Can’t go to China to see the Emperor Qinshihuang’s mausoleum? The Terracotta Army exhibit is the next best thing!
The Warriors of Xi’an are in Seville until the end of the year. Don’t miss it if you are around!
Emperor Qinshihuang, founder of the first unified empire in Chinese history, ruled during the 3rd century BCE.
He had a complex necropolis constructed and designed to mirror the urban plan of the capital Xianyan. The mausoleum remained secretly buried underground for more than 2 centuries and was only discovered by chance, in 1974. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987.
There are many things we still don’t know about the terracotta army.
Scholars believe 700,000 craftsmen and probably slaves built the complex and were probably put to death to keep the place a secret. It is also said that it required circa 40 years of work to build the place, the 8,000 warriors and the other statues found there.
Some initial research showed that the warriors sculptures resulted from a mass-production process. Arms, hands, legs, feet, heads, torso, were made in molds separately and later assembled. Each sculpture was then customized by an artist with specific hairdos, mustache, etc. and costumes and armors were also personalized.
However some recent studies show, that the work might have actually been organized into workshops rather than assemble lines, meaning the artisans producing the warriors were probably versatiles and talented workers.
The burial tomb of the emperor has not yet been explored. There is still much to learn from this site.
Miniatures also on display
It was believed that objects like statues can be animated in the afterlife. The Emperor therefore had a terracotta army created to protect him after-death. Some say that the display was created to honor the Chinese army.
In one dark room, several warriors were displayed together, standing close by, just like in Xi’an. A light show was playing and was highlighting the warriors figures. The atmosphere was very moody but not scary, as most of the warriors seems to have a gentle smile on their face.
The horsemen, the longbow bearers, the archers, and the senior officers and generals were positioned in a grand ancient army formation, in strict accordance with the ancient directives on the Art of War.
Every warrior is different. From facial features to expression, hairstyle, clothing and gestures… it’s quite impressive when you take the time to see the details.
We saw the exhibit in Bilbao last Christmas, so the display in Seville might be slightly different.
Today the sculptures are either gray or reddish—the colors of the terra-cotta itself. However, they were originally painted in bright colors which faded quickly once excavated and exposed to air. And this is why only circa 2,000 of the 8,000 warriors have been excavated so far. Current techniques does not enable us to preserve the colors so for now, the ones still buried are going to remain hidden until solutions have been found.
The technical bits:
The exposition features 150 reproductions. (Yes reproductions. The original warriors are most likely too fragile to travel.)
The expo will be in Seville from 13 November 2015 to 4 January 2016. Another great reason to go to Seville, if needed (yes South of Spain in winter is always a good idea!!)
Official website: www.guerrerosdexian.com
This exhibit has been travelling the world. From New York, to London, Oslo to Bilbao and now Seville. I couldn’t find on the web, where it will be afterward, but hopefully, it will keep on travelling as it is truly an amazing way to discover the Terracotta Army and this part of Chinese history.
Have you seen the originals Terracotta warriors?
How was it?
Do give me some tips, as I hope to go some days!