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  • Day5

    China's Ancient Treasures

    October 8, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    Upon arriving at the Wu Han Provincial Museum, the first thing one notices is the building itself. Although it is a modern structure, it is built according to the style of the Han dynasty (1-400 AD). It is a lovely, symmetrical building housing the most valuable historic treasures of the People’s Republic of China. The most amazing part of the collection consists of artifacts from the burial site of Marquis Yi, who lived in the fifth century BC. Some notable exhibits showed a wine cooler chilled by ice, as well as the world’s first insulated ice box. One noteworthy exhibit showed glass beads and trinkets from the Middle East. From these scholars have concluded that there was a much more robust communication between China and the West during ancient times than previously believed. The most amazing exhibit displays a huge set of musical bronze bells. For hundreds of years the West has come to believe that all oriental music is based on the pentatonic scale. The bells of Marquis Yi, however, contain a twelve-tone scale complete with sharps and flats. Each bell produces two different tones, depending upon where the musician strikes it. This bell set is played by eight musicians. The players of the Marquis were buried with him when he died. Their eight skeletons, along with the chance discovery of an illustration showing the bells being played, revealed the manner in which this instrument was used. The original bells are rarely played. Their last performance occurred at the opening of the Bei Jing Olympics in 2008. An exact copy of these bell is played in concert every afternoon. We heard a performance of pieces ranging from ancient music through Beethoven’s Ode to Joy this afternoon in the museum ‘s modern and beautiful concert hall.Read more