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The Gold Rush: collection tales Columbian past
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With stunning, historic gold treasures from South America, the Museo del Oro Museum in Columbia will mark its debut exhibit in the Middle Kingdom on Wednesday at the Shanghai Museum with selected pieces from back home, where it houses the world's largest and oldest collection of some 33,000 precious metal artifacts.

Titled "Gold: Prehistoric Art of Columbia", the Shanghai exhibit features over 200 pieces of antique gold items from 7th Century BC to 1500 AD, when Spanish colonists first started to arrive in the Latin region. The entire collection boasts a price tag of $13 million (89 million yuan), according to Efrain Riano, director of the exhibition department of the Museo del Oro Museum.

As such Xia Beibei, a spokesperson for the Shanghai Museum, said it is cautiously minding the handling of each ancient gold treasure.

"We have been especially careful with the pieces since the exhibit includes many small objects, all of which are precious cultural relics," added Xia.

The 253-piece display comprises five themed sections: the Golden People, the Fabulous Animals, the Animal-man, Abstraction and Nature, and the Universe of Shapes and Forms.

From this visitors will get a chance to learn about the profound philosophy of indigenous South American Natives, and the deep relationship they shared with Mother Nature. Believing that man and animal could transform from one to another, the exhibit showcases a series of gold ornaments bearing half-human, half-animal forms which were once worn in front of the chest just like the modern tie, said Riano.

Very fond of nature, the ancient tribe found many different uses for various plants. A handful of special gold bottles on display were once used to hold potions made of plant pulp, he added.

But even though much about South America's indigenous people can be discovered from these items, what remains a mystery to this day is how these items upon excavation managed to surface in such immaculate condition, said Riano.

Apart from the gold items, the exhibit will further display a number of ceramics and stone objects from the same period.

Sept 24 - Nov 29

Shanghai Museum

201 Renmin Avenue


Tel: 6372-3500

(China Daily September 27, 2009)

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