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Sunday 21 September 2014

A Chinese army with feet (and everything) of clay

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

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Ciara Nealon from Leopardstown at the Terracotta Army exhibit
The famous terracotta warriors of Xian, China
The famous terracotta warriors of Xian, China

THEY may not be the originals but the famous Terracotta Army figures on Irish soil are still just as fragile.

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More than 150 replica statutes from China's world-famous display are standing to attention in Dublin's Ambassador Theatre.

Chinese authorities decided to stop shipping the original artefacts overseas after they suffered a series of damages.

This included a horse and soldier damaged in Dublin in 1987 when a piece of scaffolding collapsed on them while they were on display in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

"They are extremely fragile so it was thought best to keep them in China," exhibition curator Noel McHale explained.

"But these replicas are made in the same area and are just as fragile. Getting them into the Ambassador was a logistical nightmare – thankfully nothing broke."

The First Emperor of China – Qin Shi Huangdi – ordered them built as part of his gigantic mausoleum shortly after he assumed the throne at the age of 13. He died around 210BC. More than 8,000 soldiers stand tall in the mausoleum – each one with unique expressions.

"It's the closest people can get to seeing the army without getting on a plane and going to China," McHale said.

Qin's burial site is one of China's most popular tourist attractions ranking alongside the Great Wall and Beijing's Forbidden City.

In addition to soldiers on display, the exhibition will include 70 display cases of weaponry, jewellery and art.

A documentary on the history of the discovery of the Terracotta Army will also be on display.

Irish Independent

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