Two years ago I saw that World Museum will organize a special exhibition in February 2018: China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors. I was so excited to see the terracotta warriors. I left buying the tickets a bit late, so I’ve ended up getting ones after three weeks. All previous days were fully booked. You can see details about the prices at the end of this post. If you want to visit, and I would say it does worth visiting, book tickets in advance.
I will share my experience, but I did pick only 15 pictures to share on my blog. This was because I didn’t want to spoil the excitement for anybody wishing to visit the exhibition.
In the last couple of months I saw many snippets about the exhibition on local newspapers and social media. We’ve arrived at the museum 30 minutes before our booking time. We were surprised to see a big queue at the entrance of the special exhibition. We all had the same booking time. It didn’t take long for us to be scanned though.
These are the first terracotta figures we saw. Stunning, aren’t they?
The exhibition starts with a short movie about China. It’s very nicely made.
The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in 1974, by a group of farmers. They were painted with bright colours and buried in a battle formation. They are life-size, although I would say a bit larger as they are 1.8m tall. The people living 2,500 years ago weren’t as tall. It is estimated that 8,000 figures are in the tomb.
China’s First Emperor was Qin Shi Huang and this was built for him. It’s the biggest tomb complex contructed in China. The archeologists discovered that the army was only part of the tomb.
He was born in 259 BCE. After he becomes king, he started constructing his tomb, in 246 BCE. In 221 BCE he becomes First Emperor. Only 6 years after that another great constructions starts in China: The Great Wall. The First Emperor dies in 210 BCE.
The man is a horse keeper. There were 10 more horse keepers in the tomb. They were discovered along real horses, that were killed before they were buried. The terracotta horse is one of a large cavalry unit. The details on them are breath taking. The level of craftsmanship is amazing.
They believed that after death, they will have a similar life to the one they had before. It’s fascinating that this concept appears in other cultures as well, like the Egyptians. To make sure they are as comfortable as possible, they would have servants, warriors, concubines, and horses killed and buried along them.
Duke Jing, ruler in the 6th century BCE. His tomb was made to compete with his rivals even in afterlife. It was 300m long and 24m deep. At the bottom of the tomb, there would have been rooms with doors, like a house. When he died, 166 men and women were killed to accompany him in the next world. Horses were buried with real chariots nearby.
Jade soles from the tomb of the Duke Jing. He was buried with them placed on top of this coffin. Most likely as a symbol of power and to protect against evil spirits. There are only two pairs of jade soles found in China. It was fantastic to be able to see them on display.
This is a wine vessel.
Bells, quite different from our European bells. Music was important in China, for religious rituals too. These bells are from the Spring and Autumn period, so this means around 6th century BCE.
Belt buckle made from bronze, gold and silver. There are a few other pieces just as beautiful. The buckle is form the Spring and Autumn period.
The Qin Dynasty, before becoming a powerful Empire, started as a small region in the north of China. It started to grow due in part to their clear laws and philosophy. Ying Zheng became king in 246 BCE as I mentioned earlier. Soon he will conquer other six states in less than 10 years. This way he becomes Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China.
There is a short presentation of the different types of philosophies in China. Legalism was the one adopted by the Emperor. The base of legalism is that people are inclined to do wrong and laws were necessary.
The other two philosophies are Confucianism, that is based on people’s good intentions, moral principles; and Daoism that was based on an universal energy that flowed through all the things.
More than 700,000 men worked on the tomb of the Emperor. The construction was continued even after his death. The tomb had a mausoleum, palaces, living quarters, offices, stables, defensive walls, watch towers, and gates. When he died, 99 concubines the Emperor had were killed. Also officials were killed, craftsmen were buried alive, so that the tomb could be kept secret. 42 mass graves were found nearby. Besides, 20 graves of princes and princesses were found too.
Four horse drawn chariot. There are two on display, replicas. The original bronze chariots were decorated with gold and silver. The Emperor believed he will need them to travel in his new Empire.
The Emperor believed that he could achieve immortality and tried different methods. One involved drinking mercury and this is what might have killed him, at the age of 49.
The Terracotta Warriors. The exhibit shows a few ranks found in the army, that are very visible when you look at them. From general to soldier. The difference between these terracotta warriors is incredible. Their faces are different, their hair, some of them had a moustache, belts.
A terracotta light infantryman. They were faster as they didn’t have any armour.
Details of the hand of a terracotta military officer. It looks like he would have carried a spear.
Nearby there is a model of how the terracotta warriors and the horses were made. It was interesting to see it.
This is a 2,500 years old Kettle. Looks stunning. It was used for mulled wine, not only water.
Roof tiles with amazingly looking designs. In the back there is a step, just as beautiful decorated as the tiles.
Small terracotta warriors, form the tomb of a General. It was discovered in 1965. The general Zhou Bo (or his son could have been buried there, Zhou Yafu) thought in 206 BCE. Same level of details.
World Museum is in Liverpool city centre at William Brown Street, Liverpool, L3 8EN. It’s near the Liverpool Lime Street Station, handy if you travel by train. There are plenty of car parks, none free though. The museum is free to visit, you only pay for the special exhibition.
Prices are £14.50 for adults and £5.50 for children aged between 6 and 17 years. There are a few offers if you are a member of Liverpool Museums, or National Art Pass.