One man walked the distance on foot through the deserts and valleys to forge a new path that opened the Middle Kingdom to the Western World.
This man was Zhang Qian 张骞 (B.C. 195-114), and the route he walked is now referred to as Hexi Corridor 河西走廊. And from this ancient route, the ancient Silk Road connected the birthplaces of many civilisations and crossed the settlements of different countries and ethnic groups.
河西走廊 Hexi Corridor
On this thoroughfare that traverses the Eurasian continent, political exchanges, cultural integration, commerce and trade, ethnic cohesion and migration have a lasting and profound impact. They have interwoven and derived ideas, cultures, arts and customs that have been inherited up to now, which is one of the vivid examples of the “community with a shared future for mankind”.
相利善剑册 Slips with description of how to identify good swords
木、汉（公元前202年-公元220年）、长223厘米 究12厘米 、1974年额济纳旗居延甲渠候官遗址出土、甘肃简牍博物馆藏 Wood, Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), 223 cm long, 12 cm long, 1974 Ejina Banner (Эзнээ хошуу) Ju Yanjia Canal Houguan Ruins unearthed, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
The content of this brief is the standard and method for identifying swords. It puts forward four good swords, six swords and four standards for identifying good swords and shielding swords, which are of great significance for the study of metal refining and weapon manufacturing in the Han Dynasty.
“肩水金关”签牌 Tab slip inscribed with the characters “Jianshui Jinguan”
木、东汉 （公元25-220年)、长15.9厘米 宽3.5厘米 厚0.5厘米、1973年酒泉市居延肩水金关遗址出土、甘肃简牍博物馆藏 Wood, Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), 15.9 cm long, 3.5 cm wide and 0.5 cm thick, unearthed at the Jinguan site of Juyan Shoulder Water in Jiuquan City in 1973, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
“西城都护章”简 Slip with sealed stamp of the “Protector-General of the Western Regions”
长8.8厘米 宽0.9厘米 8.8 cm long and 0.9 cm wide
出入关刺 Record of an entry-exit pass
长9.38厘米 宽3.4厘米 9.38 cm long and 3.4 cm wide
木、汉（公元前202年一公元220年)、1998年10月敦煌市玉门关遗址出土、敦煌市博物馆藏 Wood, Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), unearthed at the Yumen Pass site in Dunhuang City in October 1998, Dunhuang City Museum Collection
天宝七载过所文牒 Travel pass from the seventh year of Tianbao
纸、唐 天宝七载（公元748年〕、长26.5厘米 宽14厘米、1965年敦煌莫高窟第125窟前出土、敦煌研究院藏 Paper, Tang Dynasty 7th Year of Tianbao (AD 748), 26.5 cm long and 14 cm wide, unearthed in front of the Cave 125 of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in 1965, Dunhuang Academy Collection
Fragment of the names of places and dates of the trip from Dunhuang County 敦煌郡 to Jinchang County 晋昌郡. There was no official stamp on the document, so it should be a duplicate for record purpose. The writing style is similar to the “travel pass” from the 9th year of Dazhong (855 AD) displayed in Mitsui Temple, Japan. In the record, “Officer Shao Luan” “参军少鸾” could be the same person “Dunhuang County Military Officer Shao Luan” “敦煌郡参军武少鸾” in the Dunhuang Document No. P.3348 of the National Library of Paris, France.
Locations of Dongting Barrack 东亭守捉, Kushui Barrack 苦水守捉, etc., are all lost in history books. According to Annals of Dunhuang 敦煌道书 “Maps of Shazhou” 《沙州图经》, Kushui Barrack is in the south of Nanshan, Changle County, and Xuanquan Barrack 悬泉守 was located 130 miles away from Shazhou.
侯粟君责寇恩事 Slips recording the lawsuit brought by the military officer Li against a civilian Kou En
木、东汉建武三年（公元27年)、题签长9厘米 宽2.5厘米；木简长22.8厘米 宽1.2厘米；两行长22.5厘米 宽2厘米、1974年额济纳旗居延甲渠候官遗址出土、甘肃简牍博物馆藏 Wood, Eastern Han Dynasty 3rd Year of Jianwu (27 A.D.), the title slip is 9 cm long and 2.5 cm wide; wood slips are 22.8 cm long and 1.2 cm wide; the two-line slips are 22.5 cm long and 2 cm wide. 1974 Ejina Banner (Эзнээ хошуу) Ju Yanjia Canal Houguan Ruins unearthed, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
This was one of the earliest recorded lawsuit found on bamboo/wooden slips, and because of the dry desert surrounding, they survived the long corridor of history. It was unearthed at Site 22 of the Jiaqu Houguan Site 甲渠候官遗址, with a total of 36 wooden slips that included 1 inscription, 21 wooden slips, 14 two-line slips, recording 1526 words in total (of which 6 words are unclear, and 3 punctuations).
