Shaanxi Provincial History Museum

Shaanxi Provincial History Museum
The Shaanxi History Museum is a massive modern museum up to the national standard. It located in the southern suburb of Xi'an, one kilometer northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. It covers an area of 70,000 square meters and has a construction area of 50,000 square meters. It has a collection of more than 113,000 historic and cultural relics to exemplify the early birth, wide coverage, large scale and high standard of the ancient civilization in Shaanxi. All these demonstrate the outstanding political, economic and cultural importance of Shaanxi to China's ancient civilization. The museum was officially open to visitors in June, 1991.

This museum is a magnificent architectural complies in the Tang Dynasty style. The architecture is simple, unsophisticated, elegant and unique. It combines the architectural style of the ancient Chinese palaces and courtyard buildings. So it looks harmonious, imposing and graceful.

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The exhibition of the ancient history of Shaanxi is the main content of the museum. It covers two floors and occupies a total floor space of 6,000 square meters. With close to 3,000 picked exhibits on display which represent the cream of all the cultural relics in Shaanxi, the exhibition depicts the over one million years of history of Shaanxi that ranges from the emergence of Lantian Man, 1.15 million years ago, to the eve of the Opium War in 1840. the exhibition is divided into seven sections, with emphasis on revealing the prosperity of the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties, and on Shaanxi's status as an ancient capital. Shaanxi served as the country's political, economic and cultural centre for a rather long time in Chinese history. It was made the country's capital by more dynasties and for longer periods of time than any other place in China. In a way, the ancient history of Shaanxi is a highly condensed version of Chinese history.

The Prehistoric Age (1,150,000 years ago-21st century BC)
The first section of the exhibition of the ancient history of Shaanxi covers the prehisoric age, which dates back 1.15 million years ago to the 21st century BC. It covers the entire span of time from the beginning of the Paleolithic Period to the end of the Neolithic Period with major discoveries for each historical period.

The Zhou Period (2100 BC-770 BC)

Bronze Wine Visell
The Zhou Period covers the three different stages of development: the Zhou Clan, Zhoufang State and the Western Zhou Dynasty.

The development of China's bronze culture reached its peak during the Western Zhou. The number of bronze vessels unearthed in Shaanxi so far has amounted to more than 3,000 of which 2,000 are now collected in the Shaanxi History Museum.
 
The Qin Period (770 BC-206 BC)
The Qin Period covers the three historic periods: the Spring and Autumn Period, the Warring States Period and the Qin Dynasty. The Qin was an ancient tribal clan that used to live in Tianshui, Gansu Province. In 770 BC, Qin Xianggong gained favor and was granted by King Ping of Zhou Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province. Most of the relics on display here were unearthed from the ruins of Qin's Yongcheng.

Tiger Fu from Qin Dynasty
Fu is a tally issued by an emperor for the development and movement of his troops. Fu was cast in such a way that it could spilt into two halves, with one half in the hands of the emperor, and the other half in the hands of a general. Troops could be moved or deployed only when the two halves of the fu were put together, forming a complete whole. This tally is in the shape of a tiger and engraved with a gold-inlaid inscription. The 51-character inscription says, "This is a military tally with the right half in the hands of the emperor and the left half in Du". During the Qin Dynasty, right was considered the side of honor. So the right half the tally was paced inside Qin and the left half was put in the hands of a general stationed in Du. The tally is thus named "Du-Tiger fu". Du is in present-day Chang’an district, Xi'an City. The Du-Tiger fu serves as material reference for the study of the military system in ancient China. And the gold-inlaid inscription also reflects the level of gold-inlaying craftsmanship of the time.

The Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD)
Goldren Animal from Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty is a very important historical stage in China. It was at this time that the Han nationality, the mainstay of the Chinese nation, formally took shape. The Han Dynasty became then one of the most powerful empires in the world. It exerted its far-reaching influence on the development of various dynasties in the Chinese history thereafter. That is why up to the present day many countries in the world still regard "Han" as a synonym for the Chinese people and civilization.

