THE SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM
The Shaanxi History Museum, a massive modern museum up to the national standard, is located one kilometer away, northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. It is a magnificent architectural com-plex in the Tang-dynasty style. It covers an area of 70,000 square metres, construction area being over 50,000 square metres. It col-lects the highlights of the Shaanxi culture and shows a development of the Chinese civilization. Considering the position of Shaanxi Province in the Chinese history, the state invested 1.44 billion yuan in the establishment of the Shaanxi History Museum just to fulfil late Premier Zhou Enlai's will.
The architecture of the museum is simple, unsophisticated, el-egant and unique in style. It combines the construction of the an-cient Chinese palaces and courtyard buildings, harmonious and graceful in hue, and demonstrates the Chinese traditional architec-tural style. It also has local characteristics and epoch- making essence.
The Museum possesses a treasure of 113,000 historic and cul-tural artifacts unearthed in Shaanxi, and covers an area of 1,100 square metres for exhibition.
The Museum has established a science a~nd technology centre for the preservation of cultural relicts. It has an advanced technology of examination and laboratory test and the means of repair and restoration. To promote international cultural exchanges, it has also set up a computer-controlled, international symposium hall where six different languages can be employed in the spontaneous interpre-tation.
Now, this is the Preface Hall of the museum. The massive pic-ture that faces us shows the surging and roaring Yellow River and the Vast Loess Plateau, which are the natural habitat of the Shaanxi residents and the cradle of Shaanxi's ancient civilization as well.
The giant lion in the centre was originally erected in front of Shunling, the Mausoleum of the mother of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty. Its exquisite craftsmanship and imposing look rank it the "No. 1 Lion in the Orient". China's ancient stone lions and the technique of its sculpturing were introduced into the country from Afghanistan. So this lion is not only the representative of the Shaanxi civilization, but also the product of the cultural exchange between the East and the West.
The Shaanxi History Museum offers a full display of historic relics mainly excavated in the Province. The exhibition can be divid-ed into seven sections which emphatically reveal the prosperity of the Prehistoric Age; the Zhou; Qin; Han; Wei; Jin; North and South; Sui ; Tang ; Song ; Yuan ; Ming and Qing dynasties. The ex-hibition vividly and systematically depicts Shaanxi history, ranging from 1,150,000 years ago up to the year 1840. In Chinese history, thirteen dynasties established their capitals in Shaanxi Province, last-ing more than 1,000 years. It is the area that was made the country's capital by more dynasties and for longer periods of time than any other places in China. In a way, the ancient history of Shaanxi is a highly condensed version of Chinese history.
The Prehistoric Age The first section of the exhibition of the ancient history of Shaanxi covers the Prehistoric Age, which dates back about 1,150, 000 years to the 2lst century B. C.. Shaanxi is an important source of information on the origin of the human race. The fossil remains of an Ape-man skull discovered in Lantian County, Shaanxi Province was the earliest known Homo erectus in the North of Asi-a. The latest dating data proved that the I.antian Ape-man lived about 1,150,000 years ago.
This background picture shows Gongwangling, where the fos-sil remains of the hominid were discovered. In the display case are the large pointed implements excavated in Gongwangling, which were made and used by the Lantian Man. These slightly chipped and shaped irregular stone implements were used for multi-purpos-es.
