Visiting China’s First Emperor in Times Square

May 15, 2012 Updated: May 16, 2012
Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin
Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, from 210-209 B.C., are on display at the Discovery Museum in Times Square, through Aug. 26. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—The curtain slowly lifts as the last note continues to hum from a video about China’s first emperor in the dark mini-theater of the Discovery Time Square Museum. A life-size, limestone-plated suit of one of the terracotta warriors is revealed.

The audience enters the terracotta exhibition, glimpsing into the mystery of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s afterlife palace. It was not intended for mortal eyes.

The array of artifacts from the emperor’s tomb complex and various tombs of Qin Dynasty noblemen include bronze food steamers, deadly daggers, and a palace drainage pipe. The pipe features intricate designs left from the wrapping used during its manufacture.

“It’s magnificent,” said museum-goer Elaine Barone, from New Jersey, of the exhibit. “It’s amazing how it was discovered not too long ago. There’s so much that’s yet to be discovered.”

Qing Shi Huang Di was famous for his grand, yet baneful feats. He unified China, created the first part of the Great Wall, and buried Confucian scholars alive.

He used art to recreate his palace to take with him after death. His luxurious tomb complex includes 8,000 terracotta warriors, gardens, and swans, along with musicians and acrobats for entertainment.

He was obsessed with immortality, and claimed his empire will rule for 10,000 generations. He might have lived closer to that goal if it weren’t for his obsession with “longevity elixirs” that were often made of mercury. Some believe his longevity medicine was ironically the cause of his death.

Unusually high levels of mercury content were found in the soil near the first emperor’s tomb. According to the exhibition descriptions, the first emperor used mercury to recreate the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers in his afterlife palace model, as well as a pigment for many statues.

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

 

Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin
Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, from 210-209 B.C., are on display at the Discovery Museum in Times Square, through Aug. 26. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

 

Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin
Statues of the terracotta warriors buried with Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, from 210-209 B.C., are on display at the Discovery Museum in Times Square, through Aug. 26. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

 

A drainage pipe used at the palace of China's first emperor to to siphon rainwater from 210-209 B.C.
A drainage pipe used at the palace of China's first emperor to to siphon rainwater from 210-209 B.C. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)