China Terracotta Army for Stockholm
China’s Terracotta Army, a major loan exhibition, will open at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Ostasiatiska museet) in Stockholm, Sweden on 28 August 2010 – 16 January 2011.
The exhibition will be presented in the atmospheric caverns beneath the Museum, normally closed to the public, which until the 1960s formed part of the Swedish military’s headquarters. In these ‘secret caverns’ visitors will encounter the warriors of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi, which will be exhibited alongside over three hundred objects, originating from five imperial tombs, eleven museums and more than ten different excavation sites in Shaanxi Province. The exhibition spans the Qin and Han dynasties from 221 BC to 220 AD, offering a unique insight into this important period in Chinese history, and many of the artifacts on display are recent finds, exhibited for the first time outside of China.
China’s Terracotta Army is based on two of the most sensational archaeological discoveries in China in recent decades: the discovery in 1974 of the now world-famous terracotta soldiers and other finds from the grave of the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (221-210 BC), and the grave of Emperor Jingdi and Empress Wang, discovered close to Xi’an. Jingdi was the Fourth Emperor of Western Han, the dynasty that succeeded Qin, and was buried at Han Yangling Mausoleum, built between 153 and 128 BC. The excava¬tions began in the mid-1980s, and since then more than 10,000 terracotta figures have been excavated, as well as numerous artifacts, many of which will be shown for the first time at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.
The exhibition traces the story of how China came into being and how this mighty and sophisticated empire, which lasted for more than two thousand years, was built upon the idea of eternal power in time and space, a way of thinking that was shaped through monumental burial sites. The exhibition showcases representative finds from major burial sites and illustrates the latest research findings, which suggest links between the Chinese Empire, Central Asia and the area of present-day Iran.
China’s Terracotta Army is exhibited in the Rock Galleries beneath the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, never before opened to the public or used as an exhibition space. These galleries consist of an extensive network of tunnels that were originally a military defence constructed in 1939-40 to be used during the Second World War, and were subsequently part of the Swedish Navy’s headquarters until the 1960s. These ‘secret caverns’ provide the ideal setting for exhibiting objects that were originally not intended to be seen by any living person.