Twelve Metal Colossi

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Dates of Conquered States
Year Event
230 BCE
  • Han was conquered by Qin.
228 BCE
  • Zhao was conquered by Qin.
225 BCE
  • Wei was conquered by Qin.
223 BCE
  • Chu was conquered by Qin.
222 BCE
  • Yan and Dai were conquered by Qin.
  • Wuyue was conquered by Qin.
221 BCE
  • Qi surrendered to Qin.
  • China was unified under the Qin dynasty.

The Twelve Metal Colossi (Chinese:) were twelve metal statues cast after 221 BCE by the order of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. After defeating the other six Warring States during Qin's wars of unification, Qin Shi Huang had their weapons collected and melted them down to be recast as bells and statues. Particularly noteworthy among them were twelve human statues, each said to have weighed a thousand dan (picul).[1][2]

Near the end of the Han dynasty, around 190 CE, Dong Zhuo melted down nine of the statues along with other metal items and recast them into coins to finance a personal castle in Mei County near Chang'an.[3] All copper cash became devalued since the new coins did not weigh the same, had no defined edge, or stated value.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Portal 2007, p. 129.
  2. ^ 收天下兵,聚之咸阳,销以为钟镣,金人十二,各重千石,置廷宫中. Records of the Grand Historian (translation: collect the weapons of tianxia, to amass them to Xianyang, melt them to cast 12 colossus, each weighing a thousand dan, and put them in the palace)
  3. ^ 西汉五铢
  4. ^ de Crespigny, Rafe (2017). Fire over Luoyang: A History of the Later Han Dynasty 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. p. 463. ISBN 9789004324916.


  • Portal, Jane (2007), The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army, Harvard University Press