The Terracotta Warriors have arrived at Te Papa

China’s celebrated ancient treasures, the 2,300-year-old terracotta warriors, have arrived at Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality 秦始皇兵马俑:永恒的守卫 exhibition will run from 15 December 2018 until 22 April 2019, and is expected to attract an estimated 100,000 visitors to the popular museum on Wellington’s inner waterfront. 

Only 10 items from the famous Terracotta Army are allowed be loaned at one time.  

Te Papa’s exhibition will have two horses and eight full-sized warriors: an armoured general, an unarmoured general, two armoured military officers, a kneeling archer, a standing archer, an unarmoured infantryman, and a civil official.

The life-sized, lifelike soldiers each weigh 100–300 kilograms. They vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle in accordance with rank. Originally, the figures were painted with bright pigments, but much of the colour has faded over time.

The remarkable terracotta figures are presented alongside extravagant treasures from imperial tombs in and around China’s ancient capital, Xi’an.

Tickets to Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality are on sale now (adult $19.50, child 3–15 years $9, concession $17). Learn more about the tour here.

About the buried army

The First Emperor’s Terracotta Army is located 1.5 kilometres east of the Emperor’s burial mound in Xi’an, China, in the province of Shaanxi. 

It is estimated that there are 8,000 soldiers in total, with approximately 3,000 excavated to date – this work continues daily. 

The First Emperor’s tomb itself has not been excavated and may never be. Historical records tell of rivers of flowing mercury and constellations of precious stones in the First Emperor’s tomb.  

Scholars continue to debate the function of Qin’s Terracotta Army. Some think that because the soldiers face east, they were intended to protect the First Emperor in the afterlife. Others question the soldiers’ readiness for battle, as they are not fully armoured.