Gateway to Maritime Silk Road


100 cultural relics exhibited in GZ Museum

BY :丝路云帆

UPDATED :October 27, 2022


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Guangzhou, a city with more than 2,200 years of history, has been endowed with profound culture and rich heritages, where Lingnan culture, maritime silk road culture, innovative culture, and patriotic passion are all converged and developed harmoniously.

To better popularize the city's history and culture, Guangzhou Museum has launched an exhibition titled Get to Know Canton: Exhibition of 100 Cultural Relics about the City at Zhenhailou Tower, lasting till February 5, 2023.

The exhibition, comprised of four parts, displays 100 selected pieces of cultural relics from Guangzhou Museum's collection, including 43 pieces/sets of rare cultural relics, which best represent the local history and culture.

Of those precious artifacts, 16 sets are rated first-class, which is the largest number of first-class relics exhibited in the museum's original thematic exhibition in recent years.

Part One: Lingnan Culture: diversity and integration

Cultural artifacts of Part One showcase the development of Lingnan area when the emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-207 B.C.) united the region and built Panyu (present-day Guangzhou).
The lid of a black lacquer box engraved with characters "蕃禺" discovered at a tomb from the Qin Dynasty in Xicun's Shitougang in 1953

"蕃禺" was inscribed on the black lacquered wooden lid with red cloud patterns. It has been the earliest archaeological finding bearing the inscription of "蕃禺" so far.Iron pot from Fanghuayuan (a garden for the Southern Han Dynasty's emperor), Southern Han Dynasty (917-971)

Part Two: Maritime Silk Road: Openness and Mutual Learning

By taking a closer look at these maritime silk road-related cultural relics discovered in Guangzhou, visitors will get an insight into Canton as the only city in China that never closes its door for trade throughout history.A blue-and-white porcelain plate featuring cockfighting pattern salvaged from the wreck of Swedish ship GötheborgTea excavated from the shipwreck of Swedish ship Götheborg, provided by Cai Hongsheng professor of Sun Yat-sen University

Canton — China's largest tea market in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) — had once been the only port in the country for foreign trade. Around 450,000 dans (dan, a unit of weight) of tea from Canton were shipped to the world yearly until 1840. The exhibit Rihaoyu, a kind of Fujian tea exported through Canton, was rescued from the Götheborg shipwreck, of which the color and flavor remain.Hu people figurines unearthed at a tomb from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) at Changyaoling in 1976

As sea trade was in full flourish in the Tang and Song dynasties, many foreign merchants visited Canton to do business and some of them, mostly Arab merchants from Persia, Tazi, etc., would stay after the trade season. The pair of figurines reflect the images of the exotic merchants at that time.Lead coins cast with Chinese characters of Qian Heng Zhong Bao (乾亨重宝), Southern Han Dynasty

The coins minted by Emperor Gaozu of the Southern Han Dynasty had the largest amount in currency circulation at that time, and had been used for the longest time in the market. They were also found in the Intan Wreck at the Java Sea in 1997, proving the prosperity of overseas trade during the Southern Han Dynasty.Statue of wooden carved sitting Buddhist arhat, Tang DynastyCeramic figurine, late Western Dynasty, unearthed at Dayuangang in 1955

Part Three: Innovative Culture: Endeavor and Exploration

With Canton's handicrafts in the Qing Dynasty as focus, the exhibits of Part Three tell the story about how craftsmen inherited traditions, integrated Chinese style techniques with those of the West, and continually created delicate and exquisite artworks featuring Canton style.Gilt oval porcelain plate with the pattern of opera figures, the reign of Jiaqing Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1796-1820)White silk shawl with embroidered flower pattern, late Qing DynastyPottery statue Paiwengong (a man swatting a mosquito) created by Liu Zuochao in Shiwan Kiln

Part Four: Patriotic Passion: Passing on of tradition

As witnesses of patriotic passion in Guangzhou, the exhibits in this section reveal the passing on of patriotic tradition of Guangzhou people.A temporary certificate for member of Guangdong Farmers Institute
Exhibition Information

Date: September 27, 2022 - February 5, 2023
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Closed on Mondays)
Venue: Guangzhou Museum (Zhenhailou Tower)

Source: Guangzhou Museum
Photos: 丝路云帆, Guangzhou Museum
Editors: Joyce, Annie