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The China National Silk Museum, opened to the public in February 1992, is located in Hangzhou City of East China’s Zhejiang Province. It is a special museum dedicated to the exhibition of China’s more than 5,000 years of silk culture and history.

The museum completed renovation in September 2003 and has been open to the public for free since January2004.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” is the museum’s main display, divided into the Prelude Hall, the Display of Silk Stories, the Display of Silk Craft, and the temporary exhibition hall.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” won the Prize of Elaborate Works in the Sixth National Top Ten Museums (2003-2004) competition.

The Great Wall museum is the first one to exhibit the Great Wall culture in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Its main building takes a shape of a typical signal fire tower on the Great Wall. Inside the museum there are seven exhibition halls. The basic part of the exhibitions, titled “the Great Wall”, is divided into four sections: the Great Wall in the spring and Autumn Period and the Warring Period, the Great Wall in Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty, the Great Wall in Sui, Tang, Liao and Jing Dynasty, and the Great Wall in Ming Dynasty. It tells the visitor the history of the Great Wall over the time of 3,000 years.

It also shows the results of the study on the Great Wall and archaeological findings of the last 50 years. There are different exhibiting forms: charts, models, diagrams, texts, and pictures. They, on the one hand, provide rich information for researchers on the Great Wall; on the other hand, provide integrated and direct knowledge for visitors. The museum is really a textbook on the Great Wall culture.

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The Terracotta Warriors Museum lies 1.5 kmeast to the Tomb of Qin First Emperor.

The Terracotta Warriors lie underground for more than 2000 years. In 1974, farmers digging a well about 1500 meters east of the tomb uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. The firstly discovered site of Terracotta Warriors was named Vault One.

In 1976, the other two vaults were uncovered 20-25 meter close to the Vault One, and were named Vault Two and Vault Three respectively. Excavation of the underground vaults of earth and timber revealed thousands of life – Terracotta Warriors in battle formation – a whole army which would accompany its emperor into immortality. The excavation was a real big shock to the whole world – the vaults are so big, the figures are so vivid and the number of the figure is so incredible!

Every figure differs from those around in facial features and expressions, clothing, hairstyle, gesture. The horsemen, the longbow bearers, the archers, the senior officers and generals were positioned in strict accordance with the ancient directives on the art of war. Many of the figures originally held real weapons of the time, such as bronze swords, longbows, arrowheads, spears, dagger-axes and other long-shaft weapons. Surface treatment of the weapons made them resistant to rust and corrosion so that after being buried for over 2000 years they were still sharp.

The Terracotta Warriors supply abundant and real objects of military, culture and economy to the study of the history of that period. The excavation of the Terracotta Warriors was regarded as one of the greatest discovery in the 20th century. In Dec. 1987, the UNESCO ranked the Tomb of the First Emperor (including the Terracotta Warriors Vaults) into the list of World Cultural Heritages. Standing in the exhibition hall, one would be shocked by such a grand ancient army formation, which will lead you back to the ancient warring situation. The tomb is a treasury for the Chinese people and for the whole world as well.

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The National Museum of China, a four-storeyed main building with two symmetrical wings, runs more than 300 meters north and south along the eastern side of Tian’anmen Square. The predecessors of the National Museum are two museums: the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution, which shared the same building complex. The building was one of ten famous architectures built in 1959 to mark the 10thanniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. The Museum of Chinese History was in the South Wing while the North Wing housed the Museum of the Chinese Revolution. They were both opened to the public in 1961.

The building has a rectangular exterior and faces the Great Hall of the People. Twenty-four square pillars make up the magnificent west gate portico. With its classical color and imposing structure, the whole building is an important part of the panorama of Tian’anmen Square.

 Part1 About the Museum of Chinese History

The predecessor of the Museum of Chinese History is the Beijing History Museum built in 1912 and was opened to the public in October 1926. In August 1958, the Chinese government decided to establish a new national museum on the eastern side of Tian’anmen Square. The construction was completed in October 1959.

