Friday, 16 March 2012

Silk Road treasures on display

Silk Road treasures on display
A bronze pot from the Spring and Autumn Period.
A bronze statue of a camel on its knees from the Northern Zhou Dynasty.
A gold-decorated silver bottle that dates back to the year 569.
An earth statue of an arhat that dates back to the Western Xia Dynasty.
Visitors at the exhibition.Photos by Sun Yuchen
A gold-decorated silver statue of Buddha from the Tang Dynasty.
A bronze statue of a warrior on horseback.
    Helen Deng
    WITH a depiction of a scene from Greek legend “The Iliad,” the gold-decorated silver bottle seems like an artifact from Europe. But with a close look at the illustration you will find that the bottle had been in the possession of Li Xian (503-569), a prominent general who guarded the northwest frontier of China during the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557-581).
    The bottle, along with 191 other objects unearthed along the Silk Road, is at Shenzhen Museum for an exhibition named “Silk Road — Treasures of the Grand Northwest.”
    The exhibition shows the best collections of 18 museums in Northeast China: bronze ware, porcelain, silk, wall paintings, exotic gold and silverware, gold and silver coins.
    “The artifacts on display are extremely beautiful and precious. Some are rarely exhibited,” Ye Yang, curator of Shenzhen Museum, said at the opening ceremony of the exhibition March 8.
    Extending from China’s Chang’an and Luoyang to today’s India and Rome, the Silk Road is one of the world’s oldest and most historically important trade routes. It has exerted enormous influence on the culture of China, Central Asia and the West.
    Located at the crossroads between the East and West, the areas where China’s Shanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang lie were the key way stations for anyone traveling on the legendary road.
    The artifacts on exhibition show that the area was active for thousands of years, and saw diverse languages, lifestyles, religions, and cultures. This exhibition provides the chance to uncover some of the secrets of the Silk Road.
    The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first part shows artifacts dated back to the Warring States Period (445-221 B.C.), Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), and Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220). They show the early exchanges between the Han Chinese and nomads. The exchanges became more frequent after Han Dynasty ambassador Zhang Qian made his trip to the area, and the influence of Han civilization on the West can be clearly seen from statues of Xiyu officials wearing Han costumes at the exhibition.
    The second part shows the Silk Road during one of its peak times in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Chinese nation entered its most prosperous stage and became very open to foreign culture, taking in Western commodities, religions and culture, and exporting tea, silk, and Chinese civilization.
    The third part features artifacts from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, when trade on the Silk Road remained active despite frequent wars.
    The exhibition shows a panorama of history along the eastern part of the Silk Road. While most exhibitions on the subject focus on the 700-year history between Han and Tang dynasties, this exhibition extends the history of the Silk Road from the Warring States Period to the Yuan Dynasty. Important figures in the history of the Silk Road, such as Emperor Wu (157-87 B.C.) and General Li Xian, were highlighted in the exhibition to give the artifacts a human touch. The artifacts are carefully illustrated to help visitors get a better understanding of the history.

    Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., now to May 31
    Venue: Shenzhen Museum, Zone A, Shenzhen Civic Center, Futian District (福田区市民中心A区深圳博物馆)
    Metro: Civic Center Station (市民中心站), Exit D

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