In grade school and high school there was no mention of China in my history classes. We learned about the pharaohs and pyramids of Egypt and the antiquity of Rome. But Asia did not come up. None of us thought to question that.
In modern times China is a major player on the world stage, as the world has become more intertwined in the financial, consumer products, political and sports arenas around the globe. Travel to China has become more accessible in recent years, so Americans have the opportunity to learn more about its culture and history. Those of us who have studied Chinese medicine and/or are involved with Tai Chi, have gained a some knowledge about Chinese philosophy, healing through acupuncture and herbs and balancing Qi (life force energy).
Today we have frequent cultural exchanges, with dance, instrumental and orchestral performance, visual art and with ongoing student exchanges in university degree programs. And sometimes with important exhibitions that need to be shared with the world. That very thing is happening now, in Chicago.
I recently viewed “China’s First Emperor and his Terracotta Warriors” at the Field Museum for the third time. Amazing story about China’s first emperor building thousands of terracotta soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Discovered in the 1970’s by a farmer digging for a well. Thousands have been excavated, plus chariots and horses and birds and swans. Each soldier is 5’11” – 6′ tall. All faces are different. When viewing them close, it looks like they are looking directly at you.
So much more to the story. The scale of this effort and the artistry is overwhelming. I visited the actual site in Xian, China five years ago and felt like I was witnessing one of the major “wonders” of the world. I felt that way again in Chicago.
Thousands of no-name Chinese people, toiled day after day to design and construct these warriors, horses, and other animals. Some died in the process and were buried in the emperor’s pits. Fascinating that these people, who were nobodies, created artistry that would last into perpetuity. We can honor and marvel at their talent these many centuries later.
If you are anywhere close, go see this exhibit. Even if you are not close, think about making a special effort in the next six months to come to Chicago to see it. You will be amazed.