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Thursday, September 21, 2006 - Page updated at 05:09 PM


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Costumed tourist joins China's famed display of warrior statues

HONG KONG — A German art student tried to join a Chinese dynasty's army — but he volunteered centuries too late.

The 26-year-old man — identified only as "Pablo" or by his Chinese name "Ma Lin" — made a dusty brown suit of armor, a tunic and a helmet, and attempted to blend in with the ancient warriors of the terra-cotta army in the western city of Xi'an, the Hong Kong newspapers Ming Pao Daily News and Wen Wei Po reported this week.

The outfit matched the uniforms worn by the thousands of terra-cotta soldiers buried in the tomb of the Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, who ruled between 221-210 B.C., the papers said. The soldiers — one of China's greatest archaeological discoveries — are displayed in a Xi'an museum.

Pablo entered the museum Saturday with his uniform packed in a suitcase, the papers said. Once inside, he quickly changed into the outfit, jumped over a barrier and joined the soldiers, who stand in hundreds of rows.

He blended in so well that security guards had difficulty finding him, Ming Pao said.

"I got to the area where he was supposed to be, looked around a bit and didn't see Ma Lin," the paper quoted a guard as saying. "He just looked too much like a terra-cotta warrior."

The papers showed photos of security guards dragging Pablo out of the excavation pit where the soldiers are displayed.

Wen Wei Po quoted Pablo as saying he has been obsessed with the soldiers since his childhood. He reportedly said that he only planned to have a photo of himself taken standing near the museum's excavation pit.

"But when I saw the soldiers, I got too excited and just couldn't stop myself from jumping into the pit," he was quoted as saying.

Since he didn't damage the soldiers, Pablo was released after getting a lecture from the security officials, the papers said.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



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