Sunday, January 16, 2011

A lesson in chinese history...

Last Friday, after saying goodbye to my gorgeous Leonard (ooooh I miss him already), Louise and I went to see the Terracotta Warriors display at the NSW Art Gallery.

It was amazing!

Incase you're like the me of early 2010 and haven't actually heard about these warriors let me fill you in. (oh side-story: I first learned about the terracotta warriors from book 8 of my favourite children's series 'the 39 Clues' - I highly recommend this series for kids aged 8-12... and if you happen to be a Yr 3-6 teacher who needs a unit on book 1, I wrote a really good one as one of my post-grad assignments and have used it with my class the past 2 years which I would love to share. Ok back to the Kaye version Chinese history).

In 1974 some Chinese farmers were digging in their field when they came across some pottery. On further investigation it was discovered that there were pottery soldiers buried deep in the earth beneath their field, actually beneath 50 square kms of field.
36 years on and heaps of digging later (not by the farmers, I think some official people have taken over), THOUSANDS (like over 8000) of these terracotta soldiers have been discovered. They were arranged in battle formation and EVERY SINGLE ONE IS UNIQUE! There are horses and generals and archers and officers and musicians and swordsmen and everything. They are full size human height (probably even taller actually) and so detailed (believe me, I've seen some). AND they are still finding new things all the time!

Why are there so many fake soldiers buried under the ground, you ask? Well, don't worry, I can tell you that too! (Oh I get so excited about things like this... and cicadas) Back in the day, like a few hundred years BC, there was a guy called Qin who, from the age of 13, was the King of a state of China, but then he became more and more powerful until he was pretty much in charge of the whole if China... which made him the First Emperor of China. He wasn't a very nice guy, but seemed to know how to get things done. He was super afraid of death, so from the time he was young he had his minions (I mean hundreds of thousands of people) create these one-of-a-kind soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Wow!

You should probably google it, because there are alot of details I've missed. OH! really cool detail - this guy Qin died while he was on a trip around his country, but his officials with him were afraid there would be some sort of uprising against them, so they kept sending out official proclamations after he died...and ordered a cart of rotting fish to travel with the party so no-one would notice the smell of the decaying Emperor. He was buried 2 MONTHS later. Gross.

Currently there are 8 of these warriors on show in Sydney, along with 120 artefacts from ancient China. Louise and I were amazed, we spent at least 2 hours looking at the things on display in awe! The detail was probably the thing that got me! Everything - cauldrons, kettles, bells, jewellry, roof tiles, axle ornaments.... (I can't believe that they had already invented all these things way back then! I mean seriously what have we done in the last 2000 years?!)...all of it was SO ornately decorated, obviously the product of meticulous craftsmanship. I can't imagine anyone having the patience to craft those kinds of things from bronze (also I don't know where you would pick up some bronze if you were going to have a go... I guess it's probably something I don't really need to know) these days. Our society is so in the moment, if it can't be done in 5 minutes it's almost not worth doing.

The other thing that struck me was how sad this guy's life must have been, he spent so much of his life preparing for and fearing death. I guess when you take over other kingdoms and force your way to the top, there is going to be a slight chance that people may not be feeling kindness towards you... i would probably be fearing death too in that situation (actually I have significant doubts that I will ever find my self in that situation). It mkes me sad to think of the years and lives (people died carrying out the orders of the Emperor) and resources he used preparing for his death. Am I any better? Am I making the most of my time here on Earth? Or just working towards things that won't matter in the end?

Well, blogging-world, thus endeth the history lesson for the night. I hope you learnt something new... I so love learning these days, this world is seriously amazing, must be some incredible mind behind it all.

Stay tuned for more history with kaye... bahahahaha

PS My class is going to start a blog this term. It should be fun/funny.
PPS I miss my small friend Leonard :-(
PPPS My small friend Morgan learnt to crawl today. Oh my boys are amazing!


Mindy said...

The whole Terracotta Warriors exhibit sounds very interesting! I wonder (and hope) if it will come to Seattle, ever.

Enjoy the blog with your kiddos...that will be entertaining, to say the least! :)

Kaye said...

Oh it so is! I hope you get the chance to see it!