Home >> News

Art from Shanxi's ancient tombs goes on show

Updated: 2018-01-02 07:59:14

( China Daily )

Share on

A large-scale exhibition at the Shanghai Museum features 89 tomb-wall paintings collected by the Shanxi Museum. Most of the exhibits have never been displayed outside of Shanxi. [Photo by Cao Chen/China Daily]

Art buffs can see ancient tomb-wall paintings from the Northern Dynasty (439-581), Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties (960-1368)-most of which have never been displayed outside of Shanxi province-at an ongoing exhibition at the Shanghai Museum.

The exhibition, Ancient Wall Paintings from the Shanxi Museum, which runs through March 4, features 89 tomb-wall paintings divided into 12 groups.

"It is the largest exhibition of ancient wall paintings in China," says Yang Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Museum.

Li Zhongmou, deputy director of the Shanghai Museum, says such paintings dating to the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907) and earlier are hard to find today.

"Hence murals become the only trusted source of such paintings and evidence of the lifestyles of those ancient times," says Li.

"From these murals we can see that Chinese painting had reached a very high artistic level in terms of figure design, coloring and even perspective."

Besides artistic value, the murals also offer a glimpse of life in ancient times, says Li.

"Take the murals from the Jin and Yuan dynasties. Researchers and visitors can learn about hairstyles, clothing and music," says Li.

"The daily lives of the ancient Chinese and the funeral customs are also shown through scenes in the murals."

Li says that during that period, a tomb was regarded as "an auspicious house" and "a fortune chamber", which was a decisive factor in the prosperity of future generations.

Shanxi, a birthplace of Chinese civilization and a melting pot of diverse cultures in ancient times, is home to more than 225,000 ancient wall paintings, some of which are in ancient tombs.

According to Zhang Yuancheng, curator of the Shanxi Museum, the museum now boasts a collection of nearly 1,000 square meters of tomb murals. And the exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, which took three years to prepare, features "the cream of the collection".

Li says the southern entrance of the Shanghai Museum was removed for the first time since its opening 21 years ago, as the largest exhibit-a piece from the Jiuyuangang tomb in Xinzhou-was brought into the exhibition hall.

The mural-3.2 meters long and 3.5 meters high-is displayed in a 5-meter-high exhibition hall.

According to Li, the "mural" is the first wooden piece found.

Another highlight of the exhibition is murals from the Shuiquanliang tomb in Shanxi province's Shuozhou, which dates back to the Northern Dynasty.

During its excavation in 2008, the murals were carefully cut into dozens of pieces to be taken out of the tomb. They were later restored and preserved in the Shanxi Museum.

To ensure the best viewing experience and the protection of the murals, Li says a glass corridor with an LED-lamp system has been installed, allowing visitors to examine the murals as if they were on the ceilings and the walls of a tomb.

While no appointment is needed to see the wall paintings, reservations are required for viewing the tomb chamber, and each visit is restricted to five minutes, says Li.

Art lovers can also visit an online exhibition at the Shanghai Museum's website, which displays the wall paintings, the process of discovery and restoration techniques through videos and pictures.

Editor's Pick
Hot words
Most Popular