Chinese Ingenuity Evident in Cultural Relics
   2013-11-28 20:14:12      Web Editor: Guo

A copy of a 2300 year old bronze lamp consisting of 15 oil holders is displayed in the Hebei Provincial Museum. The world's first shadow-less lamp was discovered in Shijiazhuang City and the original is kept in the Hebei Provincial Cultural Relics Institute. [Photo: Jing]

As one of the oldest civilizations that still maintains much of its cultural heritage, China is blessed with the wisdom of its people both in the present and from the past. Some are recorded in written form; some are reflected in the country's cultural relics.

CRI's Shen Ting will give you a close look at some splendid relics in Hebei Province's Shijiazhuang City that showcase the astonishing wisdom of our predecessors.


Located 270 kilometers southwest of Beijing, Shijiazhuang has a history going back more than two thousand years. During the Warring States period, a small state named Zhongshan occupied the current Hebei Province. Though not powerful and rarely-recorded in historical documents, the state surprised the public for unearthing the tomb of Cuo, the Zhongshan King.

One of the 20 thousand relics discovered in the tomb is a bronze lamp consisting of 15 spots in which to hold oil. Wang Jian, director of the Shijiazhuang Museum, says the 82-centimeter-tall item is the world's very first shadow-less lamp, about 2300 years old.

The item in the Hebei provincial museum is a copy, the original is in the cultural relics institute for better preservation because its structure is very sophisticated. Two humans, six monkeys and two dragons were intricately carved on the lamp, symbolizing the art themes closer to daily life.
About a century later, during the Qin Dynasty, the common stones paved on road also displayed the wisdom of the country's people.

Jiang Chunxia, who works at the Qinhuang Ancient Road scenic spot, introduces how traffic safety and road preservation was implemented back then.

"Stones on this ascent were carved with horizontal stripes to strengthen the friction force and prevent skidding. There is a square hole under the third column. Guess what? Cart drivers inserted a club into the hole and the cart's wheel to have a rest. Also, you see no tracing ruts left into the road because surrounding residents thought out an efficient way to maintain its surface. They built each stone into a cube, so when one side wore out, they just rotated the cube so that a fresh surface was facing up to take the wear and tear of travelers."

People living 2200 years ago passed their wisdom down to those who came after them. In the Northern Song Dynasty, about one thousand years ago, three thousand craftsmen spent fours years casting a massive, solid bronze Buddha figure that has thousands of arms and eyes.

An Jing, a staff member at the Longxing Temple in Dingxian County, explains how the huge Buddha sculpture was created.

"Building the figure from bottom to top, problems emerged after finishing the shoulders. As the sculpture was very tall, the molten bronze froze before reaching the head mould above the shoulders. So they worked out a method to fix this: pile up soil to the figure's shoulders to make a platform and put all the tools onto it."

The shadow-less lamp that stayed buried, yet well preserved, for 2300 years; the ancient road witnessed the ebb and flow of history; a bronze Buddha figure standing tall to welcome numerous devout followers; each historic item bears the ingenuity of the Chinese civilization. As the river of time flows, the wisdom of our ancestors passes on, generation by generation.

For CRI, I'm Shen Ting.

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