THE BANPO MUSEUM
The Banpo Village remains are located between the Chanhe and the Babe rivers, to the east of Xi'an city. The village was an au-thentic matriarchal clan community of the Yangshao Culture. More than 400 sites like this have been discovered on the Central Valley Shaanxi Plain in the Yellow River Valley. The Yellow River Valley has always enjoyed the reputation of being the birth place of China's ancient culture.
The Yangshao Culture belonged to China's Neolithic Age. It was named after the Yangshao Village which was discovered in Mi-anehi County, Henan Province in 1921. The culture was located~ mainly in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River Valley. Production tools, such as the knife, axe, adze and chisel, were mostly made of stone by means of grinding and polishing. There were also chipped stone implements and bone objects as well. Pot-tery utensils for daily use were chiefly made from refined terra-cotta and red sandy clay. Some objects of refined terra-cotta were deco-rated with zoomorphic and geometric designs. Agriculture dominat-ed the economic life of that age, while fishing and domestic animal rearing came second. All these finds give evidence to the fact that matriarchal clan community came to its prime. With so many pigces of painted pottery, Yangshao Culture is also known as the Painted Pottery Culture. Using the Carbon--14 dating method, we may come to the conclusion that the Yangshao Culture can be traced back to 5,000-- 3,000 B. C..
The matriarchal clan community shows the first signs of primi-tive communes after advancing from the primitive tribes, and came to an end not long before patriarchy society was established. This happened in approximately the period spanning the late Paleolithic and Noelithic Ages. Women then played an important part in soci-ety. This stage can be divided into two periods: an early period and a developmental period. As far as the first period was concerned, women were engaged in collecting Wild fruits while man were occu-pied with fishing and hunting. As a result of the intertribal commu-nal marriages, children were closely associated with their mothers from morning to night. Yet their fathers remained something of a stranger to them. They followed their mothers in the famliy pedi-gree. The latter period saw the transition to exogamy. Women took up farming, and managed the tribal affairs and the economic life as well. Husbands lived in the homes of their wives, and they were al-so recorded together with their property in the family pedigree after their wives.
The Banpo Village remains were discovered accidentally in 1953, during the construction of Baqiao Power Plant. It covers an area of 50,000 square metres and is divided into three sections: the Residential Section, the Pottery-making Section and the Burial Sec-tion. There were five excavations between 1954 and 1957, a total area of 10,000 square metres. The discoveries include 46 house re-mains, two pigsties, 200 cellars, 174 adult tombs, 73 child's burial urns, 6 pottery kilns and many production tools and living utensils. All these depict the production and lives of the Banpo ancestors 6, 000 years ago during the prosperous period of the matriarchal clan society.In 1958, the Banpo Museum, the first on—the—spot museum in China was set up, on the basis of the archaeological excavation. The museum consists of two exhibition rooms and a great hall that houses the remains of the village.
The First Exhibition Room
This room mainly displays the production tools of the Banpo ruins. These include stone implements, fishing tools, weaving wheels, stone pins, fish hooks, harpoons, etc. From this we can understand the production activities of Banpo people on different oc-casions.
According to the production implements used by human beings at different historical stages, historians classify human history into Paleolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The earliest and most primitive chipped stone implements used by mankind are called paleolithic tools.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

In the long history of human development, the Paleolithic Age lasted the longest. If mankind has a history of 3,000,000 years, the Paleolithic Age would take up 2,990,000 years of it. About 10,000 years ago, mankind invented polished stone tools, and therefore entered the Neolithic Age. About 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, metallurgy was invented, and the Bronze Age came into being. The Banpo people were at the devel-oping stage of the Neolithic Age.
1. Natural Conditions
According to analysis of pollen spore discovered on the site, the original Banpo Village was located on a terrace near the Chanbe Riv-er. This terrace was dotted with elm and persimmon trees. Fos-silized bones of roe deer, badgers and other animals have been exca-vated. It has been determined that the climate then was as warm and moist as that in the South of China. The Chanhe River flowed continuously all year round because of heavy rainfall. The natural conditions were favourable for fishing, hunting and farming.
2. The Origin of Agriculture
Through the long-term observation and experimentation in their daily activities, the Banpo women developed primitive agricul-ture. These early inhabitants began to grow drought-enduring mil-let and vegetables some 6,000 years ago. Agriculture provided them with food and other things that made it possible for them to settle down.
