A visit to the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to view the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibition was a must for this Writer. The Exhibition entitled "Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor" has its only West Coast showing at Bowers and will move on after October 12, 2008.
Our interest in China took a giant leap forward after reading Simon Winchester's book "The Man Who Loved China". It is the story of an Oxford scholar named Joseph Needham who became fascinated with early Chinese culture and spent half his life writing eleven volumes about it.
The Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered by accident in 1974, some 7,000 of them. They had been made to protect China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, through eternity. Their discovery has been considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
The Bowers exhibition presents 20 of these life-size figures including representative types of soldiers. To be found here are generals, officers, infantrymen, archers, chariot drivers and horsemen. One of the wonders of the Terra Cotta discovery is that each figure has a distinctive face. Besides the actual figures the exhibition includes 100 sets of objects from the same period.
It is believed that the production of the original warriors may have been one of the first assembly lines. It is estimated that teams of workers, each involved on individual parts of the body, crafted the warriors. A relief of this assembly line is on display at the exhibition.
Here you are looking back two millennium to 259-210 B.C. which was the reign of the First Emperor. The life of Qin Shi Huang is documented and his accomplishments in developing China as a nation are also included in the exhibit. He is called the First Emperor for being the first to unify his country.
Since their discovery in 1974 almost 2,000 of the warriors have been carefully made whole again (most were in fragments on discovery) by trained teams of Chinese artisans. Besides the warriors themselves a wagon and a chariot are also on view at the Bowers.
Each gallery of the Bowers exhibition has been designed to give the visitor a sense of entering the Emperor's tomb. Besides the warriors the Emperor was to be served through eternity with animals, musicians and servants. Some are also on view in the galleries.
In recent years the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana has been in the forefront in presenting exhibitions depicting human history. We were equally fascinated when we viewed the exhibition on Egyptian mummies a few years ago.
The Terra Cotta Warrior Exhibition will move on after October 12, 2008. The Bowers Museum is located at 1802 North Main Street In Santa Ana just a few short blocks from the #5 Freeway. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the fourth Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information call 714 480-1520 or visit www.bowers.org.
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