More than 100 original pieces from the iconic Terracotta Army collection are on display in Alcainte’s MARQ archaeological museum. Titled “El legado de las dinastías Qin y Han, China – Los Guerreros de Xi’an” (“The Legacy of the Qin and Han Dynasties, China – The Warriors of Xi’an”), the exhibition will remain on show until 28 January.
The collection of terracotta sculptures is a form of funerary art that depicts the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. It was buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE to guard his tomb and protect him in the after-life.
Chinese farmers discovered the Terracotta Army near Xi’an in 1974. Considered one of the most significant discoveries in global archaeology, the collection was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and it has been described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
The figures vary in height according to rank (the generals are the tallest), and they include warriors, chariots and horses. It has been estimated that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army hold more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, most of which remain in situ near Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other non-military terracotta figures, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians, have been found in adjoining pits.
The Alicante exhibition is the first time the 120-piece collection has been presented for public viewing outside China. It includes one dozen sets of nine statues and a horse – the maximum (120 in total) that the Chinese government allows to be exhibited internationally.
The exhibition was officially inaugurated by Carlos Mazón, president of the Diputación de Alicante (provincial government), and the Chinese minister for culture and tourism, Hu Heping.
During his speech, Hu Heping highlighted the quality of the exhibition and its importance within the framework of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain to “deepen the learning and mutual knowledge of our civilisations. Thanks to the objects on display, the public will be able to enjoy the idiosyncrasies of the Qin and Han dynasties and the beauty of our culture, a great step towards deepening the cultural and friendly exchange between our peoples.”
Tickets to visit the exhibition are available through the MARQ website and at the museum’s ticket offices. They cost €5 each, with discounts for over-65s, young people and students, among other groups.