Culture of the Silk Road goes on display

Wu Huixin
The China National Silk Museum, the nation's largest silk history research organization, is hosting events in June to display the cultural heritage along the road.
Wu Huixin
Culture of the Silk Road goes on display
Wu Huixin / SHINE

A restorer skilled at embroidery uses ancient techniques to restore a textile piece. 

Since 2013, after President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, China and countries along the ancient routes have been involved in cooperative projects.

The initiative aims to revive economic ties and connectivity in Eurasia. Many cities have held cultural activities themed on the Silk Road, and Hangzhou is no exception.

The China National Silk Museum, the nation’s largest silk history research organization, hosts events in June every year to display the cultural heritage along the road.

This year, its “Silk Road Week” project will last from June 19 to 24 and include a number of online and offline activities.

“Academic research is the core of this cultural week. We plan to build it into a fixed event every year to better protect the Silk Road,” said Zhao Feng, the museum’s curator.

This year, highlights will include two exhibitions, the launch of the Annual Report of Silk Road Cultural Heritage 2019 and livestreaming.

The exhibitions — “The Silk Road: Before and After Richthofen” and “Mutual Learning on the Silk Road: Stories of the Silk Road Treasures” — open on June 19 and run until August 23.

Hundreds of antiques of different ethnicities, regions and social status will be on display to show cooperation along the road.

They are on loan from museums along the countries on the Silk Road, telling visitors how the ancient route linked civilizations in trade, religion, technology, culture and arts.

The museum will be livestreaming in collaboration with around 20 other museums from June 7 to 24, to attract more online visitors and avoid too many people gathering amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Viewers will be able to visit the museums online to see exhibits unearthed along the Silk Road and watch antique experts at work. Venues will include Dunhuang Academy China, Shaanxi History Museum and Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.

The silk museum is one of the top organizations repairing ancient textiles in China and has provided such services for more than 50 museums across the country.

Culture of the Silk Road goes on display
Wu Huixin / SHINE

Restorers bring ancient textiles back to their former glory.

Culture of the Silk Road goes on display
Wu Huixin / SHINE

During the event, visitors will be able to take a closer look at experts’ ingenuity in reviving ancient costumes which have been buried underground for centuries.

Last week, Shanghai Daily visited the museum’s repair studio where expert repairers were working on the costumes worn by Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) in her mausoleum, old drapes from Tibet’s Potala Palace, and coats in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) collected from the Temple of Confucius in east China’s Shandong Province.

Culture of the Silk Road goes on display
Wu Huixin / SHINE

A pair of shoes of Empress Dowager Cixi from her mausoleum.

Where some pieces were badly decayed the fragments were stitched onto other pieces of cloth, and restorers who had studied the design and weaving technology of the time reproduced the original design, stitching techniques and embroidery as closely as possible.

The cultural week also includes seminars, lectures and interactive creative activities at the museums.

In 2014, the Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor section of the Silk Road was inscribed onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage. Thereafter, the China National Silk Museum becomes the hub of cultural exchanges among museums and organizations along the ancient route.

The museum has five exhibition halls covering millennia-old artifacts, ancient looms, ornate silk embroidery and enriched dyeing materials.

A wide scope of antiques and archives, continuous exhibitions, a myriad of natural dyeing plants and traditional silkworm breeding are accessible to visitors all year around.

China National Silk Museum

Opening hours: 9am-4:30pm (closed on Mondays)
Admission: Free
Address: 73-1 Yuhuangshan Rd

玉皇山路73-1

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