Assimilation into Han Culture: The Ancient Funerary Pottery of Guangxi - Hong Kong Museum of History

2014-07-15 10:00 - 2014-09-15 18:00

Assimilation into Han Culture: The Ancient Funerary Pottery of Guangxi - Hong Kong Museum of History

When: 16 Jul - 15 Sep 2014
Where: 1/F Lobby, Hong Kong Museum of History
Opening Reception: 15 Jul 2014

Pottery model of two oxen ploughing

Pottery model of two oxen ploughing, Southern Dynasties, Unearthed in 1980 from Cangwu County, Collection of Wuzhou City Museum
The strip of unploughed land in the middle of this paddy field model divides the farm into two sections. In each section, a person is ploughing with the help of an ox. This model shows how oxen were employed in farming during the Southern Dynasties.


The exhibition "Assimilation into Han Culture: The Ancient Funerary Pottery of Guangxi" reveals details of how Guangxi people lived and the dwellings they lived in more than 2000 years ago by showcasing historic clay models including houses, granaries and wells unearthed in Guangxi.

The exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Department of Culture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Bureau of Cultural Relics of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and is co-organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Guangxi Institute of Cultural Relic Protection and Archaeology.

Red pottery boat with drum and figurines

Red pottery boat with drum and figurines, Eastern Han, Unearthed in 2010 from Gui County (Guigang City), Collection of Guangxi Institute of Cultural Relic Protection and Archaeology
This boat features cabins at the bow, middle and stern. The bow and the middle cabins have arch-shaped canopies. The stern cabin is narrow but extremely tall and sits on the poop deck. The canopies are sloped in tent shapes. There are fifteen figurines of different sizes on the boat: one on the poop deck, two slightly larger figurines in the middle cabin, and twelve at the bow (two groups of four figures can be seen rowing the boat, with one at the front giving rowing commands). Four oarlocks can be seen on both sides of the boat next to the rower figurines. A bollard and a baffle are located at the bow along with a pottery drum, the surface of which is decorated with a sun design. The structure of the boat’s body shows that it is a model of a large river vessel. Lingnan faces the ocean and its area is covered with rivers and streams. Boats are a convenient means of transportation. Pottery boats vividly depict the structure of boats from the Eastern Han period and also reflect how people lived on the water.

An opening ceremony officiating guests included the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mr Yang Jian; the Vice President of the People's Government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Ms Li Kang; the Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR, Mr Hu Jianzhong; the Director-General of the Department of Culture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Mr Huang Yu; the Acting Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Cynthia Liu; and the Museum Director of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Susanna Siu.

Pottery house with hip roof, Eastern Han

Pottery house with hip roof, Eastern Han, Unearthed in 1989 from Hepu County, Collection of Hepu County Museum
This is a tower style structure. Along the central axis is the main block with a gate tower, a courtyard, and a second level with a balcony. All the roofs are of the hip roof variety. On both sides of the courtyard stand decorative enclosing walls, on which wooden structures such as columns, beams, dougong brackets, and a door guard holding a dagger-axe are engraved.

As they are both situated in the Lingnan region, Hong Kong and Guangxi share similar cultural roots. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Tsang Tak-sing said that this exhibition features 76 items/sets of rare burial pottery dating from the Western Han to the Southern Dynasties including model houses, granaries, wells, stoves, and boat and animal figurines. These precious cultural relics reflect the assimilation of the Yue and Han cultures in the Lingnan region, and illustrate details of residential architectural features and social and economic life in Guangxi during the Han Dynasty.

Mr Tsang said that two pottery models - a granary and a well - unearthed from the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb, the forms of which were very similar to those unearthed in Guangxi, are highlighted at the exhibition to demonstrate the common Lingnan cultural roots shared by Hong Kong and Guangxi.

As beliefs and customs such as "ruling by filial piety" and "honouring the dead as if they were alive" were advocated in the early Han, funerals involved many burial items - sometimes as many as those needed by the living. Pottery items related to eating, living, clothing and even travelling were made and buried in tombs with the deceased. These items were buried alongside the dead so they could enjoy an equally pleasant life in the afterworld.

During the mid-Western Han to late Eastern Han, funerary objects closely related to daily life were found in large quantities. These include various pottery items such as model houses, granaries, wells, stoves, paddy fields, and human and animal figurines. In particular, the model houses faithfully depict the living conditions of the time as they encapsulate in miniature people's dwellings during the Han dynasty. The changes in the pottery models' shapes and forms also reflect the interaction of various cultures and the socio-economic development of the time. These pottery models created more than 2,000 years ago not only reveal people's beliefs, they also illustrate forms, features, and development patterns of ancient architecture. Moreover, they provide crucial data in the study of social and economic development.


Free Admission
Opening Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00-19:00 (Sat-Sun, public holidays), Closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays)
Tel: 852-27249042
Add: 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong


*Information provided by Leisure and Cultural Services Deparment. All Rights Reserved.


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