It is a record of an economic lawsuit between Li 粟君, a military officer in Jiaqu, and Kou En 寇恩 in the early years of Jianwu in the Eastern Han Dynasty. This legal document recorded the entire judicial process from litigation, application and settlement of civil disputes at that time, and is a living sample of civil legal proceedings in the northwest during the Eastern Han Dynasty.
悬泉置 Xuanquan Posthouse
In the Gobi Desert between Guazhou 瓜洲 and Dunhuang 敦煌 in Jiuquan 酒泉 lies an ancient posthouse, sunk in sleep, that has been around for more than 2,000 years. The Xuanquan Posthouse Site 悬泉置 is located on the south side of Guadun Road, 61 km east of Dunhuang City. Adjacent to the Flaming Mountain 火焰山, a branch of the Sanwei Mountains in the south, and to the Xishawo xin the north, it served as a large reception and transfer station for the exchange of personnel and mail between Guazhou and Dunhuang in the Han and Tang dynasties.
From 1990 to 1992, Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology carried out a detailed archeological excavation lasting for three years. More than 35,000 bamboo slips and more than 3,000 other relics of the Han Dynasty were unearthed, including more than 23,000 bamboo slips with Chinese characters, causing a sensation in academic circles.
元康五年正月过长罗侯费用簿 A record of expenses for the reception of Marquis Changluo and his military officials in the first month of the fifth year of Yanking
木、西汉元康五年（公元前61年）、长23厘米 宽0.8厘米、1990年敦煌市悬泉置遺址出土、甘肃简牍博物馆藏 Wood, Fifth year of Yuankang in the Western Han Dynasty (61 BC), 23 cm long and 0.8 cm wide, unearthed at the Xuanquan Posthouse site in Dunhuang City in 1990, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
A record of the expenses incurred for the diplomatic mission of Marquis Changluo 长罗侯 Chang Hui 常惠 in 61 BC, when the delegation passed through this posthouse in Xuanquan 悬泉置 on their way to Wusun 乌孙 (modern day Kyrgyzstan).
China CCTV made a series about Hexi Corridor and Episode 3 talked about this expedition of Marquis Changluo.
归义羌人名籍册 Slips with names of men from Qiang Tribes loyal to the Han
木、汉（公元前202年-公元220年）、长23.2-23.7厘米 宽0.9厘米 厚0.2厘米、1991年敦煌市悬泉置遗址出土、甘肃简牍博物馆藏 Wood, Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), 23.2-23.7 cm long, 0.9 cm wide, 0.2 cm thick, unearthed at the Xuanquan Posthouse site in Dunhuang City in 1990, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
This register of the Qiang people 羌人 under the jurisdiction of the local government of the Han Dynasty shows the immigration of the Qiang people in the Hexi area after their “naturalisation” “归义“ and belonged to the management of Dunhuang County.
龟兹国简 Slip recording Kucha Kingdom
木、汉（公元前202年-公元220年)、长22.1厘米 宽13厘米 厚0.2厘米、1990年敦煌市悬泉置遗址出土、甘肃简牍博物舘藏 Wood, Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), 22.1 cm long, 13 cm wide, 0.2 cm thick, unearthed at the Xuanquan Posthouse site in Dunhuang City in 1990, Gansu Bamboo and Wooden Slips Museum Collection
The slip recorded that King of Kucha and his wife were on the way to Chang’an, passed Xuanquan and rested at the posthouse. The officials prepared bedding, mantles and other items for the king and his consort according to the reception specifications.
归义军衙府酒破历 Slip recording the consumption of alcohol by the Guiyi Army office
纸、宋 乾德二年（公元964年）、长33.5厘米 宽118厘米、1900年敦煌市藏经洞出土、敦煌研究院藏 Paper, Song Dynasty, the second year of Qiande (A.D. 964), 33.5 cm long and 118 cm wide, excavated from Dunhuang Tibetan Sutra Cave in 1900, Dunhuang Academy Collection
The original wine account is incomplete, with a total of 49 lines, which was divided into two. In the first half kept at Dunhuang Academy, there are 11 rows of the Dunhuang Academy; the second half was donated by Mr. Aoyama of Japan to the Dunhuang Academy in 1997, creating a precedent for the return of Dunhuang literature.