The Museum of Chinese History displays three main periods of Chinese history. The first, the Primitive Society, spans from 500,000BC to 4,000BC. The exhibits in the Slavery Society section cover the time from 2,100BC to 475BC and the Feudal Society exhibits focus on the period from 221BC to 1911.

Many of the items on display are national treasures and precious rarities. Examples include the famous fossil remains of Yuanmo Man and Beijing Man, the remarkable painted pottery and jade wares of the Neolithic Age, the Simuwu RectangleDing(a kind of vessel) of the Shang Dynasty (cast over 3, 000 years ago and weighing 832. 84kg — the heaviest ancient bronze ware in the world), the Shang Dynasty square bronzeZun(wine vessel) decorated with four sheep heads and the large inscribed Western Zhou Dynasty (11thcentury BC – 771BC) bronzePan(water container). Other exhibits include a gold-inlaid bronze tally in the shape of a tiger (this was used by Emperor Qinshihuang for military affairs), a Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) jade burial suit sewn with gold thread, magnificent Tri-colored Glazed Pottery of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), world-renowned Song Dynasty (960-1279) ceramics, and a rare bronze human figure marked with acupuncture points. Such treasures as these depict the rich and disparate evolution of the Chinese civilization.

Since 1992, about 100 short-term exhibitions have been held in the National Museum of Chinese History. Exhibitors have included both international and domestic organizations, as well as private individuals.

Part2 About the Museum of the Chinese Revolution

The Museum of the Chinese Revolution emphasizes the history of the past 150 years, in particular the history of the Communist Party of China. It is divided into three sections.

The exhibits in the Old Democratic Revolution section cover the period from 1840 to 1911. Events between 1911 and 1949 fall into the New Democratic Revolution section. The third section is entitled “The Triumph of the Revolution and the Establishment of Socialism” and covers events after 1949.

Much of China’s modern history is exhibited, including the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (1919-1921), the first two civil wars (1924-1927 and 1927-1937), the resistance war against Japanese aggression (1937-1945) and the liberation war (1945-1949). The museum is frequently updated to reflect the developments of modern political history.

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The Summer Palace of Beijing began construction in 1750. It was badly damaged during the war in 1860, but was repaired on its original site in 1886. Its man-made landscapes including the pavilions, the Long Corridor, palaces, temples and bridges and its natural hills and extensive lake surface perfectly and harmoniously combine together, and make it an excellent work of China’s scenery garden and park design.

Long Corridor (Chang Lang)

The Long Corridor was originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) and then rebuilt in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) because the Anglo-French Allied Forces burned it down in 1860.

It starts from Inviting the Moon Gate in the east and ends at Shizhang Pavilion in the west, covering a distance of 728 meters with its 273 sections. Of all the corridors in Chinese classical gardens, the Long Corridor is the longest. On the beams are more than 8,000 colorful paintings depicting stories from Chinese classical novels, folk tales, landscapes as well as flora and fauna. Four pavilions, “Mesmerizing Scenery”, “Harmonizing with the Lake”, “Autumn Water” and “Clear and Carefree”, with octahedral structures and double eaves, were built intermittently along the corridor.

Taking the Hall that Dispels the Clouds as the center, the Long Corridor stretches symmetrically to the east and the west along the foot of the hill and the water bank, linking all the structures scattered along the Longevity Hill side into a whole.

Kunming Hu (Kunming Lake)

Kunming Lake, once a natural lake where numerous mountain springs in the northwest of Beijing converged, was previously known as Great Lake, Jar Hill Lake, etc. After Beijing became the capital city of the Yuan Dynasty, Guo Shoujing, an expert in irrigation works at the time, supervised the redirection of the spring water from the Divine Mountains in Changping, to the lake. The spring water, drawing in the tributary waters along the way, made the lake into a reservoir that greatly facilitated the transportation of grain.

