China's Terracotta Army marches home early

China's Terracotta Army exhibit will not be making stops in Alberta and British Columbia as originally planned.
The highlights of the Terracotta Army exhibit include life-sized figures, like this armoured general, that were meant to guard the First Emperor of China in the afterlife. ((Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau/Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre))

China's Terracotta Army exhibit will not be making stops in Alberta and British Columbia as originally planned.

The travelling exhibit of 16 warriors — among the more than 8,000 life-sized terracotta figures discovered since 1974 near Xi'an, China, and believed to date from the 3rd century B.C. — was supposed to have been shown at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.

The Glenbow, believing the terracotta warriors to be a huge draw, was to receive the show next summer.

B.C. was scheduled to host the exhibit after that.

Instead, the Calgary museum has just been told that China has decided not to extend its artifact loan for a second year because of a "strict new enforcement of a regulation limiting the length of time Terracotta Army artifacts can remain outside of China."

Glenbow officials said they and the other Canadian tour partners tried to appeal the decision through political and diplomatic channels, but had no luck.

The terracotta warriors have been stationed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto since June and are scheduled to stay until January. The exhibit will then have a stint in Montreal's Musée des beaux-arts starting in February.

The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army is achieving record attendance levels in Toronto, according to a ROM news release.

The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre in China has confirmed that the one-year limit on the artifacts' travel will be preserved "due to an increased focus on their long-term preservation," the museum said.