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Dig: Keeping True to a Colorful Past

6 coverstory THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 * CHINA DAILY Dig: Keeping true to a colorful past 6,000 "One of the most important programs was the protection rich designs, said Ma Shengtao, placed in the underground deputy director of conserva- palace before the year 1113 and tion and preservation at the manyofthem were damaged by the air and water that had leaked International cooperation in," said Han Wei, former direc- in science for heritage protec- tor of Shaanxi Archaeological Institute. "The major restora- Terracotta Warriors and Horses helping to raise China's overall tion for these damaged relics technology level and making was done by German experts" Sebastian Pechtold, who was on the German team, said more attention was paid to reproduc- "Our protective technology ing the original appearance of was poor and backwards before the relics rather than just mak- the Sino-German program," ing them visually beautiful. n't just take West- engineer and director of heri- ern methods and use them on "We had FROM PAGE 1 The colors better highlight of newly unearthed terracotta the expression on the figures' figures" said Liu Yunhui, dep- faces and could prove invaluable to the study of ancient China. And thanks to new technol- Xian museum. figures uty director of Shaanxi cultural heritage bureau. Susanne Greiff, head of the Estimated total number of terracotta warriors in the No1 pit of the Museum of the tion has been credited with ogy developed in cooperation China-German heritage pro- with a German institute, techni- cians on the scene were able to museum, said the province preserve the relics in their origi- nal painted colors –something partner program for its wealth that was unthinkable during the of history. previous two digs The first, which lasted from of the former Federal Republic 1978 until 1984, resulted in the discovery of 1,087 clay relics. However, after being exposed used to be the power center of to air, they all quickly lost their 13 Chinese dynasties," she said. color and turned an oxidized "Therefore, it has thousands of gray. (A second dig started in ancient tombs." 1985 but halted a year later due to technical reasons.) "When the excavation start- ed, mold caused by moisture tion agency in the province or began to spread in the pits" anywhere else in the country. said Wu Yongqi, director of the The situation was critical, said terracotta museum, which was Greiff. officially opened on Oct 1, 1979 "When we wiped the mold off quickly set to work on establish- ... the surface dried out." As the relics were cleaned Archaeological Institute's heri- colleagues" on-site, experts found that the exposed paint would curl and laboratory in 1991. fall off due to water loss. Enter experts from Ger- many's Bavarian Administra- tion of Cultural Heritage and artifacts have been solved. Rome-Germanic tection program at the Mainz of Qin Shihuang its excavation techniques and heritage protection the envy of the world. was carefully chosen for the 1,087 YANG SHEN / FOR CHINA DAILY "Shaanxi is as large as the area figures Number of terracotta warriors found in the No 1 pit during the first excavation between 1975 and 1984 An archaeologist works carefully on a newly unearthed terracotta soldier in No 1 pit, the largest of the three surrounding the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuang. of Germany (prior to i cation in 1990) and its capital said Yang Junchang, general "We couldn't tage protection and research Chinese relics," he said." at the Shaanxi Archaeological to consider the different materi- als and processes of manufacture The institute, which was before repairing the relics" said Greiff at the Mainz museum. As the painting technol- ogy and processes of a mural found in a tomb of the Eastern Hidden wonders of Institute. 114 underground world Despite the huge number of historic sites, at the time there figures Number of terracotta warriors unearthed during the third dig which started on June 13, 2009 established in 1958 and is the largest of its kind in the coun- try, has excavated more than 10,000 ancient tombs. How- was no modern relics restora- XI'AN – The tomb of Qin Shihuang (259-210 BC), Chinas first emperor, was discovered completely by accident in March of 1974. Several farmers from Xiyang village, which is in the eastern suburbs of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, were digging a well when they uncovered a clay figure. What they initially suspected to be a ghost turned out to be just a small part of the eighth wonder of the world– the terracotta army. Archaeologists arrived on the scene and, after a drilling sur- vey, identified three pits surrounding the tomb. An estimated 6,000 figures were buried with the emperor, including warriors, horses and chariots. It is believed that the army was intended to protect the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) ruler in the afterlife. In 1975, a museum housing the No 1 of 16,300 square meters – was built with permission from the State Council. It was eventually opened to the public on Oct I, 1979, a year into the first excavation. The Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. So far, 114 terracotta figures have been discovered during the third dig at the No 1 pit, which began in June last year. "We also found clay horses and a number of other relics, like bronze weapons, wooden chariots, drums and wooden rings" said Xu Weihong, acting head of the museum's excava- ever, for a long time, protecting Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) are far different from those used "We unearthed some silk in ancient Rome and Egypt, so too are the techniques to relics was a major concern. Experts from both countries Xian. "I learned a lot of things from a tomb once and the rel- about heritage restoration and ingone, resulting in the Shaanxi protection from our German minutes later ... as we had no ics were completely destroyed restore them. "We often met with new dif- of dealing with ficulties during our joint resto- rations," added Greiff, "which means we are constantly Two decades later, many of who have received technical Germanic Central Museum revising our plans, adding new the problems experienced in training in Germany, as well as Mainz, which is renowned programs and developing new proper tage protection and research Rong is among more than them," said Yang. 100 specialists from Shaanxi With help from the Rome- for its heritage restoration and United States. They have gone protection, the institute built preserving and restoring ancient in France, Italy, Japan and the tools." One of the recent achieve- its own heritage protection ments of the China-Germany Muscum Mainz, who in 1989 been to Germany six times provinces heritage protection and research laboratory (later partnership is the restoration renamed the protection and of a broken phoenix coronet, which belonged to Li Chui, Today, the department has a Tang princess who died in Central "In the last 15 years, I have on to form the backbone of the pit- covering an area joined forces with Shaanxi for training, staying there for to research and develop new techniques to better protect said Rong Bo, an archaeologist terracotta warriors' paint from the province's bounty of relics. mission. three to six months each time," Work on preventing the research department). at the terracotta museum in peeling began in earnest in laboratories specializing in AD 736. 