THE FIRST EMPEROR: China’s Terracotta Army
The Last English Warriors
British Museum – London
Qin Shihuangdi (r. 221-210 B.C.) united the various warring states of Bronze Age China in 221 B.C. Under his rule, weights and measures, coinage and script were standardized. The Great Wall's initial construction was begun during his reign. These developments were crucial in terms of fostering a sense of national identity among his subjects. This decisive first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.) is perhaps best remembered for his extensive tomb complex, discovered accidentally by a peasant digging a well in 1974. Thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors have been unearthed since then. New excavations and research continue at the site to this day. The First Emperor... will feature more than 120 objects from the Museum of the Terracotta Army and the Shaanxi Cultural Relics Bureau in Xi'an, China, including 20 complete figures from Qin Shihuangdi's tomb. A dozen or more will come from the famous retinue of terracotta warriors, China's largest loan abroad of this type of figure. Also on view will be examples of more recent and important finds, such as terracotta bureaucrats, acrobats and musicians, lifelike bronze birds and other works. These sculptures were interred with the First Emperor of Qin in readiness for the afterlife while he attempted to rule the world even in death.