3. The Reclamation of Wasteland
At that time each clan had its own community led by a wom-an. The inhabitants cut down trees and dug up the wasteland with stone axes and shovels. They constantly improved their tools that they used in regular production activities. For instance, they drilled a hole in the stone axe, and fastened it to a stick with a piece of rope or a strip of leather.
4. Farming
The Banpo inhabitants used stone hoes, shovels or sharpened sticks to make holes in the reclaimed fields, and seeds were then sown. But they did not know how to apply manure, or how to irri-gate the fields.
5. Crop Harvesting and Processing
When the millet was ripe, women set about harvesting it with stone or pottery knives. Later they invented stone sickles. After the harvest, they produced millet (husked grain) by grinding it be-tween two pieces of stone.
6. Hunting
Besides farming, hunting was another occupation. Hunting implements were improved over the years. The Banpo inhabitants not only has stone spears and arrow heads, but bolas as well. The bola was made of two stone balls linked with a piece of leather. When wild animals were in sight, the hunter whirled the bola round and round, and then let go of it in the direction of the animal vic-tim. This is how the Banpo hunters caught wild animals alive.
7. Fishing
The fish-hooks, fish-nets and harpoons discovered at the site showed that the Banpo people already knew how to fish in the riv-er. On display are fish-hooks, harpoons with barbs and weights on the net.
On their way home from fishing, the Banpo inhabitants some-times picked up Shells which would be made into ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets. It is no wonder that fragments of pottery were unearthed bearing fish-net designs.
8. Domestic Animal Rearing
Domestic animal rearing, which developed from agriculture, formed one part of their life. The discovery of two sties and animal bones revealed that these inhabitants, even then, started to rear a variety of domesticated animals, Such as dogs, swine, sheep, cat-tle, horses and chickens.
9. Pottery Utensil Baking
A site which contains six pottery kilns and hundreds of pieces of pottery, has been discovered at the Banpo ruins. It has been de-termined that the temperature of the kilns could reach as high as 800-1,000~C. It is presumed, according to the capacity of kilns, that one kiln could bake four or five small pieces or one large piece each time. At that time, earthen-ware was made with a technique known as "coiling of clay ropes". Basically the pottery clay was roiled into long round ropes, and then coiled into the desired shapes. After the coils were pressed together and the surface smoothed, they were then put into the kilns to be baked. There was a variety of earthen-wares discovered at the Banpo site. They include fine-clay drinking utensils made of sieved clay and sand-mixed clay, and cooking utensils made of coarse-sand clay. The for-mer enjoyed a glossy surface and exquisite texture while the latter enjoyed the high temperature and unbreakability.
The Second Exhibition Room
This room mainly displays relics which show the social lives, culture art and various inventions of the Banpo people. A site of six pottery-making kilns has been discovered. Women then took charge of the whole manufacturing process. The pottery that was discovered consisted of household utensils and artistic ves-sels. They were the prototype of the world-famous Chinese porce-lain.
1. The Banpo Men's Social Organization and Their production Activities The Banpo men's social organization was the matriarchal clan community led by the woman. Living in a primitive communist so-ciety, without private property, private ownership mentality, class-es and exploitation, they worked together and enjoyed equal distri-bution. However, it was just one of the beginning stages of human development in history, and productivity and living standards were 1OW.
2. Remains of the Big Rectangular House in the Centre of the Site This could have been a place for Banpo women to hold meet-ings and discuss their communal affairs. It was also used as the liv-lng quarters for old people and children.
3. Spinning, Weaving and Cloth—making
Impressions of linen fabric were found on the pottery spinning wheels, bone shuttles and clay utensils used in weaving contributed to the fact that these early people know how to spin and weave. The materials might have been linen or animal hair. Clothes were often sown with bone needles. They also made mats and baskets with reeds, bamboo and switches.
4. Cooking Utensils
Cooking utensils were mostly made of coarse-sandy clay. Wa-ter containers included pots with lips, narrow-necked flasks and portable gourd-like pots. The pot with a !ip came into being in the late Neolithic Age.
5. Kitchen Utensils
These utensils were mostly made of fine clay. Examples of these include pottery bowls, pots, cups and plates. Many of them were painted with excellent designs.
6. Art and Culture
In the long course of their production activities, the Banpo in-habitants mastered drawing and carving techniques, and worked out many a masterpiece about nature and their daily life. This can help us to infer that working people are the real creators of art and cul-ture.
The painted pottery vessels were mostly attended with designs of fish and deer. This shows fishing and hunting already came into being. The fish with their wide-opened mouths and the running deer were not only vivid and lovely, but true-to-life as well. The designs of waves and those of plants reflected nature, and bore the characteristics of the traditional Chinese painting.
