China’s Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Chariot Replica. Photo by Kris Danson.I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been living under a rock. Until my sister asked me the other day if I wanted to go to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) for their special exhibit, I don’t ever recall hearing about China’s Terracotta Warriors. These statues were discovered in 1974 by farmers who were digging a well in Shaanxi province. We went to the MIA exhibit on Friday, and it was fascinating to learn about this massive collection of 8,000 life-sized terracotta warrior statues, the creation of which was commissioned by China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13, and from that moment, he began to plan for his burial and a means to protect himself in the afterlife. The terracotta warriors, chariots and more than 600 life-sized horses were buried near Emperor Qin’s mausoleum when he died in 210 B.C. The photo shown here, taken by my sister, Kris Danson, is a replica.

It’s mind-boggling to think of the logistics and technological savvy it took to create this impressive artistic collection. It’s just as fascinating to think that we can cast our eyes upon (but not touch, photograph or even sketch!) these beautifully detailed earthen treasures that are more than 2,000 years old.

Links & More Information:

This exhibit is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through January 20, 2013.

The PBS program Secrets of the Dead has a great episode entitled “China’s Terracotta Warriors” that you can view online here:

Make sure to watch that PBS episode all the way to the end, where they talk about the unique purple paint (“Han Purple”) used on these warriors; modern physicists are studying this paint for clues to creating better superconductors. If you want to learn more about Han Purple, check out this link:  

Terracotta Army Pit 1-2


Terracotta Army Pit 1 -2  / Maros Mraz /GFDL & CC-BY-SA-2.5






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