Online and offline ox-themed exhibitions


UPDATED :February 26, 2021


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Ushering in the Year of the Ox, cultural institutions across China launched various online and offline exhibitions themed on the ox.
Pottery ox found in 2020 at a construction site in Guangdong Guangya High School in Yuexiu district, Guangzhou

The ox is one of the animals most closely related to humans. Since about 10,000 years ago, the ox, dog, horse and other animals were gradually domesticated. They have accompanied humans from gathering food, fishing and hunting to farming and husbandry.
Pottery model of paddy field composed of oxen, the Western Jin Dynasty, found at Dasha town, Huangpu district, Guangzhou

In traditional Chinese culture, the ox is a symbol of diligence, prosperity and fortune. So its image has also appeared frequently on many cultural remains along the history, from painting and sculpture to literature.

These following exhibitions underway in China feature the variety of different cultural meanings the ox has in traditional Chinese culture.

The Palace Museum: 'Five Oxen' painting onlin(https://digicol.dpm.org.cn/topic/detail?id=2)
Exhibits themed on ox

The Palace Museum has selected 125 cultural relics related to the ox from more than 68,000 pieces in its digital library collections displayed online, including the national treasure "Five Oxen" and other paintings, as well as pottery, jade or bronze artifacts.

"Five Oxen," the earliest extant paper painting in China, is of high artistic and historical value. Artist Han Huang (723-787) portrayed the five oxen with different and vivid appearances, showing his exquisite painting skills.
Five Oxen painted by Han Huang, Tang Dynasty

Han, a prime minister, the highest-ranking executive official in the imperial court during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), paid much attention to agricultural development. And this painting is believed to be his way to encourage agriculture. It also shows how China, a "time-honored" agricultural nation, placed agriculture as the foundation of society.

National Museum of China: relationship between man and ox
Dates: February 2-March 7
Poster of the exhibition

The ox-themed exhibition held by the National Museum of China both online and offline highlights the relationship between Chinese people and ox down history.
Stone ox inscribed with Chinese characters “司辛(posthumous title of Fuhao, the first Chinese female general and wife of one emperor of Shang Dynasty)”, Shang Dynasty

On the exhibition, visitors can glance at some sacrificial vessels in shape of ox and bronze wares composed of oxen from the Dian Kingdom, a powerful vassal state located in the southwest region of China between late Warring States Period and early Western Han Dynasty.
Bronze money cowry (shell money) container composed of seven oxen and two tiger-shaped ears, the Western Han Dynasty

Shanghai Museum: China, South Korea joint exhibition
Dates: February 2-March 7
Poster of the exhibition

In both China and South Korea, the ox has been used for multiple functions such as sacrifice, food, farming and transportation, and its image has also been given rich connotations such as diligence, duty, strength, and seclusion. The exhibition is a display of what the ox means to East Asian people.
Ox-shaped wine vessel inscribed with phoenix pattern, late Shang Dynasty

Shanghai Museum for the first time is partnering with the National Museum of Korea to hold a special exchange exhibition focusing on the ox culture.
Bowl of Jingdezhen Kiln with picture of farming, Qing Dynasty

A total of eight pieces (sets) of artifacts were exhibited in Shanghai, with six domestic artifacts and two pieces–a celadon and an iron ware–from South Korea. Shanghai Museum also exhibited two pieces of its collection in South Korea at the same time.

Online joint exhibition of museums across the nation
 Poster of the exhibition

Tencent's AR Museum(博物官), an online platform aiming to digitize and revitalize cultural resources, has teamed up with more than 40 museums across the nation to display some 400 pictures of relics themed on the ox, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a cultural feast during the holiday.
Picture of ox relics on display
Scan the QR code below to 'visit' the diverse and exquisite relics!