Terracotta figures in Xi'an suffer slight damage

By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-29 13:24

XI'AN: Seven terracotta warriors and horses suffered slight damage in the May 12 earthquake, the Shaanxi provincial administration of heritage has said.

Altogether, 56 heritage sites and 41 relics suffered damage of different degrees. But "fortunately, no immovable heritage or conservation facility was destroyed," Guo Xianzeng, deputy director of the administration, said.

The heads of two warriors in pit No 1 have loosened and cracks have appeared in five warriors and horses in pits 2 and 3, said Wu Yongqi, director of the terracotta museum in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

Authorities evacuated all visitors from the museum and closed it for a day after the quake struck to check for damage to the relics and the museum buildings.

"The buildings are strong The museum is now open to the public, and the slightly damaged relics are being repaired," Wu said.

The Xi'an museum was built in 1975 to house the terracotta warriors and horses after a farmer accidentally stumbled upon the historical treasure a year before.

The terracotta warriors and horses were built to guard the soul of China's first emperor Qinshihuang (259-210 BC). Shaanxi was the center of political activities for 13 dynasties that lasted more than 1,000 years, and hence has a large number of ancient buildings, tombs and ruins some of which were damaged in the quake.

The Dayan Pagoda, another famous edifice in the province, in the southern suburbs of Xi'an has suffered cracks, said Lu Guanlu, director of Shaanxi provincial surveying and mapping bureau. The 64-m tall structure built in AD 652 has shifted 0.62 mm from its original base, too.

"Though the quake has not caused major damage to any heritage site or relic, it has accelerated the deformation of the pagoda. Now there are deformations on the floors," Guo said.

The administration has taken steps to check other relics and historical buildings for damage and has charted long- and short-term plans to repair them. Badly damaged sites will be closed for repair, he said.

(China Daily 05/29/2008 page2)

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