The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

Silent Warriors – the Chinese terracotta soldiers

Malta Independent Friday, 23 February 2007, 00:00 Last update: about 10 years ago

Maltese fans of the wuxia movie genre, the kind of movies that gave cinema-goers Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, are in for a feast as life-sized terracotta replicas of soldiers seen in the flicks will be on show at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

Silent Warriors – The Chinese Terracotta Soldiers exhibition will be on show from 1 March to 31 July.

The soldiers are but a few of the terracotta army buried with the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 210-209 BC.

The site at Xi’an, Shaanxi province is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is one of the best known archaeological finds in China.

Heritage Malta’s designer and coordinator of exhibitions, Pierre Bonello, described the exhibition as a prestigious one. Its historical and artistic importance equals that of the golden face mask of Tutankhamen and original works by Caravaggio or Peter Paul Rubens.

The five-month exhibition will show 84 original artefacts, including 11 terracotta soldiers, two horses and a number of bronze and pottery cooking utensils, personal ornaments, weapons, coins, terracotta animals and other artefacts.

The life-size terracotta army was buried with the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty of China, who succeeded in vanquishing the individual warring states and unified China.

The emperor was fixated with immortality and reportedly died by swallowing mercury pills prepared by his court scientists which were supposed to grant him eternal life, while searching for the Islands of the Immortals off the coast of Eastern China.

However the crafty statesman had already prepared a huge necropolis in the event of his death.

Its outer walls measure 2,100 metres by 975 metres and took 700,000 workers and craftsmen 38 years to complete.

According to the Han dynasty court historian Sima Qian, the First Emperor was buried alongside a great treasure, including a scale replica of the universe complete with gemmed ceilings representing the cosmos, and flowing mercury representing the great earthly bodies of water.

The site was found by a team of well diggers in the 1970s in farm-fields to the east of Mount Lishan, the name give to the necropolis.

The emperor’s grave was guarded by a life-size terracotta army in battle formation.

No soldier is similar to another: their faces, facial hair, build, ranks and position are all different.

The exhibition is organised by Heritage Malta and the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau in collaboration with the Malta Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Malta Embassy for the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Cultural Institute in Malta. It is being supported by the Malta Tourism Authority, Vodafone Malta Foundation and Emirates.

  • don't miss