7. The Evolution of Fish Designs
The Banpo paintings developed from concrete to abstract~ from realistic reflection to vivid expression and bold outlind. The geomet-ric patterns that evolved from fish designs can best exmplify this. The inhabitants' ability to think and be creative was improving.
8. The Design of a Fish with a Human Face
The design of a fish with a human face was a masterpiece painting discovered on the site, and reflected the artistic attainment of these early inhabitants. Its lines were clear and graceful. On its head the hair was well-pinned and done into a knot. Two small fish were held in the corners of its mouth. This painting depicted their strong ties and special emotion with fish. It was most likely a totem of the Banpo people.
9. Carved Sculptures and Ornaments
There was also found carved sculptures playing pottery flutes (the earliest musical instrument), and models of human heads and those in the form of birds. The ornaments were closely connected with their daily life and production activities. The Banpo villagers al-so brought hair-dressing pin into being for the convenience of their work. The rope-like decorations on pottery vessels made them not only solid but beautiful as well.
10. Wisdom Grows out of Labour, and Science out of Practice The Banpo inhabitants stepped up the rate of production, and fostered its development from time to time. For instance, they in-vented sharp axes with well drilled holes, and barbs fixed on fish— forks and harpoons, in their protracted struggle for production and social activities.
11. Simple Calculations
Owing to the needs of distribution and house-building, these primitive people got certain ideas about numbers and geometric pat-terns. The equilateral triangles on pottery vessels, the various shapes of houses and the design of a fish with a human face, these things together give the best testimony to that modern higher mathematics and complex calculations have developed hereby.
12. The Tip-Bottomed Bottle
The tip-bottomed bottle is characteristic of the pottery un-earthed at Banpo. It is a water-drawing device in which the law of gravity was skillfully applied buoyancy, as soon as the bottle touched the water surface, it should automatically tilt and fill. Then it would stand upright after being filled with water, due to the shifting of its centre of gravity. It had two advantages for holding water. The first is that it was portable and easy to carry on the back. The second is that the water would not spill out when it was carried from the river to the living place.
13. Carved and Painted Signs
In order to keep records and figures, the Banpo people invented some simple signs, of which 113 in 22 forms have been discovered. These signs were possibly the earliest Chinese script, the predeces-sor of the Shang Dynasty script on tortoise shells.
14. The Use of Pottery Steamers
These early people found that steam could be used in cooking, and then they invented pottery steamers. This has been proven to be the earliest use of steam in human history.
The Great Hall of Remains
1. The Site of the Early Round House
This house is 6. 3 metres in diameter from east to west, and 6.7 metres from north to south. The door is 1.1 metres wide, and it faces south. On either side of the door there stands a partition wall. Obviously, the hearth was return, ed and replaced later by a storage pit. The house looks very much like a "Mongolian tent".
2. Half—Subterranean Square—shaped House
The kind of house is 3.8 metres in width, and 0.7 metre in depth. The entrance was built sloping, with four symmetrical post-holes on either side. The house had a hearth in the middle. Its structure was simple. It was easily subject to dampness. This is the very place where the Banpo people once lived.
3. Child's Burial Jars
The Banpo people placed their dead children into burial jars. After their children's death, people first dug a pit into which' they placed a pottery urn or jar, and then laid the dead body in it, and put an earthen bowl or a pottery basin on it. They usually chipped a hole in the centre, this was probably a passage for the soul of the dead to come in and out. Older children were buried in two pottery urns jointly connected and the burial place was usually chosen around their houses. This shows the parents' affection for their lost children. So far 73 children's burial jars have been excavated. Ob-viously, infant mortality was very high then because the natural conditions were poor, their life was extremely arduous, and disease was wide spreading within their settlements.
4. The Cross—Section of Cultural Strata
The uppermost layer of soil is where modern people grow crops. Directly below this layer there are four cultural strata that have formed during different periods of time. The cultural stratum contains collapsed houses, broken tools, pottery vessels, left-over animal bones, and ash heaps of grass and wood. The central layer is 30 centimetres thick and is the best preserved. This evidence shows that the Banpo inhabitants once lived here for a long time.
