Ethnic Solidarity Goes on Show

ByFang Aiqing September 13, 2021
A museum staff member at the National Palace of Ethnic Cultures in Beijing introduces a painting showing how the Red Army won the trust of the Yi ethnic group in Sichuan Province in the 1930s. [For China Daily/Fang Aiqing]

 

Nation's rich cultural diversity highlighted by intricate items dating back centuries, Fang Aiqing reports.

The National Palace of Ethnic Cultures in Beijing will launch a series of exhibitions showing the solidarity and sense of community of ethnic groups living in China both past and present.

Three of the 10 exhibitions, with more than 400 items of cultural relics and archives, opened on Sept 1.

More than 70 items at the first exhibition of the institution's museum span, in range, from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) to the present.

The historical items not only present traditional cultures of different ethnic groups, but also tell a story of exploring and seeking development together as a whole on the vast territory of the motherland, according to Qin Shicui, deputy director of the museum.

The National Palace of Ethnic Cultures, with its museum, exhibition hall, cultural exchange center and other cultural venues, works especially to promote culture and social economic development of Chinese ethnic groups and their habitation, and to publicize policies applicable to these areas and corresponding achievements.

A letter from the 10th Panchen Lama to Chairman Mao Zedong. [For China Daily/Fang Aiqing]

 

Particularly, there are documents from imperial courts of the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644), Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and under the Kuomintang's rule during the first half of the 20th century to grant local officials from ethnic groups, as well as reports from the local officials to the central governments in turn.

Many of these documents were bilingual, written in both Chinese characters and the written languages of the Tibetans, Manchus, the Mongols, and the Chagatai language, one that was once used in what is now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Central Asia, but has disappeared.

Also highlighted at the exhibition are a display of around 100 gifts ethnic groups sent to the Party, the central government and top leaders since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Most of the gifts represent strong regional and cultural distinctions. For example, those pieces from Manchu, Oroqen, Daur and Hezhe peoples who mainly live in Northeast China have conveyed their nomadic, fishing and hunting culture and lifestyle.

The morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), sent by Mongol representatives in the 1950s, has Buddhist patterns on its neck and the Chinese character shou, meaning longevity, and patterns of bats, reflecting a mixed cultural tradition. One of the two characters for bats in Chinese sounds like fu, meaning a "good fate".

Besides, there are several letters between Chairman Mao Zedong and Qurban Tulum (1883-1975), a farmer from Xinjiang, in the 1950s and '60s.

A scroll of religious paintings showing the views of the Naxi ethnic group on life and death in Yunnan Province. [For China Daily/Fang Aiqing]

 

"Uncle Qurban" was known for attempting to go to Beijing by riding a donkey several times in his 70s — not knowing it would be a journey of over 3,000 kilometers — but was persuaded back.

Born in an impoverished farmer's family, he received his own plot of land after the peaceful liberation of Xinjiang in 1949 and life greatly improved since.

He then kept writing to Mao expressing his appreciation and finally got to meet Mao in person when representatives from Xinjiang came to Beijing to visit a national agriculture exhibition in June 1958.

In 2017, President Xi Jinping replied to a letter from Uncle Qurban's eldest daughter, saying he hoped the large family of over 100 members could keep their faith in the Party, the motherland and the Chinese nation and endeavor to promote people from all ethnic groups to tightly hold together like pomegranate seeds.

On show are also pieces of Tibetan craftwork the 10th and 11th Panchen Lamas sent to top leaders over the decades, as well as Buddhist artifacts the 14th Dalai Lama presented to Mao before he fled abroad in 1959.

In April 1951, the 10th Panchen Lama went to Beijing, expressing his support to the central government and actively promoting negotiations between the central government and Tibet's local government on the peaceful liberation which took place a month later.

During the time in Beijing the 10th Panchen Lama sent to Mao a national flag made in gold with a greeting to him inscribed on it.

In the 1950s, one representative of the Gaoshan people, in Taiwan, made a silk banner on which was embroidered "dedicated to Chairman Mao, the Gaoshan people will always follow your steps".

These gifts have previously been to Yunnan, Qinghai, Hebei provinces and Guangxi Zhuang, Ningxia Hui, Inner Mongolia autonomous regions for exhibition, says Tao Ying, director of the museum, adding that they have proved the ethnic groups' recognition of the country and their support for the Party.

A silk banner honoring Zhu De (1886-1976), commander-in-chief of the Chinese People's Liberation Army during the War of Liberation (1946-49), from the Dai ethnic group in Yunnan in the 1950s. [For China Daily/Fang Aiqing]

 

The third exhibition has archives that have witnessed key moments of revolution, liberation and social construction of multiple ethnic groups' settlements over the century since the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921.

These involve events such as the implementation of the system of regional ethnic autonomy as a basic political system, the building of Sichuan-Tibet Highway, and efforts to improve educational and medical conditions in the early 1950s.

Luo Jihua, deputy director of the institution's exhibition hall, an ethnic Qiang woman from Sichuan Province herself, says the photos and documents show how an equal, united and harmonious relation among Chinese ethnic groups is built under the guidance of working theories and policies of the Party, and how they help each other and solve problems together and finally realize rapid development and considerable improvement of life.

A gilded bronze mask from a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Sichuan. [For China Daily/Fang Aiqing]

 

(Source: China Daily)

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