What? You say you don’t know about the Terra Cotta Warriors?
Friend, I am not here to judge you. I must confess that my entire knowledge of Chinese history consists in the reading of a paperback called “China” that Mr. Thompson assigned in seventh grade social studies. I remember dutifully reading the book each night, looking at the non-compelling black-and-white photos, and copying down the notes he wrote on the board each day. But, to quote Flannery O’Connor:
Total non-retention has kept my education from being a burden to me.
About five years ago, we visited Epcot. In the China exhibit, people were oohing and ahhing over the terra cotta warriors. I joined in, sneaking in a quick read of the helpful plaques stationed around the area.
So, at least I had a little bit of background knowledge when we arrived at the visually beautiful exhibit.
I learned that the warriors were commissioned by China’s first emperor (that would be Qin Shi Huang — I know, I know — it was just on the tip of your tongue), and that he wanted these 8000 warriors buried with him to protect him in the afterlife. Thousands worked to make them, for over 30 years.
And you can actually see some of them here — the real things! Along with “100 ancient artifacts.” Eh, I dunno about you, but “ancient artifacts” often ends up being vases and pieces of pottery. And while I love museums and learning, whenever I enter the area with those items, my eyes just kind of glaze over.
But back to the warriors. They’re very cool, very detailed, very … large. And, did you know that originally they didn’t look this color at all? They were painted, to look something like this:
Just amazing to imagine so many of these together, and (sadly, in my opinion), all created just to be buried for a few thousand years before they were found. The exhibit also featured some brief films that helped you picture them in all their massive glory. It’s no wonder that many consider the terra cotta warrior army to be the eighth wonder of the world.
And the museum featured lots more than just the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. There was a neat complementary exhibit on modern-day China, called “Take Me There: China.” You began by entering a “plane” and the pilot talked to us about the country as we could view various landmarks through the windows. It was really creative. Then we exited the plane into China and got to walk through a typical Chinese home (very spare; not a lot of clutter) and learn about various aspects of Chinese culture.
The museum also features a wonderful exhibit with life-size dinosaur models.
We loved our day at the museum! I recommend it if you’ll be anywhere near Indianapolis. The terra cotta warrior exhibit will be there through November 2.