After the discovery of the Ape-man in Lantian, the fossil re-mains of a rather complete hominid skull were found in Dali Coun-ty, Shaanxi Province in 1978. The hominid lived about 100,000 years ago, and belonged to a new stage of human evolution, i. e. the stage of "Homo Sapience". The fossil remains of the Dali man's skull are the most complete of those of the early hominid skulls ex-cavated in China. The stone implements of Dali Man are character-istically and relatively small in size.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   


The Laoguantai Culture represents the earliest Neolithic cultur-al ruins in Shaanxi, dating back about 8,000 years. The Laoguantai Culture is so named because it was first discovered at Laoguantai, Huaxian County in 1955. The three important characteristics that differentiate Neolithic Culture from Paleolithic Culture include first-ly polished stone implements, secondly the invention of pottery and thirdly settled habitation and primitive farming. The polished stone spades and knives on display here indicate that the livelihood of our ancestors was not solely dependant on food gathering and hunting, but supplemented with a simple form of agriculture. The Yangshao Culture dates about 7000--5000 years back. On display here are amphoras, stone balls, pottery plummets, bone --made arrows, fishing fork and various pointed pottery utensils which indicate that the Banpo Man lived in the matriarchal society during the Yangshao Culture improved his productivity greatly. With the progress of material civilization, people began to seek for a spiritual civilization. The pottery wind instrument known as xun unearthed in Banpo is the earliest musical instrument so far in Chi-na. In 1985, a Chinese folk musician played music pieces on it, arousing great interest among the international musical circles. China went into the Longshan Culture period about 5,000 years ago. The Longshan Culture was so named after Longshan Township, Zhangqiu County, Shandong Province, where it was first discovered. Village ruins representative of Longshan Culture are scattered extensively across a large area in Shaanxi province, with a dense concentration along the Weihe River. Ever since the Longshan Culture, mankind had moved into a period of patriarchal clan society. With social and economic develop-ment, men replaced women and played a dominant role in social ac-tivities. Thanks to the "fast wheel" method adopted in the art of pottery-making, the earthen ware made thus were evenly thick and enjoyed a great variety of style. Additionally, the painted pottery disappeared, and the grey pottery emerged. This is a gigantic of Emperor Huangdi's Mausoleum, which is located in Huangling County in Northern Shaanxi Province. Huang-di was born about 4,700 years ago, an outstanding leader of the Huaxia tribesmen in the patriarchal clan society during the Long-shan Culture. Shaanxi was then the central area of their activities. Under the Leadership of Huangdi, the Huaxia tribesmen unified the Chinese nation after fighting 53 battles. Therefore, Huangdi was considered as the forefather of the Chinese nation. Every year dur-ing Qingming (Tomb-cleaning) Festival, people of Chinese origin from home and abroad come here to seek their ancestral roots and offer sacrifices to their ancestor.
the Zhou Dynasty
(771--221 B. C. )
The Zhou Dynasty here includes three different stages of his-torical development, i. e . the Zhou Clan, the Zhoufang State and the Western Zhou Dynasty, formed in Shaanxi Porvince in the 21st B.C..
The Zhou Clan was formed by several small tribes that resided along the banks of Jinghe and Weihe rivers during the later period of Longshan Culture. The Zhou Clan was apt at farming. Archae-ologists call the cultural ruins of this period the Early Zhou Culture. Here on display are cultural relics of the Early Zhou period. They were mostly unearthed in Wugong and Changwu counties. This oracle bone is a well-preserved scapula of an ox. Divina-tion had to be practised at that time in preparation for all major ac-tivities without any exceptions. The way to practise divination was to chisel holes in tortoise-shells or animal bones holes, twisted mug-wort into thread and applied the burning thread fo the holes on the back, The tortoise-shells or animal bones would crack under heat. The diviner would interpret the crackles in the bones according to their shapes and directions, so as to decide whether it was luck or ominous to do certain things. A record of the divination was then cut omo the tortoise-shells or animal twisted mugwort into thread and applied the burning thread to the bones, which formed China's earliest written language known today as "oracle bone inscriptions". In the 16th century B. C. , the Zhou Clan, to avoid the no-madic tribe's invasion and harassment, and settled down in the pre-sent-day Fufeng and Qishan counties, where it established a capi-tal, an official ranking system and a governing body. It was also ac-knowledged by the Shang Dynasty and appointed as "Feng State". The capital of the Zhoufang State is the well-known Zhouyuan City. Here on display are building materials unearthed at Zhouyuan, such as hollow bricks, plain tiles, roll roofing tiles, tile -ends, pottery sewer pipes and so on.
In the llth century B. C. , the Shang Dynasty died and the Western Zhou Dynasty came into existence instead. It established its capital in Feng and Hao, which were separated by the Fenghe River. This marked the emergence of the ancient city of Xi'an. The development of China's bronze culture reached its peak during the Western Zhou. The number of bronze vessels unearthed in Shaanxi so far has reached to more than 3,000, two thousand out of which are now collected in the Shaanxi History Museum. On display here are exhibited ceremonial and musical instruments, im-plements for living production and fighting weapons as well. These are what are called chime bells, a sort of Chinese ancient musical instrument. They are a set of bells of different sizes, scales and numbers (several to a few scores) arranged in order to hanging from a supporter. During a performance, the musician taps the small bells with a wooden or metal hammer, and striked the big ones with wooden or metal bars. On these chime bells, not only classical tunes can be played, but also some modern folk composi-tions can be enjoyed as well.
