Sneak Peek: Terra Cotta Warriors at NG
The exhibit “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor” opens this Thursday, November 19th, at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC. We weaseled our way into the press preview to get you a sneak peek. But before letting us loose to see Emperor Qin Shihuangdi’s lifesized warriors face-to-face, Stanford Professor Emeritus Albert Dien, guest curator of the exhibit, reminisced on his first visit to Xi’an, China, in 1977 to see the warriors who’d been discovered three years before by a local farmer digging a well. In our October Places of a Lifetime issue he relates this moment:
Turning a corner, we came upon the figure of an archer that I hadn’t seen in any published literature. It was such a shock to see this startlingly lifelike figure that our hosts insisted I sit and rest awhile. . . [T]his archer seemed so vibrant, almost in motion. . .I simply sat and stared in wonderment–and the wonder has never left me, no matter how often I’ve returned to Xi’an.
The kneeling archer is here at our headquarters, along with 14 other figures including infantrymen, a chariot driver, two musicians, a well-muscled (albeit headless) strongman, a 700-pound horse, cavalrymen, a seemingly obsequious court official, and a general. Also on display in the 12,000-square-foot, four-themed exhibit space are 100 objects–decorative jade pieces, bronze weapons, coins, a naturalistic crane sculpture, details of the warriors’ armor, and roof tiles–including 20 “Level 1” artifacts, those designated as the site’s rarest and most important finds.
The exhibit provides context on the Qin dynasty, the Warring States period that preceded it, and the Han dynasty that came just two years after its dissolution. It explores what the Qin dynasty accomplished during its emperor’s tyrannical rule, examines ancient Chinese beliefs of the afterlife, and explores some of Qin Shihuangdi’s personal paranoia. With President Obama wrapping up a visit to China this week, the exhibit is a great starting point for Americans seeking to learn more about China, its history and its culture.
While over 96,000 tickets have already been sold, you can still snag yours here
(the tickets are timed and dated) or by phone at (202) 857-7700.
You can also stop by the Society on Wednesday evenings to grab one of the 200 free, same-day tickets made available on a first-come, first-serve basis by the PIMCO Foundation: distribution begins at 5:30 pm for the 6 pm viewing, with a limit of two tickets per person. And check out IT’s post
on the Weekend Warrior promotion, hooking you up with a place to stay in town, tickets to the exhibit and to other museums in our area.
In addition to the exhibit, NG has put together a slew of extras and special events including a touchable replica of a warrior guarding the exihibit’s exit and free screenings of The Real Dragon Emperor, a film about the latest research on the still unexcavated tomb. And Dr. Dien will talk at a sold-out NG Live! eventsold-out NG Live! eventsold-out NG Live! event this Saturday, November 21st.
For photos of the warriors, check out this NG photo gallery. To plan your visit to the exhibit, which ends March 31st, 2010, go here.
Photos: Kate Baylor/National Geographic
- Nat Geo Expeditions