Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors

Last weekend it was Chinese New Year and every year there are big celebrations in the centre of Manchester. I’ve seen the dragon parade many times, which is a wonderful combination of drums, colours and teamwork as the Chinese dragon makes its way through Manchester City Centre.

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Red Lanterns covering trees in Albert Square

The Chinese zodiac comprises of 12 different animals and each year alternates between them in a 12 year cycle. As I’m turning twenty-four this year, 2017 is the same animal as the year I was born: the rooster.

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The town hall was lit up red to celebrate Chinese New Year

This year Manchester had an extra feature to its celebrations. The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors is an art installation that was created for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and has been travelling the world ever since. It is inspired by the Terracotta Army, a collection of over 8000 life-size terracotta sculptures in Xi’an, China, created over 2000 years ago. I’d love to visit the Terracotta Army one day, but with a current lack of travel funds and closer proximity, I settled for the Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors in Manchester.

The Lanterns were also life-size, but there are only 40 sculptures. This still felt like quite a lot, so I can’t imagine the scale of the Terracotta Army. The Lanterns’ heads were made of sculptures, but their bodies were made of lanterns. They were different colours, including red, white, blue, yellow, purple and green. Most of the Lanterns were soldiers, but there were also a couple of horses.

I was very impressed by the installation. I chose to see it in the evening once the sun had set, and the multi-coloured lights of the Lanterns were captivating. You were able to walk in between the Lanterns, creating an immersive art experience, enabling me to see the installation from multiple angles and feel part of the lights. There is also something pleasantly symbolic about light and the New Year. Manchester in January is a cold, wet and generally dreary place, but the Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors provided a bright, positive tone to the city. I noticed this in other people looking at the Lanterns, including young children, who delighted in the lights and colours in a way they wouldn’t normally feel on a cold, dark Saturday evening.

Here are some of my best photos (the lights didn’t seem to like selfies):

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Notice the red sculpture on the left is pregnant.

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