Chinese terracotta army exhibition in London

This video is about ‘The Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an, China‘.

From British daily The Morning Star:

The underground army

(Monday 17 September 2007)

The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army

CHRISTINE LINDEY discovers China’s ancient army of terracotta soldiers at the British Museum.

IN 1974, as farmers in Shaanxi province were digging a well, they uncovered a terracotta head. They had unwittingly unearthed the first of an army of about 7,000 life-size terracotta warriors guarding an amazing tomb complex constructed between 246 BC and 21 BC.

Probably the most important dig of the 20th century, archaeologists continue to make astonishing discoveries there, the most recent being an F-shaped pit in which terracotta musicians play to bronze water birds alongside a diverted underground river.

The facts and figures are fascinating, yet nothing quite prepares you for the moment when you gaze at your first terracotta figure. …

So who made them, why were they made and for whom? Ying Zheng became king of Qin in 246 BC at the tender age of 13. His abilities as a military leader were on a par with Alexander the Great or Napoleon and, by 221 BC, he had conquered the six neighbouring states and unified them to create the Qin empire, which we now know as China.

Renaming himself Qin Shihuangdi, he believed that he was emperor of the entire universe. He had numerous earthly palaces built and, at the same time, commissioned the tomb complex.

The curators explain that the Chinese concept of immortality differs from that of the Judaeo-Christian or Muslim traditions.

The Chinese word for the afterlife is “to live for ever.” There is no abrupt break if you live a righteous life, you live eternally in a parallel world. So, Qin’s burial site, covering 56 square kilometres, is a palace which surrounds his tomb containing everything that he could possibly need to carry on his life.

But who did the work? No named artists are identified, but an estimated 700,000 people constructed the complex. Probably forced into the labour, many died in the process.

A thousand people produced the figures which were made by mass production. Some made arms, others feet, and so on. The whole figures were then assembled in a production line, yet the craftsmanship is such that some of these workers must surely have served apprenticeships.

The inhumane methods of production raise serious issues about our evaluation of these works, as does the emperor’s militarism and imperialism.

We are told that Qin has been seen in a negative way by some historians and that his legacy is still controversial, yet, despite its measured scholarliness, the exhibition’s overall tone is celebratory.

Qin is portrayed as an emperor who brought peace and prosperity to warring provinces. Rebellions are not discussed. It is left to the viewer to take a critical view of this interpretation of history.

German museum admits terracotta warriors are fakes: here.

A study of the terracotta horses within the tomb of a Chinese emperor has revealed that many of the animals had no testicles, pointing to the possibility of the castration of horses some 2000 years ago: here.

Some secrets of China’s terra-cotta army are baked in the clay. Craftsmen used local materials and signature ceramic recipes to shape the warriors and their entourage. By Bruce Bower, 9:30am, August 22, 2017.

The chrome plating on the Terracotta Army bronze weapons — once thought to be the earliest form of anti-rust technology — derives from a decorative varnish rather than a preservation technique, finds a new study: here.

4 thoughts on “Chinese terracotta army exhibition in London

  1. Pingback: Confucian political philosophy, China and the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: British Museum’s Reading Room, what will happen? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Ancient tomb discovery in China | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Butterfly, woodpeckers, little egret in China | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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