They were meant to be guides and guardians in the afterlife. Now, more than 2,000 years after they were created, the terracotta warriors made at the death of China’s first emperor are guiding visitors through a wonderful new exhibit on Chinese art, culture and history, at Discovery Times Square in Manhattan.
“Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor” opened on April 27 and runs through the end of August. It is a snapshot of Qin Shihuangdi, the descendant of a clan of horse breeders who built an army that put most of what we now think of as China under his rule. There’s an interactive timeline at the start of the show that shows how fast and dramatic the conquering was. In his armies, promotions were based on ability and not political connections, and soldiers were required to know how to read and write, which expanded literacy in China as fast as the boundaries of the Qin empire.
Qin laid the foundation of what would later be the Great Wall of China, and he wanted to keep danger just as much at bay in death: His tomb near the city of Xi’an is thought to contain more than 8,000 life-size individually sculpted clay soldiers, as well as chariots, horses, government bureaucrats and entertainers.
While many artifacts from Xi’an have been shown in the United States before, the Discovery Times Square exhibit has some that have not, like the so-called Armored General. He stands at the center of a room, surrounded by large glass panels that are meant to evoke the mercury-filled moat that reportedly once surrounded the emperor’s tomb.
As with the other Discovery Times Square exhibits that we have told you about (like Leonardo Da Vinci, Titanic and Harry Potter), the Warriors show is small, which makes it a perfect introduction to Chinese history for any students in Verona’s mandarin program. Discovery Times Square is also partnering with the China Institute to create educational materials around the show.
Tickets to “Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor” range from $19.50 for children 4 to 12 years old to $25 for adults. If the other worldwide shows of the Warriors are any guide, these tickets are likely to go fast, so you’d be well advised to get yours now.