Saturday, September 20, 2008

Xi'an's World Famous Terra Cotta Warriors

In my college art history courses, there wasn't much attention paid to Eastern Art. The one exception was the Terracotta Warriors. This incredible archeological treasure was discovered in the late 1970's by some farmers digging a well. (What a day that must have turned out to be for all of them!)

Because of its recent discovery, the site is in remarkably good condition. Thousands of soldiers were individually sculpted by artisans- each with unique facial features, clothing, brass or wooden weapons (sadly not currently on display) and even elaborate hairstyles. They were intended to stand guard for the emperor, and were once brightly painted.

Experts estimate that there are almost 8,000 figures in all, but most of these are still being excavated and painstakingly pieced back together. I don't envy the archeologists the job of digging two thousand year old terracotta out of two thousand year old mud. I'd imagine the two are remarkably similar at this point. And I don't even want to think about what a headache it would be to piece these shattered humpties together again...However, each of these lifelike sculptures offers priceless clues into the daily life of ordinary people in ancient China.

It was a great treat to see these priceless artifacts up close and personal.

1 comment:

Nora said...

How cool that living in China! I've always wanted to do that but I'm afraid it's a pipe dream at this point in my life! Anyway, I heard about those terra cotta soldiers. I saw some on display in Disney World in Orlando. Idk if they were replicas....

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