August 19, 2017
Last August, my mom and I went to see the Terracotta Army exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. It was a great day for it!
The Army was discovered in 1974 in Lintong District, Xi’an, China. The first pieces of pottery were discovered in a farmer’s field, and then archaeologists kept finding more as they began digging. The Army was created beginning in 246 BCE when Emperor Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne. Work at points involved approximately 700,000 workers, working until approximately 209-210 BCE; the figures were all part of a huge necropolis surrounding the tomb of the Emperor.
The site has not been fully excavated, but estimates are that the site has 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. There were also other types of figures, including musicians, acrobats, strongmen and officials.
The Army is extremely realistic, and the figures are life-sized. The exhibit included a cross section of the figures, including archers, laborers, infantrymen and generals. They are all different, and although there were about 10 face molds, each of the individual faces are different. The figures are recognizable by their uniforms, hairstyles and head wear. The exhibit allowed you to get up close and personal, and really examine the figures.
I loved the chariots and the horses! The horses were really well done, and of course I would love one. How can I get one for my living room?
Originally the Terracotta Army figures were painted, although at this point most of the paint has long fallen away. This exhibit included a virtual representation of the painting process. As you watch the figure, he brightens with layers of paint to become a bright, vibrant, colorful figure. Then, just as quickly, the virtual model shows the paint falling away and disintegrating as it did over thousands of years tucked away in their below ground crypt.
The exhibit also showed the process of making the figures. They explain how the figures are molded, how the clay is made, and then how the various pieces are put together. The figures aren’t one complete piece, due to the size, and have to be made very carefully or they will break.
The exhibits included lots of other smaller clay figures as well, and other decorative objects for grave sites. The clay animals and figures were very detailed and beautiful.
I really enjoyed this exhibit; it was fascinating! The figures were gorgeous and the exhibit did a great job of explaining the history of the Terracotta Army and its purpose and re-discovery.
Mom and I also had lunch at Seattle Center that day, and enjoyed the Butterfly House at the Science Center. Most of the regular exhibits at the Science Center are geared towards kids, but the Butterfly House will interest people of all ages. If you are there for a special exhibit, be sure to check it out!
The only bad part of the day was that I forgot to bring my big camera, so all my photos are with my cell phone, which isn’t very good. I find myself really wanting to travel to China to see the entire Army!