During the Ming Dynasty, a large number of lotus flowers were planted in the lake. In the surrounding area were rice paddies, temples, pavilions and other finely built structures, creating a great view that resembled the landscape of south China. For this reason it became known as the West Lake, after its namesake in the southern city of Hangzhou. With construction of the Garden of Clear Ripples during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the lake was expanded to its current size. Emperor Qianlong then named it “Kunming”, inspired by Emperor Liuche of the Han Dynasty, who once constructed an artificial lake called the “Kunming Pool” to practise battles on the water.

The current lake covers an area of over 200 hectares, making up three quarters of the whole garden. In accordance with the “three islands in one pool” principle for the design of water features in imperial gardens, three islands were built on the lake, namely, the “South Lake Island”, the “Mirror of Government Tower” and the “Hall of Recognition of Talent Island”. The West Causeway, imitating the Su Causeway of the West Lake in Hangzhou, was also constructed.

The glistening waters, the meandering banks, well-arranged islands, and a host of architectural structures in different styles, both near and far, all combine to present a wonderful view of the Summer Palace landscape, a view dominated by Kunming Lake. Scientific research in the 1990s showed that the lake dates back over 3,500 years.

Shiqi Kong Qiao (Seventeen-Arch Bridge)

Built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750), this 150-meter bridge links the east bank and the South Lake Island. It is the longest bridge in any Chinese imperial garden and was named for its seventeen arches. Over 500 stone lions in different poses are carved on the posts of the bridge’s railings. At both ends of the bridge are carved four strange animals. Strong and powerful, they are outstanding evidence of Qing stone carving.

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Archway of Modesty:

Built in 1750,the Archway of Modesty, is a structure with four pillars .Each side of its stone lintel is inscribed with two Chinese characters in the handwriting of Emperor Qianlong –“Han Xu”on one side ,and “Yan Xiu”on the other ,which describe the picturesque beauty of this imperial garden.

 East Palace Gate:

The East Palace Gate ,oriented to the east,is the front gate of the Summer Palace .For a time it was reserved exclusively for the use of the Qing emperors and empresses.Hanging under the eaves of the gateway is a gilded nameboard decorated with nine dragon paterns an inscribed with the three Chinese characters”Yi He Yuan”in the calligraphy of Emperor Guangxu.

Hall of Benevolence and Longevity (Renshou Dian):

First built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) during the Qing dynasty, this building was named the Hall of Diligent Government when the whole Summer Palace area was called the Garden of Clear Ripples. In the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886), the Hall was rebuilt where it had been before the Anglo-French Allied Forces burned it down in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860). Citing the saying “the benevolent enjoy longevity” from the Analects of Confucius, it was renamed the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. This was where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats during their stay in the Summer Palace. As such, it was the Summer Palace’s main government building.1898,Emperor Guangxu met Kang Youwei,leader of the reformers,and appointed him reform counselor,declaring an institutional reform.

Garden of Virtue and Harmony (Dehe Yuan):

This garden is lying north of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, was built as a theater for the Empress Dowager. Its construction began in the 17th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1891) and lasted for five years. The garden consists of the Great Stage, the Hall of Health and Happiness,and Qingshan Hall.The three-storey theater stage is the biggest and best-preserved wooden stage of delicate design and magnificent structure, and is therefore of much scientific and artistic value. Famous Beijing Opera actors of the Qing Dynasty such as Yang Xiaolou and Tan Xinpei would come here to perform for the Empress Dowager and the stage was regarded as the “Cradle of Beijing Opera”. The Empress Dowager also granted special permission for some of the princes, dukes and cabinet ministers to watch Beijing opera here.

Visitors can imagine the scene when the Empress Dowager watched opera in this garden. A large number of precious articles used by emperors and empresses, as well as some of the gifts presented to the Qing court by foreign states, are on display here.

