Sunday, February 17, 2019

My most recent artwork: Yi Woman with Basket and Child, Lashi village, Yunnan, China. Pastels on PastelMat paper. #pastel #art #artistsoninstagram #artwork #artworks #artcollective #portraitpainting #portraiture #portraitdrawing #originalart #originalartwork #chinagram #china🇨🇳 #chinatravel #yunnan

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Terracotta Warriors - Bronze Chariots and Weapons

Clay figures were not the only thing present in the pits. Encased in large wooden coffins were two bronze chariots of remarkable state of preservation, discovered in 1980. Both bronze chariots, each led by four bronze horses, are now in on display in the Exhibition Hall. 

Chariot #2
About half life-size, the chariots are thought to be for Emperor Qin as he toured around in the afterlife. Each of the chariots had over 3,000 accessories. The one known as Chariot #2 has separate back and front rows, with the empty back row reserved for the emperor. A replica of both chariots can be seen at the Shaanxi History Musuem in Xi'an.
Over 40,000 bronze weapons were recovered from the pits where the Terracotta Warriors were buried. These were not just simulated weapons, but ones that were fully functional. Weapons included over 37,000 arrowheads,  as well as spears, swords, daggers, crossbows, battle axes, bayonets, and more unique ancient types.  

Despite being over 2,200 years old, the weapons were still sharp. These military-grade state-of-the-art weapons were also never used, indicating that they were made just for the Terracotta army. 
Reconstructed crossbow with mechanism from the burial pit
When studying the crossbow triggers, researchers determined that the parts were very uniform, made in molds and in small batches. Assembly of the standardized, five interlocking parts happened in small workshops – not in large assembly lines. The crossbows are capable of piercing modern armor and kill with a single strike. Read more about the weapons in this article.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Jaisalmer man with pink turban. Rajasthan, India #portraitphotography #bestportraitgallery #humanityshots #life_portraits #desiframes #portrait_perfection #portrait_shots #portraiture #fivestars_people #portrait #portraits_ig #incredibleindiaofficial #india_clicks #indianphotography #indianshutterbugs #incredibleindia #streetsofindia #streetphotographyindia #ig_humanity #jaisalmer #rajasthaniculture #madisonphotographymeetup

Enjoying a bidi on the wall. Jaipur, India #portraitphotography #bestportraitgallery #humanityshots #life_portraits #portrait_perfection #portrait_shots #portraiture #fivestars_people #portrait #portraits_ig #incredibleindiaofficial #desiframes #rajasthaniculture #jaipurlove #india_clicks #indianphotography #indianshutterbugs #incredibleindia #streetsofindia #streetphotographyindia #ig_humanity #madisonphotographymeetup

Smiling elderly Yi woman in the Yunnan village of Lashi #bestportraitphoto #natgeohumanity #humanity_shots #portrait_shots #people_infinity #bestportraitgallery #yunnan #kings_third_age #blackandwhite #travelphotography #china #lijiang #portraitphotography #humanityshots #life_portraits #china🇨🇳 #chinatravel #chinagram #portrait_perfection #natgeoyourshot #fivestars_people #portrait #portraits_ig #ig_humanity #madisonphotographymeetup

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Illuminated Tang-style architecture reflected on the lake within Tang Paradise Park. What a beautiful place to view the Chinese New Year lantern festival! #xian #oldxian #china🇨🇳 #chinatravel #shaanxi #shaanxiprovince #chinagram #visit_shaanxi #chinesenewyear2019 #lanternfestival #architecturephotography #architecture #asiaphotography #nightphotography #reflections #madisonphotographymeetup

#portraitphotography #bestportraitgallery #humanityshots #life_portraits #xian #oldxian #china🇨🇳 #chinatravel #shaanxi #shaanxiprovince #chinagram #visit_shaanxi #portrait_perfection #portrait_shots #chinesenewyear2019 #lanternfestival #calligraphy #portraiture #fivestars_people #portrait #portraits_ig #ig_humanity #madisonphotographymeetup

Terra Cotta Warriors - Other Pits

Although the building of Pit One is by far the largest one in terms of dimension and number of figures, there were two other pits next to Pit One and a few others at the mausoleum site.
Chariot Drivers and horses
Some figures were in an excellent state of preservation. In other sections, only pieces could be found. Pit Three was small, but the high-ranking figures there were particularly well preserved. Of note, this was the only pit that didn't suffer from burning. I especially liked the imprint of the chariot wheel, still present even though the wood has long since been destroyed by fire and/or decay.
Horse and soldier pieces, chariot wheel imprint
More work needs to be done!
Variety of figures in a pit near Mausoleum
Kneeling Archer
Another highlight for me was seeing some of the figures close up. Placed under glass, these displayed sculptures could be viewed 360°. 
Backside of kneeling soldier (detail)
Some of the paint in the back of the soldier was still visible. I was amazed at how the soles of the soldier's shoes were even imprinted with textured patterns. I looked for the artist's signature on this piece and other sculptures but could not find it. 
Color still showing on a fragment
From my art history class, I knew that the warriors and horses were painted. Prior to watching a video, I wasn't aware of how saturated the colors originally were. The photo above shows a slightly muted version of the original colors. Upon excavation, most of any remaining color faded almost immediately. One website said that the lacquer under the pigments oxidized and curled within 15 seconds of exposure to air and peeled off within four minutes! The purple color, known as Han Purple is of particular interest. Known as one of the earliest synthetic colors, it now is being explored in building quantum computers.
Standing Archer

