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Museum exhibits history's playful side

Updated: 2012-06-01 11:02
By Zhu Linyong ( China Daily)

What did Chinese kids play with before Western toys, such as Barbie, Automan and Transformers, were introduced to the country?

An ongoing exhibition of traditional toys at the National Art Museum of China answers this question in a fun, even playful way.

The exhibition - dedicated to Children's Day, which falls on June 1, and this year's Cultural Heritage Day, which falls on June 9 - presents 370 traditional and folk toys, selected from some 70,000 in the museum's collection.

Some are older than history itself - at least in its written form.

Clay toys were found at Paleolithic archaeological sites in southern China in the 1970s. Folk artists of the centuries of yore used materials such as mud, straw, bamboo, wood, leaves and cloth, to make various playthings.

The toys reveal marvelous artistry and craftsmanship, bear rich messages about Chinese culture and reflect traditional aesthetics, social values and wishes for better lives, museum director Fan Di'an says.

"We hope the exhibition, which is both entertaining and informative, will help young children better understand the importance of preserving our cultural heritage," Fan says.

9 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays and public holidays, until Sept 3. National Art Museum of China, 1 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district. 010-6511-6400.

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