Gansu Provincial Museum

Review: Gansu was one of first areas in China that received Buddhism. Monks acted as vital links, protecting, revering and passing on Buddhist culture. Since the Sixteen Kingdoms period, a large number of temples and pagodas have been constructed in the area. Buddhist grottos have been built and statures have been erected. During that ancient time Mogao Grotto, Maijishan Grotto, Binglingsi Grotto, Tiantishan Grotto, Matisi Grotto, Southern and Northern Grottoes all utilized Buddhist temples for celebrations. Today Buddhist art garners international fame. Buddhist relics, protected and passed down from generation to generation along the Silk Road, resemble shining stars among all the cultural treasures of the Chinese people. 

Introduction: Located in Lanzhou City, the Gansu Provincial Museum is the biggest and widest-ranging museum in the province. Built in 1956, the museum underwent a massive facelift at the end of 2006. 

The Silk Road exhibition contains many treasures, including Neolithic painted pottery excavated from the town of Dadiwan. This ancient civilization is believed to span back some 7,000 years. Also of interest are Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) Wooden Tablets, once used to relay messages along the road.

A 4-meter-tall Mammoth fossil replica is stored in the museum. The creature's remains were excavated from the Yellow River basin in 1973. The world-famous bronze: Galloping Horse's Hoof Stepped on a Flying Swallow, excavated in 1969 in Gansu's Wuwei County, is truly a treasure of the Gansu Provincial Museum. 

The Preface of the Gansu Silk Road Exhibition

Contact between the East and the West began in ancient times and continues to the present day. Long ago Wudi, Emperor of the Han Dynasty, dispatched Zhang Qian, an envoy to the Western Region in the 2nd century BC, and opened a trading route and cultural corridor. The silk trade highlights this road that runs across Asia, Africa and Europe – reaching from Chang’an to Rome. Even more significant is the real communication that took place regarding politics, economics and culture between China and these faraway western countries. Through the Silk Road the Chinese began breaking their geographical barriers; their journeying enriched and accelerated the development of world civilization. This ancient trade route was first named the "Silk Road" by German geographer F. von Richthofen in 1870s. 

Gansu province, located on the eastern edge of the Silk Road, was literally China’s front door that opened to the West, with Lanzhou as a major corridor city and one of the most active cross cultural communication sites between the West and the East. The opening and the development of the Silk Road, the mixing of cultural ideas, as well as some collisions, all left numerous magnificent historical and cultural treasures that mirror the splendor of ancient civilization. 

Visiting info:

Address: 3 Xijin Xi Lu (Xijin West Road), Lanzhou.
How to get there: Take Bus No.11, 31, 32, 41, 50, 51, 53 and 58. The museum is directly across the street from the Friendship Hotel.
Admission fee: 35 yuan
Hours of operation: 09:10-11:30, 14:40-17:30 (Tuesday through Saturday)

( by Wang Zhiyong November 10, 2007)