Thousands of years, in the blink of an eye
Stepping into the air-conditioned hallway of Siwamokkhaphiman Throne Hall, Bangkok National Museum, hundreds of artefacts are showcased including ancient weapons, inscriptions, jade and gold amulets, armour and the life-sized terracotta soldiers and bronze chariot from Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum in Xi’an, China.
This is the very first time that Thailand plays host to these invaluable relics. Qin Shi Huang: The First Emperor of China and Terracotta Warriors exhibition has been sectioned into three parts: The Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the Han Dynasty (206-220 CE) and the Silk Road era.
The best scenario for visitors is to arrive early (approximately at 8am) and get in line to purchase the tickets. Be warned that they only allow mobile phones and all visitors are only allowed to take still pictures, not video clips inside the exhibition with no flashes. Cameras are not allowed in the exhibition and for those who carry large backpacks, they must deposit their bags at the office next to the ticket booth.
The viewing slot is limited to 45 minutes and only up to 80 visitors per round. The exhibition includes over 133 artefacts. The pathway will guide the visitors to walk through Chinese craftsmanship development and evolution through the ages of the first emperor who successfully unified China’s seven kingdoms and unified various state walls into the Great Wall of China before being buried in a city-sized mausoleum guarded by thousands of the terracotta soldiers. There’s no doubling back should you walk pass each section of the exhibition so make sure you spend your time wisely inside.
It also covers a wide range of topics including the ancient warrior’s equivalent of hi-tech weaponry in its time, Chinese imperial rule to the Silk Road era where cultures, languages and money are exchanged.
The stars of the show, of course, are the four life-sized terracotta warriors airlifted straight from Xi’an, the subterranean complex in the ancient capital itself. They are housed in two glass displays together with other artefacts. These are only four of the 8,000 discovered accidentally in 1974.
The construction of the mausoleum and the terracotta troops took an upward of 38 years to complete where the future Emperor of China was only a young king of 13 years old ruling over his region.
Do not expect the Greek and Roman God-like human forms statues. It seems, the base of these terracotta soldiers were the different yet unique characteristics of each person rather than the universal idealised human forms. They reflect real human beings with different facial features who lived and fought during China’s defining chapter.
The message of faith regarding the concept of life after death and vanity even in the afterlife is clear. The Emperor would die at the age of 50 years old while on an excursion to search for life-extending elixirs. The Qin Dynasty lasted for 15 more years before it was taken over by the Han Dynasty in 206 BC.
Qin Shi Huang: The First Emperor of China and Terracotta Warriors will be on exhibit until 15 December 2019 at Bangkok National Museum from 9:30am-4pm from Wednesday to Sunday (closes on Monday and Tuesday). Tickets are B30 for Thai nationals and B200 for foreigners.
National Museum Bangkok
4 Na Phrathat Rd.
Tel: 02 224 1370, 02 224 1402/04