The First Emperor

The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army

Temporary exhibition in the British Museum’s Reading Room

Metaphor’s exhibition explored one of the major archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century: the mausoleum of Qin Shihuangdi. Qin’s regime was absolute, made manifest through warfare, philosophy and culture. In 221 BC, he created China, the oldest surviving political entity in the world. He unified the language and commissioned Small Seal Script, which remains the recognisable foundation of modern Chinese script.

Our graphic scheme reflects that rigour rather than the exoticism which can permeate conventional views of ancient China. It was the first exhibition to be held in the museum’s listed Reading Room.
Photographs © the British Museum