Armies, Real and Imagined
Qin Shi Huang Di (also referred to as Qin Shi Huang that we use here) ruled millions, roughly the size of the Roman Empire at its height. As his 37-year reign progressed, Huang became quite fearful about living—there were threats and attempts on taking his life—and he developed an obsession with immortality.
His real army was created using a path of resolve known as Legalism, a forceful expression from a scholar named Shang Yang. This philosophy was that ‘might is right,’ ‘power the only virtue’ and the only way to rule was to entice, terrify, reward and punish. Because, after all, Shang wrote that human beings are idle, greedy, cowardly and treacherous. State control was everything.
For armies who were assigned the overtaking of others, Qin soldiers were only mobilized when both halves of tiger-shaped tallies (one held by the ruler and the other by the commanding general) were brought together.
Mark Lewis, Professor of Chinese Culture at Stanford University says that all social rank and status depended entirely on the killing of enemies. King Zheng, now Emperor over all of physical China, had conquered all his rivals in 11 years. His army used stealth, crossbows, arrows, halberds, swords and armor.
Incompetence was also a crime and fostered the idea that perfection is achieved through fear. The slave workers under Qin had to tell on others and stupidity or ineptitude was met with maiming, torture and executions.
Something more was needed for Emperor Huang: an afterlife and an army of vast proportions to protect him.