A different perspective

By Zhao Xu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-10-22 07:48:30

A different perspective

This figure is believed to have been spinning a wooden plate on the tip of his finger. [Photo by Fan Zhen/China Daily]

A different perspective

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A different perspective

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A different perspective

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If the grandeur and magnificence of the Terracotta Warriors leads anyone to equate the funerary army with the entire Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum, that person would be wrong, according to Cao Wei, the museum director.

"The warriors occupy an area of 20,000 square meters, while the area of the whole mausoleum is estimated at 56 sq km," he said. "So far, across this vast area archaeologists have discovered more than 180 funerary pits, including three that house the clay soldiers and one that's empty, but is believed to have been built for the same purpose."

The exhibition aims to widen the focus by featuring previously unseen non-martial figures.

There, standing amid his fully armored contemporaries is a figure of a slim, half-naked man. His hair is fashioned into a bun, while his lower body is wrapped in cloth. Yet what might startle a visitor is not his scant clothing, but his raised index finger. "He must be in the middle of performing his tricks, and there must be something on the tip of his finger - a wooden plate for example," Wu said.

"This figure was discovered 1.5 kilometers from the warriors, in an underground crater we've dubbed 'the acrobats' pit'," said Wu. "The fact that it's very close to the actual burial mound of the Emperor says a lot. It's obvious that this man, who'd spent decades on horseback, longed for abandonment in his afterlife."

Another burial pit contains bronze water birds and a female figure. "Her posture indicates that she was either playing some sort of musical instrument - long rotted away - or feeding the birds," Pan Ying, a museum guide, said.

A new route will be carved to channel the tourists to other sights of interest before they arrive at the warriors. Research and conservation work will be intensified to provide visitors with as much information as possible.

"It's fair to say that the discovery of the Terracotta Warriors has helped to lift a corner of a curtain," said Cao. "What lies behind will surely exceed the wildest expectations."

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