Exchange and cooperation between China, Korea, and Japan not only have a long historical tradition, but also have a realistic basis of mutual benefit and win-win situation, and a bright future with unlimited potential. The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Korea and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan—milestones in the development of relations between the three countries. On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the National Museum of China, the exhibition Auspicious Metals from the Orient: Ancient Bronzes of China, Korea, and Japan is jointly organized by the National Museum of China, the National Museum of Korea, and the Tokyo National Museum of Japan. This exhibition will tap into and display the common cultural memory of the three countries, hoping to bring our hearts closer, foster the sharing of our cultures and values, and do our bit to promote lasting peace and universal prosperity in this region.
The use of bronze is a major marker of civilization. In the history of ancient civilizations in many regions, the emergence of bronzes greatly contributed to the development of economy and society. The ancient bronzes of East Asia have evolved a unique and profound meaning of ritual and belief that extends beyond practical function, structuring the great depth and breadth of oriental bronze civilization. Ancient Chinese bronze culture was characterized by the use of ritual vessels. Ritual vessels, musical instruments, tools, weapons, and horse and chariot accouterments feature various categories and rich connotations. As emblems of the status and rank of the pre-Qin aristocracy, records of family honor, and symbols of wealth and prestige, bronzes were not only significant markers for maintaining social order and political landscape, but also important carriers for cultural inheritance. The ancient Korean bronze culture was characterized by daggers, mirrors, and bells, symbolizing the unification of political authority and ritual authority. The ancient Japanese bronze culture was represented by weapons, ornaments, musical instruments, and household utensils—widely involved in various fields such as rituals, life, and beliefs. The exhibition features about 50 pieces (sets) of bronze artifacts from the collections of the national museums of China, Korea, and Japan, fully presenting the distinctive cultural traditions and technological and artistic achievements of the three countries. The bronze artifacts unearthed from the tomb of the Marquis of Cai in China represent one of the major achievements of Chinese archaeological community. The ding (food container), fanghu (wine container), and chimes are typical of ancient Chinese bronze artifacts and provide valuable information for understanding the politics, culture, rituals, and diplomacy of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods (770–221 BCE). Korean bronze daggers, mirror with fine linear design, and bell, as well as Japanese bell-shaped bronze dōtaku, spear, sword, and mirror reflect the basic appearance and characteristics of Korean and Japanese bronze culture. This exhibition is an attempt to interpret in depth the long history and humanistic heritage of ancient civilizations of China, Korea, and Japan through these precious bronzes, and to fully demonstrate the extensive exchanges and mutual learning that existed between the three countries.
President Xi Jinping stresses that since ancient times, Chinese civilization has been known for its openness and inclusiveness, and it has gained new vitality through exchanges and mutual learning with other civilizations. We will uphold and promote civilization concepts that emphasize equality, mutual learning, dialog and inclusiveness and understand different civilizations’ recognitions of their own value connotations with an open mind; we should respect different countries’ and peoples’ exploration of their own development paths. We should remove civilization misunderstandings through cultural exchanges, avoid civilization clashes by learning from each other, and replace civilization supremacy with coexistence of civilizations. We will carry forward the common values of humanity contained in Chinese civilization and build a human community with a shared future. The National Museum of China, as the national supreme palace of history, culture, and art, and China’s “cultural lounge,” has always attached importance to international cultural exchanges and cooperation. We hold international exchange exhibitions to present the unique historical and cultural outlook and civilizational achievements of various countries and regions around the world, and to introduce China to the world. On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the National Museum of China, it is our sincere hope that this exhibition will promote cultural exchange, enhance interaction and understanding of the peoples of the three countries, and show the world the unique charm of East Asian civilization.