Press Release


Treasures from the Summer Palace on show

A set of precious bronze animal heads from the Summer Palace in Beijing will go on display at an exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum from tomorrow (January 10).

The four bronze heads were originally part of the water clock fountain at Haiyantang (Hall of the Calm Sea) in the Summer Palace. The water clock fountain had 12 bronze animals representing the signs of the Chinese zodiac.

On display will be the heads of a tiger, a monkey and an ox, as well as the head of a pig that is being featured for the first time in Hong Kong.

A giant picture of the Summer Palace showing the architectural features of the water clock fountain will also be showcased. The picture was reproduced from an engraving created by the Italian Jesuit priest, Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), during the reign of Emperor Qianlong.

The Summer Palace, in the western suburbs of Beijing, consists of three imperial gardens -- Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness), Changchunyuan (Garden of Eternal Spring) and Qichunyuan (Garden of Beautiful Spring).

Construction of the palace gardens began in 1709 under Emperor Kangxi. Not only was the palace renowned for Chinese garden art, it was also a world-famous royal museum that housed numerous treasures, cultural relics, books, paintings and art. The architectural style of the garden compound was an ingenious amalgamation of traditional Chinese garden art and the outstanding features of Western architecture.

The four bronze animal heads on display exemplify the exquisite craftsmanship of Imperial China. The engraving from Haiyantang also resembles the distinguished architectural features of the unique fountain.

Visitors to the exhibition which runs till January 25 will also find a computer game that simulates the time-telling operation of the water clock fountain.

Ends/Friday, January 9, 2004

Email this article