China's Terracotta army to "tour" Canada from 2010

15:57, January 28, 2010      

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The launch of the 2010-2012 Canadian national tour of The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army was announced Wednesday at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The national tour, marking their debut in Canada, will encompass four venues across the country. Following the ROM's engagement, commencing in late June 2010, the exhibition will travel to Montreal, Calgary and Victoria.

The exhibition showcases one of the most significant archaeological finds in history: the 1974 discovery, in China's northern Shaanxi province, of thousands of life-sized terracotta sculptures of Chinese warriors.

These extraordinary figures, along with countless treasures yet to be uncovered in the elaborate underground tomb complex of China 's First Emperor, were created during the Qin Dynasty, dating back to 2,200 years ago.

"This truly awe-inspiring exhibit will be the must-see attraction of 2010 for visitors to the ROM," said Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture of Ontario.

"The Terracotta Army exhibit is yet another example of the current cultural renaissance that is helping re-establish Toronto as an exciting center of creativity and excellence."

"The ROM takes great pride in being chosen as the organizing museum for this important Canadian tour," states William Thorsell, the ROM's Director and CEO.

"We look forward to introducing our visitors to China's rich cultural legacy, focusing on these extraordinary terracotta warriors. We are thrilled to present them to Canadian audiences and honored to be accorded this sign of respect and trust by the Chinese government."

Dr. Chen Shen, Senior Curator in the ROM's World Cultures department is the exhibition's curator and responsible for developing the content of the Canadian tour. Dr. Shen emphasizes, "This Canadian national tour is a newly developed and contextually different presentation than previous, international displays."

The number of full-sized warriors and the exhibition's scope makes this the largest display of the First Emperor's terracotta army ever to be seen in North America. Many of the artifacts displayed during the upcoming Canadian tour have never before left China. In fact, some have not yet been displayed in any museum in China. This is a major triumph for the ROM and its Canadian tour partners.

THE CANADIAN NATIONAL TOUR

The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army will launch at the ROM late June 2010. Following this premiere engagement, the exhibition will then travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in early 2011, followed by Calgary's Glenbow Museum in summer and fall in 2011, and Victoria's Royal BC Museum in late 2011 to 2012.

"The Foundation takes great pleasure in joining with the Royal Ontario Museum and the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center to present the premiere Canadian engagement of The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army," says Robert H. N. Ho, Founder of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

"The Foundation believes that this exhibition will promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of ancient Chinese civilization. It is a fine example of important cross-cultural exchange between museums in China and Canada."

"The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is proud to be associated with this major pan-Canadian archaeological exhibition featuring these exceptional artifacts, lent by China. As part of our global vision, this exhibition confirms our strong desire to give greater visibility to ancient cultures," explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

"Glenbow is thrilled to be the prospective fourth partner in this exciting national tour. Pending final approval, Glenbow is eager to expose Alberta audiences to these world renowned Chinese treasures," said Kirstin Evenden, President and CEO of Glenbow Museum.

"The story of China's First Emperor and his Terracotta Army is one of the most captivating in human history," said Pauline Rafferty, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. "We are delighted to bring this phenomenal exhibition to British Columbia to give our visitors this rare opportunity to learn about a fascinating culture and this remarkable archaeological discovery."

THE EXHIBITION AND THE FIRST EMPEROR

Since 1974, archaeologists have unearthed approximately 2,000 full-sized terracotta warriors and horses from three ancient pits. Located near the First Emperor's mausoleum complex, the terracotta site is only a small component of the largest tomb construction in China.

It is also the location of the country's first on-site museum. As this site continues to be excavated, archaeologists now use innovative conservation techniques to preserve the fragile colors on these painted warriors.

With scores yet to be excavated, the terracotta figures, in magnificent military formations, are now known to number nearly 8, 000, and are often referenced as the eighth wonder of the world. In 1987, the site was added to the official list of World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army will feature 120 sets of loan objects, encompassing over 250 artifacts, dated to the first millennium BC. Among them are impressive 18 life- sized terracotta sculptures, comprising 16 human figures and two horses.

These figures depict a wide range of military and civic personnel, including generals, armored soldiers, lower ranking officers, archers, an acrobat, a cavalryman, and a charioteer. Also included are six life-sized warrior heads and three half- sized kneeling servants. Each figure is unique, exquisitely executed and accorded a distinct personality.

The exhibition will also include numerous stellar objects making their North American debut. Loaned by more than a dozen of the most important archaeological institutes and museums in Shaanxi Province, nearly 30 percent of the featured objects have never before traveled outside China. As well as highlighting the life and times of Qin Shihuang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, and the terracotta soldiers produced during his lifetime, the exhibition will explore the figures in a broad historical and social context.

Exhibition visitors will learn about China's rich history during these periods and about the political and social transitions that took place during various dynasties, changes inevitably influencing the form, style and purpose of the terracotta sculptures.

Source: Xinhua
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