5. The Dividing Ditch
This ditch is 1.8 metres in width and divides the residential area into two parts. In clan communities, inter-marriage was strict-ly forbidden within the same clan. In the village, two clan that in-ter-marriaged were separated by this dividing ditch. Exogamy was practised among the Banpo people, i.e. a couple lived together stablely for a certain period of time. The male could take part in any production activities of the female's tribe. They lived together and raised children together. But the family and the children usually followed the maternal or mothers' line. During the time when they lived together, both man and woman could have sexual relations with others outside the family. Consequently, their children only recognized mothers instead of fathers. This was the typical marital state in the late period of the matriarchal society.
6. Storage Pits
This storage pit of later period was mainly used to store tools, daily necessities and grain. It is 2. 7 metres in diameter at the bot-tom, and 1.8 metres in depth. So far we have discovered 200 stor-age pits at the site, 43 of which had a small capacity, and they var-ied in shape from pit to pit. By contrast, those of the later days had a larger capacity, and took a uniform shape. This suggests an in-crease in the development of their production and an increase in stores. All the storage pits were located in the open air, which re-vealed that the Banpo inhabitants toiled together, and enjoyed equal distribution, living in a primitive society, without classes, exploita-tion or private property.
7. The House with Three Circles ot~ Postholes
Three circles of postholes were discovered on the site of this house. They belonged to different cultural layers. This shows that these early people had once built houses on this spot three times. The presant hearth is the remains of a later time. 8. The Site of Half—Subterrenean Rectangular House This site is 4.4 metres long, 3. 2 metres wide, and 6. 4 metres deep. The ground in the east is 10 centimetres higher than that in the west. It takes the shape of a flat platform, where the inhabi-tants may have laid down to rest. In the eastern part, there was discovered ceramic pots, arrow-heads, and broken jars with shells in them. All this gives the best evidence to the fact that the Banpo inhabitants had their own places to rest, and could put their daily necessities in good order.
9. The Rectangular House of the Later Days
This site covers an area of 17 square metres. The door was open to the south, and the floor was paved with a layer of wooden boards. Around the house, 10 posts were erected. Between every two smaller posts or wooden boards were tied with switches. The walls both inside and outside were coated with mud and straw. This is, more or less, the predecessor of our national architecture. 10. One Section of the Dividing Ditch Surrounding the Dwelling Area This ditch is about 300 metres long, (5--8 metres wide, and 5 --6 metres deep. It was originally dug to prevent flooding and at-1,'lA— tacks from wild animals. Based on estimates, more than 10,000 cu-bic metres of earth was removed. Suppose that a truck can carry a load of 3.3 cubic metres of the earth each time, as many as 3,666 trucks would have been involved. The Banpo inhabitants got them-selves organized, and together completed this great project only with their rough tools. In other words, they lived simply and worked hard. They cherished a strong desire to overcome difficul-ties and conquer nature.
11. The Cemetery
By the north side of the ditch was the cemetery. These early people worked together and were buried together after their death. We have discovered 174 tombs eotaining the remains of one or more corpses in each. 71 of these tombs contained funeral objects. There were three types of burials performed by the Banpo peo-ple: facing upward with outstretched limbs; facing downward; and "the second burial". It is estimated that if one person died in a far-away place, his body was later removed to the cemetery of his tribe, hence "the second burial". The heads of the deceased were directed to the west, probably Because they believed the deceased would enter another world after death, and that other world existed in the direction of the sunset.
12. The Site of Penned Sty
This sty is 2. 5 metres wide by 5.7 metres long. A shallow ditch runs along its north side. On its eastern and southern sides there are 27 postholes visible.
There was a large amount of dog and pig remains unearthed at Banpo site. This indicates that the Banpo people had already known how to raise pigs and dogs. Dogs are easy to raise and they are good helpers for hunting. Additionally, pigs are capable of quick breed-ing, providing meat and are easy to keep in pens, so they became the earliest domestic animals.
13. The Site of Postholes
Up to now we have discovered 400 postholes at the site. They are 11--30 centimetres (normally 20 cm. ) in diameter, and 10--
70 centimetres in depth. The earth around the hole is 4--7 centime-tres thick. The earth was originally pounded solid when it was fully filled. In these postholes grey rotten wood powder is still visible to-day.
14. Bag—Shaped Storage Pits
This kind of pit is narrower at the opening, and wider at the bottom. The bottom diameter is 1. 68 metres. A heap of rotten grain is 18 centimetres thick. This suggests that there was once an increase in their crop return.
15The Connected Fire Chamber
The fire chamber consisted of two separate chambers. An oval one on the east side and a round one on the west side. They were connected by a fire passage. The inside of the chamber is lined with heated clay and was 3--5 centimetres thick. These early inhabitants were likely to use it to warm themselves, and to bake their food.