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China: Journey To The East Opens at Bristol's City Museum & Art Gallery

BRISTOL.- This unique exhibition featuring over 100 objects from the British Museum, the largest loan of Chinese material the Museum has ever undertaken within the UK, will be launched at Bristol’s City Museum & Art Gallery on the 24th January as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations for 2009, the Year of the Ox.

China has been a major influence worldwide through trade and the movement of peoples. Chinese Diaspora communities form a vital part of the history of other countries, including Britain where Bristol has more than 5,000 residents of Chinese background, as well as over 1,000 Chinese students attending higher education in the city.

CHINA: JOURNEY TO THE EAST explores 3,000 years of Chinese history and culture through five themes that will resonate with audiences of all kinds, especially families: Play & Performance, Technology, Belief & Festivals, Food & Drink, and Language & Writing. The exhibition presents key enduring Chinese inventions such as the abacus (the world’s first calculator) the compass, and silk and porcelain manufacture. Objects will provide insight into the three main Chinese belief systems: Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism and will shed light on that and the colourful Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), and the important Mid-Autumn Festival.

Finally, the exhibition will investigate the development of China's writing system and its development as an art form through objects that range from an ancient oracle bone to an example of calligraphy written by Mao Zedong.
Object highlights include :

A rare roof tile in the form of Guan Yu riding his horse. Guan Yu was a great general and hero, who was later deified and worshipped. Made in north China, Ming dynasty between AD 1490 and 1620
Extraordinary 1300 year old jam tarts in the form of food offerings. Xinjiang, China, Tang Dynasty AD 725-775
A beautiful stoneware incense burner modelled in high relief with a dragon and phoenix. China, Ming dynasty AD 1491
Wonderfully detailed shadow puppets made of donkey hide in the form of a sedan chair with sedan carriers. Hubei province, China, circa AD 1850-1950
Abacus made of wood with porcelain beads decorated with dragons and metal rods. Made in Taiwan by Qian Haosun, AD 1984

Colourful paintings made for the export market and silk textiles from Bristol’s fine East Asian collection will accompany the British Museum material. Interactives will allow visitors to experience the displays through sights and sounds, touch and smell.

Kate Brindley, Director of Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery said "We are delighted that Bristol visitors will have the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture through these stunning items from the British Museum. China is important to us in Bristol, not only because of the city's resident and student Chinese populations, but because we are twinned with Guangzhou, one of China's foremost manufacturing and trading cities."

The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting programme of events kicking off with a Year of the Ox Celebration on Sunday 25 January, 11am-4pm, organised in partnership with the University of Bristol. Lion Dance performances, traditional shadow puppet shows, mandarin lessons, kung fu demonstrations are among the events visitors can take part in for FREE.

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