HM The King's speech at the opening of the exhibition on China's terracotta army
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Madam Minister (Minister for Culture),
Director of the Museum of the Far East,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year it will be 60 years since Sweden became one of the first countries to establish diplomatic contacts with the People's Republic of China.
However, the cultural contacts between Sweden and China date back even further. Sweden has a long sinological tradition. My grandfather, King Gustav VI Adolf, was greatly interested in Chinese art. Also, historian Johan Gunnar Andersson and his Chinese colleagues made some fantastic discoveries during their excavations in China in the 1920s. This has helped make the Museum of the Far East an important museum in Europe for Chinese art. With this in mind, it is natural for the Museum to celebrate this 60th anniversary with an extraordinary exhibition from China.
When the First Emperor's underground army was discovered near his tomb in Xi'an in 1974, it immediately became a worldwide sensation. When I visited China in 1981, I had the opportunity to see the excavated soldiers, and they made a strong impression on me.
In 1984, the Queen and I had the privilege of inaugurating an exhibition at the Museum of the Far East where eight of these soldiers were displayed. That was 26 years ago, and since then new excavations in China of the First Emperor's tomb have produced more discoveries. There are many interesting artefacts from tombs with miniature terracotta armies and tens of thousands of other terracotta figures. This is the first time that some of these new finds from the tombs are on display outside of China.
Two Swedish government agencies – the National Museums of World Culture and the National Property Board – are now jointly showing China's terracotta army at the Museum of the Far East.
The caves beneath the Museum here on Skeppsholmen were blasted out of the rock around 1940 so that the commanding officers and staff of the Naval Command and the Naval Shipyard could move there in the event of war. The Joint Operations Centre was located here. Parts of the cave were also used as storage space for mines and torpedoes. Now, for the first time, this space is being used publicly for a major exhibition. The unique environment of the rock cave succeeds in capturing the grandeur of the story of the First Emperor of China.
I would like to congratulate the Museum of the Far East on a fascinating project – and hereby declare the exhibition on China's terracotta army open.