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Relics from Pearl River Delta Region on display tomorrow

About 160 cultural relics from Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong will go on display at the Hong Kong Museum of History from tomorrow (September 30) to January 2, 2006, highlighting the important roles these three cities have played in the past 2,000 years of Sino-Western exchanges.

The exhibition, "East Meets West - Cultural Relics from the Pearl River Delta Region", is jointly presented by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture, the Guangzhou Municipal Cultural Bureau, the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government. It is co-organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Guangzhou Museum, the Guangzhou Museum of Art, the Guangdong Provincial Museum and the Museum of Macao.

Speaking today (September 29) at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, stressed that meetings held in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Dongguan had formalised a channel for the exchange of views and the sharing of experiences among museum professionals and the exhibition fully displayed the professional spirits and close museum collaboration in the Pearl River Delta region.

"The trio of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau has long been a link between China and the Western world for commercial and cultural exchanges. The maritime trade of the South China Sea with Guangzhou as its originating port connected Asia with Europe some 2,000 years ago. Hong Kong and Macau, which are strategically situated near the Pearl River Estuary, have guarded the waterway to Guangzhou, and have also prospered in different periods," he said.

"The exhibition, through the design of export wares, the spread of Christianity, the introduction of scientific knowledge, the materialisation of cultural ferment and the rise of a new intelligentsia, introduces the specific roles that the trio played in the history of Sino-Western exchanges," Dr Ho said.

The artifacts will be transferred to Guangzhou and Macau for display when the exhibition ends next January.

Other officiating guests at the opening ceremony were the Deputy Director of Guangdong Provincial Department of Culture, Mr Jing Lihu; Director of Guangzhou Municipal Cultural Bureau, Mr Tao Cheng; President of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Macao SAR Government; Ms Heidi Ho; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Dr Joseph Ting Sun-pao.

The foreign trade of Guangdong came into its own in the Qin and Han Dynasties (221BC-AD220), grew in importance in the Jin and the Southern and Northern Dynasties period (265-581), and reached the peak of its development from the Tang to Qing Dynasties (618-1911). Hong Kong and Macau, situated strategically near the Pearl River Estuary, guarded the waterway to Guangzhou and prospered in different periods.

The maritime route - one that linked China with Southeast Asia, the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and eastern Africa, which has come to be known as the "Maritime Silk Route" or the "Porcelain Route", played an important role in overseas communication, commercial contact and cultural exchanges between East and West.

The roles of the three cities in the East-West cultural exchanges since the early 17th century via the Maritime Silk Route are explicit in the design of export commodities, the introduction of scientific knowledge, the cultural ferment on daily life, the exchange of arts and crafts, and the rise of a new intelligentsia in China.

On the domains of export commodities, the Western elements had successfully integrated into the artistic styles and decorative patterns of China's paintings, enamel ware, furniture, embroideries and ivory carvings. The translated works and maps of the missionary opened a new world of knowledge to the Chinese as they learned of the calendric system, astronomy and geography. The Cantonese people were quick to absorb Western elements, as evidenced by their everyday use of glasses, binoculars, watches, hand-rolled cigarettes, sweet potatoes and Western dress.

Western building technology and design are still evident in the historic structures of more than 100 years ago. The introduction of mechanical science and military technology into China by way of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau had helped with the upsurge of modern industries and military establishments. With the growing influence of the West and the founding of modern educational institutions, a new intelligentsia in the Guangdong region came into being. They soon became the instrumental force behind political, economic, social and ideological reforms in China, the origins of which could be traced back to the maritime trade and the East-West exchange in Guangdong during the past 2,000 years.

The Hong Kong Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays and from 10am to 5pm on Christmas Eve and Lunar New Year Eve. It is closed on Tuesdays except public holidays and the first two days of Lunar New Year. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For details, please visit the Museum of History's website at or call 2724 9042.

Ends/Thursday, September 29, 2005

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