Ming: 50 years that changed China

British Museum |18th Sept. 2014 – 5th Jan. 2015

Standard Ticket: £16.50

Exploring the pivotal years of 1400 – 1450, a transformative period in the rule of the Ming dynasty.

Although this period in the Ming dynasty has previously received little attention in Europe, it was a time of extraordinary change. Beijing became the capital city, the nation’s borders were fixed as they are today and power was centralised. On display are a series of objects that reveal the glory, wealth and creativity of this dramatic era – including gold, silver, paintings, porcelains, weapons, costume and furniture.

It was during these years that China also developed important connections with the rest of the world, boosting international trade and diplomatic relations. Hoping to replace Eurocentric versions of Ming history in the 15th century, this exhibition focuses on the intra-Asian relationships that played a key role in the formation of Chinese society and culture. Other Asian rulers were key allies – the Timurids in Iran and Central Asia, the Ashikaga in Japan and Joseon Korea, as were contacts in Bengal, Sri Lanka, Africa, and even Mecca.

Additionally, the exhibition explores diversity within the Ming Empire itself, and champions the idea that it was multiple courts – as opposed to one single, monolithic, imperial court – that are important in understanding this period.

Cloisonne Enamel Ja

Cloisonne Enamel Jar, 1426 – 1435

Representing the four emperors that ruled China between 1400 – 1450, the display includes the sword of the Yongle Emperor (‘the Warrior’), the handwriting of the Hongxi emperor (‘the bureaucrat’), the paintings of the Xuande emperor (‘the aesthete’) and the portraits of the regents who ruled while the Zhengtong emperor was a boy. There are also examples of costumes, gold, jewellery and furniture that once belonged to the princes.

Another highlight of the exhibition is material which explores the building of the Forbidden City, which is still the national emblem on coins and military uniforms today.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Tel: 020 7323 8299
Website: www.britishmuseum.org

Entry details

Sat – Thu, 10am – 5.30pm
Fri, 10am – 8.30pm
Closed 24 th – 26th Dec and 1st Jan 2015

Book online via the British Museum website


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