Sunday, March 4, 2012

Terra Cotta Warriors

The boys and I took a trip down to Santa Ana yesterday afternoon with some friends and walked around the Bowers Museum Warriors, Tombs and Temples: China's Enduring Legacy exhibit. Despite the crowds, the show was mesmerizing -- I'm always awestruck by culture preserved for thousands and thousands of years.  The exhibition features the famous life-size terra cotta warriors who protected China's first emperor -- I believe more than 7,000 of them were found, standing in formation around the tomb along with thousands of other figures and objects; the mausoleum complex is "considered the eighth wonder of the world." 

The photo I took just above shows some of the figures that were buried with the dead, along with other animals, female and male attendants and household goods, to serve them in the next life. They were called minqi or "bright vessels" -- referring both to the artifacts themselves and to the brilliance of the spirit world.

I love the notion of the spirit world being brilliant. 

Tang Dynasty (618-649 CE)
The filigreed tree I snapped a photo of above was one of my favorite pieces in the exhibit -- the photo obviously does it little justice. Made of gold, it was so delicate and beautiful, an ornament that represented the tree under which The Buddha sat. There was such detail and fineness to it -- again, I was awestruck by the artistry and age.

My other favorite piece was a large Medicine Buddha from 626-649 CE who evidently granted health and wishes. He was representative of the cosmic Buddhas in the Mahayana tradtion, and I know I took a photo of him but it mysteriously disappeared from my phone. I'm not taking that as an omen, but for the record, knock on wood, three times.


  1. Ever since I first read about the discovery of these figures, I have been fascinated by them. I am so glad you got to see them. I imagine that the images in your mind will be there forever and thus, a continuation of the original intent of the artists.

  2. I'm always amazed how our ancestors have a closer and deeper connection to the world of spirit than our generation....

  3. If I was a better person I would say how glad I am that you got to see such an cool exhibit.

    But mostly I just feel jealous.

  4. Aren't they amazing? I saw them in Australia (well some of them) years ago and it was truly breathtaking. Chinese history is so vast. Would love to see them again.

  5. I find them fascinating, but I can't help wondering how they ever made so many!



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