China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy

Some people look forward to turning 16, others eagerly await the day they can retire. The First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuang (259-210 BCE), looked forward to death. But before he could kick back and enjoy immortality in the afterlife, the ruler had to make sure that he went out in style. He began planning for his big day shortly after his ascension to the throne at 13 years old, and work on the project would continue over the next 38 years. The tombs remained untouched until 1974, when a group of farmers discovered terracotta pieces while drilling a well. Chinese archaeologists soon uncovered around 7,000 life-sized "Ghost Warriors," which are statues meant to protect the Emperor in the spirit realm, in three pits. To this day, new discoveries are being unearthed in the present-day province of Shaanxi. For its latest exhibit, "China's Terracotta Warriors," the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will host some of these sculptures, many of which have never traveled to the West before. On display will be life-size horses, archers, military figures, swans, and cranes, each with a unique personality that speaks to the artistry of its creator. There will also be jade pieces, ornaments, architectural elements, and items used in rituals.
Oct. 28-Jan. 20, 2012

 
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