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详细信息
Tour through the Private Han Dynasty Bricks Museum
发布时间:2013-02-21   点击率:1769

On April 3rd, 2012, Yang Min, the owner of the largest collection of bricks of the Han Dynasty, showed us around five of her exhibition halls. This private owned museum is one of the most impressive in Chinese cultural history. Situated at the foot of Laoshan Mountain and hard to find in the first place, it exhibits more than 5000 bricks from more than 2000 years ago, more precisely from the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD). The surrounding area, the Laoshan Mountain and location rather hidden make you feel like you are going back in time before you even enter the exhibition rooms.

Yang Min, the owner, is an adorable woman. The first minute you meet her, you can tell that collecting bricks is her passion. She has so much knowledge about the bricks, she can answer any question you have and give you a lot of additional information about the bricks. For more than 30 years Yang Min and her husband have been collecting bricks from all over China, and they have never given it a rest. That they both funded the collection themselves without any governmental support, is even more inspiring. Also Yang Min's son, currently studying a Master's Degree in Chinese Art, will keep the exhibition going on.

After Yang Min gave us some basic information about what bricks (moulded terra cotta columns) were used for, we started our tour through the exhibition. The first two rooms we visited exhibited many bricks of different shape and size, showing pictures about everyday life, immortality, family life, a harmonious lifestyle. The smell in each room was comparable to walking through an old cave in the hills. It smelled from warm, damp soil and stone which made you feel excited about what was going to be told and seen. Yang Min explained, that the wet atmosphere in which the bricks are kept is necessary so they will not burst and lose their value and beauty. Afterwards she explained that the carvings on the bricks do not only show pictures and nice patterns but also tell stories about daily life and Confucian wisdoms. Most of the pictures shown are in abstract forms, for example a dragon symbolising a male, a phoenix symbolising a female person, a fish standing for money and a deer for happiness. One brick we have seen showed two dragons in a ring positioned in the middle of a brick, and in each corner was a different smaller picture to be seen, a bear, a horse, a lion and a human with wings. Each picture having its own meaning. The dragons stand for men and women living and working harmoniously together to receive all the attributes the animals shown have and to become immortal (human with wings).

Yang Min told us, that the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was also very impressed when first seeing the engravings. The engravings are products of tombs during the Han Dynasty. They should remind people of the achievements of a deceased person. Other bricks show pictures about historical happenings, for example invasions from other countries or inventions such as the iron plow. With each new brick we investigated, the more impressed we became by how much effort it must have taken to make the carvings. Standing in front of bricks that are not only centuries, but millennia old, makes you realize how far you can go back in Chinese history. Since we were a group of ten international people coming from Russia, Germany, Belgium, Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia, this made us think about how old our each country's history is and we came to the conclusion that China's long history is more than just overwhelming.

We went on to a small exhibition room with some more bricks and an interesting piece of art. There was a stone in a huge fish shape hanging on the wall. My first thought was, that this was a nice figure. Yang Min explained that this was not only a figure, it was also a musical instrument to be played with wooden sticks. The fish was about 80 cm long (from mouth to tail fin) and 35 cm broad (from dorsal fin to stomach) and had fish scales that were carved like they would stick out of the stone. Yang Min told us, that normally there were 10 fish shaped stones of different sizes placed next to each other, to make it a musical instrument. The different sizes would produce different tones, larger fish shapes producing deeper sounds, smaller fish shapes producing higher sounds.

Yang Min led us to a fourth exhibition room . In that room we could see small models of all kinds that were used as sacrifices. We started investigating models of cooking utensils, for example small ancient stoves. In this exhibition room were also small models of barns, and houses with small gardens. In these miniature gardens you could even see small figures of pigs and cows. There were also other samples you could see, such as dragon figures, vases of all forms and sizes, small human figures, horse riders, and a lot more. In the last exhibition room there were prints shown that were made from the brick's engravings. If you like to buy a small print, you can get one for only 100 Yuan.

After the tour we had all together a traditional Henan cuisine, while Yang Min told us more stories about the bricks collection and passion of her husband and herself. She pointed out that the bricks were used by people to pave roads, because the people did not know anything about the value of these ancient relics of Chinese history. Also when they bought the bricks, most of them did not know about their value. This is how their collection became so large. Now, she says, they do not have enough space any more to exhibit all the pieces they own.

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