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Gold relics set Jinsha excavation apart

2014-08-05 11:15:26

(China Daily)


A 3,000-year-old gold foil is one of the most precious relics at the Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The most eye-catching relics on display in the museum are the sunbird gold foil and a "smiling" gold mask.

The gold foil is believed to be about 3,000 years old. Measuring 12.5 centimeters in diameter and weighing 20 grams, it is a mere 0.02 cm in thick. It has four birds cut out of it and 12 rays of the sun radiating from its center. It is seen as an illustration of an ancient Chinese myth recorded in the classic Legends of Mountains and Seas written some 2,500 years ago.

According to the book, the ancients believed the sun was carried up to the sky in the morning and pulled down at dusk by four birds.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage adopted the sunbird gold foil as the country's symbol of cultural heritage in 2005.

Visitors to the museum are impressed by the gold mask as well.

About 3.7 cm tall and 4.9 cm wide, the mask is thin and has brows like a crescent moon and eyes like almonds. Its half-opened mouth has a smiling effect.

"The mask is unique, for gold masks like it have never been unearthed in other parts of China," says Zhu Zhangyi, an archaeologist at the museum.

The smiling gold mask was not donned by a living person. Instead, it was affixed to a bronze human head or a wooden human head, he says.

Some scholars believe the bronze head represents the soul of a dead ancestor, while others hold that it is the image of a necromancer and the bronze head is probably that of a high-ranking shaman. Experts agree that the bronze heads were worshipped by ancient Sichuan people who believed that they were channels to higher beings and would afford protection.

If you go:

The museum is located at 2 Jinsha Ruins Road, Chengdu, Sichuan. (028-8730-3522)

Its admission ticket is 80 yuan ($13).

To get to the museum, visitors can take a taxi from the downtown, and the ride costs about 20 yuan.

Or take Metro Line 2 and get off in the Yipintianxia Station and then walk to the museum.


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