Belgium's border city of Maaseik has opened an exhibition of about 200 relics and treasures of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), showcasing China's golden age of ancient civilization.
The exhibition, which opened Friday, continues until Oct 20, part of the city's effort to create a center of Chinese culture. Belgian Princess Mathilde struck a gong to formally open the exhibition, titled "China's Golden Age: Treasure from the Tang Dynasty".
The items, including gold plate and silver wares for royal families, Tang Dynasty tri-color glazed figurines of women and mural paintings, have recently been on exhibit in the Dutch city of Assen.
The show features social components of men and women, cultural components of merchants, trade and production, sports and exercise, Buddhism, mysticism, art and literature.
All of the exhibited items are from China's Shaanxi province and its provincial capital Xi'an, the most populous city in the world at the time and once the capital of the Tang Dynasty.
The Tang period is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization - equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220), a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.
Several years ago, said Dirk Verlaak, vice-mayor of Maaseik, his city and Assen teamed up to host history and culture exhibitions of China's first two imperial dynasties, the Qin (221-206 BC) and the Han. The Chinese artifacts attracted 350,000 visitors in Assen and 190,000 in Maaseik.
"Westerners don't know much about China's ancient prosperity and history, and we hope the new exhibition in Maaseik can attract more visitors," said Verlaak.
Cao Wei, director of Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, said Shaanxi province has organized many exhibitions of its famous Terracotta Warriors, but "this kind of an exhibition of so many exquisite pieces", is more unusual. This is a good chance for China to introduce its ancient cultures to Europe, he said.
Liao Liqiang, China's ambassador to Belgium, said China and Europe were linked long ago by the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that got its name from the trade in Chinese silk that began during the Han Dynasty. The Silk Road brought the Orient into contact with Western culture, and allowed lucrative trade relations to be developed. The resulting prosperity is reflected in the magnificent material culture that developed during the Tang Dynasty.
"Historically, China and Europe got to know each other by trade and cultural exchanges, which have enriched our respective cultures," said Liao. "And I think the exhibition can remind us of the importance of strengthening cultural exchanges between Belgium and China nowadays."