Mr. Zheng Zhenduo was a famous scholar and writer of the modern period, as well as a collector and connoisseur of ancient books and cultural relics. China before 1949 was not only bullied and humiliated politically and economically by the imperial powers, it also experienced unprecedented cultural devastation. At the time, following the exodus of paintings, calligraphic works and rare ancient books, pottery figurines became the next target of overseas buyers and were taken out of the country at an alarming rate. In order to prevent more cultural relics from falling into alien hands, Mr. Zheng Zhenduo, an impoverished scholar, did not hesitate to borrow money to compete with rich overseas collectors for these relics. To pay off his huge debts, he had to devote all his evenings to writing and translating articles.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Zheng Zhenduo was appointed Director of State Administration of Cultural Heritage. As museums in China at the time lacked certain categories of artifacts, he thought of donating all the pottery figurines in his collection to the State. On June 16, 1952 he wrote Premier Zhou Enlai a letter to propose this idea. On one hand, he argued, displaying all these cultural relics in museums could address the problem of inadequate museum collections; on the other hand, it could benefit scientific research. Premier Zhou immediately asked the Ministry of Culture to handle this matter and expressed his appreciation for this patriotic act. In total, 655 pottery figurines were donated to the Palace Museum on September 14, 1952. These cultural relics span over 1,400 years (from the Han Dynasty to the Song Dynasty) and reflect various aspects of life in ancient China.
We are holding this exhibition in memory of the 105th anniversary of Mr. Zheng Zhenduo's birth, to provide our visitors the opportunity to see the sculptural art of ancient China as well as to appreciate the patriotic spirit of Mr. Zheng Zhenduo.
Column Host: Feng Hejun
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