This post was long overdue. After all, this page would not have been here if not for this guy. The Zúyŏng Invincible pictured above has the distinction of being the first model I painted in the orange. Subsequent satisfaction with the result set about a whole sequence of chain reactions. I bought Sun Tze to paint him the same, which eventually lead to me buying up most of the Imperial Service to keep him company. I repainted all my stuff to make it match him. I also created this guide at the behest of /tg/ and built a blog around it, that now even has a couple of followers. Funny what an unexpectedly decent paintjob can do for your confidence.
Now, lets take a look at the naming and iconography of this unit.
The full unit name is given as Zúyŏng Invincibles, Terracotta Soldiers. If you really squint, you can see that their logo reads 卒俑 无敌, that is, “Zú yǒng wú dí“ in pinyin.
So, if you guessed that “Zúyǒng” meant Terracotta Soldier, close but not quite. The second character, that is 俑/yǒng, refers to funerary statues. For example, within China, the famous Terracotta Army, charged with protecting Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China in the afterlife, is simply referred to as “兵马俑/Bīng mǎ yǒng“, made up of the character for soldier, the character for horse, and then yǒng. To pronounce 俑/yǒng, it’s just like “bong”, with a ‘y’ instead of a ‘b’.
So does 卒/Zú stand for terracotta? No it does not. 卒/Zú denotes low ranking soldiers, grunts, and has connotations of servitude. So all together 卒俑/Zúyŏng denotes a tomb figure in this role. To pronounce, 卒/Zú, use the same sound we used for “Sù” in Sù-Jiàn, but instead kicking it off with a plain old western ‘Z’ sound. Start with the word “tool”, take away the ‘l’, then turn the ‘t’ into an ‘z’.
Onto the second part of the name, 无敌/wúdí, which process of elimination pretty much guarantees will mean invincible. Well it does, in a manner worth exploring. 无/wú means none or without, and often works as a prefix. For example, put 无 in front of the character for heart and you’ve got heartless and so on. It rhymes with the Sù-Jiàn “su” and the Zúyǒng “zu”, but this time starts with a ‘W’. What is a Zúyǒng “without” you might ask? 敌/dí means enemy or opposition. Together the characters in 无敌/wúdí, (which sounds almost exactly like woody) could be translated as “matchless”, “peerless”, “unrivalled” and the like; Basically lacking the qualities that make someone vincible.
Interestingly, 无敌/wúdí does not feature at all in the name for the Invincible Army to which the Zúyǒng Invincible belongs. That formation is, according to the rulebook, called the 常勝軍/cháng shèng jūn, sharing it’s Chinese name and a little backstory with the Ever Victorious Army of antiquity.