Monday, 25 February 2008

Terracotta warriors

I went to the British Museum last week to see the Terracotta army, or those parts the Chinese were generous enough to let out of the country. They were wonderful. I've been wanting to go and see them since I remember. They were discovered in 1974 in China and I was wondering when the news was broken to the Western World. They have always been there in my memory. But when I told some people I work with, they hadn't heard of them. I found this very strange. Was the Terracotta army discovery suppressed in Ireland? Or do they just not watch documentaries and the like?

They've been buried since about 210 BC and now you can look at them face to face. Each head is individualised so the face is based on a real person, now dead a long time ago. I find that fascinating.

And there are thousands left still buried, a huge area. As technology improves, they are retrieved in better nick. The tomb of the Emporer Qin who had them made, is still untouched. Records written about 100 years after his death mention recreations of the world with rivers of mercury and stars of precious jewels. And Indiana Jones type protection to shoot any intruders automatically.

There were not only warriors, archers, generals, charioteers and horses but also accountants, musicians, strongmen, acrobats and ducks and geese for the life in the afterworld. So where are the women? Where are the dancers, the washerwomen, the concubines? Be pretty boring without them, I think.

The exhibition is on until April 6th 2008. You should pre book or turn up early on the day to get one of the tickets released every morning.

And check out this link. A German art student infiltrated the army in China in a terracotta warrior costume and stood undetected until the guards worked out which one he was and carried him out.

Then I went to the Juan Munoz exhibition at the Tate Modern, more modern terracota men and one modern terracotta female dwarf.

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