Fitzwilliam Museum presents The Search for Immortality. Tomb Treasures of Han China exhibition

. August 3, 2012

The Fitzwilliam Museum presents The Search for Immortality. Tomb Treasures of Han China, an exhibition on view to 11 November 2012.

Jade coffin Second century bc, Western Han dynasty Length: 280 cm; Width: 110 cm; Height: 108 cm Excavated at Shizishan in 1994–5 Xuzhou Museum, Jiangsu Province

Over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and ceramics will reveal the hidden world of China’s 2000 year old royal tombs. A part of the London 2012 Festival, The Search for Immortality is the most remarkable exhibition of ancient royal treasures ever to travel outside China.

The Han Dynasty were the founders of unified rule in China as we know it today. But to maintain their empire the emperors had to engage in constant struggles for power. In a world first, The Search for Immortality compares the spectacular tombs of two rival power factions: the Han imperial family in the northern ‘cradle’ of Chinese history, and the Kingdom of Nanyue in the south.

Protected by clay guardians and filled with jade and gold, the tombs were palaces fit for immortals. Each tomb was a symbol of power and majesty, designed so its owner could ‘live’ again in eternity in the same luxury they enjoyed in life.

The amazing and exotic treasures on display shed new light on the remarkable power-plays of ancient China and reveal the secrets of the royal obsession with obtaining immortality.

Highlights of the exhibition:
two jade burial armour suits belonging to the rival rulers, made from thousands of plaques of jade, sewn together with gold or silk thread
jade artefacts thought to ward off demons, such as a jade dagger to serve the emperor in the afterlife, or a jade cup to catch the morning dew that ensured immortality
spectacular objects in gold, including imperial seals and exotic belt buckles
pottery soldiers and bronze weapons
pottery dancers, musicians and servants
unusual artefacts including a toilet and an early ginger grater

Exhibition website:

The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington Street,
Cambridge CB2 1RB
Tel: 01223 332900
Fax: 01223 332923

Category: Exhibition News

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