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A focus on the formative

Updated: 2024-03-04 08:08 ( China Daily Global )
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A gold decoration in the shape of a mythical beast at the exhibition. [PHOTO BY ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

One multimedia exhibit illustrates the transformation of characters. Words stream toward a device in the center of the space, and then rise to the ceiling where they hang like stars in the sky. It follows changes all the way from the jiaguwen, or oracle bone inscriptions, the earliest known form of Chinese writing, to modern Chinese characters, and even to words in Japanese and Korean influenced by Chinese.

"This shows that the standardization of characters prompted the spread of Chinese civilization," Ren says.

One of the exhibits' highlights is a wooden Han boat unearthed at Weiqiao Site in Xi'an. It is on display for the first time.

"The boat is made of 16 planks, joined together by sunmao (mortise-and-tenon) joints. This method of building was found common in the Mediterranean area during Ancient Rome, but it is the first time it's been found in China," Peng says.

She adds that the usual way to build boats in ancient China was by carving one out of a single trunk, rather than by jointing planks. The adoption of this way of building boats shows that China's communication with the rest of the world was ongoing during the Qin and Han era, when the embryonic form of the ancient Maritime Silk Road began.

"The prosperous Qin and Han periods saw exchange with the rest of the world. … Since then, China has sustained the vitality of learning and communication with other civilizations with its open-minded and inclusive attitude," Peng says.

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