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HomeNewsAcademic activities
Melting pot of cultures
From:China Daily  Writer:Zhang Kun  Date:2018-01-09
An ongoing exhibition at the Shanghai Museum focuses on a key moment in the development of the Silk Road. Zhang Kun reports

Crossroads: The Beliefs and Arts of the Kushan Dynasty is an exhibition about an important period in the Silk Road's development.

The exhibition of items from four museums in China kicked off at the Shanghai Museum on Dec 29 and will run until March 18.

The exhibits are from the Shanghai Museum, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum, the Hetian Museum in Xinjiang and the Lyushun Museum in Liaoning province.


An exhibition about the Kushan Dynasty in Shanghai shows artifacts, including coins, a statue of a gongyangren (a Buddhist), a wooden caving of two birds and a stone relief, depicting devotees around the Buddha. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

The Kushan Dynasty was an empire formed by the Yuezhi in the Bactrian territories in the early first century. At the height of its power, it covered central and southern Asia.

According to Wang Yue, the curator of the exhibition and a researcher at the Shanghai Museum, "the Kushan Dynasty existed only for a couple of centuries, and didn't achieve glorious feats.

"Yet it played an important part in the development of the Silk Road."

The Kushan Empire was located in a key destination along the ancient trade route. And it was open and tolerant of cultures and art pouring in from all directions, he says.

"Such openness nurtured a distinctive Kushan culture and helped the diverse civilizations in Asia and Europe to influence and merge with one another."


An exhibition about the Kushan Dynasty in Shanghai shows artifacts, including coins, a statue of a gongyangren (a Buddhist), a wooden caving of two birds and a stone relief, depicting devotees around the Buddha. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

The Silk Road was the vital trade route bridging Europe and Asia. It not only facilitated commercial exchanges, but also channeled communication among and fusions of cultures and religions, says Yang Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Museum.

In the past few years, there has been growing public interest in the Silk Road in the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

So, the museum is focusing on the subject from this aspect by showcasing this openness and tolerance, the cultural essence of the Silk Road, says Yang.

In its contribution, the Shanghai Museum features 12 Kushan coins from its collection, largely boosted by the continued support from Du Weishan, the youngest son of Du Yuesheng, an eminent tycoon and mafia leader in 1930s' Shanghai, says Wang.


An exhibition about the Kushan Dynasty in Shanghai shows artifacts, including coins, a statue of a gongyangren (a Buddhist), a wooden caving of two birds and a stone relief, depicting devotees around the Buddha. [PHOTO BY GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY]

The coins on display are different from ancient Chinese coins made through casting. Kushan-era coins were made from repeated hammering, following the practice of ancient Greece and Rome.

While the earliest coins have the king's profile on them-just like Roman coins-a distinctive "Kushan style" gradually emerged, featuring a full-length portrait of the king wearing a Kushan-style high crown, holding a scepter in one hand, and pointing at an altar with the other.


 
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