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Friday, September 30, 2022

Life + Arts

Emperors invade exhibition


Houstonians have less than eight weeks left to view the “Warriors, Tombs and Temples: China’s Enduring Legacy” exhibition. | Courtesy of Wang Da Gang/Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houstonians have less than eight weeks left to view the “Warriors, Tombs and Temples: China’s Enduring Legacy” exhibition. | Courtesy of Wang Da Gang/Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is currently hosting “Warriors, Tombs, and Temples: China’s Enduring Legacy,” an extension of the famed 2009 exhibition “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor.”

“The objects in the exhibition are drawn from three of the greatest and most important dynasties in Chinese history: Qin, Han and Tang dynasties,” said HMNS Curator of Anthropology Dirk Van Tuerenhout.

“This exhibit displays objects from three, rather than one, dynasties. The time period covered is therefore also more extensive. Instead of reviewing 20 years of history, this exhibit spans 1,100 years. Moreover, some of the Qin-era Terra Cotta Warrior statues shown in “Warriors, Tombs and Temples” are recent discoveries; they were excavated while our previous show (“Terra Cotta Warriors”) was here.”

“Warriors, Tombs and Temples” has four never-before-seen Terra Cotta Warriors straight from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China. Fearful of death, Emperor Qin ordered the construction of a Terra Cotta army for his mausoleum to serve as protection for his unknown afterlife.

Emperor Qin’s mausoleum is so unique to history that it is named the eighth wonder of the world.

One of the warriors currently on display has a feature none of the previous Terra Cotta Warriors had — a face with green paint still intact after more than 2,000 years.

In addition to the army of Emperor Qin’s mausoleum, the exhibition also contains Terra Cotta Warriors from the tomb of Han Dynasty Emperor Gaozu.

The statues of Emperor Gaozu’s warriors are not as tall as the warriors of Emperor Qin, but they do contain distinct details in their facial features as well as battle armor.

With three dynasties being presented, the exhibition contains over 200 artifacts, including simple, everyday items from ancient China to lavish statues of Buddha and his reliquary from the Famen Temple that is believed to contain his finger bone.

There is also an interesting painting which outlines the actions of a game of polo, showing how the Western World was playing a part in the Far East.

“Warriors, Tombs and Temples” is an exhibition that presents not only Terra Cotta Warriors and Buddha’s influence in China, but also the lives of the ancient Chinese elite class to the commoners.

The dynasties of China are long gone, but their history is still very much alive.

“Warriors, Tombs, and Temples: China’s Enduring Legacy will be on display until September 3. For more information, visit www.hmns.org or call (713) 639-4629. HMNS recommends purchasing tickets in advance due to the extreme popularity of this exhibition. HMNS is located at 5555 Herman Park Drive.

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