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First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors are on the move to Liverpool

6 years ago

First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors are on the move to Liverpool

It’s just a matter of weeks until the much anticipated Terracotta Warriors are unveiled in the city.

This blockbuster Terracotta Warriors exhibition, opening at the World Museum on 9th February 2018,  tells the story of the formative years of the Chinese nation, from the pre-unification Qin Kings, to China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang’s rise to power and the legacy of his achievements in the succeeding Han Dynasty. Seriously, you need to hear the story behind these historic statues.

Visitors will come face to face with extraordinary Terracotta Warriors, including a life-size terracotta horse, as well as other exquisite objects from the Emperor’s vast burial complex. Objects from the Han Dynasty will explore ancient Chinese lifestyle, the economic prosperity of the empire and beautifully crafted artefacts from royal burials.

Conservators from National Museums Liverpool and the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau check the condition of a more than 2,000 year old terracotta cavalry horse in China, prior to making the 5,000 mile journey to Liverpool for China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at World Museum. Picture Credit: © Mr. Ziyu Qiu.

Spanning almost 1,000 years, this must-see exhibition sheds light on the early years of the Chinese nation, spanning from the 8thcentury BC to the rise of the Qin State to peace and prosperity in the Han Dynasty 220 AD. Shaanxi Province in North West China was home to the First Emperor and his ancestors.

Archaeologists working near Xi’an, the ancient capital of China, have uncovered three large pits of life-sized Terracotta Warriors over the last 40 years, each with their own individual clothing, hair and facial features, along with horses and war chariots.

The pits were found to the east of the Emperor’s mausoleum, an area which at 56 square kilometres is the biggest known burial site on earth. The mausoleum itself remains unopened, but it is estimated there are around 8,000 figures in total, most of which are still to be excavated.

Remarkable new discoveries are continually coming to light, which indicate that Emperor Qin Shi Huang wished to take the entire universe into the afterlife. The scale and lavishness of his burial site and the mystery of the Emperor’s mausoleum forms a major component of the exhibition.


Lighter, faster and more efficient than horse-drawn chariots in battle, cavalry horses formed an essential military force for the First Emperor to take with him into the afterlife. Believed to be one of more than 500 horses from the vast burial ground, it is a representation of extraordinary power and nobility. Picture Credit: © Mr. Ziyu Qiu.

David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “This is a tremendous coup, not just for Liverpool, but for the whole of the UK. As home to one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe, Liverpool is absolutely the right place for this exhibition, and we are hugely excited to be working with our museum colleagues in China to bring a collection of Warriors, and many other significant historical discoveries to the UK.

“The Terracotta Warriors have found incredible fame around the world since they were discovered by chance in 1974, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them in Liverpool. We thank our partners in this endeavour, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. I urge everyone to attend this ‘must see’ show, the highlight of Liverpool’s 10th anniversary celebrations as European Capital of Culture in 2018.”



Dr. James Lin, from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, has been appointed by National Museums Liverpool as the exhibition’s guest curator. Dr. Lin is an expert in early Chinese material culture, including bronzes and jades.

Dr. Lin, said: “The tradition of burial practice was continued by the Emperor’s successors in the later Han Dynasty, who constructed vast underground chambers and passageways filled with food and drink, as well as animals and clay servants, examples of which will be included in the exhibition; everything the Emperors would need to ensure they enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle for eternity in their underground palaces. China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors promises to be an extraordinary exhibition, exploring this fascinating pursuit of immortality.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting programme of activities for schools and a public events programme throughout the duration of its eight-month run. The exhibition is organised by National Museums Liverpool, United Kingdom and the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau and Shaanxi History Museum (Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre), People’s Republic of China.

Tickets are priced from £14.50 for adults and £5.50 for children aged between 6 and 17 years. Children aged 5 years and under go free and there are a number of additional concessions. National Museums Liverpool members get free unlimited access to the exhibition. Further details of prices and how to book tickets can be found at



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