1990. Řesearchers examined metal and ceramics, fresco the structure, distribution and "The coronet was com- restoration and textiles. It pletely smashed when it patterns on pottery relics and also has an archaeological site was unearthed (in 2003), so we packed it in plaster and brought it back to the lab," said engineer Yang For the last 20 years, Chinese Junchang. "After careful and German experts have preparation and research, focused on relics from the Qin about 10 Chinese and Ger- the Qin Shihuang museum Dynasty and Tang Dynasty men experts worked for two THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS It is believed that more than 1,000 workers built the were able to devise the chemi- emergency team. cals and applications needed to preserve the color. After several trials, the tech- nique was first used during an excavation of the No 2 pit at figures between 246 and 210 BC for the tomb Emperor Past experience Qin Shihuang. The figures remained hidden for more than 2,000 years, until their discovery in 1974 tion team. Traces of burn marks on the warriors' bodies and the walls show the pit was at some point set on fire, while some of the newły discovered figures were between 1.8 meters and 2 meters tall. The rank in 1997. It involves newly (AD 618-907), with the first years to repair it." unearthed relics being treated joint program the restoration of Depending on their clothes, hat and hair, the warriors all have different military ranks Materials used in the coro- at the scene with anti-wrinkle those taken for the underground net were gold, silver, copper and iron, and it was also deco- they are wrapped in plastic Historians say the temple, rated with agate, pearls, amber, film and relocated to a labo- which is about 120 kilometers turquoise, glass and mother of from Xian in Fufeng county, pearl inlay. The surface was The method was so success- was originally built in the 2nd studded with gold beads that could only be seen clearly "We're not certain whether people who lived in the Qin Dynasty were actually that tall or if the craftsmen exaggerated their height," said Xu. As well as the warriors, archacologists also found piles of charcoal that were believed to be grain in ancient times and three "suitcases" made of a fabric similar to silk. "We have almost completed the excavation on the first aisle and still working hard on the second," said Xu. newly unearthed figures were broken into small pieces, we have to spend more time to take them out and then put them together." She said she could not predict when the dig will be finished but assured that "the progress of our work is based on the progress of protection and reinforcing agents before palace at the Famen Temple. General ratory. officer ful that in 2004 it was awarded century and was adorned with second prize in the National Buddha's bone during the Tang under a microscope. Prize for Progress in Science era. and Technology. as the "The coronet weighs 800 The underground palace kilograms, is 42 centimeters Eight integral terracotta was only found in 1986 during tall and has exquisite work- warriors have already been a rebuilding project and many manship," added Yang. "It is rare artifacts have since been the only Tang Dynasty coronet that has ever been successfully "The relics in the palace were repaired in the world." Soldier Trooper fully protected thanks to the technique, as well as a number recovered. of broken clay pieces carrying The colors They were originally painted in vivid colors CHINA DAILY Size How were they made? There are several theories on how the warriors were made but many unsolved questions remain 3 Putting the parts together Carving At this point. the warrior is composed using patches of clay to join the parts. Each was put together in rough form before getting final artistic The warriors received a layer of clay to make the armor which was carved by hand to give them the final shape. After that, workers applied a layen of lacquer Getting the clay Making the parts While some suggest that the body was made directly on top of the legs, experts are not Sure on how some parts Purple color 160 kg Average measurements Workers gathered the clay from near the pit where the warriors were found. Experts say the clay had to be 'worked" to make it fit for touches Clay's final color before painting depending on the kind of the figure Head By using two made the front and back of the head and put them together later. Details were then carved in separate open molds, they Inside Hollow Parts To make it lighter Firing Figures were fired to make the clay hard and durable. Torso, short tunic and arms Being hollow parts, they coiled ropes of clay like making a pottery vase After firine they were Body and head covered with a layer of coal Coal layer Solid parts To give it stability Half-closed hands were carrying weapons Legs had to carry the weight of the figure Legs and hands Paint This is one of the most mysterious parts of the process. It is believed that, being solid parts, they were made using a mold in two parts Painting The final part of the process. After 2.000 years of erosion and humidity. most have lost their original vivid color Legs and hands Th EC NNckel co- Army tradtioal elatactony Linfong Shaani and National Geographic Society XAN SABARIS/CHINA DAILY

Dig: Keeping True to a Colorful Past

shared by judithgold on Dec 28
This infographic provides detailed information about the terracota warriors that were made to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The infographic provides a visual of the terracota warriors and ...


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