The Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army has come to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and it’s awesome. The figures are over 2,000 years old, mostly undamaged and full of exquisite detail. They’re big too! I expected them to be much shorter, based on the size of the clothing I saw during the exhibit for The Forbidden City.

The emperor with his chariot is the first thing you see in the exhibit. It’s a reproduction due to the extensive damage of the real chariots, but it was a great way to begin the tour of the army intended to accompany China’s First Emperor into the afterlife.

The army itself is a variety of military and civil positions, from the general to the infantry. These are the real army and not replicas.

Each face is different! I didn’t notice that until I read it on one of the information plaques. The hair, ears, and hands were all different as well. Not as much, but it was still noticeable. The shoes varied depending on the importance of the soldier.

The army was made in pieces, which were then joined together and colored to represent actual people. I’m so used to thinking of terracotta as a dull brown, but the real army was quite bright and rich in colors.

The afterlife even had a stable boy to look after the horses!

There were other pieces on display as well – brass pieces from the horses bridles, jewelry, various pottery, and miniature figurines.

The workmanship in creating all those different faces (8,000 pieces have been excavated so far), the horses and chariots is incredible. Equally incredible was how the First Emperor, Ying Zheng, made reforms and unified China after years of separate provinces and war.

The Terracotta Army is in Richmond for another week, through March 11. There are also evening hours to see it. More information can be found at the website for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Virginia Virginia Museum of Fine Art

dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

17 Comments Leave a comment

  1. The moment they were discovered I vowed I’d find a way to see them and a few years ago my husband and I saw them first-hand during our trip to China. I had such high expectations and they FAR surpassed them. You cannot imagine the scope of the installation. Incredible. Did you know the emperor had all of the craftsmen who worked on them killed once they were done so that no one could tell of their location? How amazing that they were found!! Loved revisiting them in your post Nancy

  2. Great Post, Nancy – and nice to ‘see’ you. I saw them in Hongkong Museum of Modern Art a few years ago – amazing history!

    • Thanks for the note! I’m hoping to get more active out here, but haven’t quite gotten there yet. The history is truly amazing and the curator did a great job of telling the story.

    • I’m doing well! I retired several weeks ago and have been trying to get the house put back together from a bunch of work we had done this spring. The boys are getting big too. I’m working my way back to blogging – just haven’t quite gotten there yet. Thanks for asking!

  3. Awesome if the word. Loved the pictures.
    I have a small one my parents brought back from their trip to China and the archeological site. Just mind blowing – the size, the details – all of it.
    (and we join museums for the same reason – worth the membership fee)

    • We make back our fees each year on the museums, botanical gardens, etc.. Sometimes we stop one for a few years (like Colonial Williamsburg), then go back again.

      The size and details really are incredible. And each face is different too! Even the horses are different.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I saw them in Chicago! I had always wanted to see them, it was the closest I would ever be. I am fascinated by them. And the faces they represent from so many years ago.

    • I’m glad you had a chance to see them. We were enthralled that each face / head / ears / hair / hands were slightly different. They truly were an army.

  5. Huw awesome to be able to see this close to your home. Your photographs are great! I would probably want to go back and see it more than once.

    • We actually saw it multiple times. Each time we noticed something different too! I took the pictures with my Apple iPhone. It’s quality is better than the old point and shoot I had 7+ years ago.

  6. This is such an amazing and jaw-dropping piece of historical Art that it defies belief. We saw them many years ago and would love to see them again. Thank you for sharing these wonders of the Ancient World with us. 👍

  7. I’d forgotten all about that museum. I went to see a few good exhibits when I was living there back in the seventies and eighties. The Chinese exhibit would be a good one to see.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • They were closed for renovation when we moved here ten years ago. The updated museum has a lot of great exhibits and they’re participating in all kinds of awesome traveling exhibits as well. We became members simply because it was the cheapest way to see all the special exhibits.

%d bloggers like this: