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Comparison of Art from Different Timelines: David Battling Goliath and Terra-Cotta Soldiers

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Arts
Wordcount: 1781 words Published: 21st Oct 2021

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Two Similar Armies from Various Cultures

This research paper will introduce quite a few formal analyses along with quite a few iconographies that is based from two completely different pieces of art from different timelines. This paper will also go on to show that even though these pieces of art are from different cultures the two artists that sculpted them seem to have very similar techniques and views as to the way these pieces were made and viewed by the public. The various similar topics throughout this paper will include color, implied lines, geometric shapes, hierarchal scale, overlapping, loyalty, expressions, quantity, political power, solider stance, unity and the past timeline.

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The first piece is entitled “David Battling Goliath (629-630, CE)” (Stokstad and Cothren) which depicts David, Goliath, King Saul and both the Israelite and Philistine soldiers. The second piece is entitled “Terra-Cotta Soldiers (C. 210 BCE)” (Stokstad and Cothren) which portrays Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di’s massive army. These art pieces are quite exquisite to say the least and it is obvious a lot of time and energy were put into uncovering both of them.

While taking a step back and viewing each of these separate art pieces individually there has to be complete silence and focus to take in all of the aspect and nature of these pieces of art and trying to get a sense of what exactly each artist was conveying is not an easy task by no means. However, as time went on the similarities were outstanding and undeniable.

These art pieces portray colors that seem to be duller by nature. Dark gray and dark brown colors are not vibrant at all which makes both pieces seem to not focus on one particular person but draw in all the other soldiers as well to make them seem as a whole. “Gray is often seen as neutral, depression, and humility. Hebrew tradition relates the color grey to wisdom.” (Online Symbolism Dictionary) These colors also seem to be conveying that this was a more serious time.

Also darker colors seem to give both of these pieces of art a darker presence filled with morbid ideas of how much blood was stained upon their hands when it pertains to the not only the King/Emperor but their soldiers as well. “Brown is often associated with the EARTH. Characteristics of those inclined to brown are calmness, passivity, conservative, dependable, practical and earthly.” (Online Symbolism Dictionary)

It appears that the implied lines seem to focus from the soldiers to the enemies such as the Israelite soldiers looking at the Philistine soldiers or even at Goliath. The same could also be said for Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di’s soldiers that they are standing in the tomb facing outwards towards any unknown enemies that would try to break inside and try harm their powerful leader. The lines contained within these pieces of art seem to portray more expressive lines, since they seem to curve with not only the soldiers but the tomb formations as well along with the surrounding structures.

When it pertains to both pieces of art the geometric shapes are completely obvious since it is seen on all of the heads of the soldiers along with King Saul, David and Goliath. Shapes identified throughout both pieces of art are rectangles, circles, triangles and squares. Another thing to point out is that all of the shapes seem to be closed. Which in turn gives these pieces of art a sense of no beginning and no end philosophy.

There is an unusual sense of hierarchical scale presented within these two pieces of art such as the soldiers being the main focus even though they are under the presence of a King or Emperor. It is like both artists wanted to convey the soldiers being on more of the hierarchical scale since Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di is nowhere to be seen in the artwork and King Saul is small in stature compared to the other soldiers who are greater in height and size.

Another similarity that stands out seems to be with the overlapping of soldiers portrayed in both pieces which “creates an illusion of depth” (Brigham Young University) The overlapping also seems to make both pieces of art more three-dimensional. There is a sense that both of these pieces of art really did exist at some point in time and both of the artists wanted to convey that.

When viewing both of these art pieces they both seem to scream mighty valor due to the fact that each art piece is describing a scene that the soldiers on both sides are willing to stand up and protect their mighty leader whether it is a King or Emperor. The loyalty in these art pieces are undeniable. The soldiers perhaps look to their King or Emperor as some sort of God that they can trust and rely upon to make good judgements for their armies. Basically it would be some sort of faith like substance that drives these two armies both King Saul’s and Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di’s into battles that could cost them their lives.