Zhichun Ting (Heralding Spring Pavilion):

Built on the small island in front of the Hall of Jade Ripples, beside Kunming Lake’s east bank, the pavilion backs onto a hill and to the south it faces the sun. This position permits a privileged view of spring’s arrival, thus it was christened Heralding Spring Pavilion. It provides the best overall view of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, as well as wonderful views of the scenery from the Jade Spring Hills and the Western Hills.

Wenchang Yuan (Wenchang Gallery):

Located to the east of the Wenchang Tower in the Summer Palace, the Wenchang Gallery is the largest and the most impressive gallery of its kind in any classical Chinese garden.

On display in its six halls are thousands of artifacts extracted from the Summer Palace, covering some 3,600 years from the Shang and Zhou dynasties to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The exhibits include bronzeware, jewelry, chinaware, furniture, paintings, calligraphy, ancient books, enamels, clocks, handicrafts made of gold, silver, bamboo, wood, ivory, horn and lacquer, and other miscellaneous items, representing almost all types of Chinese antiques. As one would expect in an imperial garden, these artifacts demonstrate the highest techniques and craftsmanship of their times, and many were once highly important symbols of the state. Also on display in the halls are objects related to the everyday life of emperors and empresses in the Qing court. They are of great historical value and provide some of the most reliable material evidence of the court culture in imperial China.

Yulan Tang (Hall of Jade Ripples):

Originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) with passageways in all directions, the hall was burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860). It was reconstructed in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) as the emperor’s living quarters. Following the failure of the 1898 Reforms under Emperor Guangxu, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered that the courtyard be blocked off, thereby converting it into a place for keeping the Emperor under house arrest.

Yiyun Guan (Yiyun Hall):

Yiyun means the collection of books. The hall was originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) with two side wings, each with five bays. The east wing was named the “Method Keeping Room” and the west one was named the “Nearing the West Room”. Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860), it was rebuilt in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) to serve as a residence for the Empress.

These were the living quarters for Empress Long Yu when she, as Emperor Guangxu’s wife, stayed in the Summer Palace. A niece of the Empress Dowager Cixi, she had the title of Empress bestowed on her in the first month of the 15th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1889). When Emperor Guangxu and the Empress Dowager Cixi died of ill health and Puyi became Emperor in 1908, she was elevated to the position of Empress Dowager under the imperial title of Long Yu. In this capacity, she issued an order to give up the throne in 1911 after the Wuchang Uprising.

Hall of Happiness in Longevity (Leshou Tang):

Built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750), the Hall of Happiness in Longevity originally had two floors. Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860), it was reconstructed in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) to serve as the living quarters for Empress Dowager Cixi during her stay in the Summer Palace.

 

Wenchang Ge (Wenchang Tower):

The biggest of the six gate forts(Purple Cloud Tower、Tower of Cloud-Retaining Eaves、Tower of Dawn Light、Tongyun Chengguan、Qianfengcaicui Chengguan、Wenchang Tower)in the Summer Palace garden, the Wenchang Tower was first built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) and rebuilt under Emperor Guangxu after it was burned down in 1860 by the Anglo-French Allied Forces. A bronze statue of the god, Wenchang, and statues of two followers, the celestial boy, and the bronze steed, were placed in the two-storey pavilion. This tower pairs up with the Tower of Cloud-Retaining Eaves, located on the west bank of Kunming Lake, in which a statue of the Martial God was placed. The twin towers symbolize the support by both scholars and warriors to the ruling emperor.

Wind of Virtue (Yangren Feng):

Originally built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong, this hall is shaped as if it were a folding fan. The ribs of the fan are the steps in front of the hall, which are made from stone slates; its axis is white marble. Hence the folk name “Hall of the Fan Blade”. Its official name “Wind of Virtue” comes from a story in the Biography of Yuan Hong, Book of the Jin Dynasty. When Yuan Hong was leaving to take up his new post as governor of Dongyang, Xie An, Prime Minister at the time, presented him with a fan. Upon accepting the gift, Yuan replied: “I will fan the wind of virtue to comfort the common people”, indicating that he would make good policies to appease the common people.