The Han City of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) was the first international metropolis in Chinese history. Compared with the ancient city of Rome in the West, Chang'an was twice as large. These ceramic drainage pipes are very close to those of the present day. This indicates that there was already an advanced sewer system in China.

The Han Dynasty outstripped the precious dynasties both in scale and skill in the fields of metallurgy, textile, pottery manufacture and paper-making. Metallurgy was conducted on a large scale. This stone-carving rubbing vividly depicts the operations in an iron smelting workshop in the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The paper made in the Western Han Dynasty was discovered in a Western Han tomb at Baqiao, Xi'an, in 1957. It was previously believed that paper was invented by Cai Lun in 105 AD. But this sort of paper may date back to 118 BC. Therefore, the discovery of the Baqiao paper indicates that paper-making started in China at least 200 years earlier than the generally known date.

Porcelain from Tang Dynasty
During the reign of Emperor Wu Di, the Silk Road, which ran across the Asian continent, was formally opened. It enabled Chinese silk to be exported to various countries in the Western Regions. In return, horses of fine breeds, plants, music and dance were introduced into China. At that time, Chang’an became the largest centre of international exchange in Asia.

This plump and sturdy horse is a typically fine breed brought back to the interior of China through the Silk Road. Seeking horses of fine breeds was one of the important motives for the Han Dynasty to open the Silk Road.

There was a variety of silk products in Han Dynasty. These are the fragments of the silk farbrics discovered along the Silk Road.

The Wei, Jin, South & North dynasties (220-581 AD)
The dynasties of Wei, Jin, South & North existed from 220 AD to 581 AD. During that time there were great social upheavals and intermingling of various nationalities. This was a period of frequent dynastic changes, when several regimes co-existed. Cultural relics of these turbulent years feature strong military influences and regional characteristics.

During the Sixteen States Period, a number of successive minority nationality regimes established authority in Shaanxi. The picture on the wall is Tongwan City, the capital of Daxia, which is located in Jingbian County, Northern Shaanxi. Tongwan City is as strong and firm as stone and looks as splendid as ever. It remains one of China’s best-preserved castle cities.

Religion-related artistic works were one of the most characteristic forms of art in the Wei, Jin, South and North dynasties. Buddhism was brought into China during the Han Dynasty, and was enthusiastically promoted and encouraged by various minority nationality regimes during this time. people who had suffered greatly from the unceasing wars and upheavals wished to seek some kind of relief by worshipping gods and Buddhas. The making of Buddhist statues is a major form of Buddhist art. The statues were made of a number of materials such as gold, silver, bronze and jade, etc. Among many of the Buddhist statues on display, this one made of iron is the most eye-catching. This statue of Buddha is said to have been modeled on Yang Jian, Emperor Wendi of the Sui Dynasty. Yang Jian was born in a Buddhist nunnery, and was brought up by the nuns. He was a devout believer and a fanatic of Buddhism. He posed as the embodiment of the Buddha to become the emperor ruling the whole nation. Under the influence and support of Sui Wendi, Buddhism reached its zenith in the Sui and Tang dynasties.

The Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 AD)
Agate Cup from Tang Dynasty
The Sui and Tang dynasties were the time when China's feudal society was at the height of its power and splendor. They also marked a golden era in the history of Shaanxi. Chinese residing overseas today still regard themselves as the "descendants of the Tang Dynasty" and the place where they live as the "streets of the Tang” (China Town). This, to some ectent, reflects the enormous impact the Tang Dynasty has had on its descendants.

The Sui Dynasty was founded in 581 AD. It began to construct its capital city, Daxing, the following year. Yuwen Kai, the master architect of minority nationality, designed the blueprint and oversaw the construction of the city. In the Tang Dynasty, its name was changed to Chang’an. This is the plane figure of the Tang's Chang'an City. The new city was built on the basis of the Sui Daxing City with further improvement and expansion. As a magnificent and well-planned city, Chang'an was divided into three zones: the palace area, the administrative area and the residential area. With the Scarlet Bird Street as the axis, the city was crisscrossed with 11 vertical and 14 horizontal streets, dividing Chang'an into 108 rectangular compounds known as fang. This layout of Chang'an has served as model for capital cities in some other Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. The Tang Chang'an City covered ana area of 84.1 square kilometres, seven times the size of Byzantium, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire; six times the size of the Arabian capital of Baghdad; and 9.3 times the size of the Ming Xi'an city.

