Item #: SCP-xxxx
Object Class: Safe
Special Containment Procedures: Only personnel who submit a formal request and receive approval from site command may operate SCP-xxxx. When not in use, SCP-xxxx is to be unstrung and stored in the temperature- and humidity-controlled case constructed for that purpose, and locked in Research Chamber 5688-A.
Before research access to SCP-xxxx is permitted, counterpart personnel at Site 366 in Xi'an, China are to be alerted.
Testing of SCP-xxxx is suspended pending confirmation of the excavation and recovery of all responsive figurines. See test log below.
Description: SCP-xxxx is a guqin, or seven-stringed Chinese zither, dated to the 2nd century BCE. The top of the sound chamber is constructed of the wood of the firmiana simplex tree; the base is comprised of wood from the catalpa ovata. The exterior of the instrument is coated with a lacquer of unknown composition, with surface duanwen, or crack patterns, that superficially resemble archaic Chinese logographs. The back of the instrument bears a calligraphic inscription in archaic Chinese reading "The King of Qin commands". The instrument was unstrung when collected by the Foundation, but its case included a leather pouch containing a quantity of instrument strings of twisted silk.
The instrument was recovered by local farmers from a funerary site in Lintong District, Shaanxi Province, China in 1974. After the guqin was unearthed, cleaned and re-strung, a local traditional musician strummed a few notes on the instrument. The consequent subterranean disturbance led to the discovery of thousands of terracotta human and animal figurines that had been buried in a hitherto unknown imperial necropolis in the vicinity of the site of the guqin's discovery.
SCP-xxxx appears to function as a command or control instrument for the terracotta figurines. The figurines are of moulded clay construction unremarkable apart from their excellent state of preservation. Each figurine depicts a life-sized human or animal. The human figurines vary in dress, height, uniform and hairstyle in accordance with their apparent rank and the duty of the human depicted (e.g., military figures of various ranks, scribes, craftsmen, musicians, cooks, laborers, farmers, scholars and so on). Despite their clay construction, the figurines have been demonstrated to be capable of movement and other actions when (but only when) given commands by means of the guqin.
The guqin's command syntax is still poorly understood at this point due to limitations on testing. Partial test log follows:
|Reference||Syntax (notes played)||Result|
|001||(unknown guqin notes played prior to Foundation acquiring custody of object)||Thousands of terracotta figurines, while still buried in the necropolis, move suddenly. Figurines were "standing at attention" when unearthed and it is assumed that the motion consisted of assuming this posture. It was this motion, which local residents had initially assumed was a small earthquake, that led to the discovery and excavation of the figurines.|
|002||Shí-èr-lǜ series of tones||All excavated "soldier" figurines assume "parade rest" posture.|
|003||Tài Cù, then Gū Xiǎn||All "scribe" figurines produce brushes, ink and paper scrolls from an unknown source and adopt a posture apparently indicating readiness to take dictation.|
|004||Nán Lǚ twice, then Huáng Zhōng twice||"Shield-bearer" soldier figurines rapidly move into a defensive formation around the guqin and its player.|
|005||Wú Yì four times||A number of "drummer" musician figurines begin to beat their drums in unison. It should be noted that one of the drummer figurines that responded to this command was at this point on display in the Louvre in Paris, France.|
|006|||Dà Lǚ, then Yí Zé, then Lín Zhōng three times.||Hundreds of previously-undiscovered "engineer" figurines dig their way to the earth's surface in cropland two kilometers to the south of the site of the guqin's recovery.|
|007||Dà Lǚ, eight times||Hundreds of additional unexcavated figurines move while underground. The location of the figurines was under an earthen dam, which collapsed due to the motion causing widespread flooding and loss of life. Further testing suspended.|