As was non-exclusively reported on this site, the British Museum is currently running an exhbition about the First Emperor of China, featuring the Terracotta Army which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.
We took the Christmas Eve Special tickets, for a grand total of 25GBP each, which included some mulled wine and a performance by a Chinese dragon.
After some rest, relaxation and entertainment in the Grand Court of the British Museum we entered the exhibition in the specially-adapted Reading Room.
As part of our trip through the exhibition, we also took the audio guide which included commentary by the Director of the Museum and the Curator of the China and Korea section which we found to be highly information and an excellent accompaniment to the exhibition.
While the purpose of the exhibition was to guide us through the life and times of The First Emperor, which it achieved in it's entirety, the undoubted star of the show were the exhibits of the show were the artefacts from the excavation sites of the Terracotta Army.
At the beginning of the exhibit, we were treated to a display of a kneeling crossbowman. Poised - at the ready. The level of detail in the archer, in spite of the absent crossbrow, was astounding. Detail in the armour and expression was fantastic. Some of colour remained stained on the terracota which allowed you to imagine what it would once have looked like.
As we continued through the exhbition, we would learn about how the Emperor standardised distances, weights and measures and organised the civil service. And all this while expanding his empire to include the other states which would come to be known as China.
Just as griping as the kneeling crossbowman, were two generals, a soldier, an archer and civil servants which were also on display. What was amazing about these displays is that they are lifesize, typically standing at around 1.90 meters in height. The individuality of each statue is exemplified not only, for example, that one general is armoured and the other not but also the different faces and expressions. The two generals, for example, differed in that one was bearded and the other not. The archer, holding a lowered bow, appeared to be in the depths of concentration. The civil servants stood posed with their hands covered under their long garments to indicate that they were not manual workers. The stains on the figures showed us where the colours would once have been but have now, over time, faded from sight. One was left to imagine the splendour that these figures would once have displayed.
At the end of the exhibition, we were treated to a fine reconstruction of the kneeling crossbowman we had encountered at the beginning of the exhibition. This time, fully painted and decorated as the crossbowman would have looked when he was new. This was an excellent addition to the exhibition as it helped to bring the exhibit to life.
As we hope to visit the Terracotta Army during our 2009 trip to China, this exhibition was provided a welcome oppurtunity to learn more of Chinese history as well as see the Army up which, we understand, just isn't possible in China itself.
I would like to take this oppurtunity to thank all those involved in this marvellous project for the oppurtunity this affords us mere mortals.
The British Museum has, once again, excelled itself at providing an excellent exhibition for which they were are to be congratulated.
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook