CULTURE

Treasures from Beijing depict the splendid civilization of China

If ancient Greek civilization is the cultural cradle of Western history, Chinese civilization is the cradle of the East’s. This cultural kinship between Greece and China is what spawned «Imperial Treasures of China,» an exhibition that traces the history of China from Neolithic times up until the 20th century through treasures that come from the city of Beijing. The exhibition which opens to the public today at the National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum in Athens is curated by Yu Ping, Jiang Qiqi, Yuan Shankai from China and, on the Greek side, Zina Kaloudi. The approximately 100 holdings, which range from bronze, gold and silver items, jade, ceramics, paintings and calligraphies, come from three of Beijing’s museums: the Capital Museum, Beijing Art Museum and the Ming Tomb Museum. Numerous holdings also come from Greek museums and Greek private art collections: the Museum of Asian Art in Corfu (based on the collection of the late Grigoris Manos), the Benaki Museum and the Numismatic Museum. The exhibition begins with Neolithic vases, goes through the Shang Dynasty, includes tomb sculpture of the Han and Tang dynasties, precious porcelain from the Song Dynasty, exquisite specimens of miniature art in jade and gold that date from the Ming Dynasty, as well as rare samples of Chinese calligraphy and painting from the 14th to the 19th century. A burial mask from the Liao Dynasty and two bracelets from the Shang Dynasty are among the exhibition’s gems. Planned to coincide with the Olympic Games, the exhibition is the first part of a cultural exchange between the two countries that will be reciprocated with an exhibition of ancient Greek art to be held in Beijing on the occasion of the 2008 Olympic Games. The exhibition is sponsored by the Beijing municipal government, the Beijing Administrative Bureau of Cultural Relics and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. «Imperial Treasures of China» at the National Gallery (50 Vassileos Constantinou, 210.723.5937) through October 11.