PHOTOS: Inside The Terracotta Army Exhibit At The Cincinnati Art Museum

Apr 19, 2018

It's perhaps the biggest archeological find of the last century, some 8,000 terracotta statues buried in the Chinese countryside. China's terracotta warriors debut in Cincinnati Friday as Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China marches into the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The exhibit features 120 objects telling the story of northwest China's nomads and the life of Ying Zheng, later known as Qin Shi Huang Di, the first emperor of China. The items date to the 3rd century B.C. This is the first time at least 40 of them have ever been displayed in the United States, according to the museum.

Before viewing the figures, visitors wind through artifacts chosen to detail daily life during the emperor's reign. "Day-to-day pieces, religious pieces, there's even a child's toy so you can see what it was like from a historical standpoint...and get that history before you see the part that resonates the most with people, the 10 terracotta figures," says spokeswoman Jill Dunne. 

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The Terracotta Army exhibit includes nine life-size clay figures, "a cavalry horse, arms and armor, ritual bronze vessels, works in gold and silver, jade ornaments, precious jewelry and ceramics." The Cincinnati Art Museum's curator worked with institutions in China to create the collection, so this isn't a traveling exhibit you can expect to see elsewhere.

While the figures are commonly referred to as warriors or an army, they aren't all soldiers. Some are stablehands, tradesmen, and other civilians. Qin (pronounced chin) ordered they be created to accompany him into the afterlife to protect him and help him continue his reign.

Nearly every item in the exhibit came from the burial site excavation.

Each of the 8,000 terracotta figures is unique, including details such as no two figures have the same ears.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Qin took the throne in the Qin state in 246 B.C., ultimately uniting China's seven warring regions into one state with him as emperor in 221 B.C.

The museum is expecting big crowds so timed tickets are required. The exhibit runs April 20 through August 12, 2018. It made its U.S. debut at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which collaborated on its creation with the Cincinnati Art Museum.

See more from the exhibit by clicking the photo at the top of the page.