The wine bill had no year, and 100 wine accounts were from April 9 to June 24 in a certain year. Among them, “May” and “June” are written in red ink, and the seams of the paper were sealed with a rectangular “New Seal of the Guiyi Army” “归义军节度使新铸印”. According to research, the wine account was established in the second year of Qiande of Song Dynasty (AD 964). It is rich in content, reflecting the political, economic, religious, cultural and other information of Dunhuang at that time, and has important research value.
凿空西域 Journey to the West
Since 张骞 Zhang Qian‘s exploration of the Western Regions, diverse civilisations have sought common ground while reserving differences on this road, opened up and embraced each other, and worked together to create a flourishing poetry. As a model of exchanges, mutual learning and coexistence among civilizations in human history, it is significant and has far-reaching influence.
镀金口三鱼莲瓣纹银碗、波斯银币 Persian Bowl and Coins
鎏金狩猎纹杏叶形铜牌饰、贵霜金币 Central Asian Ornament, Gold coin from the Kingdom of Kushan
It is interesting to note that during the Han dynasty, the corresponding powers in the Western world included the Greeks, Macedonians (with Alexander the Great coming close to Asia Minor) and Romans. They will influence later the images of sculptures and statues in Mogao Grottoes and others in Gansu.
饰酒神狄俄尼索斯和豹纹鎏金银盘 Gilt silver plate will patterns of Dionysus and a leopard
银鎏金、公元2-3世纪、高4.6厘米，直径31厘米、1988年白银市靖远北滩乡出土、甘肃省博物馆藏 Silver-gold, 2-3th century AD, 4.6 cm high, 31 cm in diameter, unearthed in Beitan Township, Jingyuan, Baiyin City in 1988, Gansu Provincial Museum Collection
The outer ring of the silver plate is decorated with grape vine patterns, and the middle circle is lined with twelve busts, representing the twelve gods of Mount Olympus in Greek mythology; the naked man sitting on the centre leaning on the leopard is Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. There is a line of inscriptions engraved with void dots in the bottom circle of the plate, which is engraved later. Experts speculate that the silver plate was made by the Roman Empire in the 2nd to 3rd centuries AD. It was exported to the Bactria region of Daxia in the 3rd to 4th centuries and engraved, and was introduced to Gansu, China in the 4th to 5th centuries.
三彩牵驼俑 Tri-color glazed pottery figurines of a camel and foreigner
陶、唐（公元618-907年)、骆驼通高94厘米 宽66厘米 厚27厘米；俑通高76.5厘米、天水市泰安县叶家堡出土、甘肃省博物馆藏 Pottery, Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), Camel height 94 cm, width 66 cm, thickness 27 cm; Terracotta height 76.5 cm, unearthed in Yejiabao, Tai’an County, Tianshui City, Gansu Provincial Museum Collection
The camel was the major form of transport on the ancient Silk Route during the Tang Dynasty. From these glazed potteries, we can imagine the travellers and camels making their hard journey across the desert, depending on one another for survival.
三彩胡人骑马俑 Tri-colour glazed pottery figurine of a horse and foreign rider
陶、唐（公元618-907年）、通高37-38厘米 长35-36厘米 宽10.5-12厘米、天水市泰安县叶家堡出土、甘肃省博物馆藏 Pottery, Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), height 37-38 cm, length 35-36 cm, width 10.5-12 cm, unearthed in Yejiabao, Tai’an County, Tianshui City, Gansu Provincial Museum Collection
Tri-colour glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty is a shining pearl among ancient Chinese pottery. Tri-coloured glazed pottery was exported to foreign countries in the early Tang, winning great favour. It was always been famed for its bright colors and pleasing shapes.
三彩凤首壶 Tri-colour glazed pot with a phoenix head
陶、唐（公元618-907年）、高31厘米 腹径14.5厘米 最宽17.3厘米、天水市甘谷县淮阳乡出土、甘肃省博物馆藏 Pottery, Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), 31 cm high, 14.5 cm flask diameter, 17.3 cm widest, unearthed in Huaiyang Township, Gangu County, Tianshui City, Gansu Provincial Museum Collection
Examples of Sogdian metalwork entered China through trade or as diplomatic gifts; once there, they inspired Chinese craftsmen. The vessel’s shape and decoration—a figured medallion in relief on an ornamented background—were imitated in Tang-period metalwork and ceramics. A number of glazed ceramic ewers with phoenix-head spouts have been found in 7th- and 8th-century Tang tombs and reveal their debt to the Sogdian ewer type: a high foot, flattened bulbous body, slender neck, and an elongated handle attached to the back of a phoenix head.
