April 30. Terra Cotta en guarde.

The archeological team unearthing the 2,200 year old Terracotta warriors have won the big Prize of the Prince of Asturia, I read in an online newspaper. And they deserve it, believe me. We visit these Terracotta warriors today. It is very hot when we line up at the square in front of the main station. The line is long and a few foreigners suggest us to share a taxi. When we want to come back to their offer, they’re already gone. A fancy looking Japanese hippie, carrying his Nipponity proudly strapped around his neck, asks us if he is in the right line. Then the line moves fast as a number of tourist buses have arrived. We get seated in one of them and roll comfortably towards the archeological site.

It’s a long walk alongside stalls with terracotta merchandise and snacks that leads up to the actual museum. We walk up and down (forget to buy the tickets), up again and enter the museum with the three excavation sites. Our first amazement is not caused by the ancient warriors but by a modern marionette terracotta warrior and a little girl on display in one of the buildings. The warrior is about twenty feet high and looks truly magnificent. But he is not the real thing. The real warriors have their oldness, and that is what visitors are looking for. Soon, our wish to feel in touch with the ancient world and communicate through centuries and dynasties, comes true. They are still working on site #2, and they haven’t unearthed many warriors yet, let alone placed them back, so we observe the site with a detached pseudo-scientific eye. At site #1 we come to see the real thing: this is what is must have looked like two millenia ago, when the Emperor started this preposterous attempt to live on beyond posterity. Rows of terracotta warriors with between them empty spaces once containing their glorious chariots, that are now painstakingly reconstructed from splinters. The marching stone army looks so magnificent, even in the artificial excavation light and neutralized under the gaze of hundreds of tourists.
It was nice.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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