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A cultural crossroads across time

By Wang Ru | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-22 07:46

The exhibition hall at the Museum of National Palace of Ethnic Cultures. CHINA DAILY

Taking shape

Painted clay vessels from the Chinese National Museum of Ethnology, which were typical prehistoric artifacts produced in the northwestern region under the influence of the Yangshao Culture that dates back to between 7,000 and 5,000 years ago in China's Central Plains, are one of the highlights.

Yangshao is known as a "painted ceramics culture" since these items have come to symbolize the civilization, according to He Chen, a researcher at the museum.

For example, one clay bottle on display that was made between 5,100 and 4,700 years ago witnessed the spread of the Yangshao Culture to what is now Northwest China and its evolution into the Majiayao Culture, which dates back 4,000 to 5,000 years.

He says studies show that the patterns of salamanders on the bottle originated in the Yangshao style of painting birds on pottery, but have their own characteristics. This shows Yangshao influence on the northwestern area and regional features.

"After the birth of Majiayao Culture, Yangshao Culture continued to spread to what is now Southwest China's Sichuan province and Xizang, and even today's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region," He explains.

"Then, the 4,000-year-old Qijia Culture — a continuation of Majiayao Culture — continued influencing other cultures established by the ancient Qiang tribe in the northwestern area during the Bronze Age."

In this way, Yangshao Culture continued to spread and deepen. And the artifacts on show are important witnesses to interactions between ancient cultures in different regions, that possibly led to the origin and formation of a pluralistic and integrated Chinese civilization, she adds.

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