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Home > Embassy News > 2010
Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City Exhibition Opens in London
2010/12/08

On the evening of December 6, with red Chinese lanterns elegantly flickering, the hall at the first floor of Victoria and Albert Museum located in South Kensington, London; was in a rich atmosphere of traditional Chinese culture. The grand opening of Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City was being held. Nearly 500 people, including Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and Madam Hu Pinghua, Mr. Li Ji, Executive Deputy Director of the Palace Museum, Mr. Wu Xun, Cultural Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Paul Ruddock, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Councillor James Husband, Mayor of Kensington, Sir Henry Keswick, Chairman of Jardine Matheson Group and Lady Keswick, Lords, MPs and representatives from all walks of life in Britain, attended the ceremony.

Ambassador Liu delivers a speech

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. He expressed congratulations on the opening of the exhibition and said that garments are outmost cultural symbols of a nation and contain in-depth and diversified cultural implications. This exhibition offers a view of select royal robes in ancient China. The shiny silk brocade, exquisite embroidery and elaborate craftsmanship of these robes obviously put them at the very top in elegance and artistry among the imperial robes in Chinese history. They tell both the essence of the garment culture in ancient China and a story of the time-honoured Chinese civilisation. The exhibition also allows the British public to understand China from different perspectives: First, this exhibition tells much deeper stories about Chinese culture. The Qing imperial robes on display not only speak to the talent and ingenuity of the Chinese people in the 17th to 19th centuries, but also shed much light on the social life and etiquette of that period. In this sense, the exhibition is a window on traditional Chinese culture; second, this exhibition provides a historical perspective on the development of China. From this exhibition the British public can both get a sense of an ancient China and its cultural splendour and feel a modern China in pursuit of progress and prosperity; third, this exhibition helps with mutual understanding between China and the UK. The differences between China and the UK in historical background, values and social system should not stand in the way of cultural exchanges. The dynamic cultural exchanges between the two countries are a good example of how mutual learning between different cultures leads to common development and prosperity. Ambassador Liu sincerely hoped that the Chinese and British cultural communities will work together for more robust cultural exchanges and cooperation, and deepen mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples, thus making a positive contribution to a prosperous China-UK relationship.

Deputy Director Li Ji delivers a speech

Mr. Li Ji, Executive Deputy Director of the Palace Museum, said that the imperial robes on display, carefully selected from the over 100,000 pieces of treasured collection of the Palace Museum, will give the British visitors a worthwhile exhibition and deep impression on the gorgeous traditional Chinese garments and the extensive and profound Chinese culture. He hoped that the museums of the two countries will strengthen cooperation and looked forward to the exhibition of the collections of Victoria and Albert Museum in the Palace Museum in 2013.

Sir Mark Jones delivers a speech

Victoria and Albert Museum attached great importance to the exhibition. Sir Mark Jones was directly involved in the planning and went to Beijing to select the collections, and the exhibition is arranged at the best venue in the Museum. In his speech Sir Jones said that the Palace Museum is one of the most important partners of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The British side attaches great importance to the introduction of Chinese culture and hopes the two museums will enhance cooperation to present more fine exhibitions to the public of the two countries and to jointly promote UK-China cultural exchanges.

The guests at the opening ceremony spoke very highly of the elaborate Chinese imperial garments. Curators of museums from the eminent University of Oxford and University of Cambridge expressed the hope that their museums would also have opportunities to present such a high-end exhibition of Chinese art. The president of a British association of traditional manufacturing industries said that such a high level of textile and embroidery techniques in China over 100 years ago indicates that the country’s rapid economic take-off today is not accidental. Actually this sustained economic development is driven by the rich cultural heritage and talents of the Chinese people. China is undoubtedly the hope of the world economy. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, famous contemporary artists, said that every Chinese should be proud of their brilliant historical civilisation.

As a part of the cooperative project on exhibition exchanges between the Palace Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City Exhibition presents over 50 luxurious imperial robes in Qing Dynasty, 20 jewelries and 15 pieces of silk fabrics from the collections of the Palace Museum,including the official dress, festival dress, informal dress, travelling and military dress of emperors, empresses and imperial concubines as well as some silk and embroidery fabrics. This is the first time that the Palace Museum holds a large embroidery theme exhibition in a foreign museum in the recent over 20 years. The exhibition will last till next February, accompanied with a series of events introducing Chinese traditional culture, such as lectures on the history of Chinese garment culture, the Chinese spring festival, Chinese painting and calligraphy art, etc.

Ambassador Liu and Madam Hu talk with Chairman Ruddock and Sir Jones

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