Saturday, June 14, 2008

China Day 15: We Go to the Movies

June 14, 2008

Our second stop was a movie theater with 360-degree surrounding screens showing a historical movie about the first Emperor. It was about 20 minutes long and was pretty good! They alternate a showing with the narration in English followed by one with the narration in Chinese. There were no seats in the theater, but they had installed short sections of railings that the more tired or elderly could lean against while they watched.

The theater is in the same building with a gift shop - surprise! Fred recommends that if we plan to purchase our own terra cotta warrior statues we buy them here. He says the museum's ones are made of the same authentic terra cotta as the originals are, and they are kiln fired so they are sturdy. I paid $55 US for my set of five (including a horse). Outside, the free-lance vendors circulate, asking about 10 yuan ($1.30) for a set of five including a horse. Fred says these are made of inferior terra cotta in some farmer's back yard, and are impropery fired so they are fragile and covered with black schmutz that gets on your hands every time you handle them. I bought a bunch of these too as gifts for friends; they really weren't too bad but by that time it was too late to give back the pricey ones. You live and learn, she says philosophically.

Dad picked up a very informative book with clear close-up photos of the warriors. Then he paid a few bucks and got his book signed: off in the corner of the gift store near the register was an old peasant man hiding his face behind a fan. He is one of the original well-diggers who stumbled upon this site; the Chinese government pays him a stipend to sit in the shop and sign books! (He hides behind the fan because he doesn't like getting his picture taken.) Mark says he's illiterate, but his calligraphy signature is beautiful because he's had so much practice. Mark also said it was worth it to have the man sign your book because "that guy just getting older and older!"

I told Dad he needed to buy the full-scale terra cotta horse for his back garden and the 18-inch kneeling archer for his fireplace hearth. Dad never listens to me, never!

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