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Sanxingdui Museum

Sanxingdui Museum
The unique Sanxingdui Museum is near the Sanxingdui archaeological site that dates back to 2000 B.C. The site is north of Nanxing Town of Guanghan City in Sichuan Province. Due to its scope, the wealth of its contents, and the rarity and precious nature of its excavated objects, the site was declared a National Key Cultural Relics Protected Unit in 1988.

The discovery of a large number of spectacular relics created a great sensation. In 1986, two large sacrificial pits of Shang Period (1600-1100BC) were unearthed with more than one thousand gold, bronze, and jade objects, shocking the entire country and shaking the world. Among other things, the finds proved that Sanxingdui was the capital of the ancient Shu Kingdom more than 3,000 years ago.

Amongst the hoards of prize antiquities, there are a variety of unique, grotesque bronze works. These include such things as a stately standing figure, a freakish bronze mask, and a towering bronze holy tree, all unparalleled treasures for their age and completeness. In addition, the gold wares such as a gleaming gold sculpture and the jade wares like the motif tablets have turned out to be the first ever seen of their kind.

The design of the museum is simple, but solemn. It has a certain poetic charm resulting from its historical and geographical features combined with the cultural art. The mound-shaped architectural complex seems to come out from the earth abruptly. This design was intended to symbolize the local culture, telling the world that this is the source of Shu culture and the entire Yangtze River civilization. The winding, arc-shaped architecture directly expresses the profound nature of these mounds. On top of the structure, a triangular tower represents the connection of heaven and earth, gods and human beings. The three large bronze masks were hung high on top of the tower. They are the symbols of the Sanxingdui Museum, still shining the light of the Shu people who lived millennia ago.

The grounds and environment of the museum are exceptionally beautiful. The surrounding space is large and is arranged as in a park, with pools, collections of stones, flowers and trees. The setting is meant to mimic the natural beauty of the nearby streams.

Bird-Headed Ladle
Bronze Human-Head Figure with Gold Mask
The discovery of the Three-Star Piles Relic was a lucky chance. In the spring of 1929, a peasant found a piece of bright-colored jade whilst he was digging ditch. That was the catalyst to the discovery of a mysterious ancient kingdom; subsequently, more than 400 jade items were excavated. Later, from 1933, systematic excavations and archeological work of the relic continued for half a century. The evidence of the excavation shows the development from late Neolithic Age (7000 BC-5000 BC) through to the late Shang (16th - 11th century BC) and early Zhou Period (11th century BC - 711 BC). The relic site, with more than 3,000-year history might even be the capital of ancient Shu. And this discovery uncovered the veiling of Shu and padded the blankness of bronze culture in Chinese archaeological history. In the following decades, several generations of archaeologists worked in succession on the site and achieved a lot, especially the two sacrificial pits found in 1986. With more than 1000 cultural relics unearthed, including a 142-centimeter (about 55.9 inches) long and 500-gram (about 31drams) golden staff, a golden veiled head portrait, a 260-centimeter (about 102.4 inches) tall and 180-kilogram (about 396.8 pounds) bronze figure, also a big bronze mask with more than 10 centimeters (about 3.9 inches) bulging pupils and two ears spaced at 168 centimeters (about 66.1 inches) and a big Yuzhang (a kind of jade adornment of the leader of a tribe, the symbol of power). Some cultural relics are apotheosized and mysterious, some are realistic, and some primitive simplicity but all of them are very impressive, which aroused worldwide attention.
The discovery of Three-Star Piles Relic is heart-stirring but some cultural relics remain enigmatic. According to experts, the relic is the centuries-old center of the ancient Shu on Chengdu Plain. Traditionally, archaeology considered Shu as a closed area and without communications to the Central Plain (the most developed region in ancient China), but the cultural relics unearthed here have affirmed ancient Shu is no less developed than the Central Plain and it is even the most representative cradle of Chinese civilization in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. So research of the discovered site is a significant means to comprehend the development of history and culture in Sichuan, and even the southwest area of China as a whole, but the site is still enigmatic. The ancient Shu characters are one of the two or three unbroken characters. Some cultural relics can not be named as the archaeologists have never seen their ilk before, which also add some mysterious color to the site.

Jade Arrowhead
In order to well preserve and display the cultural relics, the Sanxingdui Museum laid the foundation in 1992 and opened in October, 1997. It is divided into four sections, displayed more than 1000 pieces of cultural relics from the site and the two sacrificial pits of Shang Period, including gold plate, bronze ware, jade articles, pottery and ivory. Each of the four sections has its own theme.
Section 1 Splendor of Ancient Shu Culture.
The section is divided into five units. The first unit outlines the history of the ancient Shu and introduced the background of the ancient Shu. The next four units reflected skill, imagination and technical achievements of the Shu people through their handicraft techniques.

Earthen Wine Vessels
Earthen Wine VesselsMore than 10 groups of cultural relics exhibited here are the soul treasures that symbolize the Shu people's ever lasting spirit.




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