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The Taipei Palace Museum and the famous Forbidden City in Beijing are derived from the same institution, which was split into two as a result of the Chinese Civil War. Covering a total area of 1200 mu (about 198 acres), the Palace Museum is located in the outskirts of Taipei City. Construction started in 1962 and the museum was inaugurated on November 12, 1965, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the great Chinese revolutionary. Thus, the museum is also named as Yat-sen Museum. The splendid architecture of the structure is modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and incorporates elements of traditional Chinese royal design in feudal society. The museum itself has four floors. The first, second and third floors are used for exhibitions, while the fourth floor is a lounge where visitors can rest.

The Taipei Palace Museum houses large collection of priceless Chinese artifacts and artwork, including ancient bronze castings, calligraphy, scroll paintings, porcelain, jade, and rare books, many of which were possessions of the former imperial family. The full collection, which consists of some 650,000 pieces, spans many dynasties. Each exhibit, however, puts on display only about 1,700 pieces at a time. At this rate, assuming a duration of three months for each exhibit, it will take 100 years to cycle through the entire collection! Incredible!

On the left side of the museum hall is Chih-shan Garden, which showcases many of the elements of traditional Chinese gardening art. Inside the garden, pavilions, little bridges, flowing water, winding paths and green trees combine to create an atmosphere of simplicity and serenity. On the pillars of the pavilion, verses of well-known calligraphers are carved, increasing the beauty of the area and the pleasure of visitors – even those who cannot read the graceful characters.

On the right side of the museum hall is Chih-te Garden. Strolling through it, you will marvel at the beauty of the pavilions, bridges and ponds that grace this garden, especially in autumn, when the cool wind carries the fragrance of the lotus and sweet-scented osmanthus.

Also part of the Taipei Palace Museum is the Chang Dai-ch’ien Memorial Residence, which was the home of the celebrated painter Chang Dai-ch’ien (1901-1984).

One of the treasures of this museum is a jade cabbage, which was part of the dowry of Concubine Jin in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). What’s amazing about this jade cabbage is that it is carved from a single piece of jade that is half grey and half emerald green. The artist carved the leaves from the green part and used the grey part as the outside of the cabbage. Two red katydids posed on the cabbage make this work of art so realistic that if you nipped it with your fingernails you would expect to see juice drip from the wound. When it was carved, cabbage stood for the purity of a family, while the katydids were the symbol of many children-obviously good symbolism for an object that was part of a dowry.

It is said that originally the jade cabbage was the dowry of Concubine Zhen. So why was it found in the room of Concubine Jin? The answer is that Concubine Jin and Concubine Zhen were sisters. When Emperor Guangxu chose them as concubines, their father prepared munificent dowries for them. Concubine Jin loved jewelry, so she was given a huge amount of money and valuables; while her little sister Concubine Zhen was fond of books, so her father gave the priceless jade cabbage to her. When Concubine Jin discovered that there was no jade cabbage in her box, she became angry and cried. In order to comfortable her elder sister, Concubine Zhen gave the treasure to Concubine Jin, thus making it part of her sister’s dowry.

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The Palace Museum is housed in the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, and the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government.

Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 square metres. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

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There are 1,517 museums now in China. Local non-governmental museums included, the number of museums nationwide has reached some 2,000. With a collection of over 20 million items, these museums hold more than 8,000 exhibitions every year. Some museums of cultural relics, such as the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an, have become internationally known tourist attractions. The government encourages exchanges of cultural relics exhibitions between museums and promotes the display and exchanges of legal non-governmental collections. Beijing, as the capital of China, has 123 museums, with an annual number of over 30 million visitors.

By 2015, China will build 1,000 more museums on top of what it has already, meaning that almost every city above medium size will possess a comprehensive museum.