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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Terracotta army takes on London
Terracotta warriors
The life-sized army was found by chance
Warriors from Emperor Qin Shihuang's terracotta army will form the focal point of an exhibition about China when it opens in London next month.

Around 20 lifesize figures, including about 12 warriors, will be included in the British Museum's display dedicated to the country's First Emperor.

Alongside the iconic figures will be examples of significant recent finds.

The warriors were rediscovered by chance in 1974 by villagers, and excavation has continued ever since.

Acrobats and musicians

The British Museum said the exhibition features the largest group of important objects relating to the First Emperor ever loaned abroad by the Museum of the Terracotta Army and the Cultural Relics Bureau of Shaanxi Province in Xi'an, China.

The 12 terracotta warrior figures, of differing ranks, were buried alongside the First Emperor in readiness for the afterlife.

A museum spokesman said: "Since 1998 figures of terracotta acrobats, bureaucrats, musicians and bronze birds have been discovered on site.

The chance discovery of the terracotta army astounded the world
Jane Portal, exhibition curator

"Designed to administer to or entertain the Emperor in his afterlife, they are of crucial importance to our understanding of his attempts to control the world even in death."

The exhibition is designed to demonstrate the historical and archaeological context of these famous objects and present a reassessment of the man who created China as a political entity.

Jane Portal, exhibition curator, said: "The chance discovery of the terracotta army astounded the world.

"This exhibition will provide a wonderful opportunity to see these extraordinary objects close up and to learn about an empire which at its height was the rival of Rome and was to prove historically more enduring."

Almost 60,000 advance tickets have been sold for the six-month exhibition which opens at the central London museum on 13 September.

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