2008-05-24 01:33:42 GMT 2008-05-24 09:33:42 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
A Chinese Wushu Museum staff examines the exhibits.(Photo: Shanghai Daily)
BEIJING, May 24 -- Chinese Wushu Museum is packed with 500 items, many that stretch as far back as the Han Dynasty, and it affords a fascinating look at some ancient weapons, writes Peggy Weng
The Chinese Wushu Museum offers a fascinating glimpse at an extraordinary period of China's military history. It is located on the Changhai Road campus of the Shanghai University of Sports, and has recently begun a third phase of construction.
Upon completion later this year, the museum will cover 1,500 square meters divided into three halls that will feature the history and development of Chinese martial arts, weapons and a multi-media display room.
Professors from the Shanghai University of Sports and experts from Shanghai visited almost every province of China in search of these fascinating military artifacts.
"We visited many places in China to recover these precious items over the past three years," said Wang Zhen, the museum's vice director. "It's not only a procedure of searching, but also of learning and researching. And this continues."
So far, they have collected 2,500 items from 18 provinces in China, and 500 items are on display showing the drama and beauty of China's mysterious wushu culture.
A 1.5-meter-high, 1.4-meter-wide stone carving dating back to the Han Dynasty (206-220BC) is one of the most precious pieces among the items displayed. According to museum Director Wang Zhen, the stone was discovered in an emperor's tomb.
In the Han Dynasty, people used stone carvings to record historical and cultural events of that period. They carved pictures and elements of daily military life on the stone, painted it black, and then printed it on rice paper.
The stone carving gives visitors a better understanding of the military tactics, culture, art and life from the Han Dynasty through to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Another collection of bronze weapons from the Qing Dynasty includes bronze spear heads, knives and swords.
Chinese bronze pieces first appeared about 6,000 years ago toward the end of the Stone Period. For 4,000 years in China, bronze weapons were the most predominant weapons.
In the museum, the longest weapon is the qiang.
It features a sharp bronze spearhead and a three-meter-long handle made of bamboo. "This weapon shows the delicate craftsmanship of the ancient weapon makers," said museum Director Wang Zhen. "The qiang was one of the most popular weapons in ancient China."
Also on display are 160 wushu instruction manuals dating back to 1920. According to Wang, by studying these wushu instruction manuals he has greatly improved his own knowledge of Chinese martial arts culture.
However, many of the items required further research. "With some of the pieces, we don't know when they were created or what their function was," said Wang. "It has been quite a challenge for us."
After the construction, a three-dimensional interactive kung fu game will be set up in the museum, creating an interesting platform for visitors to experience an almost real kung fu fight.
Wushu will be included in formal competition for the first time in the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics.