Friday, 1 April 2011
Silk Road Mummies back in China
“Legacies of the Silk Road: Cultural Relics Unearthed in Xinjiang” is on display.
The exhibition’s highlights include the “Loulan Beauty,” a female mummy discovered in the historical Loulan City in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1980, the “Beauty of Xiaohe,” another female mummy discovered at the Xiaohe Cemetery in the Tarim Basin in 2003, and a 2,800-year-old male mummy in Qiemo, Xinjiang.
Thought to have lived 3,800 years ago, the “Loulan Beauty” has distinct Caucasian features: pale skin, light hair, big eyes, deep eye sockets, a steep nose bridge, and a pointed jaw.
The exhibition also features more than 140 exhibits, which offer insight into the long and diverse cultural heritage of the ancient Silk Road.
These include an array of well-preserved clothing, textiles, wooden and bone implements, coins and documents. Along with gem-encrusted gold vessels, masks, jewelry, accessories and other objects, and even preserved food, such as wonton and flower-shaped snacks, the collection reflects the diversity of the Silk Road trade, with strong Mediterranean influences as well as goods from ancient China.
Dates: Through July 15, 2011
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Venue: New Shenzhen Museum, Block A, Civic Center, Futian District (福田区市民中心A区深圳博物馆新馆)
Metro: Shi Min Zhong Xin Station (Civic Center Station 市民中心站), Exit C(Newman Huo)
Mummies highlight Silk Road legacy
THE greatest discovery in the long history of Loulan city in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is undoubtedly the female mummy discovered in 1980. Perfectly preserved, delicate in appearance and with fine skin, the relic has earned the nickname “Loulan Beauty” since its discovery.
Thought to have lived 3,800 years ago, the “Loulan Beauty” has distinct Caucasian features: pale, supple skin, light hair, big eyes, deep eye sockets, steep nose bridge, and a pointed jaw.
Along with the “Beauty of Xiaohe,” another female mummy discovered in Xinjiang, and a 2,800-year-old Qiemo male mummy, the “Loulan Beauty” is now being displayed at exhibition “Legacies of the Silk Road: Cultural Relics Unearthed in Xinjiang” at Shenzhen Museum through July 15.
Scientific testing and research has shown that the “Loulan Beauty” died at about age 45. She was buried with a basket of food in preparation for the next life, including domesticated wheat, combs and a feather. When she was discovered, she was in a typical earthen platform, with branches and reeds covering the top of her tomb.
Currently, she is 1.57 meters tall and weighs 10.1 kilograms. She is wearing an Arab robe, sheepskin and fur boots. Her brown hair is over 30 centimeters long, contained in her pointed terai decorated with several feathers.
With graceful eyelashes, long flaxen hair and a serene expression, the “Beauty of Xiaohe” seems to have just nodded off, although she last closed her eyes more than 3,550 years ago.
She is 1.50 meters in height and wears a fine felt hat and fashionable leather boots. Around her waist is a white woolen string skirt, and she is shrouded in a bulky woolen cloak with tassels.
When she was discovered, she was covered with ephedra branches and grains of wheat. The presence of ephedra, a mildly psychoactive medicinal plant used by numerous Central Eurasian peoples, suggests that she was being conveyed to the spirit world.
The female mummy was found at the Xiaohe Cemetery in 2003, one of hundreds of spectacularly preserved mummies buried in the desert sands of the vast Tarim Basin in far western Xinjiang.The Xiaohe Cemetery, 175 kilometers west of the ancient city of Loulan, is located on the ancient Silk Road, once a booming trade route traversing the Asian continent. The cemetery is the oldest archaeological site with human remains discovered in the Tarim Basin.
The burial ground, with 167 graves, was first explored by Folke Bergman, a Swedish archaeologist in 1934. But it “disappeared” until the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute rediscovered it in 2000. In addition to the mummies, the exhibition features more than 140 exhibits, which offer insight into the long and diverse cultural heritage of the ancient Silk Road.
These include an array of well-preserved clothing, textiles, wooden and bone implements, coins and documents. Along with gem-encrusted gold vessels, masks, jewelry, accessories and other objects, and even preserved foodsThe discovery of these mummies along the Silk Road has helped scholars better understand the settlement of ancient Central Asia and has opened up a window to understanding the very early exchange of important technologies, life-improving inventions, and ideas and customs-including what may be the world’s first sunglasses-being practiced in the inhospitable lands of the Tarim Basin where East meets West.
The Silk Road, which scholars date from China’s Han Dynasty in the late second century BC to about AD 1400, was aptly named because of the vast amounts of silk and other merchandise: spices, gold, precious metals and stones, ivory, glass, exotic animals, furs, ceramics, jade, lacquer, iron and plants-which were carried back and forth between East and West.
Many goods were bartered for others along the route, and objects often changed hands several times. Artifacts in the exhibition both span the 1,500-year period of the famous route, and, in the case of the mummy and other excavated relics, pre-date the historical Silk Road.
The exhibition is organized jointly by the Bureau of Cultural Relics of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions and Shenzhen Museum.
Dates: Through July 15, 2011
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Monday
Add: The new exhibition hall of Shenzhen Museum, Block A, Shenzhen Citizens’ Center , Futian District (福田区市民中心A区深圳博物馆新馆)
Metro: Shi Min Zhong Xin Station (Citizens’ Center Station 市民中心站)