'China Before China' explores the past and uncovers priceless memories

Xu Wei
"China Before China" is a documentary series that celebrates Chinese perseverance and cultural and technological advances down the ages.
Xu Wei

A documentary series, "China Before China," sheds light on the genesis and evolution of the rich, prosperous and bright Chinese civilization.

Produced by the Shanghai Media Group, the documentary will be broadcast on Dragon TV. Although the exact broadcasting date is not set, the producers of the series have just released a trailer of 50 cultural relics spanning 8,000 years. These relics, which include a bronze food vessel, a pottery vase and a jade handicraft, connect the past to the present and tell incredible tales about the country's development.

The documentary pays tribute to the foresight and perseverance of the Chinese, who developed numerous cultural and technological innovations over the course of time. It has boosted the cultural confidence of the Chinese to create new glories.

Chinese civilization has flourished uninterrupted and been passed down through generations.

In spite of wars and numerous dynastic changes throughout its history, the roots and foundation of Chinese culture were never disturbed. Today, it retains its vibrancy, diversity and resilience, offering distinctive Chinese approaches to a variety of situations.

The eight-episode documentary series roped in 90-year-old archaeologist Yan Wenming, and Professor Qin Ling, from Peking University, as well as historians from the country's top universities, to provide scholarly support during its filming.

The crew spent months examining archaeological reports and articles and conversing with academics about their latest findings. They visited museums and archeological sites in China, including Sanxingdui in Sichuan Province, Liangzhu in Zhejiang Province and Erlitou in Henan Province.

'China Before China' explores the past and uncovers priceless memories

Crew of documentary series "China Before China"

They documented historical discoveries and uncovered priceless memories and cultural connotations associated with the relics.

For instance, the documentary explores the significance of the dragon totem in ancient culture through jade and bronze artefacts styled like dragons. It also details the evolution of ancient Chinese agriculture, water management, science and technology.

'China Before China' explores the past and uncovers priceless memories

Viewers will learn how this country has been united and respectful of different cultures throughout its long history.

There are many touching stories. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the bronze tripod "Da Ke Ding" was given to the Shanghai Museum by its former collector, Pan Dayu. During the troubled 1930s and 1940s, she hid the bronze tripod from the Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-476 BC) in a big wooden box under her living room.

Even if cultural treasures take centerstage in the documentary, China is the protagonist, a personified character, the film's chief director Gan Chao said. From the perspective of relics and archeological discoveries in the country, the documentary illustrates China's development.

The first season examines Chinese culture from the end of the Paleolithic Period to the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD220) dynasties. The difficulty they face is establishing an emotional link between the artefacts from so many years ago and the people of today.

"The confusion and emotions of people in modern times were shared by our ancestors, who found solutions to many problems," said director Gan. "Through artefacts, we intend to transport visitors to various historical eras so they can learn about their way of life."

He said that a number of well-known international broadcasters had already shown intent of cooperation to get the documentary shown overseas.

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