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Discover cultural hallmarks of Maritime Silk Road

BY :丝路云帆

UPDATED :2023-12-29

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. To commemorate the occasion, an exhibition entitled "Good Fortune Sails Across the World: The Cultural Hallmarks of the Maritime Silk Road" opened at the Fujian Museum in Fuzhou, Fujian province, on May 18, and will last for three months.
 
It is also a special exhibition launched by the museum to mark this year's International Museum Day, which fell on May 18.


The exhibition features 295 artifacts from the ancient Maritime Silk Road, which are loaned by 35 cultural institutions and museums in China, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, and the China Maritime Museum in Shanghai.


A highlight of the display is a model fuchuan, also known as the Fujian vessel, one of the four types of ancient wooden sailing boats in China. With its flat deck, V-shaped hull, good stability in the water, and large capacity, the fuchuan had often been used as a cargo vessel since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).


Yang Jingbin, an associate researcher at the Fujian Museum, said that when Chinese navigator Zheng He from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) made his seven westward voyages, his fleets were mainly comprised of Fujian vessels.


Also on display is an inscribed gold ingot weighing nearly 2 kilograms unearthed from the tomb of Zhu Zhanji, a son of emperor Zhu Gaochi (1378-1425) in the Ming Dynasty. The inscription states that the raw material for the ingot was bought overseas by Zheng during his fifth voyage.


"It is the only artifact to date with a clear inscription that shows it is related to Zheng's voyage. It was given as a gift to Zhu Zhanji to mark his engagement," Yang said.


The exhibition also features a variety of porcelain, silk and tea, which used to be major export commodities of ancient China. Exotic products such as incense burner, spice, gem and glassware are also on display.


Such artifacts provide clues to cultural links. For example, an octagonal blue-and-white porcelain candlestick from the Ming Dynasty is highly similar to the shape of a bronze candlestick from West Asia in the 14th century. The porcelain candlestick is glazed with imported Samarra blue cobalt pigment.


"It shows the mutual influence of both cultures, reflecting the harmonious symbiosis of ancient times," Yang said.


The ancient Maritime Silk Road is a path of friendship, reciprocity and cultural communication. It is being revitalized with new meanings of the modern time, serving as a stage for China to embrace the world as a great nation, and a bond for countries along the route to jointly create a better future.
 
Sources: 福建博物院,China Daily

Editor: Pauline, Joyce