Thursday, 21 May 2009

Legends of the Silk Road- Treasures from Xinjiang

I nearly missed this exhibition (December6, 2008- March 15, 2009) in the National Museum of History in Taipei, Taiwan, one of the three big exhibitions this year about the Silk Road this year ( in Sint Petersburg, Taipei and Bruxelles).

The following article is from the website of the museum:

The Silk Road was a trade route that extended for over 7,000 kilometers to connect Asia and the Mediterranean region, starting in the east in Changan (or Luoyang) and ending in the west at Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This route passed over mountains, deserts, grasslands, and oases to connect Asia and Europe. It passed through the mighty cross-continental empires of Persia, Macedonia, Rome, and the Ottoman, and many great political and military events of the ancient world are connected to it. This road also spread religions that have influenced billions of people—Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. The Silk Road spanned over 1,700 kilometers inside China. In the pre-Qin times, many tribes lived in northwestern China and many kingdoms rose and fell in China’s historical border region. In this place called the “Western Territory” in ancient times, an ethnically diverse civilization developed. During the Han and Tang Dynasties, many ethnic groups moved to the northwest and became increasingly powerful. In the time of Han Emperor Wudi, Zhang Qian went to open up the Western Territories, and the campaigns into the Western Territories led by Wei Qing and Huo Qu-Bing finally opened up a road to the Western world. This road sent silk and ceramics from China and gradually brought the civilizations of the Western world into China. This gave it the name of the Silk Road, and its peak period was seen during the Tang Dynasty.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is located at the vital hub of the Silk Road, and because of its dry climate and special geographical conditions, many thousands of ancient artifacts have been unearthed in good condition by archeologists. There are Loulan beauties, Xiaohe Culture relics and pre-Qin metal vessels, Han and Jin textiles, Wei and Jin wall paintings, and Tang Dynasty silk paintings, which reflect the grandeur of the desert frontier of the ancient Western Territories. These all have great value in terms of the academic study of the trade, transportation, diverse ethnic civilizations, and Chinese-Western interchange of the Silk Road. The artifacts unearthed in Xinjiang are amazing and priceless, and they have been exhibited many times in foreign countries in North America, Europe, and Japan, where they have been seen by millions of visitors.

This exhibition was nine years in the planning, and it will finally be officially opened on December 6 this year, with the cooperation of Media Sphere Communications. The museum has divided its exhibit introductions of the 150 items unearthed by archeological study into five categories based on the cultural features of the artifacts—“The Beauty of the Silk Road,” “The Traces of the Silk Road,” “The Wonders of the Silk Road,” “The Ancient Kingdoms of the Silk Road,” and “The Gods of the Silk Road.” The most important exhibits are the “Loulan Beauty” mummy and the Turpan artifacts from the Tang Dynasty, which are being exhibited for the first time. There are also many other types of objects that give one a glimpse of the beautiful scenes of the ancient world. The assistance of Director Sheng Chun-Shou of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Bureau of Artifacts, Director Zhang Yu-Zhong of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Archeology Academy, Director Tian Xian-Hong of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, and General Manager Li Mei-Ling of Media Sphere Communications, as well as the hard work of our museum staff have contributed greatly to our achievement in bringing this exhibition to fruition.. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks and the wish that the exhibition will be a complete success.

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