The bronze vessels were also the system of rites. That is they are the symbol of power and social strata. These are called "ding" (tripod), a cooking utensil of ancient times, for boiling meat. Bronze tripods were derived from the pottery ones in the primitive society. During the long historical period of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, bronze tripods were a kind of ritual ware only pos-sessed by slave owners and aristocrats, and used on sacrificial occa-sions or at banquets. Legend goes that King Yu of the Xia Dynasty once had nine tripods made, symbolizing the state power over the nine administrative divisions in ancient China. Therefore, a success-ful seize of political power was referred to as "Inquiring ding" after-wards. Because of a strict caste system, ding was a symbol of privi-leged identity in Western Zhou. Bronze utensils made in this period were elaborately shaped, with magnificent decorative patterns. Some have written characters cast on them, known as "epigraphs", some of which were as long as 500 characters. They are the valu-able data for the study of the history of the Western Zhou Dynasty.
With development of agriculture and handicraft, exchange of
goods was on the increase. This sort of "shell" was used as a medi-
um in trade, "shell money" was the earliest form of currency in
kind. Therefore, many Chinese characters symbolizing valuable
things have been constructed with the character "shell" () as
their radicals.
The designs and patterns carved on the bronze vessels are a very important part of the study of the art of bronze ware. The dec-orations on the bronze ware can be classified into two major cate-gories: animal designs and geometric patterns. Both of them gener-ally look mysterious and weird, and difficult to understand. This is because the vessel makers intended to use these vessels to offer sac-rifices to Heaven, Earth, Gods and Ancestors. Making them diffi-cult for the ordinary people to understand proves the success of the makers' artistic conception.
The Qin Dynasty
(221--206 B. C. )
The Qin people were an ancient tribal clan that used to live in Tiansbui, Gansu Province. In 770 B. C. , Qin Xianggong gained favour and was granted by King Ping of the Zhou Dynasty the title of a duke, and built Yongcheng City as its own capital in the pre-sent-day Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province. Most of the cultural relics on display here were unearthed from the ruins of Qin's Yongcheng City.
Agriculture was the pillar of the economy of the state of Qin. The excavation of large quantities of iron farm tools reveals the ex-tensive use of these tools which replaced bronze ones at the time. The palaces and temples in Yongcheng were constructed on a large scale. These are "jingang" which were bronze woodwork joints in architecture. The exact position and method of the wood-work joints used in buildings are shown in the picture. Before the discovery of "jingang", scholars believe that the evolution of China's early woodwork joints must have included the use of some kind of metal device in its progress from the simple tying up of woodwork members to the mortice and tenon structure. The dis-covery of the bronze woodwork joints proved this belief. The mausoleums of the monarchs in the early Qin Dynasty were centred in Yongcheng. A total number of 13 tombs have been discovered thus far. The No. 1 Tomb of the Dukes of Qin is the largest excavation in China. It is 24 metres deep, and covers an area of 5,334 square metres. All together 166 people were buried alive with the dead. Archaeologists believe the dead monarch may be Duke Qin Jinggong. Unfortunately, the tomb has suffered many serious robberies. Even so, more than 3,500 various kinds of cul-tural relics have been unearthed.
In 350 B. C. , the Qin State moved its capital to Xianyang. Within ten years of Emperor Qin Shihuang's rise to power, he had annexed all six states, and founded the 'first multi-national, auto-cratic and centralized feudal empire in the Chinese history. Hence the Qin Dynasty was born. As the capital of the Qin Empire, Xi-anyang witnessed the construction of many magnificent palaces. Archaeologists unearthed the No. 1 and No. 3 palaces in Xianyang and discovered large quantities of valuable cultural relics. This is a picture of the restoration of Palace No. 1 in E'fang Palace. This picture shows fragments of a mural painting discovered at the ruins of Palace No. 3. It is the oldest material remains of frescoes discov-ered so far in China.
