Food is not only the essential need for human survival and development, but also one of the symbols of social development and progress. Food culture is an important part of ancient Chinese culture. From eating raw animal flesh and drinking blood to cooking food, from having flavorless gravy and clear water to enjoying delicious cuisine, the ancient Chinese witnessed a food revolution and tens of thousands of years of cultural changes across their dining tables. Dining is about more than just filling one’s stomach and survival, it has become a concentrated expression of a way of life, with the wisdom and dignity of life flowing everywhere between the dishes.
Over thousands of years of history, the profound ancient Chinese food culture accumulated not only exquisite food utensils, self-contained cooking techniques and a tremendous amount of ancient books and records, but also a series of philosophical concepts, political wisdom and scientific thoughts that have influenced the development of Chinese civilization. It also provides an inexhaustible resource for traditional music, dance, painting, sculpture, poetry and many other literary and artistic creations.
The National Museum of China (NMC) is presenting the special exhibition “Ancient Chinese Food Culture” to the public, which aims to systematically explain the development and cultural connotations of ancient Chinese food. This exhibition is divided into five sections, namely. “The Land of Plenty”, “The Rhyme of Tea and Wine”, “Utensils for Cooking and Dining”, “The Evolving Kitchen”, and “Food and Rituals”. It features more than 240 selected cultural relics. From different perspectives such as ingredients, utensils, techniques and etiquette, it presents a comprehensive overview of the historical changes of the ancient Chinese food culture, portrays the daily life of ancient Chinese working people and expresses the Chinese nation’s longing for a beautiful life with ample food and clothing.
The NMC, as China’s foremost institution that collects, researches, displays and interprets representative material evidence that fully reflects China’s outstanding traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture, has always paid special attention to uncovering the essence of the five thousand years of Chinese civilization and interpreting and promoting outstanding traditional culture from the perspective of combining history and reality, theory and practice. We sincerely hope that this exhibition will enable the general public to gain a deeper understanding of ancient Chinese food culture and experience the unique charm of China’s outstanding traditional culture.