- CHARITY BENEFIT
The “Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor” at Discovery Times Square were only unearthed in 1974. As farmers were digging a well outside Xian, China they hit pottery fragments. Low and behold, the warriors almost perfectly intact were discovered. Archaeologists were summoned and the excavation started and still continues today in and around the Terra-Cotta Museum now at the site. The exhibit at the Discovery Museum has ten of the estimated 8,000 figures on loan that Qin ruler, Ying Zheng, commissioned. Zheng was only 13 when he took the throne. Greedy with power, he sought to gain control over the six provinces of China. Afraid of death, he drank Mercury believing it to have alchemical powers. It led to his death at 50 as well as the earth where he was buried deemed toxic.
As you enter the exhibit you are struck by the amount of history. These relics date back to 221 BC and it is amazing how well preserved these terra-cotta warriors and horses are. Laden with detail, they seem frozen in time as if this was some magic spell transporting them through the veils of the earth. Outfitted with horses, weapons, armor, livestock, monetary and sexual aids, it is as if time has used the Medusa effect on a civilization long forgotten; the colonizing of heaven left for another day.
There is narrative rich in history, archaeological insights and domination. Zheng was afraid of death and wanted to conquer heaven so his tomb, more than 40 years in the making, was reproduced to scale. The artists who created this magical ethereal world were killed. Those warriors, who envisioned saving him, were modeled from clay, life sized and ready to serve. They are dressed by rank, faces distinctly different with multiple personalities, though all seemed serene and peaceful. When they were done, they were placed in battle formation with teams of horses, servants and acrobats for entertainment. Booby traps were set into place as guards from those still in this world.
The Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) continued the tradition only they added women, eunuchs and their figures were only two-foot-high, anatomically correct, with a vulnerability of a child’s game. It was like a large version of chess or old McDonald’s Farm. Wine vessels, stone animals, bridle pieces and the stone pieces for walls, walkways and armor all were done with care, intricately elaborate. This was a day and age when the artisan’s work was what defined him and now thousands of years later we still gather to stare in awe.
“Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor” runs through Aug. 26th at Discovery Times Square, 226 West 44th St. $25.00 for adults $22.50 for seniors and $19.50 for kids.