After national unification, Emperor Qin Shihuang adopted a series of measures to enforce a single currency, standardization of weights and measures, and a unitary script, making valuable contri-butions to the development of the feudal economy and culture in China. Take currency for example, before the standardization, there had been in circulation currency of numerous forms, varied sizes, face values and weights, and forthermore, the calculation system was quite difficult. Thus it caused tremendous inconve-niences to the people. Once in power, Qin Shihuang issued a round coin pierced with a square hole in the centre as the national curren-cy. The successive dynasties and the imperial rulers all followed the pattern of Qin's coins for the next 2,000 years until Qing Dynasty. The various weapons, Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, huge tile ends and Bronze Chariots and Horses discovered in Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum and pits characteristically show the unprece-dented prosperity and progress of the Qin Dynasty in its military af-fairs, economy, science and technology, culture and so on. (See Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum and Museum of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses for details. )
The Han Dynasty
(206B. C. --220A. D. )
The Han Dynasty is a very important historical dynasty in Chi-na. It was in this time that the Han nationality, the mainstay of the Chinese nation, formally took shape. The Han Dynasty became One of the most powerful empires in the world. It exerted its far-reach-ing influence on the development of various dynasties in the Chinese history thereafter. That is why until today many countries in the world still regard "Han" as a synonym for the Chinese people and civilization.
The Han city of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) was the first international metropolis in Chinese history. Compared with the an-cient city of Rome in the west, Chang'an was twice as large. These ceramic drainage pipes are very close to those of the present-day. This indicates that there was already an advanced sewer system in Chang'an.
These are the most famous eaves tiles of the Han Dynasty in ancient China. Compared with the Qin tiles, the Han tiles are larg-er with wider edges, and greyish in colour. A major characteristic about the Han tiles was that there was an increase in the number of tiles that are inscribed with characters. The characters on the tiles not only tell of their uses, but are also of great calligraphic value. The Han Dynasty attached great importance to the develop-ment of agriculture. Oxen were widely employed in the central plain and gradually introduced into the northwest frontier. These iron farm tools and clay potteries with grain in them were excavated from Hah tombs. They indicate the high level of development o~ agriculture in the Han Dynasty.
Animal husbandry was quite advantageous too, with agricul-tural development as its base. Various species of domestic animals and fowls had been bred in great numbers. These pottery oxen, chicks, ducks and pigsties are all burial objects excavated from Hah tombs.
The Han Dynasty outstripped the previous dynasties both in scale and skill in metallurgy, textiles, pottery-manufacture and paper-making. Metallurgy, especially, was conducted on a large scale. This rubbing picture of iron smelting on the stone relief vivid-ly depicts the operation in an iron smelting workshop in the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Pottery in the Han Dynasty includes mainly two types: color-painted and under-glazed. There are colored pottery tripods, square pots and fumigators. Here is an under-glazed pot. Green and yellow colors were commonly used at that time.
This sort of paper made in the Western Han Dynasty was dis-covered in a Western Han tomb at Baqiao, Xi'an in 1957. It was believed that paper was invented by Cai Lun in 105 A. D.. But the year when this sort of paper was made'was no later than 118 B. C.. Therefore, the discovery of the Baqiao paper pushed the origin of paper-making in China at least 200 years earlier. During the reign of Emperor Han Wudi, the Silk Road which ran across the Asian Continent was formally opened. It enabled Chinese silk to be exported to various countries in the Western Re-gions, and in return, horses of fine breeds, plants, music and dances in these regions were imported into China. At this time the city of Chang'an became the largest centre in Asia for international exchanges.
This plump and sturdy horse is a typical fine breed brought to the interior of China through the Silk Road. Seeking horses of fine breeds had been one of the important motives for the Han Dynasty to open the Silk Road.
