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All photos by Reem Saad

A new art exhibit that includes 2,000-year old pieces from China’s renowned Terracotta Army opens to the public today at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

The four warriors and horse date back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and are being shown in the Middle East for the first time as part of a Treasures of China exhibition.

Treasures of China Exhibition

Reem Saad / Doha News

Treasures of China Exhibition

The entire exhibit spans 5,000 years of Chinese history and features 116 pieces of bronze, pottery, gold, silver, jade and enamelware borrowed from five museums in China.

It is one of a number of events organized as part of the ongoing Qatar-China Year of Culture.

Protection

Visitors to the MIA will be taken on a three-part journey, starting with the Neolithic period, in the section The birth of civilization, ceremonies and kingdoms.

This features around a dozen pieces of bronze ware such as jugs and other drinking vessels, many of which are intricately engraved with animal figures and which date back 3,000 years.

They are on loan from the Palace Museum Collection in Beijing.

The warriors – two of which are outside of China for the first time – are at the heart of the second section, Splendid unification, prosperity and the Silk Road.

The largest of the figures is a general, who stands at the center of the exhibit. His high-shaped headgear, imposing stature and armor denote his rank in the army.

Treasures of China Exhibition

Reem Saad / Doha News

Treasures of China Exhibition

He is flanked by two other standing warriors, who have traveled outside of Qatar for the first time.

There is also a horse and a kneeling archer figure.

The sculptures are among thousands of pieces that once furnished the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, in the belief that they would protect him in the afterlife.

The pieces lay undiscovered for thousands of years until some farmers unearthed them in 1974.

So far, at least 8,000 pieces have been uncovered across three pits – the largest of which is equivalent to 50 basketball courts in size – next to the emperor’s mausoleum near Xi’an in central China.

Pit 1 of the warriors near Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum

Wikipedia

Pit 1 of the warriors near Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum

The entire collection includes soldiers of varying ranks, chariots and horses.

Each piece was painstakingly modeled on real people or animals to portray life-like size, facial expressions, clothing, gestures and hairstyles. No two pieces are the same.

When first made, they would have been vividly painted in bright colors.

However, they have now faded to a reddish-brown terracotta color, said Xu He, curator of Art Exhibitions China, which put together the MIA collection.

Islamic influences

Throughout the exhibition, there are a number of pieces that reflect the connection between the Middle East, Islamic art and Chinese craftsmanship.

Treasures of China Exhibition

Reem Saad / Doha News

Treasures of China Exhibition

For example, a large, tri-colored pottery camel from the Tang dynasy (618-907 CE) portrays the means of land travel for those in the early days of the Silk Road.

The third and final section Porcelain, Imperial China and the Royal Arts features artifacts up to the early 20th Century.

It includes a plate and a ceramic box with lid from the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1684 CE) which are adorned with blue-painted Arabic calligraphy.

Treasures of China Exhibition

Reem Saad

Treasures of China Exhibition

Other highlights include more contemporary pieces from the Qing dynasty up to the early 20th Century such as a detailed, enameled incense burner and an engraved jade brush pot.

The final item in the exhibition is a yellow plate that would have been used by an Empress for birthday celebrations, Xu said.

It features circle patterns detailed in gold to bring the user long-life, while also including a repeated bat pattern.

“The Chinese pronunciation of bat is the same as that for the word which means ‘luck,’ so it was designed to bring good fortune for the user,” Xu added.

Cultural exchange

Launching the exhibition yesterday, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmood, acting CEO at Qatar Museums, said in a statement:

“Whilst Qatar and China are two countries that may be far apart, they have more in common than visitors realize, including shared values based on education, hospitality and cultural curiosity, strong economic ties and positive diplomatic relations that date back to the 1980s.”

Later in the year, a number of educational events will be held in conjunction with the latest MIA exhibition.

Treasures of China Exhibition

Reem Saad / Doha News

Treasures of China Exhibition

This will include a four-part workshop, where children can make clay sculptures inspired by the exhibition and the warriors, QM said.

The MIA exhibition follows the success of two previous events held earlier this year to mark the year of culture – Silks from the Silk Road, which was held at Katara and What about the Art? which was at Al Riwaq.

Treasures of China is on display at MIA’s special exhibitions gallery on the ground floor and is free to enter. It runs until Jan. 7, 2017.

Thoughts?

terracotta warriors

Hans Splinter / Flickr

Two terracotta warriors at a previous exhibition in Holland

Qatar residents will be able to see pieces from China’s famous Terracotta Army this fall when a temporary exhibition, Treasures of China, opens at the Museum of Islamic Art.

The terracotta warriors – who once furnished the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor – will be among the major attractions at the exhibition, which opens Sept. 7.

It will also feature pottery, bronze sculptures, gold and silver jewels and enamel work, all spanning 5,000 years of Chinese history.

The objects are being put on show in Doha as part of the Qatar-China Year of Culture, and Qatar is also fulfilling its side of the cultural exchange by sending its Pearls: Jewels from the Sea exhibition to Beijing’s National Museum of China from Sept. 27.

The Pearls exhibition has traveled to London, Sao Paulo and Istanbul during past years of culture.

Treasures of China is just one of six shows being lined up by Qatar Museums (QM) in Doha during the rest this year.

Here’s what else QM has in store:

Qatari and Chinese photography

Another event being held to mark the Qatar-China year of culture is an exhibition of images taken by photographers from the two countries.