Jade from Tang Dyansty
Chinese porcelain originated far back to the ancient times. Archaeological studies have proven that China began her primitive porcelain manufacturing in the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago. In the Tang Dynasty, China ware was exported far away to foreign countries as major handicraft products. It is well-known that China was famed as a "nation of china". Here on show are Tang tri-colored glazed potteries, all being burial glazed pottery of brown, yellow and green colors. Colord glazed brought Chinese pottery craft into a new stage. However, the craft prevailed only in a rather short period in limited areas. Therefore, the small number of tri-colored glazed pottery is of priceless value today.

Dancing Horse from Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty marked another period of rapid development of Chinese bronze mirrors after the Han Dynasty. Li Longji, Emperor Xuan Zong of the Tang Dynasty offered bestowed bronze mirrors on his civil and military officials on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month, his birthday. The practice was soon imitated by the public, which further stimulated the production of bronze mirrors, the bronze mirrors, engraved with the designs of the four deities and of the 12 zodiac animals and those engraved with Confucius' questions and answers of with a design of the Eight Diagrams, are lovely and various. They are the most exquisite bronze mirrors in the Tang Dynasty.

Mural Painting from Tang Dynasty
During the Tang Dynasty, people led a relatively plentiful and stable life and abided by social rules and orders. Consequently, they enjoy more leisure and entertainments. Hunting, polo, swing, tug-of-war, acrobatics, music and dance became very popular.

The Silk Road enabled the Tang Dynasty to be even more prosperous. The Sino-overseas exchanges reached their peak during this period. Over 300 nations and regions had friendly relations with the Tang Dynasty. This is the route of the Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty. This ox-headed agate cup is made of high quality material and beautifully shaped, featuring strong Persian influence.

The Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (960-1840 AD)
Since the Song Dynasty, Shaanxi lost its position as the national capital, but it remained a place of strategic importance for the feudal dynasties to maintain control of the country’s northwest and southwest. On the other hand, it was still the military, political, economic, and cultural ecntre in the Northwestern area.

Jiaozi-money is acually a kind of paper currency, the most important currency in the Song Dynasty that was circulated in wide area. The mould-board was used to print this kind of money.

This magic iron plate was unearthed from the ruins of the Anxi Palace of the Yuan Dynasty. The magic plate is engraved with 36 Arabic numerals. The magic about this plate is that the sum of any of the six horizontally, vertically and diagonally aligned numerals equals 111. this was regarded as mysterious in ancient times, and the plate was thus called "a magic plate". It was placed under the foundations of the palace to fend off evil spirits and disasters. This magic plate is the earliest material proof of the use of Arabic numerals in Chinese mathematics.

The Song and Yuan dynasties saw rapid development of Chinese porcelain. Apart from the government-run porcelain kilns, privately-run kilns began to emerge to form a system of eight different porcelain kilns, among which the Yaozhou kilns at Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province are representative of the celadon vessels in the Northern part of China. They became more prosperous in the Song Dynasty.

This is an inverted –flow celadon kettle produced at the Yaozhou kilns during the Northern Song Dynasty. The kettle is beautifully decorated and uniquely shaped. The sprout is in the shape of a lioness lying on her back and a sucking lionet which suggests highly skillful and expert carving techniques. The transparent olive green glaze makes the vessel livelier and prettier. It is known as an inverted-flow kettle, because there is no lid at the top. The opening is at the centre of the vessel's bottom. The kettle has to be turned upside down to fill in water during which time water will not come out of the sprout. When the kettle is filled with water, it will be turned upright during which time water will normally come out of the sprout, and will not leak from the bottom. The kettle marks a clever application of the physical principle that "the water level in communicating vessels always remains level".

Opening Hours: Summer: 8:30-18:00
                               Winter: 9:00-17:30
Ticket Price: Free