Thursday, March 5, 2009

Glimpses of the Terra Cotta Soldiers

Even though we love Europe - here's a travel secret I hold. My ultimate dream destination is not even in Europe, it is China. I don't know why I hold tight to the Asian adventure, but I hope one day Kirk and I will make it there.

Actually I think I might know why China... When I was young my Meme and Apa traveled to China together. It made the travel seem real, attainable, and fabulous. I loved seeing photos of them at the Great Wall. I remember Meme teaching me about Buddhism and seeing images of them standing in front of the large statues. You could tell they were so happy to be there together. They brought back these 2 small elephants made of shiny cut glass. I was fascinated with the elephant figures. Maybe that is when my China thoughts began.

When we do go to China (which probably won't be til we are grandparents ourselves!) one of my must-see stops is to see the Terra Cotta Soldies of Xi'an. The army of 3,000 intricate sculptures was formed as a type of burial art to help emperor rule in his afterlife. This is what the XI'an site looks like over in China (the 3 photos below are from China from the internet, the rest are mine from Belgium):

Each figure is like a snowflake. Each one is different from the next and a master work of art. Astounding.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that several of these warrior soldiers were traveling through Belgium! I was excited to go see what I could see. Karen and Brady agreed to come with us. So the 4 of us headed 90 minutes down the road to Maaseik, Belgium. I really wish I knew why this tiny rural town was the chosen site for the exhibit. It was a tiny town square in the middle of acres of farmland.

We rolled up with our strollers and this is what we saw:

The narrow street in the middle of nowhere was overflowing with senior citizens waiting to get in! As Karen noted, we brought down the median age of the group by 50 years. We knitted ourselves and our strollers through the masses and made it in to see the soldiers. We got plenty of, "Are you crazy? What are you doing here with toddlers?!?" looks, but we persevered and got our glimpses. There were 14 warriors and herds of animals.

We did have to speed through the exhibit because it was clear as we were packed in like sardines that lingering with loud and active children would not work out. That was ok though, I was still tickled to see the warriors. It was more about what those figures represented than the actual sight. Connor and Brady were sports. They enjoyed the animals and Brady even learned how to "kneel" like a warrior! So adorable.

After we scooted out with our terra cotta toy replicas in hand, we took the kids to a cafe for lunch. We examined the menu before we went in to make sure it was "kid suitable" and tried to translate the Dutch. We thought it was a pizza place (circular items illustrated sure looked like pizza pies), but come to find out when we sat down it was actually a pancake house. Clearly our Dutch needs some help! But we had a "pizza pancake" and that fit the bill.

Even if it made for a long trip for only 20 minutes of viewing, it was a memorable day for me. And I hope also memorable for the kids. Maybe all this carting around will help make learning come even more alive. At least until we make it to China for real one day!

1 comment:

Dallas said...

Cool. I had thought about going to see that. There were a few of the soldiers on exhibit in Atlanta right before I left, but didn't get around to seeing it.