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“Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors” Exhibition and the Artist Interpretation

The opening ceremony for Sydney’s 19th Chinese Lunar New Year celebration was held on the 13th of February, 2015. Illuminating the grounds that night were ninety “Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors” set against the magnificent backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, creating a marvelous and colourful display in the celebration of the Chinese New Year. The designer for the “Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors”, Mr. Xia Nan, was invited by the China Cultural Centre in Sydney the following day to give a presentation to an audience of more than 60 people, sharing the stories behind his creative process.

Beginning with the history behind traditional Chinese lanterns, Mr. Xia Nan explained the various types of lanterns, their geographical distribution and method of craftsmanship, as well as the interpretation of cultural symbols and meaning behind distinct Chinese lanterns.

By means of a video clip, he also expounded on the creation and production process, listing features and characteristics of the lantern and providing his audience with specific details about the exhibition tour. 

According to Mr. Xia Nan, the Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors were originally designed for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Their creation was inspired by “Coloured Lantern-Making” and the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, thereby fusing together Chinese national cultural heritage (lantern-making) with the Terracotta Warriors, serving as a strong representation of Chinese culture as a whole. The heads and facial expressions of Mr. Xia Nan’s lanterns, in particular, were painstakingly duplicated from the original Terracotta Warriors by means of employing sculptural techniques such as molding. Additionally, in order to allow his audience to feel a greater sense of meaning and unity, the exhibition also incorporates figures of children and pregnant women (where children represent the inheritance of Chinese culture, and pregnancy signifies hopeful expectation for the future).

Following the lecture, the audience thanked the designer for sharing his stories behind the exhibit’s creation. Significant interest was also shown in the promotional t-shirt for the exhibition, and a number of audience members even brought along specially-prepared booklets with Chinese characters inscribed on them in order to obtain autographs.

The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors have previously been only displayed in China and the United Kingdom, and are now visiting Australia as part of the Chinese New Year Festival celebration in Sydney, coinciding with another exhibition in Helsinki, Finland. 

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