Terracotta Warriors joined by Golden Horse

Photo: Gareth Jones

AS the Grand National Festival gets underway, World Museum Liverpool has unveiled some new additions to the China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition including the Golden Horse of Maoling and other items from China’s Han Dynasty.

The gilded bronze horse is more than two feet tall and is the largest ever found in China. Discovered at Maoling near the Mausoleum of Emperor Wu, the fifth ruler of the Western Han dynasty, it has been suggested that the burial pit in which the horse was found belonged to Princess Pingyang, who was the elder sister of Emperor Wu.

Fiona Philpott, Director of Exhibitions at National Museums Liverpool, said: “The horse became a symbol of power, wealth and status for the Chinese after it was domesticated around 6,000 years ago in central Europe and Asia. They were so precious to the great rulers of ancient China that they were buried with them for the afterlife. Liverpool also has a long equestrian history, playing host to the world renowned Grand National Festival since 1839, so the addition of the Golden Horse to the exhibition this week is very apt. 

“The exhibition is doing extremely well, with a huge number of tickets having been sold already, but there’s still availability before the exhibition closes at the end of October, so people can experience the magic of the Terracotta Warriors and the Golden Horse of Maoling while they’re in Liverpool.”

The slender body of the Golden Horse and its muscles suggest it represents one of the finer breeds of horses Emperor Wu imported from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. These tall and beautiful horses were probably the ancestors of a number of modern breeds which are renowned for their speed, endurance and intelligence. They are famous for their shimmering coats, often golden in colour, which led them to be known as ‘golden horses’. Emperor Wu was obsessed with these strong and swift ‘heavenly horses’ and chose to be buried with them, as he believed they could help him defeat the nomadic tribes of the north and also bring him immortality.

As well as the Golden Horse, the exhibition will also welcome two new items. These include a bronze wine heater adorned with intricate patterns of the four Chinese spiritual creatures, as well as a bronze water clock, one of only five in the world. Alongside other items already on display, such as an incense burner, a bronze lamp and a mortar and pestle, these objects offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of citizens in Han Dynasty 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 www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/terracottawarriors 

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.