It seems that a group of terra-cotta warriors are making the trip from Xian to London, to be exhibited at the British Museum. A rather breathless article in the New Stateman (hat tip, CDT) sets the stage:
"The First Emperor was able to dream on a scale that no one else has ever dreamt," he [Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum] says with a boyish breathlessness. "No one else in history has tried to create a life-sized parallel universe in which he will rule for ever. So much of what modern China is can be seen as a direct consequence of what that man did. There are very few historical figures who changed the world in such a way that we are still living with the consequences."
Yes, but...and a rather large "but" it is....Qin was responsible for enormous crimes against Humanity, and I mean that in the Confucian sense, as the article rightly points out:
...before his death he ordered the mass burning of history books and the execution of their authors. Nearly 500 Confucian scholars are said to have been buried alive for some long-forgotten failure to please the emperor; others were castrated.
We must always keep that context in mind. However impressive the terra-cotta soldiers are, they are the product of a power-crazed, megalomaniac who forced thousands and thousands of people to slave away at the creation of an underground army that would protect him in the afterlife. He destroyed large swaths of Chinese culture - the texts of the hundred schools of thought lost to the world forever. He left much in his wake, but he erased and ruined much as well. I'm with Mencius, who presciently wrote before Qin:
When Confucius said "Whoever invented burial figures deserved no descendants," he was condemning the way people make human figures only to bury them with the dead. (7-8)
By those lights, Qin really, really deserved no descendants.