Ancient Treasures From The Tang Dynasty


Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 12.25.19 PMImage credits: Asian Civilisation Museum
By: Cheryl Tan Kay Yin

On display in the Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda: Treasures from Famen Temple are a whopping 120 objects from Shaanxi province. These treasures offer us an insight into the Tang dynasty – a period when China flourished due to external trading, the opening up of the Silk Route and  maritime shipping within Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Dr Alan Chong, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum emphasises how the displays in this exhibition exemplify “creativity in China, and also its responses to other cultures – from rare ceramics and finely crafted gold and silver, to impressive glass vessels.” Here are some of the images of the exhibits, with their significance explained.


Exhibit Significance
Turtle-shaped containerThis container may have been used to store  tea powder. Feng Yan, a scholar-official who lived inthe 8th century, noted that tea-drinking wasencouraged among followers of ZenBuddhism as it promoted concentration during mediation.
Jug with facesThis cast bronze jug was found with more than 100 objects in the crypt of the Qingshan Monastery (Shaanxi province), which had been sealed in 741. It relates to pottery of Iran and of Khotan, a city in southwestern China. Both areas were on the SilkRoute, connecting Tang China to Central Asiaand beyond.
Basket decorated with flying geeseA circular basket adorned with a pairedflying geese exemplifies the combination of  functionand aesthetics in Tang metalwork. It was found among the Famen Temple tea utensils, which may have stored cakes of roasted tea. The lattice structure facilitates cooling.