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Cultural Palace of Minorities in China

Address: Beijing, Fuxingmennei Dajie, #49

The Cultural Palace of Minorities is located on the west end of Chang’an Street, in Be?ing. This is a focal point where all the nationalities of the country can come together for cultural exchange: it is a microcosm of the greater family of diverse peoples that make up China. The building occupies some 30,000 square meters and is a multistoried tower-like structure. It stands 13 stories high and has two wings that flank the central hall.

Some 30,000 objects constitute the collections of the Museum, including scripts, costumes, and handicrafts that relate to minority peoples. The territory from which they are drawn extends to Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Ningxia, Yunnan and Guizhou. The material encompasses artifacts from all 56 of modern China’s ethnic minorities. It also includes historical objects from peoples who once lived on the same territories including Xiongnu, Dangxiang, Qidan, Dian peoples among others.

Traditional clothes are a particularly striking part of the collection. There is also a wealth of religious artifacts relating to every kind of religion in China. Among the objects from Tibet are scriptures, documents, laws, treaties and books that constitute an invaluable historical record.

Historical relics are also held in this museum. They include musical instruments dating to the Tang dynasty, armor from the Yuan dynasty, items from the Western Xia, weapons from the Qing dynasty, and so on. Based on these collections, the Museum has held exhibitions of ancient scripts, costumes, bronze drums, and a great diversity of other topics. As an example, an exhibition of the Tong minority of Guizhou showed local architecture using not only actual objects but models of architectural sites. It brought in young Dong boys and girls to dance, play instruments, and perform so that the audience could feel they were situated in the deep mountain passes of the Dong people.

A corner of minorities’ cultural exhibition hallAn extensive library of books in twenty-four different national minority languages is located in the basement of the Museum. The languages include Han, Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean, Uighur, Kazakh, and others, in some 400,000 volumes. Among these are rarely seen scripts, and artistic works of great value in the form of golden sutras, carved woodblocks, manuscripts, paintings and early rubbings.

These have scientific as well as artistic value, in narrating the history of the cultures of all of China’s people.

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