Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
S ichuan’s oldest, wealthiest and most polished museum is also one of its least commonly visited. Sichuan University Museum, located near Wangjianglou Park near the university’s east gate, is a majestic chest of archaeological and artistic gems culled from the region’s unique 5,000 year history.
Originally opened in 1919, the museum is the oldest in southwestern China. Its exhibits, spread over four floors, of this angular, modern building, are arranged by theme, moving from folklore and archaeology to ethnic minorities and traditional arts. Highlights include some artifacts from the recently-discovered Sanxingdui cultural site in nearby Guanghan that date back to the 11th century B.C..
The shadow puppet display in the folklore exhibit begins a tour of Western Chinese history--and consequently that of the entire country, that travels across a full spectrum of mediums, ranging from elegant double-eared pots from the Western Han period to more recent Qing dynasty ceramics. The myths of religions and philosophies—animist, Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, as well as the character of daily life—be it court royalty or humble workers, is brought forth throughout. It’s strongest on archaeology and more ancient artifacts, such as those of the Ba and Shu Periods. The contemporary ethnic minority exposition was more banal than the others and alhough the calligraphy exhibit is limited, some may find the 5.12-theme painted odes to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao worth a look.
Throughout the museum, intelligent sound-sensitive lighting illuminated the displays in green fashion, and English introductions and captions are available throughout most exhibits. Give yourself at least two hours, more for museum-lovers. Some goods are available for sale.