Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang exhibition in Melbourne

Yesterday, I and my friends went to the Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang exhibition which is held in the National Gallery of Victoria. I had been so excited the day before going to the exhibition. This is because my childhood was associated with many games and movies related to Chinese history and this is the first time I observed antiquities in the real world. When I was in the exhibition, I was getting more excited because it made me recall many things about childhood. For instance, I recalled the time when I and my family sat in front of the television and watched historical Chinese movies together. Not only did I feel excited, but I also learn more about Chinese history and culture by reading every single description printed on walls in the exhibition. Therefore, I would like to share a few exhibited things in this post.


Model armour – Qin dynasty, 221-207 BCE stone

“This model armour which is the set of the body armour and the helmet was made from stone. The body armour consists of approximately 600 pieces of crafted stone and weighs approximately eighteen to twenty-five kilograms.”

From my understanding, soldiers had to wear it to protect themselves from the arrows and spears. In addition, they also had to wear it when going a long way to their bases. Based on the weight of the armour, we can imagine the strength of the past Chinese soldiers. Based on the weight of the armour, we can imagine the strength of each soldier.


Chariot – Qin dynasty

“The chariots have subsequently been reconstructed from thousands of broken pieces. This light, open battlefield chariot would have been used for battle or for the emperor to inspect his troops. Adorned with a large parasol-like canopy, it is drawn by four horses and driven by a charioteer with a crossbow at his side.”

The horse was the indispensable animal in Chinese history, especially in each historical combat. The special thing in this image is how innovative people in Qin dynasty were. In order to speed up the time they traveled from base to base, they made the chariot which is drawn by four horses, instead of one. Not only did it use for transportation, but it also used to attack and defend in each combat. From my understanding, with 10 to 20 chariots and the wise strategy, it was possible to defeat hundreds of infantry.


Mythical creature – Eastern Han dynasty, 25-220 CE stone

“Large stone beasts lined ‘spirit paths’ leading to the tombs of emperors, royals and aristocrats to protect them in the afterlife. This magnificent Han dynasty example strides forward with teeth displayed and powerful tails gracefully balanced behind. This beast rests its front paw on a playful infant beast, representing natural harmony.” 

Via many historical Chinese movies I watched, I see that Chinese ancients strongly believed in spirituality. They constructed many pagodas, carved many spiritual statues about mythical creatures or event made regular items related to spirituality. These things created a Chinese tradition. There is a unique story in each item or statues which always make us feel curious about.

There are many interesting things about this exhibition. If you are in Melbourne and into Chinese history, I highly recommend you to book a ticket. A ticket’s price is $30 for concession but it is very worthwhile. Not only for adults, but this exhibition is also for kids because each description has two sessions – one of them is for kids.

Here is the link to the NGV website:  Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang

Time: 24 May 2019 – 13 Oct 2019

Cover image: NGV

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