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A focus on the formative

Updated: 2024-03-04 08:08 ( China Daily Global )
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Two pottery figurines against the backdrop of a multimedia device, which illustrates the transformation of Chinese characters. [PHOTO BY ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

The new museum is located in Xixian New Area neighboring the ruins of the central palace area of ancient Xianyang, the capital of the Qin Dynasty, and the location of the mausoleums of Western Han (206 BC-AD 24) emperors.

"In some way, the buildings are the biggest exhibits," Ren says.

There are seven buildings in all, laid out in the shape of the Big Dipper. This is a representation of xiangtian fadi, the traditional practice of making a city layout, according to celestial positions, Ren says.

"During the time of Qinshihuang (China's first emperor), Xianyang was laid out according to the positions of the stars. By the time it was completed, the city extended along both the north and south sides of the Weihe River, and the river was seen as a representation of the Milky Way. Zhang Jinqiu designed the museum based on the same idea," Ren continues.

The buildings are connected by overhead corridors, much as they would have been in ancient times, but these corridors are made of glass curtain walls and provide good views of the outside. This, Ren says, is a combination of the old and new.

During the Qin and Han eras, the imperial family had royal gardens where they could hunt and appreciate landscapes. For example, Western Han poet and musician Sima Xiangru described the views and animals in one large royal garden, the Shanglin Garden. The museum has re-created some of those views.

"The overall design is imbued with deep meaning and a sense of romance. The beautiful architecture faithfully reproduces ancient literary depictions, and allows people to experience the beauty described in literary works for themselves," Ren says.

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