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Shaanxi Provincial History Museum
The Sui and Tang Dynasties

The Sui and Tang dynasties were China's feudal society at the height of their power and splendour. They aisc/marked a golden era in the history of Shaanxi. Overseas Chinese today still regard them- selves as the "descendants of the Tang" and the place where they live as the "streets of the Tang"(China Town). This, to some ex- tent, reflects the enormous impact the Tang Dynasty has had on its descendants.

The Sui Dynasty was founded in 581 A. D.. It began to con- struct its capital city, the Daxing City of Sui, in the following year. Yu Wenkai, the master architect of minority nationality, designed and oversaw the construction of the city. In the Tang Dynasty, its name was changed to Chang'an. This is the plane of the Tang's Chang'an City. The new city was built on the basis of Sui's Daxing City with further improvement and expansion. As a magnificent and well-planned city, Chang'an was divided into three zones: the palace area, the administrative area and the residential area. With the Scarlet Bird Street as the axis, the city was crisscrossed with 11 vertical and 14 horizontal streets, dividing Chang'an into 108 rect- angular compounds known as Fang. This layout of Chang'an has had far-rea ehing influence on later dynasties, and has served as a model for capital cities in some other Asian countries such as Japan and Korea.

The Tang's Chang'an City covered an area of 84. 1 square kilometres, seven times the size of Byzantine, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire; six times the size of the Arabian capital of Bagh- dad; and 9. 3 times the size of the Ming capital of the same name.

Chinese porcelain originated far back to ancient times. As ar- chaeological studies have proven that China began her primitive porcelain manufacturing in the Shang Dynasty 3,000 years ago. In the Tang Dynasty, China ware was exported far away to foreign countries as major handicraft products. It is well known that China was famed as a "nation of china". Here on show are Tang tri- coloure ceramics, all being burial objects. In the prime of the peri- od, the Tang Dynasty produced glazed pottery of brown, yellow and green colours. Colour glaze brought Chinese pottery craft into a new stage. However, the craft prevailed only in a rather short peri- od in limited areas. Therefore, the small number of tri-coloured pottery is of priceless value today.

The Tang Dynasty marked another period of rapid develop- ment of Chinese bronze mirrors after the Han Dynasty. Li Longji, Emperor Xuan Zong of the Tang Dynasty often bestowed bronze mirrors on his civil and military officials on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month, his birthday. The practice was soon imitated by the public, which further stimulated the production of bronze mirrors. The bronze mirrors, engraved with the designs of the four deities and of the 12 zodiac animals, and those engraved with Confucius' questions and answers or with a design of the Eight Dia- grams, are lovely and stylistically various. They are the most exquisite bronze mirrors in the Tang Dynasty.

Gold and silver ware was beautifully made and served as a sym- bol for the Tang Dynasty. These exquisite and gorgeous gold howls, silver plates and pomegranate-shaped vessels were mostly discovered at Hejia Village in the southern suburbs of Xi'an in 1970. More than 1,000 cultural relics of various kinds were un earthed. They included 270 gold and silver vessels ,representing the largest excavation of Tang gold and silver ware.

This gold and silver ware was excavated at the Famen Temple in Fufeng County. They included food and drink vessels, contain- ers, medical tools and daily utensils, They were of various shapes and were made with a combined technique of casting, welding, cut- ting, polishing, riveting, gilding, and gold-plating, etc. They de- pict a very high technological standard of gold and silver ware man- ufacturing in the Tang Dynasty.

During the Tang Dynasty, people led a relatively plentiful and stable life and abided by social rules and orders. Consequently, they enjoyed more leisure and entertainments. Hunting, polo, swing, tug-of-war, acrobatics, music and dance became very popular.' These are tri-coloured pottery figurines of hunters on horsebacks. These are pottery figurines of a group of shuochang (talking and singing) artists or street story tellers and singers (buskers). These are go stones of the Tang Dynasty. The red are made of agate, and the green a natural glossy precious stone. The game of go was very popular during the Tang Dynasty.

The Silk Road enabled the Tang Dynasty to be even more pros- perous. The Sino-overseas exchanges reached their peak during this period. Over 300 nations and regions had friendly relations with the Tang Dynasty Kingdom. This is the route of the Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty.

Most of these pottery figurines of horse and camel riders looks like nomads.

This vessel made of precious stones was brought into China from Rome.

This ox-headed agate cup is made of high quality material and beautifully shaped, featuring strong Persian influence.

In the display case are the white porcelain statue of a nomad's head, the black pottery figurine and white porcelain wine container of a human figure, which strongly prove the friendly exchanges be- tween the Tang Dynasty and Central Asia, and Africa.

The Prehistoric Age

the Zhou Dynasty (771--221 B. C. )

The Qin Dynasty (221--206 B. C. )

The Han Dynasty (206B. C. --220A. D. )

The Wei, Jin, South & North Dynasties (220--581 A. D. )

The Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (960--1840 A. D. )

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