The ancient army that's still growing

By Zhao Xu and Lu Hongyan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-10-22 07:48:30

The ancient army that's still growing

Warriors in Pit 1 at the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum Museum in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. After 40 years of careful and extensive excavation, archaelogists are still discovering new figures, and more facts about one of China's premier historical sites are coming to light. [Photo by Lin Mingfang/Xinhua]

The ancient army that's still growing

Dressing of the Qin Terracotta Warriors 

The ancient army that's still growing

How to make a replica terracotta warrior 

The ancient army that's still growing

Colorful Qin Terracotta Figures exhibition in Xi'an 

As China celebrates 40 years since the Terracotta Warriors were unearthed, recent developments have deepened the mystique, as Zhao Xu and Lu Hongyan report from Xi'an.

In the eyes of Gang Gang, a 13-year-old with autism from the northwestern Chinese city of Xi'an, his hometown's most recognized symbols, the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) army, aren't just the monochrome sandy yellow figures visible to most observers.

"He stared at what lay in front of his eyes in a way a 3-year-old would at a new toy. That lasted a few seconds, before he ran forward, pressed himself against the railing that separated him from the soldiers in the pit and stretched out an arm," said Ma Lingzhi, a museum guide who watched the youngster's first encounter with the 2,000-year-old clay-based figures.

"He didn't say much, but he must have a miraculous vision of his muted dolls," she said. "When asked to paint a soldier at the end of the tour, he painted a figure in a rainbow of colors on the sheet of paper."

Gang Gang was among 169 students from a local special needs school who toured the World Heritage site on Oct 15. "The accompanying parents were overwhelmed by the kids' excitement. That's something they rarely see," Ma said.

"In the case of that child, what he conjured up is actually not so far from the reality," the 40-year-old added in reference to the fact that the famous martial figures were originally covered by layers of dazzling colors.

"It sounds unbelievable, but when one's life path intersects with that of the warriors, something unexpected is destined to happen," Ma said.

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