Since “the Terra-Cotta army was not meant for the eyes of the living” (The British Academy) that definitely concludes just exactly how loyal these soldiers were to their Emperor and just how much of a pedestal they put him on. Likewise, could be also said for King Saul who trusted David to conquer Goliath and the Philistine soldiers. The Israelites soldiers obviously have enough trust and loyalty in King Saul when he declared that David would go out with the Israelite soldiers to fight the Philistines. Neither of these armies backed down from their purpose.

Looking at the expressions on these soldiers faces make both pieces of art seem completely expressionless and blank. Soldiers were of course required to be more tough and not show any type of emotion by their expressions. It was probably more of an intimidating factor more than anything towards the opposing side. Any type of expression that portrayed emotion was probably considered weak and had no place fighting beside other stronger men.

In terms of numbers Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di’s army is massive and the numbers displayed could be anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 soldiers and even though King Saul’s army could not all be displayed it was evidently known that the Israelites also had a great number of soldiers in the thousands. So King Saul not only decided to put his faith and trust in David but also his thousands of soldiers to extinguish the Philistine army. Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di also put his trust in all of his thousands of soldiers to help him exterminate whom he deemed necessary.

Actually if truth be known in some ways Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di was more like Goliath in the way that he had a thirst of violence pertaining to “massacre and destruction” (Khan Academy) Goliath was all about the glory but he also wanted to kill David and wipe out the Israelites. Another way that they are alike is that they both basically viewed themselves as God’s who could be extremely powerful and rule the people.

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All of the soldiers from both paintings seem have a solider stance that was required for them to be ready for battle formation in case any enemy tried a surprise attack. Every solider appears to be wearing their given uniforms required to show they are a solider in the given army. Their formation is a stance that shows them beside each other to give the appearance of unity.

Speaking of unity both pieces of art seem to convey a message of unification by the shapes and sizes along with massive groups of what appears to be thousands of men standing together in single lines of formation to show just how strong they really are and what they believe in is what drives them to fight. 

Even though both of these pieces of art are from different cultural periods in time. They still convey a message of fighting for political power. The struggle of political power is known throughout all of the historical time periods. However, these particular periods seemed especially know for armies along with the destruction of human life. The Biblical times were filled with soldiers killing humans for land or political power. The Chinese were also about killing as a way to climb the hierarchal scale and be revered as a God.

In reference to the time period as to why these artists may have picked these certain stories to produce their incredible art is based upon the Byzantine period which depicts “The biblical figures on the plates wearing the costume of the early Byzantine court, like Saul and David, the Byzantine emperor was a ruler chosen by God.” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) As for the Chinese period they focused on the past because they also felt like it was part of their future and could help the dynasty.

In conclusion this research paper was about finding the similarities between both “David Battling Goliath (629-630 CE)” (Stokstad and Cothren) and “Terra-Cotta Soldiers (C. 201 BCE)” (Stokstad and Cothren) and the information given was based on twelve similarities that have proven no matter the time period or culture; artists can still think alike since they were born to be creative along with being born a human and humans tend to relate and convey majority of the same messages. It appears that both of these artists sought to focus on the past and what it entailed for the future and obviously these artists also had some solid beliefs in their cultures.

Works Cited

“Brigham Young University-Idaho.” Brigham Young University-Idaho ART 110, 2010. https://courses.byui.edu/art110_new/art110/week09/line.html. Accessed November 12, 2019

Online Symbolism Dictionary, 2007, http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/index.html. Accessed November 12, 2019

Stokstad, Marilyn and Michael W. Cothren. ART HISTORY. Pearson, 2018.

“Terracotta Warriors from the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor of China.” Khan Academy, 2019. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/south-east-se-asia/china-art/a/terracotta-warriors-from-the-mausoleum-of-the-first-qin-emperor-of-china. Accessed November 12, 2019.

“The Impact of China's Terracotta Army on the Dead and the Living.” The British Academy,   2019. https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/impact-chinas-terracotta-army-dead-and-living. Accessed November 12, 2019.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plate with the Battle of David and Goliath 629-30. 2019. https://www.metmuseum.org/en/art/collection/search/464377. Accessed November 12, 2019


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