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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Terracotta Warriors Exhibition

At the weekend I headed to the Terracotta Warrior Exhibition at Liverpool's World Museum; It was sold out for the day but luckily I had pre-booked my tickets a long time ago. It is definitely worth going because it was genuinely incredible. I last saw the Terracotta Warriers 10 years ago when I went on a trip from Beijing to Xi'an specially to see them and this is the first time they have ever been exhibited outside China. You definitely need to get your tickets asap because you will not be disappointed.

The exhibition is in timed slots so that it doesn't get overwhelmed with people, but it was still pretty busy. We had to wait a long time to get to the warriers at the end though so maybe make a bee-line for them and then double back to see the rest.

Anyway, let me show you around to give you a taster of what you've got to look forward to.

First up, there's an intro on the warring states then the Han and Qin dynasties and how they took hold of the majority of what we know today as China. It covers 1000 years of Chinese history and goes into detail about the philosophies of the time; Legalism, Daoism and Confuianism. I loved learning about Daoism since it revolved around nature and compassion and I think we could all get on board with that in this day and age. The rest of the exhibition is focused on Chinas first emperor - Qin Shi Huang - and his terracotta warriors.

The exhibition is full of artefacts from coins, to figurines from the tomb to the warriors themselves. I've taken lots of photos just for myself to remind myself of the stuff they had but I wont show you everything and ruin it for you - here's a little sneak of my favourites.

How cool are these ^^ - all coins! How insane is that. I swear hands down there is nothing cooler than thinking about how people live such different lives. Can you imagine getting a knife or spade-coin for your pay check? So intricately decorated as well - really incredible.

So kind of similar to Egyptians, the Chinese buried their emperors with all the things they would need in their next life...including their ladies (the concubines - but only the ones without babies) and any workmen who knew details about the's strange how all through time people have held the same belief of life after death - kind of cool isn't it?

They even buried people with models of cows, pigs, goats, chickens and horses- everything they would need to ensure they had an eternal food supply. One of the artefacts in the exhibition (not pictured) is a bronze goose for the ornamental gardens the emperor would stroll in after death... because yanoo we all like a nice walk every now and then don't we? Everything isn't just stock made - although the pottery-producers could make 100's at a time, every creature has individual features.

They also believed Jade had immortality properties so Jade was like diamonds x 1000 and they loved it. The emperor had some jade soles for his feet but there were also things like this ^^ Jade disk on the coffin so his soul could jump on in and out whenever the mood took him. I really like how things that aren't expensive these days because they're so accessible were so important to other cultures like Jade you could probably get a big hunk of for a couple of hundred quid? Same for Lapis Lazuli which was so major to the Egyptians. I love that you can find these inexpensive gems in the local market when they were so revered in the past. For me I think natural things like gems and fossils are really priceless because you can't just create them.  

Anyway sorry for the tangeant, back on it now.

So as I was saying, they needed to have everything in the tomb that they would need for the afterlife. So these guys ^^ weren't for the emperor but were for some super-important people way back when and they wanted men on horses so they just had them made and now they're loving life in the afterlife.

Now obviously the emperor wanted an army so he didn't mess around and get little figures like the couple above, he got lifesize infantry (6ft!) with weapons made specifically for the tomb like arrows that had never been used. These men were painted in full regalia (the colours have faded because of exposure to air) and are all individually made so they have different features, hairstyles and dress depending on their social class, rank, age etc. There are even types of infantry men as well - amazing!

So realistic - the folds in the fabric, the facial features - what an amazing feat to even make one of these and there are 8000 men and hundreds of horses.

The majority of the army are still buried to:

a) be respectful to the beliefs - which I love; and,

b) The artefacts start to degrade once exposed to air (hence the loss of colour) so they are leaving them preserved until technology improves. How forward-facing and mindful is that? To preserve these artefacts for future generations. A great decision to make.

I hope you enjoy - Tickets can be bought here.

p.s. if you have time pop in next door to the super-cool picton reading room in the central library,


Harry pot-pots eat your heart out.

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