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Priceless Chinese sculptures on display in South Africa

Updated: 2016-11-02 14:09

Some of China's iconic terracotta warriors are on exhibition in cities across South Africa. The priceless sculptures are also historical relics, that are more than 2,000 years old.

It is considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, and one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. These sculptures were discovered by accident in 1974. Now, for the first time, the most complete reproduction is in South Africa in the Terracotta Army Exhibition. More than 300 objects are on display offering a fascinating insight into ancient China and its cultural ideals.

"Like many stories told in the world, with an advent of phones and tablets, the opportunity of experiencing history in real life is incredibly important," said Nick Dreyer, exhibitor.

"We're trying to bring travel museum style exhibition to South Africa and to Africa and we think it's an important thing to do because as a opposed to looking at something on 2D screen there's an opportunity to walk around the objects and to learn about it."

The army was purpose built to defend and protect the emperor in the afterlife. The emperor believed that objects like statues can be animated in the afterlife, and he would have the same military power and imperial status he had enjoyed during his earthly lifetime.

"The warriors were built by hand. Of course, it was a very long time ago and what's interesting is the absolute attention to detail that the emperor exuded and to create a massive army like this meant new techniques that had to be used he was certainly a pioneer in terms of building on a large scale," Dreyer said.

"The attention to detailed was then manifested on these warriors, each specific soldier in its regiment, in its class and painted differently."

Researchers estimate that 720,000 men worked on this project over a period of 36 years. Two thousand two hundred years later, the Terraccota Army is still standing and more soldiers are still being found.

Although these are replicas, they are made from the very same mold used to cast the originals and the detail of each sculpture is unique. The exhibition will be in Cape Town in 2017.


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