Monday, 25 October 2010

Panda diplomacy comes to Stockholm in terracotta splendour

Stockholm this winter

Despite the cold weather and other complaints about Stockholm there is at least one reason to visit this winter if China is not on your itinerary.

Before leaving for Stockholm I searched for tourist things to do just to ensure I got a feel of the city and there is quite a lot to see in Stockholm on a good day with the strength and will.

However, I came upon a once in a lifetime opportunity present in Stockholm and running until the 16th of January 2011, exhibits from the Chinese Qin and Han dynasties including part of the terracotta army and recently excavated findings.

Unfortunately for everything else Swedish, they all had to take second-place for this unique event – at least my thinking was that everything about Stockholm will still be here but this was too transient to miss.

Secret tunnels of unveiled statues

The exhibition [1] was in a cavern of tunnels under the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities; the cavern was built by the navy in the 1940s and had heretofore been secret and not accessible to the public until these exhibits presented a unique opportunity for opening up the place and setting for displaying the exhibits.

After breakfast, well brunch, we got to the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities and there was a long queue in place that seemed immobile for a while and then people were let in in batches, we thankfully fell in the last batch before we got frozen in the cold.

As we walked in we caught a glimpse of the first statues of the full-size army and we just taken by the human likeness, the size and the intricate work that had gone into the creation of the heads, the tunics, the hands, the stances and the sheer numbers back in China.

A feat almost beyond belief

One could only imagine the project management that went into the mass production of this army in buried along with the 1st Qin Emperor and then probably the understanding of scale and cost that informed the miniature army created for the tomb of the 4th emperor of the Han dynasty that succeeded the Qin dynasty and empire.

Along with all the exhibits that included weapons, farm animals, weights and measures this was quite well curated and gave a sense of Chinese history with the persuasion to visit China itself.

Until then, this the foretaste that gives China the historical footing literally at par with the wonders of Egyptian pyramids not to talk of the lucrative returns of panda diplomacy [2] offered as cultural exchange – it would be well attended and the catalogue does not come cheap either.

I took a few pictures of the exhibition – see the slideshow here.


[1] Östasiatiska museet - Exhibitions » Future Exhibitions

[2] Panda diplomacy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia