Expo to display bronze carts from Qinshihuang mausoleum

Updated: 2010-01-25 17:01
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XI'AN: Two bronze carts from the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the first emperor of a unified China, will be on display at the World Expo in Shanghai this year, more than 2,200 years after they were built.

The Shanghai organizers' plan was still subject to approval by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said Zhu Xuewen, a researcher with Qinshihuang Mausoleum Museum in Xi'an.

"A team from Shanghai have paid a visit to the museum for preparatory work," said Zhu. "We have to make sure the heritage pieces are safe, if they eventually make the trip to Shanghai."

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The two bronze carts, driven by four bronze horses each, were unearthed in 1980 from a sacrificial pit 20 meters from the First Emperor's mausoleum in Lintong County, Shaanxi Province.

They were found in a cortege formation in the pit: the cart in the front had an imperial officer reining the horses from under an umbrella, and the one in the back had two chambers.

The men and horses were about half the size of their real-life models and were believed to be cast before 210 B.C., around the time the mausoleum was built, said Zhu.

The bronze carts were about as old as the terracotta army of archers, infantrymen and charioteers, through which experts believed the emperor had hoped to rule in the afterlife.

But unlike the terracotta figures that had been exhibited across the world in recent years, the bronze carts were not allowed to be taken out of the country, Zhu said.

The first World Expo to be hosted by China is slated for May 1 to October 31. At least 192 countries and 50 international organizations have confirmed their participation in the event that will present the latest advances of architecture and engineering.