Terracotta Warriors @ ACM

Andrew: Dearie and I love to go to museums, but we don’t often have the time to go down. ACM is a place that holds pleasant memories for us as it was one of the places we went for our first dates and the first time Jasmine and I met in a social setting outside of NIE was at Timbre, near ACM for a friend’s birthday. I had heard good things about the Terracotta Warrior exhibitions, hence we squeezed in some time to go down during the week to check it out!

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Andrew: Before we entered the exhibition halls, there was this series of clay figurines which captured the process of making the terracotta warriors. The exhibit captured almost every step of the construction of these warriors and the very tactile and drab feel of the exhibit conveyed very dramatically the torturous and demanding process of making these terracotta warriors.

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Jasmine: At the foyer, we were ‘treated’ to a display of contemporary art. I guess the placement of the artwork was suitable as it seemed like a parody of the original terracotta warriors, standing positions and all, but I actually grimaced quite a few times walking around this hall. Having quasi-classical Oriental figurines holding fire-engine red laptops and handbags seemed so tacky. Although the explanation given was that the artist was making commentary on the impact of consumerism and affluence on Chinese culture, the ‘artwork’ was far more apt for a shopping centre than the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Andrew: We had seen some of these exhibits at the National Museum before and weren’t impressed then – we weren’t impressed this time as well.

Jasmine: We are a family friendly blog ok, but I should warn you that for the first time in Andrew Loves Jazzy history, we will be posting a picture which depicts genitalia!? Tucked away in one corner was this glass case of naked figurines. These two are eunuchs. Don’t look too closely.

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Andrew: It was Dearie who pointed me to this exhibit and I was really rather amused by it. There was actually another set of statutes of non-eunuchs, with genitalia rather subtly carved in. Heh.

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Miniature version of the Terracotta warriors

Jasmine: I was really impressed with the suit of armour. It probably was my favourite exhibit in the gallery because it was visually imposing and more importantly, had a great story to give it depth. When archeologists found thousands of these limestone plates lying scattered in a mass tomb, they couldn’t figure out what it was.

It was only upon closer inspection that these were suits of armour which had been hung upon wooden stands. (80 suits have been excavated so far and work in that part of the tombs is still ongoing.) After many decades though, the wood had decomposed, leaving the limestone plates lining the ground.

Since then, they’ve been restrung and interlinked with copper wire in a fish-scale formation:

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Interestingly too, these pieces of stone armour are acknowledged to be too heavy for a soldier to wear them in battle, so debate is still continuing over the function of the armour.

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Jasmine: One of the highlights of the exhibition was the specially-created iPhone app! We actually went back three times to find all the hieroglyphic symbols. It was interactive and engaging for us and I can easily imagine kids having great fun seeing history come to life, literally. Although the app really only boasted that one function, the 3D concept has much potential for converting a new generation into museum-goers!

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Andrew: It was really a novel and effective idea to introduce an iPhone app to jazz up this exhibition. There was a guided tour to follow using the iPhone app to tell the story of a terracotta warrior. We weren’t patient enough to follow that, so we ended up just making use of the most ‘kiddy’ function of the application. It was really fun and most interesting of all, these figurines which appeared weren’t ‘static’, but actually animated. They would move in and out of the screen or move forward.

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Andrew: The animation above was one of the most dramatic animations in the exhibition. The Chinese character on the wall as ‘pan4’ (traitor) and it was huge! When I put the camera over, we only saw the tunnel initially with the glow of a flame. Gradually, this soldier would climb out of the tunnel and look around menacingly. It was fun! Heh.

Jasmine: These archers are virtual animations too. What gives them away? The fact that they cast no shadows.

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Andrew: This bell 3D graphic had an added dimension of interactivity and we could swipe the screen to ring the bell. Heh. What cheap thrill!

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Andrew: And of course, we save the best for last! These were the actual terracotta warriors shipped all the way from China.

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Andrew: The warriors had such a great aura of mystique about them. I found myself inexplicably drawn to them and was fascinated at just how much history was contained in these sculptures.  It was rather creepy too as it seemed like the warriors were looking at us out of the corner of their eyes.

Jasmine: Very delicate and detailed austere facial expressions on each of the soldiers. This exhibition was also laid out in a way that would mimic the original layout of the Xi’An tombs, as the soldiers were in the centre of the gallery, led by the general (who is much taller than the foot soldiers to connote his high rank), flanked by horses on both sides.

For more on the Terracotta Warriors, visit The China Guide (which is a commercial enterprise but the research is surprisingly comprehensive):

http://www.thebeijingguide.com/thexianguide/Terracotta_Warriors.htm

Andrew: It was a good exhibition indeed, which brought both classic and contemporary elements together very well. There was something for children & adults, for the history buff & someone who just dropped by due to curiosity.

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