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In an amazingly beautifully lit display, 10 terracotta figures stare back at us out of the dark from thousands and thousands of years ago when they were colorful and part of an elaborate quest for immortality. The First Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors are on display at the Asian Art Museum along with dozens of other objects from the reign of this mysterious leader who standardized measurements and writing, burned critical scholars and united China.
Standing in the second hall of the display looking at elaborate bronze steamers, intricate ceremonial wine holders, imperial coins and architectural reinforcements I wondered about evolution. Three thousand years ago there were some pretty smart people around, people with advanced sense of aesthetics, mechanics, metallurgy, spirituality, state craft, ceremony, and people management. I was taught in school that the distant past was barbaric. Standing at the display I felt small and humble and thought about how I would describe our current culture, it’s seeming dismissal of aesthetics and how many of us continue to share the First Emperor’s fascination with immortality.
The hours of the Museum are Tuesdays-Sundays 10 am to 5 pm, and Thursdays 10 am to 9 pm. The Terracotta Warriors will be on display through May 27, 2013.