, not a signed piece of paper.

      • Goofy, I write in a jestly tone. So yes of course the Code of the West is not signed. My sentiment is that people are here on the blog and in the chase because of what is missing in our society…unless you follow principles from a bygone era which Forrest is sharing with us.

      • Integrity matters, it’s honorable and noble to be trustworthy and keep your word.

        Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1147 โ€“ 1219), also called William the Marshal was an English soldier and statesman. Upon his death in the 12th century he was eulogized as the “best knight that ever lived.” Because he never broke his word under possible circumstances. He served four kings โ€“ Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, and Henry III โ€“ and rose from obscurity to become a Regent of England for the most powerful men in Europe. Before him, the hereditary title of “Marshal” designated head of household security for the king of England; by the time he died, people throughout Europe referred to him simply as “the Marshal”. He is celebrated 900 years later because of his impeccable honor.

      • I always liked the code that Jonas Hackett passed on to his son in the Walt Disney’ movie Tall Tale:

        Respect the land, defend the defenseless and don’t never spit in front of women and children.

        If you’ve never seen it, it has a lot of lessons of value for young people. A good one for dad to watch with his young man.


  15. I didn’t like this story. I’m colorblind and got confused. The last time I went out chasing, I looked at the creek below my feet. It looked red. There wasn’t another person in sight for me to ask about the creek’s true color. I’d throw this story in the trash because it also reminds me of what black feathers taste like. It has been nearly 48 hours since my return home and I think that I still have a plume there, stuck in my teeth!

  16. Hey Forrest, I have one of those soldier guys and a horse too. Mine are made out of some kind of terra cotta clay type stuff and are dark in color like blackish or greyish. I got them a long time ago at an antique store in Goliad, TX. I also have a big wooden horse that is the same kind. Someone was going to throw him away and my husband got him and brought him home to me. I love him. The coolest thing about the wooden horse, besides his size and the fact that he is hand carved and made of several different pieces put together, is that it has some kind of Chinese symbol on his tummy. Don’t know if it is a word or just a mark or what cause I don’t speak Chinese. I took it to Antique Roadshow when they came to Houston, TX, but they couldn’t tell me anything about him. I was very disappointed.

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