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Imperial Terra Cotta Army as Friendship Ambassador

The 2,000-year-old terra-cotta army, which once guarded the tomb of China's first emperor, has been acting as a friendly ambassador between China and foreign countries.

Historian Tian Jing with the Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Museum said that the terra-cotta army of Qinshihuang, or the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (211BC-207BC), has become the most welcomed "army" in the world.

The terra-cotta warriors and their horses were unearthed in 1974 within the mausoleum of the first emperor in Chinese history. Since, the figures have visited more than 30 countries and regions with more than 20 million people having had a glimpse of the past imperial glory, Tian said.

At the same time, the terra-cotta museum built on the site of the emperor's tomb pit in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, have received more than 50 million visitors since it was opened 25 years ago on Oct. 1, 1979. The museum, now a World Heritage Site, has attracted 130-odd foreign leaders.

"The diversified expressions of the terra-cotta warriors and horses are where their unique charm lies," said Tian.

The construction of the imperial mausoleum began long before Qinshihuang united China and was not yet completed when his empire collapsed. The building project lasted for more than 40 years.

Wu Yongqi, curator of the terra-cotta museum, said that the museum has become a way for foreigners to understand Chinese culture and history.

The curator, who serves as a guide to foreign leaders to the museum, said that he feels lucky to have the chance to work side by side with the terra-cotta warriors and steeds and make them known to state leaders from all over the world.

(Xinhua News Agency October 2, 2004)

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