The History and Culture of Zhejiang Province


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Venue: Capital Museum

Time: September 26, 2019 - February 16, 2020

Exhibition Overview

Part 1. The Prologue of Oriental Civilization (Prehistoric Period)

Human activities in Zhejiang Province can be traced back to the Paleolithic Age over one million years ago. Since about 10,000 years ago, regions along the Qiantang River entered the Neolithic Age one after another. Shangshan Culture, Kuahuqiao Culture and Hemudu Culture vaguely demonstrated the basic development progress of the south bank regions in the Neolithic Age, and marked a significant milestone in the history of the origin of world rice planting. As for the north bank regions, Majiabang Culture, Songze Culture and Liangzhu Culture flourished successively. Among them, Liangzhu Culture is regarded as typical evidence of China's 5,000 years of civilization due to its well-developed productivity, sophisticated social structure and complete etiquette system.

From then on, the prologue of Oriental civilization began.

Part 2. The Home of the Ancient Yue State During the Spring and Autumn Period (Pre-Qin Dynasty)

When Central China was in the Xia, Shang and Zhou periods, the Yue people, different from the Huaxia people, were active in the region now named Zhejiang Province. They were the oldest and most developed branch of the Baiyue tribes as mentioned in the classics of the Spring and Autumn Period. At the end of the Spring and Autumn Period, the Yue people established their capital in Kuaiji (now Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province). After years of preparation and training, the Yue people finally destroyed the State of Wu and led their troops northward, ruling southeastern China for some time.

Assimilating into the culture of Central China, the Yue people maintained their regional culture and enriched it with new ideas, thus creating the Ancient Yue Civilization in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Stamped hard pottery, proto-porcelain, technology for casting bronze and many other handicrafts thrived, making remarkable contributions to Chinese civilization.

Part 3. The Continuous Social Integration of North and South (Qin, Han, and Six Dynasties Period)

It was a long process for the South to be absorbed into the huge culture in the North. Under the regime of the Qin and Han dynasties, the political system"The world, the nation, the family" was finally established in China. Political rights were concentrated on emperors, while lifestyles, whether in daily life or at festivals, remained diversified. As a result, living resources and customs in various parts of South China began to integrate into a whole through continuous communication and sharing of customs.

During the Three Kingdoms Period, a lot of monks from China's western region visited its eastern region, thus bringing Buddhist culture. During the Jin dynasties, people's enthusiasm in Buddhist culture picked up more momentum. Many reconstructed their houses into temples, thus laying the foundation for Zhejiang Province to be a leader of Buddhism in China in the future.

Part 4. A South-eastern Paradise - the Kingdom of Wu and Yue (Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms)

"The Late Tang and the Five Dynasties were turbulent and war-ridden, but Zhejiang, under the protection of Qian Liu, enjoyed 90 years of lasting peace and prosperity and became the only paradise at that time in China..." The prosperity of other cities after warfare and turmoil was not comparable to that of the Kingdom of Wu Yue.

Committed to the basic state policies of"A neutral power with a stable society" and"Proper governance of kingdom," Qian made strenuous efforts to build water conservancy projects, develop production and expand overseas trade. Under the careful management of various kings of Qian's family, the Kingdom of Wu Yue maintained its prosperity and stability and became a bright pearl of Southeastern China and the mainstay of China, thus laying a solid foundation for Hangzhou to become the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty.

Part 5. The Pursuit of Openness in the Southern Song Capital (Since Song Dynasty)

The Song Dynasty thrived despite challenges and hardships. Meanwhile, artistic innovation and the ideology of "back-to-ancients" prevailed. Under such an atmosphere, the society at that time featured inclusiveness, provable by the diversified composition of the group of scholars, lifestyles, ideologies and artistic tastes, manifesting a culture of Song that is characterized by diversity and coexistence of elegance and popularity.

People of the Southern Song Dynasty migrated and settled in South China. Relatively liberal policies brought brilliant achievements in the economy, culture and institutional improvement. At the same time, as its territory was being squeezed and the emperor still followed the beaten track to pursue stability, the signs of the impending doomsday of the empire emerged.

Part 6. The Prosperity of the Maritime Business

"The ancient capital is buried deep in dust. The eastern sea surges without end." Poet of the Tang Dynasty Bai Juyi depicted the two widely different worlds in Returning to the Fields–in Three Parts. After the"An Lushan Rebellion" in the late Tang Dynasty, the national economic center was shifted to the south, the Silk Road declined, and the Maritime Silk Road started to prosper. From then on, Chinese businessmen began to take active roles on various ship routes in Asia. History offered Mingzhou and other coastal port cities unprecedented development opportunities. As a result, those coastal border towns became the key ports of ancient China overnight.


Although Beijing is thousands of miles away from Zhejiang, the two regions were closely intertwined several times throughout history."Thousands of rocks contend to be splendid and 10,000 valleys contend to be flowing; bushes and trees above them, something like the clouds singing and dancing." Compared with the north, widely different landscapes generate a distinct culture in the south.

Treasures of Yue demonstrate the elegant tastes of the Yue people; the history of Zhejiang conveys the various trades and the inheritance of culture at that time; landscapes of Zhejiang show us the way to be harmonious with nature, that is, to refrain from activity contrary to nature and regard ourselves as the integral parts of nature. In view of this, the Chinese people look for strength from the history and gain confidence in their culture.