There are a variety of silk products in the Han Dynasty. These are the fragmented silk fahrics discovered along the Silk Road. Here on display in the case are terra-cotta warriors and horses unearthed from a Han tomb at Yangjiawan in Xianyang. (For details, please see the Xianyang Museum. )
The Wei, Jin, South & North Dynasties
(220--581 A. D. )
The dynasties of Wei, Jin, South & North existed from 220 A.D. to 581 A. D. , during which reign, there were great social up-heavals and great intermingling of various nationalities. This was a period of frequent dynastic changes, when several regimes co-exist-ed. Cultural relics of these turbulent years feature strong military influences and regional characteristics.
These are cahraps. No matter how you hurl or arrange them, they will always fall to the ground on three of their studs, with the fourth one pointing upwards. It is an effective weapon that deals with cavalry. It is said that this caltrap was invented by Zhu Geliang, the Prime Minister and a great strategist of the Sbu State. During the Sixteen States Period, a number of successive mi-nority nationality regimes, such as Former Zhao, Former Qin, Lat-er Qin and Daxia established authority in Shaanxi. This is a picture of Tongwan City, the capital of Daxia, the Hun nationality, which is located in Jingbian County, Northern Shaanxi. Tongwan City is as strong and firm as stone and looks as splendid as ever. It remains one of China's best-preserved castle cities. In the display case are the armoured soldiers and horses, which were the earliest ones discovered in China. Armour was introduced into China from Persia. They became very common by the time of Northern Wei.
During the Wei, Jin, South and North dynasties, Shaanxi was the destination of migrants of various nationalities. Large quantities of pottery figurines of people of different postures and nationalities prove effectively the union of different nationalities. From this "Evolution Chart of Minority Nationality Family Names", we can see the origin of many of the family names today. In fact, ethnic origins of many of today's Han family names in Shaanxi can be traced back to the minority nationalities. Tomb guarding animals were divine beasts of prey placed inside tombs to fend off evil spirits and ensure the tranquillity of the soul of the dead. These two tomb guardians have the face of a man and the body of a beast, featuring an artistic style similar to that of the Sphinx in Egypt. This means that such semi-human and semi-beast objects reflect a common mythological conception shared by both the East and the West.
Religion-related artistic works were one of the most character-istic forms of the Wei, Jin, South and North dynasties. Buddhism was brought into China during the Han Dynasty, and was enthusi-astically promoted and encouraged by various minority nationality regimes during this time. People who had suffered greatly from the unceasing wars and upheavals wished to seek some kind of relief by worshiping gods and Buddhas. Therefore, both Buddhism and Bud-dhist statues is a major form of Buddhist art. The statues were made of a number of materials such as gold, silver, bronze and jade, etc. Among many of the Buddhist statues on display, this one made of iron is the most eye-catching. This statue of Buddha is said to have been modelled on Yang Jian, Emperor Wen Di of the Sui Dynasty. Yang Jian was born is a Buddhist nunnery, and was brought up by the nuns. He was devout and fanatic of Buddhism. He posed as the embodiment of a Buddha in order to tell people that he was acting the orders of the Buddha to become the emperor rul-ing the whole nation. Under the influence and support of Sui Wen-di, Buddhism reached its zenith in the Sui and Tang dynasties.
The Sui and Tang Dynasties
(5817-907 A. D. )
The Sui and Tang dynasties were China's feudal society at the height of their power and splendour. They aisc/marked a golden era in the history of Shaanxi. Overseas Chinese today still regard them-selves as the "descendants of the Tang" and the place where they live as the "streets of the Tang"(China Town). This, to some ex-tent, reflects the enormous impact the Tang Dynasty has had on its descendants.
The Sui Dynasty was founded in 581 A. D.. It began to con-struct its capital city, the Daxing City of Sui, in the following year. Yu Wenkai, the master architect of minority nationality, designed and oversaw the construction of the city. In the Tang Dynasty, its name was changed to Chang'an. This is the plane of the Tang's Chang'an City. The new city was built on the basis of Sui's Daxing City with further improvement and expansion. As a magnificent and well-planned city, Chang'an was divided into three zones: the palace area, the administrative area and the residential area. With the Scarlet Bird Street as the axis, the city was crisscrossed with 11 vertical and 14 horizontal streets, dividing Chang'an into 108 rect-angular compounds known as Fang. This layout of Chang'an has had far-rea ehing influence on later dynasties, and has served as a model for capital cities in some other Asian countries such as Japan and Korea.
