2,000 Years of the Necktie: China's First Emperor

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

China's First Emperor

by David Johnson
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Neckties Through the Ages

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The earliest known version of the necktie has been found in the massive mausoleum of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who was buried in 210 B.C. Desperately afraid of death, the emperor wanted to slaughter an entire army to accompany him into the next world. His advisers ultimately persuaded him to take life-size replicas of the soldiers instead.

The result is one of the marvels of the ancient world. Unearthed in 1974 near the ancient capital city of Xian, the tomb contained an astonishing 7,500 life-size terracotta replicas of Qin Shi Huang's famed fighting force. Legions of officers, soldiers, archers and horsemen, all carved in meticulous detail, guard the emperor's sarcophagus. The armor, uniforms, hair, and facial expressions of the soldiers are reproduced in exquisite detail. Each figure is different - except in one respect: all wear neck cloths.

An ancient mystery

Historians say other records indicate the Chinese did not wear ties, so why the emperor's guards wore carefully wrapped silk cloths remains a mystery. Since silk was a great luxury, the cloths could indicate the ultimate honor Qin Shi Huang bestowed on his soldiers; they were trusted enough to guard him until the end of time.





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