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Chinese bronze age exhibition showcases ancient civilization

By Deng Zhangyu in Beijing and Lia Zhu, Chang Jun in San Francisco | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-20 13:20

The exhibition highlights the glamour of ancient Chinese civilization through abundant bronze relics from Hubei province. Photo by Chang Jun/chinadaily.com.cn

An exhibition showcasing the art and culture of two mysterious states in Central China's Hubei province 2,000 years ago met the US audience on Friday (local time) at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the biggest archaeological show from China after 2020.

Titled Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China's Bronze Age, it displays more than 150 pieces of cultural relics loaned from six cultural institutions, including the Hubei Provincial Museum, the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Jingzhou Museum, the Suizhou Museum, the Xiangyang Museum and the Yichang Museum. Many of the artworks such as bronze vessels, lacquerware and jade objects on display, travel outside China for the first time.

"Supported by in-depth academic research and the latest archaeological findings, it showcases the continuity, unity, peacefulness, inclusiveness, and innovativeness of Chinese civilization," said Li Qun, director of China's National Cultural Heritage Administration. He added that it's the largest show of cultural property China has ever organized in the US in recent years.

"I sincerely hope that cultural heritage institutions and museums from China and the United States will work closely together, adhering to a vision of civilization that promotes equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness, to jointly compose a new chapter of China-US people-to-people exchanges that will be more splendid, colorful and appreciating and respecting each other's cultures and values," said Li.

The show consists of five sections to vividly illustrate the achievements in art, music, technology, and design of the Zeng and Chu states, two vassals of the Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-256 BC) in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, a cradle of China's early civilization at the end of the Bronze Age.

Jeremy Zhang, the lead curator of the show, said that like Egypt's Tutankhamun's tomb, the Zeng state's long history and splendid history were revealed in recent archaeological discoveries and their musical instruments represented by the bronze bells marveled the world.

"The artworks traveling from Hubei to California allow us to entertain and inform our audiences with a magical art journey crossing time and space. I'm sure that our audience can feel the beauty of China's early art and how the civilization developed at that time via these latest archaeological findings," said Zhang.

The Asian Art Museum had the idea to hold such a show ten years ago. It took the museum five years to prepare and continuous efforts and support from their Chinese counterparts.

In the future, the museum is planning more shows by cooperating with Chinese museums, including bringing more Chinese artworks to the US and holding traveling exhibitions in China.

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