The Tang's Chang'an City covered an area of 84. 1 square kilometres, seven times the size of Byzantine, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire; six times the size of the Arabian capital of Bagh-dad; and 9. 3 times the size of the Ming capital of the same name. Chinese porcelain originated far back to ancient times. As ar-chaeological studies have proven that China began her primitive porcelain manufacturing in the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago. In the Tang Dynasty, China ware was exported far away to foreign countries as major handicraft products. It is well known that China was famed as a "nation of china". Here on show are Tang tri-coloure ceramics, all being burial objects. In the prime of the peri-od, the Tang Dynasty produced glazed pottery of brown, yellow and green colours. Colour glaze brought Chinese pottery craft into a new stage. However, the craft prevailed only in a rather short peri-od in limited areas. Therefore, the small number of tri-coloured pottery is of priceless value today.
The Tang Dynasty marked another period of rapid develop-ment of Chinese bronze mirrors after the Han Dynasty. Li Longji, Emperor Xuan Zong of the Tang Dynasty often bestowed bronze mirrors on his civil and military officials on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month, his birthday. The practice was soon imitated by the public, which further stimulated the production of bronze mirrors. The bronze mirrors, engraved with the designs of the four deities and of the 12 zodiac animals, and those engraved with Confucius' questions and answers or with a design of the Eight Dia-grams, are lovely and stylistically various. They are the most exquisite bronze mirrors in the Tang Dynasty. Gold and silver ware was beautifully made and served as a sym-bol for the Tang Dynasty. These exquisite and gorgeous gold howls, silver plates and pomegranate-shaped vessels were mostly discovered at Hejia Village in the southern suburbs of Xi'an in 1970. More than 1,000 cultural relics of various kinds were un earthed. They included 270 gold and silver vessels ,representing the largest excavation of Tang gold and silver ware. This gold and silver ware was excavated at the Famen Temple in Fufeng County. They included food and drink vessels, contain-ers, medical tools and daily utensils, They were of various shapes and were made with a combined technique of casting, welding, cut-ting, polishing, riveting, gilding, and gold-plating, etc. They de-pict a very high technological standard of gold and silver ware man-ufacturing in the Tang Dynasty.
During the Tang Dynasty, people led a relatively plentiful and stable life and abided by social rules and orders. Consequently, they enjoyed more leisure and entertainments. Hunting, polo, swing, tug-of-war, acrobatics, music and dance became very popular.' These are tri-coloured pottery figurines of hunters on horsebacks. These are pottery figurines of a group of shuochang (talking and singing) artists or street story tellers and singers (buskers). These are go stones of the Tang Dynasty. The red are made of agate, and the green a natural glossy precious stone. The game of go was very popular during the Tang Dynasty.
The Silk Road enabled the Tang Dynasty to be even more pros-perous. The Sino-overseas exchanges reached their peak during this period. Over 300 nations and regions had friendly relations with the Tang Dynasty Kingdom. This is the route of the Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty.
Most of these pottery figurines of horse and camel riders looks like nomads.
This vessel made of precious stones was brought into China from Rome.
This ox-headed agate cup is made of high quality material and beautifully shaped, featuring strong Persian influence. In the display case are the white porcelain statue of a nomad's head, the black pottery figurine and white porcelain wine container of a human figure, which strongly prove the friendly exchanges be-tween the Tang Dynasty and Central Asia, and Africa.
The Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties
(960--1840 A. D. )
Since the Song Dynasty, Shaanxi lost its position as the nation-al capital, but it remained a place of strategic importance for the feudal dynasties to maintain control of the country's Northwest and Southwest. On the other hand, it was still the military, political, economic, and cultural centre in the Northwestern area. This is a set of bronze chess pieces of the Song Dynasty. They are similar to their contemporary counterparts in both the number and name.
This is a Song brick unearthed in Ganquan County, Shaanxi. It is engraved with a design of the yangko (folk) dance. This veri-fies that the yangko dance, popular in Northern Shaanxi today must have been originated at least from the Song Dynasty. When the army of the Kingdom of Jin in the north swept southward to overthrow the Song Dynasty, it advanced along three routes, one of which led to the capture of Shaanxi. These pottery figurines of Sumo wrestlers, the mould-board to print Jiao-money are'all Jin relics unearthed in Shaanxi.
