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Delhi on a Chinese high

An exhibition at the National Museum of India displays ancient art and craft from China.

art and culture Updated: Feb 20, 2011 01:56 IST

Next time you visit the National Museum of India, get prepared to witness an exquisite collection of ancient artistic heritage from China. The exhibition showcasing a historic panorama of 95 stone, bronze, jade, pottery, ceramics, gold, terracotta and glazed porcelain Chinese-wares and solid sculpted art from 3rd century BC to 18th century AD is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Archaeological Survey of India and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China.

Titled Treasures of Ancient China, the exhibition was inaugurated yesterday by Culture Minister Kumari Selja. It will be on till March 20 and will then be moved to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

According to organisers, the trade route emanating from China and spanning Asia over the years, has became a conduit of cultures carrying Gupta, Gandhara and Buddhist art and culture from India to China.

“The cultural and artistic exchanges were also strengthened by monks by Kasyapa Matanga, Dharmaraksha and Kumarajeeva who went to China with Buddhist scriptures. Silk and tea also bound the two nations together,” says director general of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Gautam Sengupta.

He also mentioned that excavations by the ASI have revealed “widespread presence of medieval Chinese art and artifacts in the capital during the 14th century AD when the capital was ruled by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and his successor Feroz Shah Tughlaq.”
Remnants of Chinese pottery were also found at places such as Lalkot, Purana Qila and Feroz Shah Kotla.

“We excavated Chinese pottery at Lalkot between 1992-1994 and before that at Purana Qila and Feroz Shah Kotla in 1960s. It comprises 73 Chinese pots and is believed to be the largest collection of ancient Chinese art outside China,” says Mani.

Also on display are two terracotta sculptures from the mausoleum of Chinese emperor Qin Shihuang. Another attraction is a selection of glazed porcelain vases from the Ming and Qing dynasties dating back 1368 AD, with interpretations of Chinese folklores on it.

Fact File
What: Treasures of Ancient China, a Chinese Heritage Exposition
When: February 19- March 20
Where: National Museum of India, Janpath
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. Monday closed
Entry ticket: Rs10 (Rs1 for students)
Tel: 011-23019272
Nearest Metro Station: Central secretariat, On the Yellow line