The XVI century Basilica dello Spirito Santo, right in the heart of Naples’ historic center, will host, until January 28,  an exhibition with reproductions of the famous Chinese Terracotta Army, considered the eighth wonder of the world.

The Terracotta Army was buried in the soil of Xian, in East China, and its accidental finding was one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The exhibition, entitled ‘L’Esercito di Terracotta e il primo imperatore della Cina‘ (The Terracotta Army and the First Emperor of China), is a spectacular taste of the famous statuary group of over 8,000 statues guarding the mausoleum of Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi; and it brings to Naples 300 reproductions of statues: more than 170 life-size soldiers, wagons, weapons and other objects that allow visitors to lose themselves in the daily life in ancient China. It is one of the most complete expositions concerning the necropolis, the life of the first emperor and the army itself. To create the statues, craftsmen in the Xian area used unique original casts applying techniques hat have been passed down from generation to generation.

Naples has been chosen as first Italian city to host the Terracotta Army because of many cultural affinities, such as importance given to the worship of the dead and to life beyond death, and the fact that like the Terracotta Army, the wonders of Herculaneum and Pompeii were accidentally discovered by a farmer. The spectacular appearance of the statues is exalted by the beauty of the basilica, chosen because it reminds of the sacredness of the Mausoleum that hosts the Army in China –  and also by the carefully installed lighting paired with the screening of custom-made videos. The imposing Chinese Army seems to advance in the aisle of the basilica. The richness of every detail reproduced is even more striking in the last section, the one illustrating part of  a stretch of Pit 1 of the tomb. The sculptures of officers, archers, wagons, and horses have even a hint of color that recalls their original appearance. As mentioned, farmer Yang Zhifa, now considered Chinese national hero, found this immense heritage in 1974. After serving the army, Yang turned to farming. Digging for a well in the countryside around Xian, his hoe touched something hard: the head of one of a terracotta warrior, which turned out to be the biggest archaeological discovery in Chinese history.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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