Friday, January 15, 2010

Terracotta Warriors

My stepson Jonathan sent this email to me overnight. It seemed to me it deserved a wider audience.

'Harvey I’ve just seen the Terracotta Warriors yesterday and as they are truely one of the wonders of the world I thought I'd send you a message to share it with you.

Xian is a rather grand old Chinese city with the famous TW's as the absolute highlight.(It was minus ten yesterday, so I’ve decided not to move on to even colder Dunhuang where the ancient cave paintings are but to stay here.)

The TW's are situated about two hours out of town guarding the Emperor's main mausoleum which has yet to be dug into but 2000 odd of an estimated 6000 soldiers have been revealed, many are complete in incredibly good condition considering they are 2200 years old, others have been put back together out of smashed ceramic shards. You can see the archaeologists at work on site and the museum has been built right over the three pits where the soldiers were discovered.

Two peasants innocently drilling a well in 1974 made the discovery of the century. As the experts have now found pottery serving maids and acrobats it is estimated a whole terracotta imperial court may lie buried there, most of it still waiting to be discovered. I loved the museum where you can see excellent photos enlarged of the warriors individual faces, some young and innocent, some battle worn and older but all highly individual. Amazing! Even different facial types from different parts of China. They are not quite sure how the modelling took place but it seems at least some were modelled from life either from the real soldiers in the emperors army or from the faces of the craftsmen working on site. There is incredible detail to the figures and some even have the original paint-work complexions, beards, moustaches and details of armour carefully picked out. I wasnt sure before whether the trip out there would live up to the hype but now I can truly tell you it does ... and more!!!'

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