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Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

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Sanxingdui Ruins Museum Introduction

Situated on the south bank of Yazi River in the northeast of Guanghan City, Sichuan Province, Sanxingdui Ruins is composed of three rolling mounds, the humping parts of which are oval in shape. It is long from the south to north and narrow from the east to west, about 10 meters higher than the field beside the mounds at its highest point. Although looking common with nothing attractive, the Ruins already has up to 5000-3000 years' history and is a Ruins of ancient Shu Culture with the largest area, longest history and richest cultural connotations in Southwest China. As the representative of the early civilization of Yangtze River basin, Sanxingdui Ruins symbolizes that both the Yangtze River basin and Yellow River basin belongs to the matrix of Chinese civilization, thus honored as "Source of Yangtze River Civilization".

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

One day in the spring of 1929, a farmer called Yan Daocheng unearthed a colorful jade while digging a ditch beside his house. With such a great surprise, he continued to dig in a larger area and successively unearthed over a hundred of valuable ancient relics including stone-Bi, jade-Bi and jade tablets, etc. One year later, these relics spread to the world and aroused wide attention with its rich ancient Shu characteristics, thus once called "Guanghan Jade Ware" with a number of relics businessmen gathering in this region for relic purchase in competition. In 1934, Ge Weihan- a professor of the former West China University- and his assistants including Lin Mingjun took the lead in exploration in the area of Sanxingdui Ruins, and obtained lots of jade culture relics, which were appraised later and highly praised by Guo Moruo who hailed Ge Weihan as the "Pioneer of Archaeology in West China". After the establishment of New China, the archaeological organizations in Sichuan Province conducted many investigations on this place, and Sichuan Cultural Relics Management Committee and Sichuan Provincial Museum executed seven successive protective explorations, through which large house sites up to over 4000 square meters were discovered.

Sanxingdui Ruins was first discovered by a chance and obtained considerable fame by another chance. In 1986, the local brickyard workers accidentally unearthed an ivory while sampling soil in this region, and two large sacrificial pits of the Shang Dynasty emerged thereupon in July and September of the same year, containing thousands of rare treasures including ivories, jade wares, stone wares, bronze wares, pottery artifacts, etc. With long history, exquisite workmanships and unique shapes, this batch of relics shocked the whole country and the whole world once available to the world. In 1988, Sanxingdui Ruins was declared as one of the Third Batch of National Key Cultural Relics Protection Units by the State Council. Over the next several decades, the archaeologists continued to explore the civilization of Sanxingdui Ruins in a larger scope, from Chengdu Plain up to Eastern Chongqing and Southern Shaanxi.

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

For more than half a century since the discovery, the Ruins has experienced more than 10 large-scale explorations in succession and now appears in entirety to the people in the world. Among the numerous relics scattering in Sanxingdui Ruins, the well-preserved ones include east, west and south walls and the walls in moon bay, among which the east wall is about 1800m long, the west wall is only over 800m long after destroyed by the water of Yazi River, and the south wall is about 210m long built on the "几"-shaped bend of Mamu River. The walls in the moon bay, located in the east margin of the terrace of the moon bay, are divided to the south section and north section, with the existing walls having a total length of of about 650m. Those walls occupy the east, south and west side, and constitute an ancient city which possesses the defense system along with the Yazi River on the north side. This ancient city is divided to sacrificial area, residential area, workshop area and burial area, etc, just like a large ancient capital city with complete functions. Through the identifications in various aspects, the archaeologists deduce that this region used to be one of the political, economic and cultural centers of the Ancient Shu Kingdom about four or five thousand years ago and was very likely to be the imperial capital of the Ancient Shu Kingdom.

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

Sanxingdui Ruins MuseumAt the northeast corner of Sanxingdui Ruins, there is a modern theme museum called Sanxingdui Museum with an floor area of 200,000 square meters and a construction area of over 6000 square meters, exhibiting numerous valuable relics unearthed from the Ruins, including the artifacts commonly seen in Central Plain of the Xia and Shang Dynasty and other rare ancient artifacts such as bronze standing statue, bronze trees, bronze masks and gold scepter, etc.

The bronze standing statue is about 180kg heavy and 260.8cm tall in total, with only the statue 180cm tall. The statue wears a top hat on its head, and is dressed in three layers of half-sleeve clothes with narrow cuff, decorated with gorgeous dragon design as well as bird pattern, insect pattern and eye pattern, etc. Standing on a square monster base, the statue clenches the two hands hollowly, embraces with the two arms in a half circle before its chest and wears bracelets on its feet, looking like a leader or a master who is practicing magic.

Among the bronze masks, there are three grotesque treasures, each of which has a big face, two eyeballs protruding out of the eye sockets, two exaggerated big ears like the ears of a monster and two slightly upward corners of the mouth extending to the ears, looking unimaginably queer. The largest mask is 65cm tall and 138cm wide, with the cylindrical eyeballs protruding out of the eye sockets for up to 16.5cm, while another mask has a 66cm-tall ornament on the bridge of the nose, looking extremely weird and strange.

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

The bronze trees have marvelous and exquisite style. There are 8 bronze trees in all unearthed from Sanxingdui Ruins, among which the largest No.1 tree is 396cm tall and composed of a round tree base on which there are three rolling hills and a 384cm-tall tree trunk which is connected to the right middle of the hilltop. The No.1 bronze tree has three layers of branches and each layer has three twigs with fruits at the twig end, with a god bird standing on one twig and the other two twigs drooping gracefully. The archaeologists deduce that this bronze tree must represent the oriental sacred tree "mulberry" and the nine god birds may take the meaning of "Nine Suns Living on Lower Twig". The top was destroyed during excavation, so there may be another one god bird which stands for "One Sun Living on Upper Twig".

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

As a special one among the unearthed relics, the gold scepter is not mode of metal but a wooden pole wrapped by the beaten gold foil, with the overall length of 142cm, diameter of 2.3cm and net weight of about 500g. However, the pole has vanished long ago due to carbonization, with only the complete gold foil left. The uniqueness of the gold scepter lies in that there are 3 groups of carved patterns in all, among which one group is composed of two symmetric human heads, one group composed of two head-to-head birds and the other one composed of back-to-back fishes. Since only the gold scepter has symbol patterns among the unearthed relics in Sanxingdui Ruins, thus it seems much more special.

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

In addition, there are still many ancient treasures with peculiar style and exquisite workmanship in the museum, such as sacrificial vessels, musical instruments, weapons, artifacts, animals, etc. According to the deduction of the archaeologists, most of the relics unearthed from Sanxingdui Ruins originate from the royal family of the ancient Shu Kingdom, not only representing the highest achievement of the ancient Shu civilization, but also belonging to one of the relic groups with the highest historical, scientific, cultural, artistic and ornamental value among the vast Chinese relic groups. Jessica Rawson, the chief expert for Chinese archeology in British Museum, praised that: "These discoveries are more outstanding than China's Terra-Cotta Warriors…The discoveries in Guanghan are likely to be the most among those unearthed for one time, and may cause people to make new evaluations on the oriental art."

Sanxingdui Ruins Museum

The complete excavation of Sanxingdui Ruins removes the mystery of the ancient Shu Kingdom in Chuanxi Plain, which pushes forward the history of ancient Shu civilization by over 1000 years as well as fills in the gaps of the bronze culture and art in Chinese archaeology. Nowadays, this site has been listed as one of the human's greatest archaeological discoveries in 20th century and honored as the "Eighth Wonder of The World", and Sanxingdui Museum has been rated as a National Education of Science & Technology Base and a National 4A Tourist Attraction.

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