The Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) is delighted to celebrate the 2023 National Day holidays by launching its new special exhibition “Gazing at Sanxingdui: New Archaeological Discoveries in Sichuan” (“Gazing at Sanxingdui”), which will be on display from 27 September 2023 to 8 January 2024. “Gazing at Sanxingdui” is co-organised by the HKPM, the Sanxingdui Museum in Guanghan, and the Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, and is supported by the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Bank of China (Hong Kong) is the Sole Sponsor of this special exhibition. Tickets for this special exhibition for September and October 2023 will be available for purchase from 1 September 2023 at 10am.
Showcasing 120 artefacts with 23 grade-one national treasures, many of them are displayed outside Sichuan for the first time “Gazing at Sanxingdui” highlights new archaeological discoveries at Sanxingdui in Sichuan province, featuring 120 bronze, jade, gold, and pottery objects dating to 2,600–4,500 years ago. Nearly half of these were unearthed in the most recent excavations at the Sanxingdui site between 2020 and 2022, and many are exhibited outside Sichuan for the first time, such as bronze heads, mythical creatures, eye-shaped objects, dragon-shaped objects, a hybrid tiger- dragon figure, as well as a jade rectangular stand with animal face and phoenix-bird motifs, which are currently on display at the new Sanxingdui Museum in Guanghan, Sichuan.
Among these 120 priceless artefacts are 23 grade-one national treasures, including the bronzes unearthed in 1986 and on loan from the Sanxingdui Museum: a bronze head with gold mask, a mask with protruding pupils, a figure with animal headdress, a zun-vessel, and the stand of a bronze tree. 18 of the artefacts on display were unearthed from 2001 onwards and are loaned from the Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, including grade-one national treasures dating back over 3,000 years: a bronze eye-shaped object; two jade yue-axes excavated in 2001, which will be displayed in Hong Kong for the first time; and a gold trumpet-shaped object with openwork swirling cloud motifs discovered in 2007.
Showcasing cultural relics excavated from the Sanxingdui, Jinsha, and Baodun sites, this exhibition’s four thematic sections present the art, urban life, belief systems, and origins and legacy of the ancient Shu civilisation while exploring achievements in art and technology across the Chengdu Plain.
The first section of the exhibition, “Timeless Gazes”, features various bronze human heads, masks, and depictions of deities. In different forms and shapes, they are expressive and magnificent, futuristic yet ancient. These gazes suggest stories now lost to history, guiding us through time and space.
The second section, “Urban Life at Sanxingdui”, reconstructs Sanxingdui’s urban landscape as one of the largest Bronze Age metropolises in East Asia. This urban centre housed modest dwellings as well as one of the biggest palatial or ritualistic constructions of its time in China. The section will also display a large number of bronze, jade, gold, and pottery objects created by the city’s finest craftsmen.
The third section, “Gods and Shamans at Sanxingdui”, explores Sanxingdui people’s religious activities and their understanding of the cosmos. Through advanced technologies, archaeologists have restored bronze altars and statues to recreate the rituals conducted by the people of Sanxingdui.
The final section, “The Origin and Inheritance of Sanxingdui”, traces Sanxingdui’s origins and legacy and explores how the Sanxingdui culture and other closely connected cultures influenced and integrated into each other over time, forming the “diversity in unity” developmental pattern of Chinese civilisation. The exhibition also summarises the archaeological discoveries in and research on Sanxingdui and other areas of ancient Sichuan, celebrating a century of achievements in modern Chinese archaeology.
Tickets can be purchased from 1 September 2023 through the HKPM website, the West Kowloon Cultural District website or mobile app, the online ticketing platform Cityline, and the online platforms of ticketing partners China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited, Fliggy, KKday, Klook and Trip.com.
To accompany this special exhibition, the HKPM will organise a series of scholarly programmes and public learning activities about the ancient Shu civilisation, encouraging exchanges between Hong Kong and Sichuan in archaeological and cultural studies and celebrating the archaeological achievements of China over the past 100 years.