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English to Chinese: BIRTH OF AN EMPIRE Detailed field: Other
Source text - English CHINA: BIRTH OF AN EMPIRE
A spectacular exhibition in the Quirinale Palace Stables has amazed and conquered visitors in theatre director Luca Ronconi’s captivating presentation.
An ancient dream has survived down the ages and reached the present day. Exactly as imagined by its conceiver: an army ready to defend him for all eternity. Not warriors in flesh and blood, but endless battalions of clay soldiers faithful long beyond the tomb. Maintaining their battle formation for twenty two centuries, these countless Chinese sentinels still stand proudly indomitable beside their horses and battle-chariots, ready to defend the renown and honour of the first August Emperor of the Qin dynasty.
Discovered buried in the moat and trenches around the mausoleum of Lintong (Xi’an, Shaanxi), situated near the ancient capital of the Chinese Empire, these figures have been the outstanding attraction of the exhibition “China. Birth of an Empire”, in the impressive setting of the old Quirinale Palace stables. Realism and illusion, but above all amazement: finding oneself face to face with these soldiers makes one grasp what it must have been like, thousands of years ago, for dumbfounded travellers coming upon the entire army in full battle formation. An extraordinary sensation, heightened by the lighting and the unusual setting devised by the renowned theatre director Luca Ronconi.
A show within the show. The warriors are life-sized, and were created in order to instil fear and respect in observers, whether in the realm of the living or the dead, and to defend their Emperor, as can be seen from the position of the hands and bodies and the perfect clay replicas of weapons of the age. Each one has its own individual features and characteristics, no two are the same, and all are represented with astonishing realism. Some even have their own lifelike physical defects, like hare-lips, mutilated ears, crooked noses or facial scars.
What makes this exhibition a truly special event is the presence, for the very first time, of statues found in all the different trenches in the vicinity of the First Emperor’s tomb and not only those reserved for his army, thus showing us a general, an archer, a kneeling crossbowman, a cavalry officer with his saddled horse, a group of four draught horses drawing an invisible war chariot driven by charioteer and escorted by two armed soldiers, but also officials, jugglers, stablemen, a stone set of armour with its helmet, and a superb bronze heron which is part of a whole group of exquisitely crafted animals. Beside the statues of domestic animals are more soldiers, both cavalry and infantry.**** A particularly outstanding item is the life-sized jade funerary robe, made of over 4,000 pieces of highest quality white jade of different sizes and thicknesses, sewn together with hundreds of metres of gold thread, whose use was reserved strictly for the highest aristocratic ranks. Worth noting: in China at that time jade was considered to have magic powers and to be capable of preserving a body and making it become immortal. The exhibition consists of over 300 highly refined and striking items, some of which have never left China before, gathered from 14 different Chinese museums. Of outstanding importance and beauty among the ceremonial bronze works are those from Zhuangbai (Fufeng, Shaanxi), part of a treasure-trove found in a 771 BC storehouse containing 103 ritual vases belonging to five generations of a powerful Zhou aristocratic family.**Also for the first time in Italy is the bronze and lacquer work from the tomb of the marquis Yi of Zeng (433BC), a coffin in lacquered wood that contained one of his concubines, and a bronze ‘drum-rest’ in the form of a bird with stag’s horns. There are also many vases in inlaid bronze and glazed ceramic, céladon, lacquerwork and jewellery.
All these extraordinary works, exquisitely executed by anonymous artisans, bear witness to astonishingly high technical levels for the period and give us a glimpse of many aspects of Chinese society 22 centuries ago. A priceless treasure from historical, artistic and archaeological viewpoints, but also from a sociological point of view: they reveal much about that society’s attitudes towards life and the afterlife, and the constant longing for immortality.