彩绘灰陶俑 Painted pottery of figurines
陶 、唐（公元618-907年）、通高48-54厘米、2001年庆阳市庆城县封家洞赵子沟区穆秦墓出土、庆城县博物馆藏 Pottery, Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), 48-54 cm high, unearthed Mu Qin’s tomb in Zhaozigou District, Fengjiadong, Qingcheng County, Qingyang City in 2001, Qingcheng County Museum Collection
Among the figurines were many foreigners. Traditionally referred to as Hu people 胡人, these were tribes that formed the different smaller countries along the Hesi Corridor. They came in the name of trade, and it climaxed during the Sui-Tang dynasties, when some of them became officials in the Tang courts.
景教十宇纹铜牌饰 Bronze crucifix medal of the Nestorian
铜、公元11世紀、长6.3厘米 宽6.3厘米、敦煌莫高窟北区第105窟出土、敦煌研究院藏 Bronze, 11th century AD, 6.3 cm long and 6.3 cm wide, unearthed in Cave 105 of the North District of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang Academy Collection
叙利亚文《圣经》The Bible in ancient Syriac
纸、公元14世紀、长19.8厘米 宽15.4厘米、敦煌莫高窟北区第53窟出土、敦煌研究院藏 Paper, 14th century AD, 19.8 cm long and 15.4 cm wide, unearthed in Cave 53 of the North District of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang Academy Collection
The Nestorian or Assyrian Church (in Chinese jingjiao 景教) is a kind of oriental national church (“church of the east”) that was opposed against the Roman church after the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, and was accepted to preach in Tang China.
In 1999 two folios were discovered at the Mogao caves in western China. No one could read them at first until they were sent to Peking University. They were identified generally as Psalms in Syriac, the language of Jesus and early Christians. This was a language used along the Silk Road by missionaries, merchants, and stonemasons.
The Silk Road oasis in Mogao was a melting pot of religions and cultures. Jewish traders and colonies were present along the Silk Road during the Tang period. It is highly likely that East Syriac Christians had access to Targums and Hebrew material.
回鹃文木活字 Movable type with Uighur characters
木、元 (公元1271-1368年)、长1.3厘米 宽2.1-2.2厘米 厚薄不一、敦煌莫高窟北区第464窟出土、敦煌研究院藏 Wood, Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368), 1.3 cm long, 2.1-2.2 cm wide, different thickness, excavated from Cave 464 in the north of Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Dunhuang Academy Collection
These are the earliest example of print in Uighur that existed. Only 54 pieces of these movable type are still in China; in 1908, Frenchmen Bishey raided Cave 181 (now renumbered as Cave 464) and took back to France 968 pieces, pf which 960 are in Paris Musée Guimet, 4 are in Tokyo Toyo Bunko Museum, and 4 are in New York Met Museum of Art. The Russian took 160 pieces to the Hermitage in a 1914 expedition.
Hopefully they can all be reunited one day.
Shenzhen Museum of History and Folk Culture
Shenzhen Museum was founded in 1981. It consists of 4 museum sites including Shenzhen Museum of History and Folk Culture, Shenzhen Museum of Ancient Art, Dongjiang River Guerrilla Command Headquarters Memorial Museum and Shenzhen Reform and Opening-up Exhibition Hall.
Located in Shenzhen Civic Center, the Shenzhen Museum of History and Folk Culture, opened in December 2008, takes up 12,500 square meters of land, and covers a construction area of 33,600 square meters. The exhibition building has a total of 3 floors, including 5 basic exhibition halls and 2 special exhibition halls, with an exhibition area of more than 10,000 square meters. The ground floor is a storehouse of cultural relics. In addition, the exhibition building also has multi-functional report Hall, VIP Hall, teahouse, souvenir shops and other ancillary service facilities.
Opening hours : 10:00~18:00 (Visitors are not allowed to enter the museum after 17:30. Closed on Mondays. Open during major festivals and closed the first day after major festivals)
Visited in Jan 2022