An exhibition of rare works of art from one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world entitled “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy” opened in San Francisco to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Asian Art Museum. It features ten figures—a representative sample of the actual army, which is estimated to include more than 7,000 life-sized figures and over 10,000 weapons—the most permitted outside of China in any single exhibition. They were among the discoveries first unearthed in 1974 at the burial complex of Qin Shihuang. It is on exhibit at the Asian Art Museum through May 27, 2013.
Born in a time of turmoil in China’s history, known as the Warring States period (475-221 BCE), Qin Shihuang, or the First Emperor, founded the short-lived Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE). He forged the seven warring states into one nation, and his legacy of a centralized bureaucratic state would be carried on to successive dynasties over the next two millennia. His enduring achievements include the unification of brilliant military systems and advanced engineering and assembly production. He is also reputed to have burned scores of books, buried scholars alive and achieved widespread domination through devastating bloodshed. The First Emperor conquered much in this life, but his driving purpose was even greater: He sought to conquer death. In order to achieve immortality, he built himself a tomb—a vast underground city guarded by a life-size terracotta army including warriors, infantrymen, horses, chariots and all their attendant armor and weaponry.The complex plan and symbolic content of the mausoleum, as gradually revealed by the ongoing archaeological excavations, are far beyond anyone’s imagination.
First unearthed in 1974, the underground burial complex of the First Emperor is a revelation for the ages, an astonishing discovery on par with Egypt’s mummies and elaborate tombs. Contemporary observers continue to be enthralled by his legacy, and it is through this ongoing interest that the First Emperor did indeed achieve immortality.
This exhibition was organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in partnership with the Asian Art Museum and the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau and Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, People’s Republic of China.
Ticket prices range from $8 to $22. For more information please visit www.asianart.org or call 415-581-3500.
Image Courtesy © Karl Mondon/Mercury News Media Center.com
1. Terracotta Warriors at the Asian Art in San Francisco by Mercury News Media Center
2. China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy by the Minneapolis Institute of Art