mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
[personal profile] mmegaera

I remember first hearing about this amazing Chinese archaeological find decades ago. It may even have been when it was first discovered, although I was a pretty self-absorbed teenager back in the 1970s. It seems like it was always a part of my imagination, an entire city built underground, filled with wonders, first and foremost of which was an entire population made of terracotta clay – like flowerpots. Mostly an army, but others as well, and animals, inhabiting a place where rivers ran with mercury, all built by an emperor who wanted to be immortal.

I have wanted to go see that terracotta city for what seems like forever, but a trip to China has never been in the cards.

Well, yesterday, China came to see me. Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is one of only two American stops (the other will be in Philadelphia) on a tour of a wonderful exhibit of the Terracotta Warriors, and yesterday my friend Loralee and I went to see it.

It was amazing. I really don’t have words. The story and history behind the terracotta army beggar belief, but to see the actual statues, and learn about how they were made, and why, and for whom…

Anyway, I may not have words, but I do have photos, and here are some of them. If you’re going to be anywhere near Seattle between now and September (and if you can still get a ticket – this exhibit has been wildly popular) or if you’re going to be in Philadelphia when it’s open there, all I can say is – GO. It’s an amazing and wonderful thing, and everyone who can should see it.

This 2200 year old fellow was at the entrance to the exhibit. The coloring is way off because something got messed up on my camera. The rest of the photos are much more accurate color-wise. But this one is rather dramatic…
Some of the many other than sculpture artifacts displayed in the exhibit.
An infantryman.
And a close-up of his face. There were ten of the actual human statues in the exhibit, and each one had different features and a different facial expression. The explanatory text said that this was true of all of the over 8000 sculptures they’ve found so far.
A pair of archers, standing and kneeling. Their wooden bows have long since rotted away, of course.
The face of a cavalryman, who looks rather condescending, as is appropriate for a member of a more elite corps.
The back of our cavalryman, and his horse.
Some of the stone armor.
And what it would have looked like assembled.
This man is a court official, and definitely not a soldier.
One of the last parts of the exhibit was a room full of what the soldiers looked like when they were first found. Sorry about the photo quality — the curators used light or the lack of it to make it seem more realistic.
In that room was one of the soldiers, and a light — show isn’t the right word — but projected onto him was what happened when the figures were first exposed to light. Starting out brightly painted, within 15 minutes of exposure to air, the paint peeled and flaked, leaving the sculptures covered in bits of, well, gunk. I think that was the most astonishing part of the whole exhibit.
One of the funny things about how many exhibits I’ve seen in this space over the last 20 or so years is that sometimes I see a mental overlay of other things I’ve seen here as I’m walking through. This was taken from the ramp that leads up and out of the exhibit to the exit. I remember seeing similar views from here at the Titanic exhibit and the one about Lucy the hominid, among others.

They haven’t opened the emperor’s actual tomb, both because they’re afraid they’ll destroy it unintentionally, and because the levels of mercury in the soil above the tomb are so toxic that it’s completely unsafe for anyone to do so.  Maybe someday they will open it, if they can ever figure out how to solve those two problems first.  But in the meantime, all we can do is wonder.  And wow, do I wonder.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

Date: 2017-05-16 11:10 pm (UTC)
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
From: [personal profile] stoutfellow
Wow. Unfortunately, the two exhibition sites are on the order of 2000 and 900 miles from me....

Date: 2017-05-17 12:21 am (UTC)
thnidu: Lucy bright and bold. Lucida Bright font, boldface: backslash, small-o, slash: YAY!! (yay)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
«the other will be in Philadelphia»

Oo! Oooo! Oooooooo! And so am I!!! :-D Yeah, YEAH!!

Date: 2017-05-17 01:05 am (UTC)
thnidu: edited from img383.imageshack.us/img383/3066/ss35450qf7.jpg (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Did you really think I wouldn't?

(Philadelphia) The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

Edited Date: 2017-05-17 02:17 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-05-17 04:37 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
That is AWESOME! Those expressions! That infantryman! He looks so nice! I mean, like a nice person! (I'm amused about how all the faces are so detailed, and then the feet... not so much. I wonder if the craftsmen were working from real people, and the apprentices made the bases, the next-higher-skilled made the bodies and arms, and finally the masters did the faces while people were standing there, being models...)

That the paint flaked off in fifteen minutes is just heartbreaking! (What on earth was it made of that it would do that? Gracious!)

Those are great photos. Thank you!

Date: 2017-05-18 04:58 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
Oh, lords, the thought of those being like sarcophagi! Eeeeee. I'm glad not. Those are still amazing. They must've been sculpted from real people...

That the coating would do that... That's like a stab in the heart.

Such amazing pictures.

Date: 2017-05-17 07:59 am (UTC)
green_knight: (Eeek!)
From: [personal profile] green_knight
Wow. You made me go and google. I don't think it's the same exhibition, but there will be a Terracotta Army exhibition in Liverpool in 2018, so I'm adding that to my calendar. (I saw them at the British Museum about ten years ago, and was blown away. Will totally go again.)

Date: 2017-05-23 06:06 pm (UTC)
kk1raven: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kk1raven
I'm going to have to manage to get to Philadelphia when its there. I hate driving there, and I pretty much refuse to drive to the area where it will be because parking is insanely expensive, but I'll figure out something.

Date: 2017-06-01 01:56 pm (UTC)
kk1raven: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kk1raven
We've come up with a plan that involves me driving to Maryland then taking the train to Philadelphia. Now we have to watch for a good deal on the train tickets.
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