Exhibition review: The First Emperor, China’s Terracotta Army
13 September 2007 to 6 April 2008
British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1
Rating: *** (out of 5)
Review by: Alexa Williamson
This small yet straight forward exhibit is in many ways a tribute to one of history’s most accomplished leaders.
Ying Zheng, who was born in 259-210 BC, was one of the world’s greatest rulers as he not only unified and founded what is now China, he also implemented a strict yet successful form of government – which was the first strong enough to unite that vast land.
Successful because he not only ruled with a firm hand, but also improved the country with logical measures such as standardised weights, measures and a single currency and language, Ying Zheng further demonstrated his power by building over 270 palaces in his capital city of Xianyang and also creating his enormous tomb, which was begun in 246 BC* and took over 30 years to complete.
To ensure that he was as powerful and emperor in death as he was in life, Zheng made sure his tomb was structured like an underground palace and contained over terracotta 7000 soldiers, civil officials, entertainers and affects – such as chariots, birds and horses. Discovered in 1974, by a farmer, the area of in which Zheng’s figures were found spanned 56km.
The British Museum’s exhibit is exciting as one can see different figures from the First Emperor’s tomb up close and it’s amazing to see the skills of artisans from so long ago. The soldiers, horses, figures and artefacts – such as chariots, jewellery and pottery are all very detailed for this time period.
Worth seeing the exhibit to see pieces from one of the largest tombs ever created. Also, very good historical information written in plain English. However, with the exhibit only being a few small rooms, it did not seem justified by the cost of £12.00 for a full price adult ticket.
Personally, if I’d know it would have been that expensive and that small, would have been happy sticking to what I’d learned about the tomb in art history class.
* He’s also the creator of the Great Wall of China, which had construction begin in 215 BC.
Chinese Terracotta Warriors exhibition (Official site)