According to a report I heard on the radio this morning, the British Museum is going to stage a major exhibition of the terracotta warriors who guard the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), who unified China and was its first emperor from 221-210 BC. The exhibition will include not just some of the warriors, but also terracotta bureaucrats, acrobats and musicians. Apparently the emperor is attend in death by his army plus quite a few other members of his court.
The term ‘terracotta bureaucrat’ is not one you hear everyday and caught my ear.
The word bureaucracy combines bureau, meaning desk or office, with the Greek suffix -kratia, which denotes ‘power of’, and was coined by the French economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-59). The word bureaucrat first appeared in writing in 1842. A bureau was originally a type of cloth used for covering desks and tables. It comes from the Latin Latin burra, wool, shaggy garment; via the Old French burel, coarse woolen cloth.
Terracotta comes from Italian and means ‘baked earth’.