How China became China

By Zhao Xu | China Daily | 2017-10-21 07:52

How China became China

Gilt bronze incense burner. [Photo provided to China Daily]

That kind of scene is what a visitor may well have in mind walking away from an exhibition at the National Museum of China titled The Glory of Qin and Han. The exhibition, which is on until Nov 30, casts light on a distant era, offering a tantalizing view of a dynasty during which the notion "China" was formed and gained meaning. That dynasty was Han (202 BC-AD 220).

"The people of Han believed firmly in an afterlife," says Shan Yueying, of the National Museum who curated the exhibition. "So no effort was spared in preparation for that life in the underground world, especially given that it was supposed to be inhabited by the rich and powerful.

"Everything they had grown accustomed to, which made up their luxurious lifestyle, would remain unchanged."

That explains the existence of gilt bronze chime bells, pottery musicians, jade wine cups, elegantly shaped wine retrievers, beautifully patterned food vessels and an ingeniously designed hot pot, all excavated from Han tombs and all part of the exhibition that seeks to bring the magic of a bygone era back to life.

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