by Roger Childs
If you haven’t seen it, you’ll need to be quick as the Te Papa exhibition ends on Easter Monday, 22 April.
Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality provides the chance to see amazing statues, jewellery and weapons which were crafted over 2,200 years ago in Xi’an. Thousands of the warriors guarded the tomb of Qin Shihuang, China’s First Qin Emperor. Incredibly, every soldier has unique facial features. After a long period of disunity and conflict, Qin Shihuang united much of the area which The Republic of China covers today.
The buried army is one of the world’s greatest ever archaeological finds and was discovered by chance in 1974. The works date from the Western Zhou to the Han dynasties (1046 BCE – 220 CE), and were found in intricate tombs which had many room and passageways. Excavations are still going on.
The exhibition features eight warriors standing 180 cm (about 6 ft) tall, and two full-size horses from the famous terracotta army – as well as two half-size replica bronze horse-drawn chariots. There are also more than 160 skilfully crafted works of ancient Chinese art made from gold, silver, jade, and bronze.
One the highlights of the exhibition, is a large mural about 12 metres by 4 metres showing a royal palace complex set in a classic Chinese landscape, complete with numerous buildings, walkways, gardens, pools and stairways. Look closely as there are moving items on the art work – boats, people, birds and chariots.
This is a rare opportunity to see the extraordinary sculptures and artifacts which Chinese artisans crafted in fine detail over two millennia ago. Allow at least an hour to get round the exhibition — it will be time very well spent.