Detail of mid-ranking archer
Detail of beautifully formed hands of a high-ranking officer

Friday, February 01, 2019

Terra Cotta Warriors - Pit One Hospital

Tagged pieces of warriors
As I walked towards the back, the number of intact figures diminished. Some areas were unexcavated. In other areas, tags indicated individual pieces of soldiers.

Amputees with plastic wrap "facials"
In the back was a "hospital" of sorts. Here, one could see figures being restored. Some had plastic wrap over various body parts including the face, which looked like a facial.
Soldiers bound up for reconstruction
Others with more serious reconstruction needs were tightly bound. Virtually all of the standing soldiers had to be reconstructed. Many of the kneeling archers miraculously survived intact, due to their lower to the ground placement and triangular poses.
Horses and figures in reconstruction
Even the horses could be seen in this "hospital" area receiving reconstruction.
Working area
In this area were several rows of desks where workers could so restoration and research. On one desk I saw tiny pieces. What laborious work that must be to make sense of those pieces and recreate accurate figures! I wondered how much it cost to restore an especially damaged figure.

Other Posts on the Terra Cotta Warriors
A Visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum - Part One
Pit One Terra Cotta Warriors (continued)
Terra Cotta Warriors - Other Pits

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Terra Cotta Warriors - Pit One (continued) - Part Two

Middle section with special walkways for restorers. Plenty left to excavate.

Because I was not a VIP, I was not privileged enough to go to special overlooks (these were roped off) or wander amidst the sculptures. Photos were shown of the Clintons, Putin, and Park Geun-Hye (former president of South Korea) standing right next to the warriors. Instead, I had to rely on my camera's zoom to capture views from less-than-ideal vantage points. 

Even from a distance, the detail on the figures who stood about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) was quite impressive. Variations included size (up to 1.97 meters - 6.4 feet), girth (slender to those with a paunch), type (10 types of soldiers), pose (standing and kneeling), hairstyle, clothing, and unique faces. A video I had watched earlier had described how when using facial recognition software, no two faces were alike.

In some areas, gaps were seen behind horses. Wooden chariots were victims of burning and have long since disappeared.
Individual warriors, one with face painting
Although most of the figures have long since lost their color, remnants of color could be seen on some. Both the people and horses were once painted in bright colors.

Other posts on the Terra Cotta Warriors:
A Visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum - Part One
Pit One Hospital
Terra Cotta Warriors - Other Pits

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Visit to the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum - Part One

On the first day of my Chinese New Year break, I decided to go to the famed Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. I had waited to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site in winter, hoping that fewer people would be visiting. Having lived in various Asian countries for nine years, I knew that getting there early would be advantageous. Due to the southerly location of my apartment, I decided to take a DiDi (China's version of Über) directly to the museum. My pre-arranged DiDi driver arrived about 15 minutes early to pick me up, but I didn't complain; it was much better than being late. Daylight had just broken by the time we arrived at the museum, located 53 km from my apartment. Although the ride cost me around $25, it was worth the hassle-free experience and time saved.
Ticket entrance to the Museum

The place was virtually deserted. After about 20 minutes, the ticket lines opened up. I was one of the first in line to pay my 120 RMB ($17.86) ticket. I was ready to see what is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World and the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century.
Pit One ahead. No crowds!
Knowing that the crowds would come, I headed directly to Pit One. By far the largest building at over 14,260 sq meters, Pit One housed over 8,000 warriors, infantry, horses, cavalry, and officers and over 50 chariots.
Overview of Pit One
Arriving early had paid off. I was the first one inside and had it to myself for over five minutes. Standing in front of me were over 2,000 excavated figures to protect the emperor in death. Over 700,000 workers contributed to the building project that took 38 years to complete. (Side note: many of the workers' bodies were found in mass graves within the massive complex).

Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Even though the Qin dynasty was rather short (221-206 BC), it was quite amazing that so much of his legacy lives on. Emperor Qin Shi Huang succeeded in unifying a series of warring states to form the precursor to modern China. Other accomplishments: initiating the Great Wall, standardizing weights and currency, and evolving the written language into contemporary Chinese script. 
Three-line vanguard
Standing at the front was a three-line vanguard of 204 troop members. Imagine how imposing they would have looked with weapons in-hand!