Chinese Sumo began in the Han Dynasty. It was not regarded as a competitive sport at that time, but a fist-fight exercise in the military, aimed at body building and willpower tempering. Jiao-money is actually a kind of paper currency, the most im-portant currency in the Jin Dynasty that was circulated in wide area. The mould-board was used to print this kind of currency. These are the Yuan cultural relics unearthed in Shaanxi. The Mongolians unified China and founded the Yuan Dynasty. The Mongols are nomadic people who are apt at horse riding. Therefore, horses are a common subject matter among Yuan relics. In the case are displayed the pottery figurines of cavalrymen of the Yuan Dy-nasty.
This magic iron plate was unearthed from the ruins of the Anxi Palace of the Yuan Dynasty. The magic plate is engraved with 36 Arabic numerals. The magic about this plate is that the sum of any of the six horizontally, vertically and diagonally aligned numerals e-quals 111. This was regarded as mysterious in ancient times, and the plate was thus called "a magic plate". It was placed under the foundations of the palace to fend off evil spirits and disasters. This magic plate is the earliest material proof of the use of Arabic numer-als in Chinese mathematics.
The Ming Dynasty took over Shaanxi in 1369 A. D. and changed Fengyuan Road to Xi'an prefectural government. This was the first time that the City of Xi'an used its present name. In the display case is a record of land measurements, called fish-scale book in the Ming Dynasty. The Ming government collected taxes accord-ing to the book. It is the earliest fish-scale book that has been dis-covered thus far.
This is a provincial level examination paper during the reign of Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing Dynasty. The imperial examination system, which began in the Sui Dynasty, sought to recruit civil of-ficials through conducted written examinations, which were nor-mally held once every three years. There was always an exception. If such case arose, extra examination would be given. This is called "Bestowed Exam". This examination paper has the characters of "Bestowed Exam". It was an additional examination in order to congratulate Emperor Guang Xu on his ascending the throne. Clothing is a comprehensive indicator of the level of material production and ideological and cultural development during a partic-ular social period. This set of porcelain figurines from the Song and Ming dynasties feature characteristics of their own times. They pro-vide us with valuable data for the study of social life and social cus-toms during that time.
The Song rulers advocated Cheng Yi's and Zhu Xi's Neo-con-fucianism. As a result of its influence, clothing tended to be re-served and conservative in style, colours being simple and plain. In the Yuan Dynasty, the males wore narrow-sleeved and tight fitting clothes, the robes reaching to their knees. With belts at their waists, and boots on their feet, these clothes bear a typical Mongo-lian style.
The massive guard of honour was unearthed from the tomb of Zhu Shuang, Zhu Yuanzhang's son. Zhu Yuanzhang was the founder and the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Members of the guard wear different uniforms which indicate their different ranks and different responsibilities. The art of Chinese pottery fig-urines decreased after the Tang Dynasty. It was thought to have, more or less, come to an end by the Ming Dynasty. The discovery of this large number of pottery figurines filled a blank space in the history of Chinese art.
The Song and Yuan dynasties saw rapid development of Chi-nese porcelain. Apart from the government-run porcelain kilns, pri-vately-run kilns began to emerge to form a system of eight different porcelain kilns, among which the Yaozhou kilns at Tongchuan, Shaanxi province are representative of the celadon vessels in the northern part of China. They became most prosperous in the Song Dynasty.
Among the exhibits, the Song porcelain vessels offer visitors a new and fresh impression. On display here are pots, jars, trays of tea utensils, boxes, bowls and so on. Most of the glaze colours are blue, some dark reddish brown. The dominant designs twining branches peony, flying cranes, flying phoenixes, fish and ducks, etc, are also employed. Their high technology and simple unsophis-ticated modellings are so attractive and enchanting. Religion was an important part in the life of the ancient soci-ety. From the Song Dynasty onwards, the carving of Buddhist stat-ues and construction of grottoes in Northern Shaanxi became popu-lar. The Buddhist statues on display here are unearthed from the scattered grottoes in Northern Shaanxi.