Two groups from Doha and Zhejiang province in China recently held an exchange program, and the resulting photos – which will show “real people in their natural environments” according to QM – will be on display at the QM Gallery in Katara Cultural Village in October, and then in Zhejiang in November.

Red/Red at Mathaf

Across town at the Arab Museum of Modern Art (Mathaf), Turkish artist Aslı Çavuşoğlu’s installation Red/Red will be on show from next week.

The MATHAF project space

Qatar Museums

The MATHAF project space

The work, which will be on display at the museum’s Modern Art Project Space until September, is comprised of 17 pieces, including handmade notebooks of drawings and paintings made with red pigments from Armenia and Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu will give a public talk about her work on May 22, when the exhibition opens. It will run until Sept. 11.

Fire station gallery

At the beginning of June, the first nine-month Artist in Residence program at the Fire Station will draw to a close, and QM is marking the occasion with an exhibition.

'Sand Rug' by Emelina Soares at Fire Station

Lesley Walker / Doha News

‘Sand Rug’ by Emelina Soares at Fire Station

Last September, 18 people began their placements as the first artists in residence at the former Civil Defense building in Wadi Al Sail.

The exhibition showcasing work they have produced during the year will open at the center’s ‘Garage Gallery” on June 2 and will remain on display until the end of December.

Iraqi artists

In October, 350 works by the Iraqi artist Dia Al-Azzawi will go on display at both Mathaf and at the Al Riwaq gallery near the Museum of Islamic Art.

The exhibition will be split between the two sites. According to QM, one site will focus on the relationship between image and text in Azzawi’s work, and the other will chart his engagement with key moments in the political history of Iraq and the Arab world.

The exhibitions will open on Oct. 16 at Mathaf and Oct. 17 at Al Riwaq.

Majnun Layla (Temptation), Dia Azzawi

Qatar Museums

Majnun Layla (Temptation), Dia Azzawi

Following Al-Azzawi’s exhibition and also with an Iraqi theme, Fragments, an exhibition by Iraqi-Canadian artist Mahmoud Obaidi, will open at the QM Gallery in Katara on Oct. 18.

In this exhibition, Obaidi will examine the “organised chaos” that led to the destruction of Iraq, QM said in a statement:

“In his work Obaidi recreates what has been stolen or destroyed to try to piece the city back together again. The exhibition shows how Obaidi is grappling with the destruction of an 8,000-year-old civilisation, which has been laid to waste in less than a fraction of that time.”

Do you plan to check out any of the exhibitions? Thoughts?

All photos by Baba Tamim

The Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture kicked off at Katara Cultural Village yesterday with a wide range of acrobatic, dancing and singing performances.

The ceremonial event was attended by several officials, including Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr. Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari, Chinese Minister of Culture Luo Shugang and Chinese ambassador to Qatar Li Chen.

Speaking at last night’s event, Al Kuwari said:

“It is necessary to restore the glory of communication between the two civilizations and spread mutual knowledge and understanding between the magnificent cultures of Qatar and China with their multiple identities.”

His Chinese counter-part Luo Shugang added, “This Year of Culture will have more than 30 exciting cultural events including art shows, exhibitions, film and TV program screenings, photography showcase, book fairs, sporting events and symposiums.”

Honoring home

Last night’s Jiang’nan style show was performed by the Zhejiang Song & Dance Theater and Zhejiang Folk Art & Acrobatics General Troupe.

The audience consisted of a mixed crowd of expats from China and other nations, as well as Qataris. Speaking to Doha News, many expressed pride and nostalgia after watching the show.

Qatar China Year of Culture 2016

Baba Tamim

Qatar China Year of Culture 2016

Chinese expat June, an entrepreneur, said:

“We felt like (we were at) home today. We are proud of China, we have been living here from four years but never saw anything like tonight. We hope to see more such shows organized here.”

Speaking after the event, a QM representative told Doha News, “It’s hard work to represent two countries, two different cultures together, though we managed it well and I am happy to see that.”

Line-up

Sunday night’s festivities were among the first in a series of scheduled events scheduled to take place throughout the year.

They include a showcase of contemporary Chinese artists, titled “What about the Art?” at Al Riwaq.

It will be curated by New York-based Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang, who exhibited a solo show in Qatar at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in 2011.

Gunpowder exhibit at Mathaf by Cai Guo Qiang

Alexander Cheek/Flickr

Gunpowder exhibit at Mathaf by Cai Guo Qiang

Other confirmed events include an exhibition titled, “Silks from the Silk Road – Chinese Silk Art” at the Qatar Museum Gallery at Katara.

Meanwhile, China will host several activities focused on Qatar’s heritage, culture and arts including performances by Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the state news agency added.

Speaking at a press conference last week to officially announce the Qatar-China Year of Culture, Chinese ambassador Li Chen said the initiative is a way of boosting ties between the two countries.

Qatar-China relations

EmergingEquity.org

Qatar-China relations

Highlighting the November 2014 trip by Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Li told Doha News that relations between Qatar and China are already “comprehensive.”

However, the Year of Culture will help expand those bonds beyond politicians and diplomats to all residents.

“The friendship of our two countries will lie in the hands of our two people,” the ambassador said.

He said did not know the exact number of Chinese citizens living in Qatar except that it was in the “thousands” and could exceed 10,000 individuals.

Thoughts?