Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Terracotta Army from Xi'an

Treasures of the first Emperors of China
2 February to 31 August 2008

From 2 February to 31 August 2008, the Drents Museum in Assen will present the spectacular exhibition entitled ‘The Terracotta Army from Xi’an’. The renowned soldiers from the tomb of the first Emperor of China will be on show for the very first time in the Netherlands, and exclusive to the Drents Museum, supplemented by more than 200 splendid objects from the Qin and West-Han dynasties. ‘The Terracotta Army from Xi’an’ is the most complex and expensive project in the history of the Drents Museum.

In the third century BC, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di, ordered a mausoleum to be built in the vicinity of the present-day city of Xi’an. He had his future tomb guarded by life-size infantry, horsemen and their horses, archers and charioteers: the so-called ‘Terracotta Army’. In his underground palace, the Emperor could live on in the afterlife, protected by his army and surrounded by marvellous user objects.
In 1974, this army was found by chance by farmers drilling a water well. It soon turned out to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, and it evolved to become a world-renowned attraction. In the meantime, the archaeological site has been assigned UNESCO-heritage status, and it attracts many millions of visitors from all over the world annually. Most of the figures have not yet even been excavated. At present (2007), around 1000 figures have been dug up and restored, but there are certainly 6000 still buried under a thick layer of earth. The imperial grave itself has not yet been excavated.
The tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di (Qin dynasty) formed the inspiration for the construction of the mausoleums of the later Chinese emperors of the West Han dynasty. In addition to many beautiful terracotta figures, which are more refined and smaller than those from the Qin dynasty, marvellous burial gifts made of gold, jade, bronze and pottery have been found at these sites.
In 2008, it will be possible to view these exceptional burial findings from close-by in the Drents Museum. Certainly 14 original, life-size warriors and more than 200 other extraordinary and precious burial finds from the Qin and West Han dynasties will be on show in Assen for a period of seven months.

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