Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello

No overnight rain was recorded but at precisely 07:00, just as I was slipping on my coat (in July??) it started again with little sign of it stopping. Looks like another day of photograph editing (no bad thing) and what might have been another post totally reliant on archive material except for a sudden rush of mails from some of my mates. Firstly, and most exciting given distance and country, a note and photos from my new found Israeli friends from Laos.
 Yarden (Jordan) Lamy Casoy and lady-friend Deia
Hello!! How are you? what's new? off on a new adventure? We are still in China, Deia is flying home soon and I'm moving on to Mongolia. I promised I'll send you some pictures. Hope all is well Yarden and Deia.
Unable to identify this one yet, but bet someone out there can do it!
Gathering of Chinese Butterflies.
PLUMBEOUS WATER REDSTART, thank you both so much for being in touch, Israel here I come!
No less important, in fact as far as Great British rarity goes about as scarce as you can get, are these Heart Stopping images of
Bowie and Sheila are recently returned from Cumbria where the only colony, in this country, of this mega wild flower now exists. 
From John Gifford came this photo of a GARDEN CARPET MOTH, in no way rare but a delicate natural beauty for all that. Thanks go to all of those above.

The letter from Yarden and Deia in China also gave me some direction into which part of the archive I should delve, and came up with The Terracotta Army. A collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Quin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, it is a form of funerary art that was buried with the Emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect him in his afterlife, and to make sure that he had people to rule over. The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers digging a well in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals and also include warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried close to the Emperor's Mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
A bespoke building has now been erected over the excavation, covering a vast area,
which also includes a number of out-buildings and annexes.
As the world witnessed at the Beijing Olympic Games, here too the Chinese eye for tasteful style and attention to detail is also shows.
Entrance and vestibule are, like the rest of the museum, spacious, well ventilated and lit to best advantage,
while in the main auditorium seating and walkways are designed for best viewing.
These would be the first sights the spectator gets on entering the vast room
constructed to cove the 3 pits containing the army,
which I, as a mere mortal, could only describe as breathtaking.
Along with the pits, and at the far end of the building,
stand a selection of exhibits more or less at eye-level giving a completely different prospective.
While most of the characters were found in natural terracotta, some were found to be painted with much of the decoration intact.

Like the proverbial Iceberg, most of the army remains uncovered and so far lost to view but,
along with a massive amount of reclamation eventually all will be revealed, I'd like to think of a return there when it is!
Beyond the main site, but attached, is a smaller museum which houses many of the smaller and more delicate artifacts found at the dig including Emperor Quin Shi Huang's State Coach and team of horses.
A kneeling Foot Soldier
Mounted Pipes and Drums
and who knows?
Ever since a visit to Cambodia in 2003 and in turn the 250 square mile archaeological complex (much still afforested) that is Angkor Wat it has been, and still remains, my No1 favourite 'Man Made' Wonder of the World. Not only for the familiar Main Temple or Angkor Thom, Great Elephant Terrace, Pre Rup Temple ruins and the Battle for the Sea of Milk fresco but for the whole legacy of what was the Khmer Empire. This would be closely followed by The Great Wall of China at No2 and even closer at No3 by what no photograph could ever properly portray.
At the end of an amazing day you can take your own Mini Warrior home with you.
Finally a last minute thought. Today I had consigned about 30 'fine wine' bottles (empty I hasten to add) to the recycle bin, there being no room for such things in my intended new life, then had the thought that someone out there may collect such items. Mostly claret, including all 5 'first growths' (Haut-Brion, Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux and Mouton Rothschild) but other 'classics' such as Cheval Blanc and Opus One. Most, if not all, labels remain in-tact the only proviso being this must be on a collect basis only.
Please advise by e-Mail including telephone number to captbagsy@btinternet.com