Zhejiang's cultural treasures, including rare Yucong King, on display at Zhijiang Pavilion
It is difficult to choose the top 100 treasures from all of Zhejiang Province's museums, as the province has a millennium-old civilization.
Zhejiang Province initiated a selection in February to comb through museum collections from 11 locations and eventually picked the top 100 antiquities. The top 100 pieces are now on display at the Zhejiang Museum's Zhijiang Pavilion.
"The exhibits are treasures of treasures, with distinctive Zhejiang elements and identity," said Yang Jianwu, director of the Zhejiang Cultural Heritage Bureau.
Visitors might observe the rare Yucong King (玉琮王) excavated from the Neolithic period in Liangzhu State, which spanned most of the Yangtze River Delta and had an urban milieu, social classes and a coherent belief system.
The Yucong King was discovered in a Liangzhu king's tomb. It is a big jade cylinder with a hole in the middle that weighs 6.5 kilograms and depicts deities and mythical motifs common to agrarian cultures. Its shape is thought to represent the ancient Liangzhu people's cosmology.
Various-sized yucong have been discovered around the Yangtze River Delta, but the one discovered in Hangzhou's Yuhang District is the largest and best preserved. The lines are so tiny and smooth that it's difficult to envision ancient artists carving such intricate designs with simple stone tools.
The same motifs can be found on other jade and ivory items, but they are rarely etched on pottery or stone burial objects, indicating that they may have symbolized sovereignty 5,000 years ago.
The exhibition also celebrates the historic art form of oval fans. The displayed oval fan painting from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) depicts a bird standing on a branch with light ink to vividly describe its expressions and position. The fruits appear to be plump and succulent. A single stroke in the painter's hand generated amazing tone shifts ranging from deep black to silvery gray.
According to historical records, oval fans were popular prior to the Song Dynasty (960–1279). They were made of bamboo strips and were silk-wrapped. On the surface, ink paintings and poems were painted, making them famous among noble ladies.
Hangzhou had thousands of fan-makers when it was made the capital during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The city was flooded with artists, artisans, craftsmen, and laborers who serviced noble families. Shops selling fans lined the streets.
A gold tea set from the Dongyang Museum represents the peak of beauty during the Song Dynasty. Due to its high economic value and exceptional malleability, gold has long been a prized material by craftsmen. The then royal court permitted private mining and unrestricted trade, making gold more popular in the Song Dynasty than in previous dynasties.
The hallmark of Song Dynasty art is minimalism. Wenzhou Museum has loaned another Song Dynasty exhibit. The colorful woodblock painting with the image of Canmu (蚕母, Silkworm Mother) – the immortal in charge of silkworm breeding, is thought to be the earliest colorful woodblock representation ever discovered in the world.
Throughout history, woodblock printing was used to copy and print beautiful paintings and texts, which eventually evolved into an important art form in ancient China. A multi-colored woodblock print is traditionally created using a dozen separate blocks. The time-consuming technique necessitates months of polishing.
Among the top 100 items of value is the specimen of the last South China tiger discovered in Zhejiang Province. They are now only found in breeding facilities, as the wild ones were already extinct by the 1980s.
If you go
Hours: 9am-5pm (closed on Mondays)
Venue: Zhijiang Pavilion of Zhejiang Museum
Address: Zhijiang Culture Center, Bibo Road