Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Terracotta Warriors

Had a great time seeing the ancient Terracotta warriors on tour from Xi’an, China at the SF Asian Art Museum

The Museum was included on the international tour of these incredible terracotta figures and we were able to see this master artwork from 2,500 years ago.

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shihuangdi, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art that was buried with the emperor around 210–209 BCE and it’s purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

When the Emperor Qin died, he took his royal court and over 7,000 of his clay soldiers with him to be buried near his incredible tomb. The soldiers were all made of clay and brightly colored. Over 7,000 terracotta warriors were built by craftsmen and lined up underground alongside clay horses and weapons. Eight warriors and two horses are now on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. They are a fantastic sight.
Sample of original coloring
The army was discovered in 1974 to the east of Xi’an in Shaanxi province by a group of farmers when they were digging a well for water around 1.6 km (1 mile) east of Qin Shihuang's massive tomb mound in the Mount Li region. After the discovery, Chinese archaeologists then investigated, and unearthed the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China. 

What makes these figures incredible is that the terracotta figures are life-sized. They vary in height, uniform and hairstyle in accordance with rank. The figures were also originally painted with bright colors. Most of the original weapons were thought to have been looted shortly after the creation of the army, or may have rotted away. The ancient coloring on the figures has flaked off or faded away.

The show was fantastic to see and we are already planning to visit Xi’an, China next year to see the actual tomb site and the warriors and horses that have been excavated. 
The Qin tomb mound itself has not been excavated yet. Partly it's out of respect for the elders, but archaeologists realize that nobody in the world now has the technology to properly deal with excavating it. The Xi’an area contains some of the most important archaeological sites in the world. 
Highly recommended if the show passes near your area!
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