Chinese army invades Belfast City Hall
A brightly coloured Chinese terracotta army has invaded the grounds of Belfast City Hall.
The Warriors of Xi'an China will stand guard for the next three weeks as part of the One World Creative programme.
The imperial figures form an integral part of Chinese history and were originally commissioned by the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.
He wanted them to replicate his army and a staggering 8,000 life-sized soldiers remained to guard him in the afterlife.
They were discovered in 1974, and now One World Creative has brought members of the stone army from the Far East to tour Northern Ireland, travelling to Enniskillen and Londonderry after Belfast. Project co-ordinator Pamela Lee said: "We've had a fabulous response. We host free events so everyone can join in.
"With the recent protests we have seen the breakdown in the notion of shared spaces – the warriors hosted at City Hall will begin the process of recreating shared space in the centre of Belfast.
"We think it's great that it is delivering ideas and sharing notions of culture and tradition."
Yesterday, the figures stood tall while a large crowd posed for photographs with them.
Guide Karen Tsang said the event was very meaningful as this was the warriors' first time in Northern Ireland.
They were designed and painted by local artists but some were left bare so spectators could have a go at painting the figurines. Kathy Marsh from Belfast said: "The whole point of the project was looking at Chinese culture, so everyone picked something different.
"I went with the use of the peony flower, which is a very strong symbol in Chinese culture."
Lewis Truman (11) was enjoying painting his warrior so much he said he'd like to see them there more often.
He added: "It would be something to do, just a lot more variety for Belfast. I think they should keep them, it brings so many people in all together."
Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford said: "The previous Lord Mayor got to launch some cows and I get to launch some warriors, so obviously that is one up for me."
1 The original Terracotta Army was unearthed in Xi'an, China, in 1974.
2 It depicts the army of Ying Zheng, who took the name of Qin Shi Huang Di – the First Emperor of Qin.
3 China gets its name from the First Emperor of Qin.
4 The Emperor ordered them made to replicate his battle-hardened army.
5 They are one of the top attractions in China.