Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dateline: Xi'an, China

It was 1974 and a group of farmers in the suburbs of Xi'an, China, were digging a water well, when they uncovered the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, the self-declared First Emperor of China. This vast army, constructed around 210 BC and currently estimated to include over 8000 warriors, 130 chariots, and 670 horses, were to protect Qin in the afterlife. Maybe he needed all the protection he could get, considering he was not the nicest guy around. Or maybe it was just the result of his over-inflated ego. Regardless of the reason, this massive accumulation of life sized statues must be an amazing site to see in person, with the warriors, chariots and horses lined up in long rows. 
Fast forward to March 2010, Washington, D.C., and the National Geographic Society exhibit of the Terracotta Army. This was one of our reasons for visiting Washington this past weekend. The exhibit concluded the U.S. tour today, March 31. While the exhibit presents only a small portion of the army, it was still a very impressive sight. We were able to see a variety of warriors, musicians, etc.; a couple of chariots; and a couple of horses in a very interesting display with detail explanation of the construction and purpose of the army. One of the most unusual, and surprising aspects of the statues was the unique facial features of each person. The statues were "manufactured" in an assembly line fashion, but the faces were sculpted individually. How thoughtful of Qin to give them each their own personality. 

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