Monday, July 16, 2012

Liaoning (Proving) Museum in Shenyang

I visited Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang in May, when I visited my family there.  It had impressive collections of ancient jade, bronze and other artifacts from the region and beyond.  The region was a multiple-ethnic region rich with cultural diversity and long history belied its crude and backwater reputation.

Its most eye-popping artifact was a huge (size of a large extended hand) jade "Pig Dragon", the so called original dragon in China, from a site prove to be the oldest known civilization in China:

Goddes from the Oldest Civilization in China - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9626
Goddess from the Oldest Civilization in China

Pig Dragon - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9633
Original Dragon - Pig Dragon

Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9640
Tomb from the ancient civilization

In a special archeology exhibit, I saw amazing grains of 7,000 to 10,000 year old and some slightly younger earthware:

7000-10,000 years old rice and other grains - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9524
7000-10,000 years old rice and other grains

4200-3600 B.C. - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9537
4200-3600 B.C. Earthware

2600 B.C. - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9532
2600 B.C.  Earthware

Rolling Pin - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9536
Rolling Pin

More flashy artifacts were gigantic cast bronze wares and utensils, often for religious purposes, dating from Shang (1600-1046 BC) and Zhou (1046–256 BC) Dynasties:

Zhou Dynasty Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9560
Zhou Dynasty Artifacts

Bronze Collections - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9650
Bronze Collections from the Museum

Tomb from Shang Dynasty - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9585
Shang Dynasty Tomb and Artifacts

Bronze and Its Patterns - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9651 Bronze and Its Patterns - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9652
Bronze and Patterns

Bronze from Liaoning Region - Liaoning 
(Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9641
Bronze from Liaoning Region

I also found ancient coin collections fascinating, particularly those molds for coins in the shape of knives:

Coins - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9598 Coins - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9591
Ancient coins

Coins and molds - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9593
Coins and molds

Burial rituals were represented by a reconstructed tomb of a general in the region and some tomb wall paintings:

Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9685
Reconstruction of the General Tomb at Micanggou in Huanren

Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9691
Reconstruction of the General Tomb at Micanggou in Huanren

Tomb Wall Paintings - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9675
Tomb Wall Paintings

Tomb Wall Paintings - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9676
Tomb Wall Paintings

Liaoning region was a multi-ethnic region and not part of the traditional Chinese culture, so the Museum boasted some artifacts from Khitan and Manchu People.  Manchu people were those who established the last dynasty in China, Qing (1644 - 1912), while Khitan people were "a nomadic Mongolic people, originally from Mongolia and Manchuria (the northeastern region of modern day China) from the 4th century. As the Liao Dynasty they dominated a vast area north of, and including parts of, China; but have left few relics that have survived until today. After the fall of Liao in 1125, many Khitans moved further west and established the state of Kara Khitai, which was finally destroyed by the Mongol Empire in 1218." [Source: Wikipedia]

Below are pictures of some selected artifacts of Khitan and Manchu People:

Khitan People Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9726

Khitan People Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9728 Khitan People Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9723

Khitan People Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9719

Official seals with Khitan Scripts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9704
Official seals with Khitan Inscriptions

Gold Crafts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9504
Gold crafts from Qing Dynasty

Manchu People Artifacts - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9737
Manchu People Artifacts - War Equipments

The Museum was not a fine art museum but it often staged special fine art exhibits, such as the one I saw in May - Zhang Daqiang (Chang Dai-Chen) (May 10, 1899 – April 2, 1983) and Dunhuang.  Zhang or Chang was one of the best-known Chinese artists of the twentieth century, originally made his name as a traditional Chinese painter, then by the 1960s he became a modern impressionist and expressionist painter. In the early part of the 20th century, he went to Dunhuang to study Buddhist art in hundreds of painted caves.  Below are his original painting and his cave painting study:

Zhang Daqian and Dunhuang - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9473

Zhang Daqian and Dunhuang - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9462

I also saw a calligraphy scroll by him in the exhibition, with many personal seals at the bottom - seals on Chinese paintings and calligraphy were important for authentication.  A man stood in front of the scroll endlessly and documented from every possible angle of every single details.  Someone murmured that the purpose of such study was forgery.  Perhaps.

Zhang Daqian and Dunhuang - Liaoning (Province) Museum in Shenyang, China _ 9479

Label: Shenyang Trip 2012


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