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Home » Asia in My Classroom » Qin terracotta warriors labelled a fraud

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5/15/2012 6:36:16 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1663
Subject: French sinologist Jean Levi makes the charge
For nearly 40 years, people around the world have been stunned by the remarkable terracotta warriors prepared to accompany Qin Shihuang into the next life. Jean Levi, a well-known sinologist says they are a fraud, manufactured in the 1970s, not 22 centuries ago.

Read an interview with him at: http://www.parislike.com/EN/happenings/page.php?link=LEVI

I'm not an archaeologist or an art historian, but I find the charge unconvincing. I think the Chinese authorities have made replicas available for display in various settings, but I don't believe the entire enterprise is a fraud. I first saw the warriors in 1982 when photos at the pit were banned and there was only a tiny museum and gift shop. It's certainly become a huge tourist destination (with all the incentives then for exaggeration), but that also means more scrutiny.

Here is the UNESCO site on the terracotta warriors:
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/441

An NHK report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W73GLWEJuQA

Other articles on how the warriors are represented: 2007 German museum caught exhibiting fakes (with Xi'an officials blowing the whistle)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/germans-terracotta-warrior-scam/2007/12/14/1197568252810.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,523341,00.html

And there are plenty of folks ready to sell you replicas:
http://www.terracotta-warriors.com/

Alibaba's more than 150 suppliers:
http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/terracotta-warriors-replica.html
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12/19/2012 5:28:53 AM

cware
cware
Posts: 38
Subject: Qin Terracotta Warriors
I can't believe this to be true. Over time it seems as though the warriors have become more and more a part of student's and teacher's conversations. My students eyes lite up when I show them pictures of the warriors. After telling my students the story behind the warriors it sparks a conversation not only about life after, but also, reality versus something that is far fetched, or costumes and beliefs different cultures have, and sometimes mental illness. Wow, truly hard to believe.
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12/19/2012 10:01:03 PM

rjessel
rjessel
Posts: 54
Subject: French Sinologists
Well, if a well-known French sinologist says it’s a fraud it must be so. Having read some of his interview I find that his arguments are quite plausible, but I know that certain French academics derive gleeful pleasure in poking at someone else’s bubble. It must satisfy some form of one up-man-ship, so common among the more arrogant nations (USA & China included).
Jean Levi must be the latest of a long line of French sinologists. Wikipedia lists 31 of them. In the mid 18th Century Voltaire, who was fascinated with the Orient, wrote a play “the Orphan of China”. At the tail end of the Napoleonic era a chair of Chinese was created at the Collège de France for Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat, one of the first French scholars to teach himself the Chinese language. Séraphin Couvreur was a Jesuit missionary, who, in 1902, created the first widely used phonetic transcription system of Chinese for French (EFEO).
The link below is a nice introduction to French sinology, and contains some mini-biographies of prominent sino-academics, including Edouard Chavannes, one of the earliest translators of the historian Sima Qian in the late 19th Century.

http://www.umass.edu/wsp/sinology/nations/france.html
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1/9/2013 8:17:53 PM

mapodaca
mapodaca
Posts: 36
Subject: Qin Terracotta Warriors
Its hard to believe that it could be a fraud. Everything I have read talks about the wonder and fascination the warriors can cause in people and i have never read anything or any hint that they could be a fraud. From what I read more warriors are still buried there and one of the reasons why they have not all been dug up is that they began to be damaged by the environment. The chinese government stopped trying to get them out until they could figure out a way to unearth the warriors with out damage.
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